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Woman Charged with Child Abuse in Death of a Toddler

GRAND FORKS—U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced today that Hope Louise Tomahawk Whiteshield, of St. Michael, North Dakota, has been charged by complaint with child abuse and neglect in Indian Country. Whiteshield, 31, made her first appearance before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Charles S. Miller, Jr. today at 3:30 p.m. The alleged incident involving the death of a two-year old child, as described in the complaint, occurred on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation on or about June 12, 2013.

Judge Miller ordered Whiteshield to be temporarily detained until her detention hearing on Monday, June 24, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In Fargo, U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon said, “The criminal complaint filed today represents the initial charges in this matter. The investigation into the circumstances of this tragedy is continuing. The protection of children is a top priority for my office and we are doing everything possible to thoroughly and deliberately investigate this matter.”

The charge of child abuse and neglect in Indian country carries a statutory minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Purdon stressed that the complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Janice M. Morley is prosecuting the case.

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