Fargo, North Dakota – United States Attorney Drew H. Wrigley announced that U.S. District Court Chief Judge Peter D. Welte sentenced Paul Henry Cavanaugh, age 55, from Fort Totten, ND, to serve 21 years and 8 months in federal prison, followed by supervised release for life and ordered to pay $100 special assessment to the Crime Victims’ Fund for the offense of Sexual Abuse of an Incapacitated Victim. On August 14, 2020, a jury found Cavanaugh guilty after a four-day trial in Fargo, the first federal criminal jury trial in North Dakota during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This case came to the attention of law enforcement in March 2018, when the victim, an 18-year-old adult female, reported that while at Cavanaugh’s residence on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation, he gave her alcohol and she consumed it and eventually feel asleep. The victim later woke up and discovered Cavanaugh was physically forcing her to engage in a sexual act while she was incapacitated.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the North Dakota Crime Laboratory and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jacob T. Rodenbiker and Lori H. Conroy.