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Press Release

Grand Traverse Band Member Sentenced To 30 Years For Sexually Abusing A Five-Year-Old Child

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

         GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Jon Nathaniel-Nunghons Brenner, age 34, formerly from Hopkins and Grand Rapids, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for aggravated sexual abuse. The sexual assault occurred on lands held in trust for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Leelanau County. The child victim and Brenner are both enrolled members of the tribe. Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge stated, "It is crucial that we protect society’s most vulnerable members from sexual exploitation and ensure significant and certain punishment for those predators who would exploit children, especially in our tribal communities where sadly we see too many Native women and children subjected to such violence."

         In announcing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff remarked on the terrible nature of the sexual assault on a very young and vulnerable girl, and the likely lifelong consequences this would have on the victim’s life. Judge Neff further commented on the extreme longterm risk that Brenner posed and that he may forever be a danger to the community. Following his term of incarceration, Brenner will spend the rest of his life on supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sexual offender.

          In October 2015, the 5-year-old victim reported to her mother that Brenner had sexually assaulted her. The resulting investigation disclosed that Brenner sexually assaulted the girl he was babysitting over a period of seven months. Federal charges were filed in May 2016 alleging six counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. Brenner was arrested on June 7, 2016, and he has been held in custody since his arrest. He pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault in November of 2016.

         "The sexual exploitation of children is sadly often perpetrated by adults who parents know and mistakenly trust," said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI.

          "As evidenced by the 30 year sentence in this case, sexual predators need to understand the FBI, our law enforcement partners, and our court system will utilize every tool in our toolbox to protect children from the Jon Brenners of the world and all those like him."

          The U.S. Attorney’s Office works closely with the 11 Tribes in the District to ensure that crimes committed in their communities are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner. Cases such as these are a shared responsibility with the FBI, tribal law enforcement, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This case is a result of a collaborative investigation by the FBI and the Police Department of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexis M. Sanford and Jeff J. Davis prosecuted the case.


Updated June 22, 2017

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