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Press Release

Shiprock, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Sex Abuse Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Herbert Ben, Sr., 63, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty earlier today to sexually abusing a minor under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ben, Sr., and co-defendants Rosabelle Ben, 58, and Bruce Hamilton, 77, also members of the Navajo Nation from Shiprock, were arrested in May 2012, based on a criminal complaint alleging child sex abuse offenses.  All three subsequently were indicted and charged with sexual abuse of a child between the age of 12 and 16 years, and aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of a child.

Today Ben, Sr., entered a guilty plea to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted that, on a day between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011, he sexually abused the victim at a location within the Navajo Reservation. 

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ben, Sr. will be sentenced to a federal prison term within the range of two to five years followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Ben, Sr. also will be required to register as a sex offender.  Ben, Sr. was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after entering his guilty plea and he will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. 

Co-defendants Rosabelle Ben and Hamilton have entered not guilty pleas and are pending trial.  The charges against Rosabelle Ben and Hamilton are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob A. Wishard and Novaline D. Wilson 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 January 26, 2015