- By Darren Thompson
TULSA, Okla. — A man who is known as a Native American spiritual counselor was convicted on Tuesday, May 18 by a federal jury for sexual abuse against a minor who is Native American.
Carl Gene Ortner Jr., 57, was found guilty of several sex crimes including transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, sexual abuse of a child an Indian Country, and abusive sexual contact in Indian Country. Because Ortner was not a tribal citizen of a federally recognized tribe and possessed cultural materials protected by federal law, he was also found guilty of possession of parts of a bald eagle, and possession of parts of a golden eagle.
Federal prosecutors argued that Ortner portrayed himself as both an Indian and an American Indian “medicine man” to prey on his victim. Part of their argument was that Ortner had no tribal affiliation and no tribe could claim him on their tribal enrollment records. Ortner claimed he was a member of the Quapaw Nation in Oklahoma.
“Carl Ortner is not a Native American spiritual counselor, as he led his community to believe. He was a predator who targeted a vulnerable young victim, using her Native American heritage and grief to sexually abuse her,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in a press release. “During this trial, two other victims came forward and stated that Ortner also abused them. All three of these young women are to be commended for their bravery and for stopping this defendant from harming others.
A special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service testified that investigators discovered feathers in various parts of bald and golden eagles, including heads, talents, and entire wings, at Ortner’s residence. Possession of bald and golden eagles is illegal, except for members of American Indian tribes as defined by federal law.
The jury took less than two hours to deliberate before coming back with guilty verdicts on all five counts, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, FBI, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted the investigation.
Ortner is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30, 2021.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated a grand jury convited Mr. Ortner. A federal district court jury convicted him.
More Stories Like ThisNative News Weekly (November 27, 2022): D.C. Briefs
Sen. Schumer Announces $7.625 Million Federal Grant on Seneca Nation
#GivingTuesday: Here are 16 Native Nonprofits Worthy of Your Support
CBS Broadcasters Mock Native American College Basketball Player
Alcatraz Island: Indigenous People Gather at Sunrise on Thanksgiving
You’re reading the first draft of history.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:
- Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
- Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.
- Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country. We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.
Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.