Robert Fool Bear Sr. stared straight ahead as Chief Judge Daniel Hovland delivered his sentence Friday morning on child sexual abuse.
The former Cannon Ball district chairman is to serve the mandatory minimum of 30 years in federal prison on attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, as well as 10 years for incest, to run concurrently. He must also register as a sex offender, have no contact with the victim or anyone younger than 18 and make restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme had requested life in prison, with possible supervised release as well as restitution of $55,493.
He asked Hovland for the life sentence as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.
"Perhaps the lifetime term would send a message loud and clear," Delorme said.
Defense attorney Carey Goetz said the 30-year mandatory minimum was enough. She added Fool Bear maintains his innocence.
Under shackles on his wrists, waist and calves, he wore a dark long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans. He said little when Hovland asked if he had any comments.
"What I'd like to do at this time, your honor, is maintain my silence," Fool Bear said. "That is my decision."
Hovland then sentenced Fool Bear, adding that "My sense of justice leads me to believe that a 30-year sentence is fair and just."
During the hearing, Delorme and Goetz told Hovland they did have prior plea discussions which involved a 37-month proposal. Hovland said he's seen other offenders balk at lighter sentences and go to trial, only to be sentenced more severely after a jury's conviction.
"It's not the first time I've seen it," he said.
Fool Bear's female victim did not appear in court Friday. Delorme said attempts were made to notify her, but her location is likely among pipeline protesters out of state. She also previously lived at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps, he added.
"That's the only life she's found," Delorme said.
Fool Bear, 54, will be eligible for release in 25 years. Goetz requested Hovland recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that he be incarcerated as close to North Dakota as possible. The BOP tries to house prisoners within 500 miles of their home, Hovland said.
Fool Bear has 14 days to appeal.
A small number of people attended the sentencing hearing, including Fool Bear's wife, Rhonda Krein Fool Bear, and his brother, Archie.
Krein Fool Bear signed a plea agreement in July pleading guilty for failing to report the sexual abuse. Hovland will sentence her Dec. 20 in Bismarck.