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Press Release

Zuni Man Charged with Aggravated Sexual Abuse in Indian Country

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Rodney Waikaniwa made an initial appearance in federal court on a criminal complaint charging him with aggravated sexual abuse in Indian Country. Waikaniwa, 51 years old, and an enrolled member of the Zuni Pueblo, will remain in custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for May 9.

According to the complaint, on or about February 10, 2023, the Zuni Police Department learned of allegations of sexual abuse against Waikaniwa. The investigation was referred to the Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, which conducted interviews with two victims. Following interviews with the victims, agents interviewed Waikaniwa at his home and he admitted to sexually abusing both victims. The incidents of abuse occurred within the exterior boundaries of the Pueblo of Zuni.

A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Waikaniwa faces a minimum of 30 years in prison.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Zuni Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Mark A. Probasco is prosecuting the case.

Updated May 5, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-100