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Press Release

Bullhead Woman Sentenced for Child Abuse

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that a Bullhead, South Dakota, woman convicted of Child Abuse was sentenced on January 4, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann.

Velnita Jolette Hairy Chin, age 43, was sentenced to 37 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a special assessment of $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  

Hairy Chin was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 14, 2015.  She pled guilty on November 2, 2015. Hairy Chin has had twelve previous convictions for Child Abuse/Neglect.

The conviction stems from an incident on June 23, 2015, when Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement responded to a house call in Bullhead.  Law enforcement was informed of a female passed out in the residence and multiple young children outside without supervision. Upon arrival, an officer made contact with a young female child in the home.  The officer asked her if her mom was home, to which she responded no, but that grandma was home and was “drunk.” 

The officer came into the home in an attempt to find a responsible adult. In searching for an adult in the home, the officer noticed a baby in a car seat in the living room and multiple other young children.  In a basement room, the officer discovered an adult male and female passed out in a bed.  The officer woke the female up and identified her as Hairy Chin who asked law enforcement “What’s going on?”  The officer asked her who was watching the kids to which she responded “I am.”  When the officer inquired how long the baby had been in the car seat, he had to repeat himself as Hairy Chin did not appear to be able to comprehend the question.  Despite being asked repeatedly about the baby in the car seat, Hairy Chin was not able to answer the question. Hairy Chin informed the officer that the children were hers.  At this point, Hairy Chin was placed under arrest for child neglect and was escorted to the patrol unit.

The officer then went back into the house to check on the kids.  A neighbor came over and helped him change some of the kids’ diapers.  The neighbor also made a bottle for the youngest child.  The officer became concerned when he noticed the baby kept screaming when they would try to touch him.  The officer went out to his patrol unit and asked Hairy Chin if something was wrong with the baby, to which she replied that the baby was “fine, fat, and okay.”  One of the little girls told the officer that the baby had fallen, after being dropped.  The officer called for an ambulance to come and check the baby out.  The officer again asked Hairy Chin what happened to the baby.  Initially Hairy Chin denied that anything was wrong with him, but later admitted that he was dropped the previous day but claimed he was now fine.

When the EMTs arrived on scene, they too noticed that the baby cried whenever he was picked up and carried.  Again, the officer went to his unit and asked Hairy Chin if anything was wrong with the baby, Hairy Chin again informed the officer that the baby was fine.  The EMTs took the child to the hospital in Mobridge.

Child Protection Services (CPS) arrived and the officer and a neighbor relayed the events that had occurred earlier in the day.  The neighbor came over earlier in the day to find all seven children in the home without supervision.  The oldest of the children, approximately 11 years of age, informed the CPS worker that he was in charge and could take care of all of the children.  Safe homes were found for all of the children.  The CPS worker then travelled to Mobridge to check on the baby who had the following injuries: abrasions on his legs from sitting in the car seat for so long, bruising on his right leg and buttock, diaper rash, air in his stomach from constant crying, and a right ear infection.

This case was investigated by the BIA, Standing Rock Agency.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy R. Morley prosecuted the case.

Hairy Chin was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated January 7, 2016