A former youth pastor and Cub and Boy Scouts volunteer who is already serving time on state convictions for child sex abuse has now been charged in federal court.
The federal indictment against Joe Cheater Jr., 48, who is accused of sexually abusing five children, is in anticipation of his conviction in state court being overturned based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling affecting state, federal and tribal jurisdiction.
Cheater, of Porter, was convicted in 2012 in Rogers County District Court in six cases of first-degree rape and lewd or indecent acts against a child younger than 16, court records show.
He appealed his Rogers County convictions on April 14, relying on the McGirt v. Oklahoma precedent, which established that the state of Oklahoma does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute cases involving Native Americans when the crimes occurred within the still-existing reservations of five Native tribes.
Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said Cheater’s appeal was stayed Thursday for at least 30 days so the district court can rule on which entity has criminal jurisdiction.
Online records state that Cheater has had two post-conviction hearings for relief based on jurisdiction in Rogers County District Court and is scheduled to have a third one Aug. 20.
In the meantime, Cheater is still serving his state sentences in an Oklahoma Department of Corrections prison, Johnson said.
Cheater was convicted of sexually assaulting victims, some younger than 12, from 2005 to 2009.
He was known to have neighborhood children have sleep overs at his house with his own children, Johnson said.
A “self-described father figure,” Cheater is charged in federal court with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor by force and threat in Indian Country and one count each of aggravated sexual abuse in Indian Country, abusive sexual contact with a minor in Indian country, and coercion and enticement of a minor in Indian Country, Johnson said in a news release.
The FBI and Rogers County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies, Johnson said.
As the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to prepare, Johnson said anyone with information about the crimes or who may have been sexually abused by the defendant is encouraged to contact Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Todd at 918-382-2791.