Appearing solemn and hesitant at her sentencing hearing Wednesday, Rhonda Krein Fool Bear said she did all she could in reporting child sexual abuse.
"The only thing I have to say is I thought I did the right thing by reporting it the next morning to other professionals I worked with," she told District of North Dakota Chief Judge Daniel Hovland. "I thought they would do the right thing by going through the right process because I had to go through the order of command."
Hovland sentenced the former Solen High School teacher to one year of supervised probation for one federal Class B misdemeanor count of failure to report child sexual abuse. Her indictment said she didn't disclose the abuse to law enforcement or child protective services.
Under a plea agreement she signed last summer, Hovland dismissed a count of material false statements related to Krein Fool Bear's testimony at her husband's trial last spring.
Former Cannon Ball district chairman Robert Fool Bear Sr. is serving a 30-year federal sentence for various child sex crimes. He was convicted in April and sentenced in October.
For Krein Fool Bear's sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme recommended three months of home confinement and one year of supervised release to "send a message of value to the community."
"The mandatory reporter failed to do her job," Delorme said.
Defense attorney Jackie Stebbins said no punishment is greater than the ostracism and isolation Krein Fool Bear has felt since her indictment and resignation.
"She is missed among children who probably need her," Stebbins said. "I don't know what message punishing Ms. Fool Bear can send to the community."
Hovland asked Krein Fool Bear if she has looked for work as a teacher's aide in Bismarck-Mandan.
"I have the feeling I wouldn't be allowed to do that sort of work," the Cannon Ball woman said, adding she has lost her teacher's certificate.
"But you don't know that until you ask," the judge said.
Hovland remarked on the facts of the case, relating to yearslong sexual abuse of a child.
"This was a tragic case on a multitude of levels for all parties involved," he said.
Two or three family members attended Krein Fool Bear's sentencing, including her brother-in-law, Archie Fool Bear.
Robert Fool Bear Sr. is incarcerated at Pekin Federal Correctional Institution in Illinois with a release date in 2043. He is appealing his convictions to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, with oral arguments to be scheduled.