Spirit Lake Nation man punished in domestic violence case

Roman Cavanaugh Jr., a member of the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation in North Dakota, was sentenced to five years and six months in federal prison in a domestic violence case.

Cavanaugh pleaded guilty to domestic assault by a habitual offender for a July 2008 incident involving his common-law wife. Federal law recognized his prior tribal court convictions in treating him as a repeat domestic violence offender.

Cavanaugh challenged his treatment as a habitual offender under 18 U.S.C. § 117. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal prosecutors can use his tribal cases even though he was never provided with an attorney.

"Because of this statute, Roman Cavanaugh isn't going to be in a position to abuse his wife and kids for a very long time," U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon of North Dakota said in a press release, the Associated Press reported.

Cavanaugh has also pleaded guilty to two felony child abuse charges in a different incident. He admitted that he used a closed fist to strike his 11-year-old and 12-year-old sons in their faces in December 2010.

Get the Story:
Fort Totten man sentenced in pivotal domestic violence case (AP 9/17)

8th Circuit Decision:
US v. Cavanaugh (July 6, 2011)

Related Stories:
Supreme Court won't hear Indian domestic violence case (02/21)
Two Indian domestic violence cases before Supreme Court (12/12)

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