Ramah Navajo Man Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Abuse of Navajo Teenager
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 03, 2014|
ALBUQUERQUE—Sabastiano Coho, 24, a member of the Ramah Chapter of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to an aggravated sexual assault charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Coho was arrested on February 18, 2011, on a criminal complaint charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and subsequently indicted on March 9, 2011. According to court filings, Coho sexually assaulted the victim, a 19-year-old Navajo woman, on January 25, 2011, in a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation in Cibola County, New Mexico. Proceedings in the case were delayed as a result of competency evaluations.
In entering his guilty plea, Coho admitted to engaging in a sexual act, by using force, with the victim on January 25, 2011.
Coho has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Coho will be sentenced to 50 months in federal prison, followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Coho also will be required to register as a sex offender.
This case was investigated by the Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI and the Navajo-Ramah Tribal Police Department and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams. It was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico, which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure, and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women and is another step in the Justice Department’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination, and action on public safety in tribal communities.