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Press Release

Three Shiprock Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Abusing a Navajo Child

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Three residents of Shiprock, N.M., were sentenced in federal court on Friday, April 11, 2014, for their convictions on child sexual abuse charges.  Herbert Ben, Sr., 63, a member of the Navajo Nation, and Bruce Hamilton, 77, a non-Indian, each was sentenced to 48 months in prison, while Rosabelle Ben, 58, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison.  Each will be on supervised release for five years and be required to register as a sex offender after completing his or her prison sentence.

The three defendants were arrested in May 2012, based on a criminal complaint alleging child sex abuse offenses.  They 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, at a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Herbert Ben, Sr., pled guilty on July 31, 2013, to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted sexually abusing the victim on a day between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011.  On Aug. 19, 2013, Hamilton pled guilty to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted sexually abusing a Navajo child between the age of 12 and 15 years on a date between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011.  Rosabelle Ben entered a guilty plea on Oct. 29, 2014, to being an accessory to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted making the victim available to Hamilton who sexually abused the victim.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  It was 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