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N.D. inmate accused of sex crimes using prison’s video phone

While awaiting trial for attempted murder the inmate made video calls and sent 1,000 texts of a sexual nature to a teenage girl


By Travis Svihovec
The Bismarck Tribune, N.D.

BISMARK, N.D. — A man in prison for a 2021 shooting in Bismarck now faces accusations that while incarcerated and awaiting trial he made video calls and sent 1,000 texts of a sexual nature to a teenage girl.

Jonathan Sanchez, 19, of Williston, is charged with three counts of promoting or directing a sexual performance by a minor, according to court records. He is accused in an affidavit from the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department of directing a girl under the age of 18 to remove her clothes and perform sexual acts. The girl complied, and Sanchez at one point allegedly asked another inmate to observe the acts, the affidavit states.

A review of inmate communications by Burleigh Morton Detention Center officers revealed Sanchez made a video call of 19 minutes on Aug. 24, and on Aug. 31 he made video calls of 11 minutes and 19 minutes, the affidavit states.

Detention center inmates not on disciplinary measures are able to make phone calls, and send texts and make video calls on devices monitored by center officials, according to Burleigh County Sheriff Kelly Leben. Inmates pay a fee to offset the costs. Calls are monitored and also reviewed later for any violations.

“We can’t control what goes on on the other end,” Leben said. “We want to give them every opportunity to stay in touch with loved ones, but we have to do everything we can to eliminate abuse of the privilege.”

Sanchez was arrested in Oklahoma in May 2022 and charged in Bismarck with attempted murder, terrorizing and reckless endangerment. The charges stemmed from a November 2021 incident that authorities said was gang-related. Three people allegedly fired multiple shots at a car in retaliation against a man who wanted to get out of the gang. Nobody was injured. Charges against a second man were later dismissed.

Sanchez in October pleaded guilty to all three shooting-related charges. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Each of the sex crimes charges carries a possible 20-year sentence if he’s convicted.

Sanchez is in the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck. No attorney is listed for him in court records.No further court dates are listed in court documents.


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