Monday, June 5, 2023

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Courts | Ramah man charged with abusive sexual contact


A Ramah man was charged in federal district court on June 3 for abusive sexual contact with a minor after the victim reported that she was molested while attending church services.

John Jake Jr., 72, is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Albuquerque pending trial.

According to court documents, the mother of the victim, who is below the age of 12, filed a report with the Ramah Navajo Police on the evening of May 28 saying that her daughter had been molested while attending a youth service at the Yahweh Church in Ramah.

On the following day, FBI investigators met the mother and daughter at the Gallup Indian Medical Center where medical personnel were conducting a sexual assault examination.

Her mother told the FBI agents that her daughter was attending the youth services at her church the day before with her grandmother. On May 29, FBI agents interviewed the girl’s grandmother who said she noticed during the youth service that her granddaughter was not with the other children and began searching for her.

She said she saw her with Jake, who was a neighbor. She said her granddaughter appeared upset and was crying.

The court report said Jake told FBI agents that because of a mental illness he went over to the church because he knew a youth service was going to be conducted. He admitted touching the accuser through her clothes.

Jake told the FBI agents that he wanted to apologize to the victim and tell her he was sorry for touching her in a place he “was not allowed to touch.”

Shiprock man held for sexual abuse

Leonard Lewis, 65, of Shiprock, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Albuquerque on charges of sexual abuse of a minor.

He is currently in custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Albuquerque but is expected to be assigned to a halfway house. He will remain in custody until his trial. No date has been set for the trial.

The indictment, which was filed on May 25, alleges that Lewis sexually abused a female under the age of 16 between March 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021.

Lukachukai man pleads guilty to assault

Ravi’s Leon Nez, no age given, of Lukachakai, Arizona, has entered a guilty plea in federal district court in Prescott to assault with a deadly weapon.

In his plea agreement, Nez admitted shooting Shane Pablo, a resident of of Lukachukai, twice with a firearm on Jan. 29, 1921.

Pablo suffered life-threatening injuries that required surgery.

Another man, Charles Harvey, also suffered injuries.

If Nez had been convicted of the charges, he faced a maximum prison sentence of 10 years but because he agreed to accept responsibility for his action and showed remorse, the prosecutors agreed to recommend to the judge that he cap his sentence at no more than six years.

At the same time Nez was indicted, so was his brother, Uriah Shay, who federal prosecutors claimed was involved in the incident along with his brother.

Before he agreed to plead guilty, Nez tried to get his trial separated from Shay, pointing out that the evidence against Shay was far more substantial than it was against him.

The prosecutors argued against holding separate trials as both of them had been indicted at the same time. Holding two trials would also cost more money and require prosecutors to devote more time than they would if both were tried at the same time.

The court judge denied the motion for separate trials but left the door open for more discussion on the matter if events warranted.

As for Shay, he has been in custody since his arrest on April 30, 2020. His latest trial date has been set for Oct. 17.

Man reaches plea agreement, gets 5 years

Lane Shawn Jim was sentenced last week in federal district court in Prescott to five years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

In his plea agreement, Jim admitted killing a man identified in court records as L.J. by shooting him in the head with a 9 mm pistol.

At the time, he said, he and L.J. were arguing over the gun. During the argument, Jim admitted firing one shot and said he did not know the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger.

He had originally been charged with second-degree murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. These charges were dismissed because of the plea bargain.

He has been given credit for the 25 months he has been incarcerated awaiting trial. Once he serves his sentence, he is to be under supervised release for three years.

In their sentencing memo, his public attorneys said both Jim and his younger brother were intoxicated and high on meth.

His public defenders pointed out that Jim has no criminal convictions and urged the court to give him a sentence of between 18 and 24 months.

Grand jury indicts Red Valley man for sexual abuse

A federal grand jury has indicted a Red Valley, Arizona, man on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Wade Platero, 26, is currently being held in custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Albuquerque.

Plans are to release him to a halfway house once space becomes available.

According to the indictment, Platero allegedly used force to engage in a sexual act with a minor. The young girl is a resident of Shiprock.

About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan wrote about Navajo Nation government and its people since 1971. He joined Navajo Times in 1976, and retired from full-time reporting in 2018 to move to Torrance, Calif., to be near his kids. He continued to write for the Times until his passing in August 2022.


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