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Crime & Courts

Sex offender challenges jurisdiction and 1996 testimony

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Frank Sanchez of Wagner was convicted last year of abusive sexual contact of a nine-year-old girl. He was tried in federal court, which has jurisdiction over major crimes committed on reservation land.

The 66-year-old Sanchez was found guilty and sentenced in September 2021 to serve more than seven years in prison.

Now he is appealing his conviction, saying the federal prosecutor failed to prove that the crime occurred within the boundaries of the Yankton Sioux Reservation.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Thursday, May 12, in St. Paul.

The victim of Frank Sanchez’s sexual contact was nine years old in 2006.

When Sanchez was tried in June 2021, the jury heard from that victim, as well as from two other women who said Sanchez committed similar acts on them in 1996, when they were under the age of 12.

Now Sanchez is appealing his conviction.

At oral arguments, he was represented by Molly Quinn, chief appellate attorney with the Public Defender in Sioux Falls . She told appellate judges the feds had not proven that the site of the 2006 incident was located at that time within Indian Country.

“It was undisputed in this case that the Yankton Sioux Reservation is checker-boarded, that individual plots that make up the reservation are scattered around, that the limits of the reservation have changed over time,” she said.

Quinn said David LeCompte of the Bureau of Indian Affairs testified, but he did not provide documentation. She said aerial photos and tract reports showing the current location of the crime site are too recent to be helpful.

Quinn said Sanchez’s trial was also flawed because the judge should not have allowed the 1996 accusers to testify.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Annie Hoffman told appellate judges that the trial judge found that testimony to have evidentiary value.

“Here’s another allegation of Frank Sanchez and a young girl in a bedroom,” Hoffman said. “There’s sexual contact, and it shows his propensity to prey upon young girls when he’s given an opportunity and access.”

Hoffman said Frank Sanchez made admissions of sexual impropriety in the 2006 charge, which occurred in a house near Marty. She said the house was on reservation land, according to the testimony of David LeCompte, who had more than 30 years experience in BIA realty and oversaw all trust resources on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.

The Eighth Circuit panel will deliberate and decide whether to overturn the conviction.