TACOMA — A 69-year-old Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member and longtime Elwha Tribal Council member faces a possibility of life in prison after he was convicted of nine federal crimes related to the sexual abuse of two minors.
Sentencing of Joseph Anthony Turrey of Port Angeles is set for June 5 after the seven-day jury trial in federal court in Tacoma, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release issued Friday.
Turrey was convicted of six counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of abusive sexual contact.
Turrey is being held in the federal detention center in SeaTac while awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle in Tacoma.
The federal sentence for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor is 30 years to life in prison. Abusive sexual contact has a maximum federal sentence of life in prison. Sexual abuse of a minor has a federal sentence of 15 years in prison.
According to a second superseding indictment filed Nov. 2, 2022, in federal court in Tacoma, Turrey was accused of abusing two children younger than 12 between August 2008 and August 2016. The two girls were 6 and 7 years old when the sexual assaults began, according to the press release.
The crimes occurred on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation and tribal trust land of the Chehalis Tribe in Thurston County, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. That triggered federal intervention.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Police. The National Park Service assisted because the agency had a child forensic interviewer in the area at the time.
Turrey received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Peninsula College in 1998. He has been a Lower Elwha Tribal Council member since June 2000.
He was a 1971 graduate of Port Angeles High School. He served in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1992, including in the Special Forces.
Turrey served as a fisheries enforcement officer for the Hoh Tribe from 1993 to 1994, according to the current Hoh Tribal police chief. In the DOJ press release, Turrey was erroneously identified as a former Hoh police chief.
Emily Langlie, Department of Justice spokeswoman, said in a Tuesday email that Turrey “testified in court that he was Police Chief for the Hoh pre-2008.”
Current Hoh Police Chief John Suggs said in a telephone interview Wednesday that fisheries enforcement officers, or “fish cops,” often refer to themselves as “police chief.”
The Hoh Tribe has had an actual police chief only since August 2020, he said.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.