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Press Release

St. Francis Man Charged With Eight Counts Of Sexual Abuse And Sexual Contact

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

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a St. Francis, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a Superseding Indictment for one count of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, six counts of Aggravated Sexual Contact with a Child, and one count of Abusive Sexual Contact.

Vernon Blackhorse, age 63, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on August 28, 2013, and pled not guilty to the superseding indictment.

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both; up to life of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.

The charges relate to allegations that between May 2001 and November 2007 Blackhorse assaulted four different female victims in St. Francis and Eagle Butte.  

The charges are merely an accusation and Blackhorse is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie H. Ruettgers is prosecuting the case. 
Blackhorse was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial.  A trial date has been set for October 22, 2013.

Updated June 22, 2015