Indian Country artist Walter Roy “Bunky” Echo-Hawk Jr. (Pawnee Nation/Yakama Nation) faces a second felony charge in a criminal child abuse case originally filed against him earlier this year in the District Court of Pawnee County in Oklahoma.
The new charge, which was filed by the Pawnee County District Attorney in July, claims Echo-Hawk allegedly possessed child pornography, a felony that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The child pornography charge stems from the investigation in an earlier criminal case filed against Echo-Hawk for lewd and indecent acts to a child under 16.
In October 2021, a minor child reported Echo-Hawk to a local Department of Human Services for inappropriately touching. In an inteview with a Pawnee County DHS worker, the child vividly recounted incidents of inappropriate touching by Echo-Hawk, 46, between the time when the child was “7 or 8 until 11 or 12 years old” but didn’t realize what was happening was sexual in nature until the child got older, according to court documents.
District Attorney of Pawnee County Mike Fisher charged Echo-Hawk with lewd or indecent acts to children under 16; Echo-Hawk pleaded not guilty.
On July 8, Fisher added the second felony charge based on evidence police found during a court-approved search of Echo-Hawk’s home in December 2021.
Police collected Echo-Hawk’s iPad and mailed it to a Digital Forensic Center for analysis.
“The iPad listed ‘IBunk Pro’ as the device name and the device owner as Walter Echo Hawk,” court documents read. “Located on the device were 9,978 images and of those images, 8,049 were classified as possibly containing images of child sexual abuse.”
Inappropriate images of that “an apparent pre-pubescent” child who is believed to be the victim in this case were also found on the iPad, in addition to “numerous images of apparent child sexual abuse and numerous images of suspected child sexual abuse.”
Echo-Hawk will “absolutely plead not guilty” to the pornography charge at his arraignment next Tuesday, his lawyer Dan Good told Native News Online.
“Bunky is adamant that he never looked at anything like that,” Good said, but added that he hasn’t yet been allowed access to the evidence himself. “All I know is they’re saying, ‘We found this bad stuff.’ I don’t know any of the details about it. I know multiple people had access to that device.”
In a statement Good provided Native News Online, Echo Hawk fervently denied the charges.
“I want to be perfectly clear: I have never in my life accessed, sought or held any interest in viewing that type of material in any way, shape or form,” Echo-Hawk said in a written statement provided by his attorney. “I am shocked, bewildered and devastated by just the thought of this allegation — and like the false claims made against me previously — I am not guilty of what I have been accused of. I eagerly look forward to proving my innocence in court, and simply request privacy for my family during this painful chapter of our lives.”
Next Tuesday, Aug. 23, Echo-Hawk will appear in court to receive preliminary hearing dates for both counts, District Attorney Jeff Jones told Native News Online.
“The state has to prove that a crime was committed and, more probably true than not, this defendant committed that crime,” Jones said.
READER NOTICE: If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, StrongHearts Native Helpline 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) is a safe, anonymous, and confidential domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, offering culturally-appropriate support and advocacy.
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