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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Acoma Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Sexual Assault Charge

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Eric Chino, 32, a member and resident of Acoma Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to an abusive sexual contact charge.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Chino will be sentenced to a range of 24 to 36 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by court.

Chino was arrested on Nov. 26, 2014, on an indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse.  The indictment alleged that Chino sexually assaulted an Acoma Pueblo woman on June 24, 2012, in Acoma Pueblo within Cibola County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Chino pled guilty to a felony information charging him with abusive sexual contact.  In entering the guilty plea Chino admitted engaging in and attempting to engage in sexual contact with the victim by force.  He admitted forcefully touching the victim’s breast and genitals despite the victim’s demands that he stop.

This case was investigated by the Laguna/Acoma Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and the Acoma Pueblo Tribal Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.

The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Updated March 13, 2015