A Fort Belknap man will spend 22 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting a 1 ½-year-old relative in his residence.
Joseph Christopher Birdtail, 37, pleaded guilty in May to abusive sexual contact.
Friday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in federal District Court in Great Falls sentenced Birdtail to 264 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Birdtail was charged after a doctor found evidence June 22, 2012, that the toddler may have been abused. A sexual assault nurse examiner found evidence that the girl had been sexually abused.
The woman confronted Birdtail when she returned home to her residence, which is on Fort Belknap Indian Reservation but has a Dodson mailing address, after leaving the child with him about an hour-and-a-half and found bruising on the child, the release says.
The girl’s mother took the child to the emergency room at the suggestion of Birdtail, the release says, when he denied any wrongdoing.
Birdtail told investigating officers that when he changed the child’s diaper he “got the ugly urge” to touch the child with his finger, the release says.