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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

Monday, November 18, 2013

St. Francis Man Charged With Abusive Sexual Contact

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Vernon Verdell Blackhorse, age 63, of St. Francis, South Dakota, appeared before U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange on November 6, 2013, and pled guilty to Abusive Sexual Contact. 

The maximum penalty upon conviction is 6 years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

The conviction stems from an incident that took place in Eagle Butte between May 1, 2002, and August 30, 2002, when Blackhorse was laying on a couch behind the victim, who was age 11 or 12 at the time.  The victim woke up when she felt Blackhorse touching her over the clothing in a sexual manner.  The victim jumped off the couch and was able to end the sexual contact. 

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie H. Ruettgers.

A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date was set for January 27, 2014.  Blackhorse was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing.

Updated June 22, 2015