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Jury convicts man of sexually abusing American Indian minor, illegally possessing eagle feathers

Jury convicts man of sexually abusing American Indian minor, illegally possessing eagle feathers

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A Quapaw man who falsely claimed to be an American Indian spiritual healer has been found guilty of sexually abusing a minor in Indian Country, traveling out of state with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and illegally possessing feathers and other body parts from bald and golden eagles.

Federal prosecutors theorized that Carl Gene Ortner, 57, used his claimed status as an American Indian spiritual healer to groom a teenage girl into having sex with him in 2016.

“Carl Ortner is not a Native American spiritual counselor, as he led his community to believe, said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in a written statement. “A jury this week saw Ortner for what he was — a predator who targeted a vulnerable young victim, using her Native American heritage and grief to sexually abuse her.

Ortner was originally charged in 2018 with second-degree rape by Ottawa County District Court prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to the rape charge and received a 15-year sentence with all but the first two years suspended.

A federal grand jury named Ornter in October in a five-count indictment after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling, determined that the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction to prosecute major crimes when the victim was an American Indian and the offenses occurred within the historic geographical boundaries of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Prosecutors claimed that Ortner falsely claimed to others that he was a member of either the Cherokee Nation or the Pawnee Nation.

However, law enforcement failed to turn up any evidence that Ortner was a citizen of any federally recognized tribe.

Trial testimony revealed that government investigators discovered feathers and various parts of bald and golden eagles, including heads, talons and entire wings, during a search of his residence.

Prosecutors alleged that Ortner gave eagle feathers to the victim to gain her trust and the trust of her family.

Witnesses testified that he later threatened to embarrass the victim and her tribe unless she said the sexual assault did not happen, according to court documents.

Ortner faces not less than 10 years behind bars and up to life in prison on the conviction for traveling out of state to engage in criminal sexual activity.

He also faces up to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a child in Indian Country and up to two years in prison for abusive sexual contact in Indian Country.

Two misdemeanor counts of illegally possessing parts of a bald or golden eagle each carry up to one year in prison upon conviction.

Interestingly, while most McGirt-related cases have been filed in federal court after the accused challenged their state convictions, Ortner has not appealed his state conviction.


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