GREAT FALLS — A federal jury on Oct. 5 convicted a Hays man of sexually abusing a minor girl on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.
After a three-day trial that began on Oct. 3, the jury found Daniel Jacob Werk, 38, guilty of sexual abuse of a minor, as charged in an indictment. Werk faces a maximum of 15 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing was set for March 6, 2024. Werk was released on conditions pending further proceedings.
“Werk used his position with the Fort Belknap Grassland Restoration Project, which is intended to help at-risk Native youth, to recruit a minor girl into the program. Hours after learning the victim was only 15 years old, Werk, who was 36 at the time, started having repeated sexual encounters with the victim. Our office will work tirelessly with our federal law enforcement partners to hold anyone accountable who seeks to sexually abuse a child. The jury’s verdict is a validation of those ongoing efforts,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.
In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that from July 2021 to October 2021, Werk repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old girl on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Werk, who was the program coordinator for the Fort Belknap Grassland Restoration Project, a program designed to provide opportunities for at-risk Native youth, recruited the girl, identified as Jane Doe, into the program and then repeatedly engaged in sexual acts with her.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. The FBI conducted the investigation.