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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Two Tribal Members Sentenced to Prison in Separate Sex Crime Cases

Assaults on Tribal Land Prosecuted in Federal Court

          An enrolled member of the Quinault Indian Nation was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison and 20 years of supervised release for rape of a child, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  DEVELIN L. HOWTOPAT, 33, pleaded guilty in December 2016, admitting that he sexually molested a young child in Taholah, Washington.  The abuse occurred in 2008 when the child was 7 or 8-years-old.  The molestation was reported to the Hoquiam Police Department in 2015 and was investigated by Hoquiam Police, the Quinault Nation Police Department and the FBI.  HOWTOPAT was arrested in April 2016, and has remained in custody since that time.  On December 1, 2017, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton sentenced HOWTOPAT to the 12-year prison term calling the crime “despicable.” 

            In a second, unrelated sex assault case, an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota, was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of supervised release, for the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman.  AARON JOSEPH MITZEL, 37, has been in federal custody since his arrest on October 9, 2015.  The assault occurred on October 4, 2015, in an apartment on the Puyallup Indian Reservation where the victim was sleeping.  The victim awoke to MITZEL sexually assaulting her and he then bit her ear and smothered her with a pillow.  At today’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said, “this is a very horrendous, serious offense.” 

            The MITZEL assault was investigated by the Puyallup Tribal Police Department and the FBI.   

            Both cases were prosecuted by J. Tate London and Rebecca Cohen who serve as Tribal Liaisons for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, prosecuting criminal cases in Indian Country.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or
Updated December 7, 2017