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Press Release

Belcourt, ND, Man Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison for Abusive Sexual Abuse with a Child Under the Age of 12

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota

FARGO – United States Attorney Mac Schneider, District of North Dakota, announced that on January 5, 2024, Robert Houle, age 35 of Belcourt, ND, appeared before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte, U.S. District Court, Fargo, ND, and was sentenced to Life in federal prison, for abusive sexual contact with a child under the age of 12. Houle pleaded guilty to this offense on July 7, 2023.

As charged by the United States Attorney’s Office, an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Houle sexually abused a Native American child under the age of 12, from the ages of 6 to 11, from about 2016 until approximately 2020.

Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement responded to a residence on Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, ND, for a physical altercation.  Houle was arrested and a child at the residence reported feeling unsafe due to physical and sexual abuse.

The child was forensically interviewed by the Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center and disclosed years of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse by Houle.  The child was fearful to disclose the sexual and physical abuse sooner because the child feared being removed from the home if noncompliant with Houle’s demands.     

“This is a strong sentence that protects children,” Schneider said. “It is also a real credit to our law enforcement partners and career prosecutors who worked hard to ensure this individual faced justice. The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to play its part in keeping kids safe by vigorously prosecuting crimes against children.”

“Today’s sentencing of Robert Houle demonstrates the FBI’s dedication to protecting children from those who seek to exploit their innocence,” said Special Agent in Charge of FBI Minneapolis Alvin M. Winston Sr. “These types of crimes cause profound harm to both the child victims and their families, leaving behind a trail of destruction and brokenness. The FBI and our partners remain committed to pursuing justice for our most innocent victims and holding offenders accountable.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn M. Deitz, District of North Dakota.



Terry W. Van Horn  701-297-7400

Updated January 5, 2024