Shiprock man convicted of sexually assaulting juvenile, may serve less than 5 years

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A Shiprock man has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor as a part of a plea agreement that may possibly reduce his sentence in a federal prison.

Bennick Yazzie, 32, was convicted in an Albuquerque federal court of sexual abuse of a minor on Jan. 14 , according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Yazzie was initially charged with three counts on Sept. 23, 2021 including aggravated sexual contact of a child younger than 12 years old, according to court records.

The defendant agreed to a plea agreement, stating he sexually assaulted a girl between Oct. 26, 2019 and Oct. 25, 2020.

During a Sept. 22, 2021 child forensic interview, the victim told investigators Yazzie would sexually assault her about once a week while Yazzie would drink alcohol for an unknown timeframe, according to the criminal complaint.

During the investigation, Yazzie was interviewed on Sept. 23 at the Navajo Nation Department of Criminal Investigations located in the Nataani Nez Complex in Shiprock.

Yazzie admitted to the allegations during the interview, stating there were five or six incidents of sexual assault.

The maximum prison sentence for the conviction is no more than 15 years in a federal prison and supervised probation to last no less than five years up to life.

The sentencing recommendation filed by the prosecution and defense is four years and nine months in a federal prison.

Yazzie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after being released from prison as part of his conditions of release.

The Farmington agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office handled the investigation.

Yazzie’s sentencing hearing had not been scheduled as of the afternoon of Jan. 20. He will be held in federal custody while awaiting his sentencing. 

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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