Federal Jury Finds San Felipe Pueblo Man Guilty on Sexual Abuse Charges
ALBUQUERQUE—A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a guilty verdict today against Daniel Phillip Tenorio on sexual abuse charges after a four-day trial, announced U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and DuWayne W. Honahni, Sr., Special Agent in Charge of District IV of BIA’s Office of Justice Services.
Tenorio, 55, a member and resident of San Felipe Pueblo in Sandoval County, N.M., was indicted in Sept. 2013, and charged with two counts of abusive sexual contact. According to the indictment, Tenorio had unlawful sexual contact with the victim between Jan. 2011 and Dec. 2011, in locations with San Felipe Pueblo in Sandoval County, N.M.
Trial of the case commenced on Aug. 18, 2014 and concluded this afternoon when the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts of the indictment.
The evidence at trial established that on Jan. 24, 2012, the BIA initiated an investigation into Tenorio after receiving a referral from a school counselor reporting that a 16-year-old San Felipe Pueblo girl had disclosed possible sexual abuse. According to the referral, the victim reported that Tenorio had sexually abused her by touching her in inappropriate ways and directing sexual comments at her. The victim testified about Tenorio’s practice of grabbing and fondling her breasts and bottom and making sexually explicit comments about what he wanted to do to her. Witnesses testified that they observed Tenorio grab and fondle the victim and direct sexually explicit remarks to her.
The evidence before the jury included two audio-taped interviews of Tenorio. During the first interview, Tenorio initially denied the victim’s allegations, but later admitted touching the victim in inappropriate ways and discussing sex in front of her. During the second interview, Tenorio admitted grabbing and fondling the victim’s chest and bottom and saying that he wanted to engage in sexual acts with her. He also admitted lying to the law enforcement officers when he initially denied the victim’s allegations. The evidence also included a handwritten statement by Tenorio in which he admitted having lied to the BIA and FBI when he denied the victim’s allegations, apologized for the way he treated the victim, and expressed remorse for his improper conduct.
Tenorio testified in his own defense and claimed that he was coerced into admitting that he had improper sexual contact with the victim.
Tenorio was remanded into federal custody after the jury returned its verdict and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Tenorio faces a statutory maximum of ten years in prison. He will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his prison sentence.
This case was investigated by the Southern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services with assistance from the Albuquerque office of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kyle T. Nayback and Novaline D. Wilson.
The case 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.