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Press Release

Member of Pima Salt River Tribe Sentenced to Ten Years for Federal Child Sexual Abuse Conviction in New Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Prosecution Brought as Part of Project Safe Childhood

ALBUQUERQUE – Patrick Watuema, 55, an enrolled member of the Pima Salt River Tribe in Ariz., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 120 months in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release for his aggravated child sexual abuse conviction.  Watuema will be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his term of incarceration.

Watuema was arrested on May 5, 2014, on a criminal complaint alleging that he engaged in a sexual act with a child who had not attained the age of 12 years.  Watuema subsequently was indicted on May 21, 2014, on an aggravated child sexual abuse charge.  According to court filings, Watuema sexually assaulted a six-year-old Navajo child on April 30, 2014, in To’hajiilee, N.M., which is located in the Navajo Indian Reservation.

In entering his guilty plea on June 18, 2015, Watuema admitted sexually assaulting the six-year-old child victim on April 30, 2014.  He also admitted to having unlawful sexual contact with the child victim on other occasions.  Watuema acknowledged that the victim was under the age of 12 years at the time he committed the offense.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Crownpoint office of Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety with assistance from Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at the University of New Mexico Hospital, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated February 4, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice