The Bureau of Indian Affairs Police, Office of Justice Services, is the law enforcement wing of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for more than 567 registered Indian tribes and reservations, especially those lacking their own police forces. Bureau of Indian Affairs photo.
A Wyoming woman who lied about a police officer sexually assaulting her is now a convicted criminal.
In Cheyenne on April 26, US District Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal sentenced Benita Louise Smith, 56, of Riverton, to time served, plus two years of supervised release and a $100 fee, for making a false sexual assault claim against the officer. She must also complete 50 hours of community service.
Smith had faced up to five years behind bars, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release when she exited a federal penitentiary.
“Actual victims of sexual assault never really stop suffering. They suffer physical pain during and after the assault. They must become stronger every day because they suffer emotionally every day. And when they bravely stand up and speak the truth, they still face devastating attacks on their credibility,” US Attorney Bob Murray said in a prepared statement released Thursday, May 12. “A false accusation of sexual abuse is a despicable criminal act. It is a silent thief that steals so much from actual victims. This office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work hard and do our part to ensure these crimes are punished.”
Smith’s listed telephone number is disconnected. Neither she nor her defense attorney responded to email messages from Coffee or Die Magazine seeking comment.
Her case began on Oct. 26, 2020, when officers responded to a call for service on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Once there, they learned Smith had an active arrest warrant.
She was taken to the Wind River Detention Center. After she arrived, she told FBI Special Agent Christine Coble that Bureau of Indian Affairs Officer Derek Wichita had sexually assaulted her during the journey, according to her indictment.
But dash camera footage from inside Wichita’s patrol car proved she was lying. After an investigation was launched, she retracted her statement, according to the US Department of Justice.
The police force serving the Wind River Indian Reservation is one of the most honored in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In September, three of its officers received the prestigious Bureau of Indian Affairs Medal of Valor for risking their lives above and beyond the call of duty.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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