Member of Pima Salt River Tribe Pleads Guilty in New Mexico to Federal Child Sexual Abuse Charge
ALBUQUERQUE—Patrick Watuema, 55, an enrolled member of the Pima Salt River Tribe in Ariz., pleaded guilty this morning to a felony information charging him with aggravated sexual abuse. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Watuema will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Watuema also will be required to register as a sex offender.
Watuema was arrested on May 5, 2014, on a criminal complaint alleging that he engaged in a sexual act with a child who had not attained the age of 12 years. Watuema subsequently was indicted on May 21, 2014, on an aggravated sexual abuse charge. According to court filings, Watuema sexually assaulted a six-year-old Navajo child on April 30, 2014, in To’hajiilee, N.M., which is located in the Navajo Indian Reservation.
In entering his guilty plea, Watuema admitted sexually assaulting the six-year-old child victim on April 30, 2014. He also admitted to having unlawful sexual contact with the child victim on other occasions. Watuema acknowledged that the victim was under the age of 12 years at the time he committed the offense.
Watuema has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Office of the FBI with assistance from Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at the University of New Mexico Hospital, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.