This is my Twelfth Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It is being filed consistent with the Revised Guidelines approved by the Attorney General.
It has been more than 8 months since I filed my first report. In that time neither my sources nor I have seen any evidence the more than 100 children cited in these reports have been moved into safe placements. Most of those children remain in the full time care and custody of known sex offenders, addicts and abusive families.
Nor have we seen any indication of any effort by law enforcement to investigate, indict or prosecute the adults who have been credibly accused of being physically and sexually abusive to more than two dozen children.
In these 8 months I have filed detailed reports concerning all of the following:
1. The almost 40 children returned to on-reservation placements in abusive homes, many headed by known sex offenders, at the direction of the Tribal Chair. These children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped on a daily basis. Since I filed my first report noting this situation, nothing has been done by any of you to remove these children to safe placements.
The 45 children who were placed, at the direction of Tribal
Social Services (TSS), BIA social workers, BIA supervised TSS social workers
and the BIA funded
3. The 25 cases of children most of whom were removed from physically and sexually abusive homes based on confirmed reports of abuse as well as some who still remain in those homes. Neither the BIA nor the FBI have taken any action to investigate or charge the adults in these homes for their criminally abusive acts. Many, of the adults in these homes are related to, or are close associates of, the Tribal Chair or other Council members.
Since I filed my first report detailing these failures
to investigate, charge, indict, prosecute those adults, my sources and I have
observed nothing to suggest this has changed. Those adults remain protected by
the law enforcement which by its inaction is encouraging the predators to keep
on hunting for and raping children at
When was the last time the US Attorney indicted a child
Several years ago several former Tribal employees (including
Tribal judges, TSS staff and Tribal elders) filed a formal complaint about TSS
A week after returning from
Similar delegations met with the leadership of the
state Department of Human Services, its Child Welfare Agency, as well as with
the FBI. In each case comparable packages of documentation were delivered.
Since nothing ever came of these efforts to correct the situation at
Since I filed my first report detailing these efforts
on the part of several concerned citizens to correct the situation at
5. I believe the highest obligation and priority for every public official involved in this situation is to insure the safety of those children who were abruptly removed from safe, off-reservation placements and returned to on-reservation placements in many cases to the full time care and custody of known sex offenders where they were available to be raped daily as well as those children placed in unsafe homes in the care of addicts and abusers as a result of decisions made by BIA, TSS and the Tribal Court.
I have been instructed by the leadership of my agency that my beliefs do not reflect the policy position of either my agency or my department.
From what my sources and I have been able to observe the highest priority of the state, the FBI, BIA as well as other federal agencies has been to silence us, to label us as liars, as incompetents not qualified to identify the abuse of a child, to minimize the seriousness of this situation with their fabricated, self-serving claims. Among these claims are, “It’s a new problem”; “This problem arose because the Tribe lost the person responsible for filing their forms”; “If those whistleblowers would shut up everything would be fine”; “Everything is fine”; “They are making great progress”; “You are expecting too much progress too quickly”; “They are working hard.”;“It’s all fixed.”; “We’re doing a great job for kids” “You are not a subject matter expert”.
If that attitude was held by those who served on the Grand Jury that indicted Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, there would have been no indictments. It would have been decided that neither McQueary, the janitors nor any of those victims were credible because Jerry would have told them that all of those witnesses were lying and they would have believed him.
If just a bit of the energy devoted to trashing us was
used to assist the children of
The BIA Senior Criminal Investigator (CI) at
7. There are an unknown number of undocumented children (it is estimated by knowledgeable sources that there are more than 40 children who are trapped in this situation) who are being cared for by Foster Parents who are not being paid for their care. For most, if not all, payment is not an issue. However, without birth certificates, court orders and other documentation these children cannot be enrolled in Head Start, pre-school, school or qualified for Medicaid. Neither the state, county social services, BIA nor TSS have been willing to assist these foster parents in obtaining the necessary documentation. Since the Tribe placed all of these children with these Foster Parents, it is especially disturbing that now they deny any responsibility for them. Why is the BIA collaborating with the Tribe in this abuse of power?
8. On September 29, 2012 a 13 year old little girl was raped in her home by a 37 year old man. Law enforcement was called. The name and a description of the rapist was provided. No rape kit was collected. More than three weeks elapsed before the alleged rapist was interviewed. The little girl’s mother was told over the phone by FBI Agent Cima that the FBI had turned the case over to the BIA.
The BIA Senior Criminal Investigator (CI) called the mother to tell her that he had spoken with the alleged rapist who told him, “That girl wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?” The BIA CI then said, “Since the sex was consensual, there was no crime here and there will be no prosecution. This little girl contracted gonorrhea as a result of this rape.
It seems strange to me that the BIA CI ruled out the possibility of statutory rape in this case when the girl was so young and her rapist was almost 25 years older. It is even stranger that all of you accept without question the self-serving tale of a 37 year old rapist, “She wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?” Surely all of you have more brains than to accept that line.
9. On September 27, 2012 I filed a formal complaint against FBI Special Agent Bryan Cima due to his interference with my responsibilities as a Mandated Reporter of child abuse This filing was done consistent with instructions we received from the Grand Forks, ND FBI office. Since I have not been contacted by anyone asking for additional information concerning my formal complaint, I can only assume, given their complete disregard for this complaint, that the USDOJ and FBI view it as even less important than the eleven mandated reports I have filed.
The BIA, for several years, has been conducting annual
reviews of the
11. Five months ago on September 20, 2012, Hankie Ortiz, Deputy Bureau Director of BIA’s Office of Indian Services was quoted in the NY Times article about Spirit Lake saying, “the news media and whistleblowers had exaggerated the problem. This social services program has made steady progress.” Since I specifically asked Ms. Ortiz in my Sixth Mandated Report on October 30, 2012 to provide detail about how those of us who have been speaking out about the epidemic of child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake have “exaggerated the problem”, she has provided nothing to substantiate her lying, self-serving claims.
Apparently she has now taken a vow of silence. That vow makes good sense because six weeks after she was quoted in the NY Times, the Tribal Chair directly contradicted her fabricated defense of BIA. The Tribal Chair in a General Assembly meeting said in response to questions from an enrolled member that there were no lies in my reports and that he could not document any improvement in the condition of the children I had cited in my reports. Now, five months after her claim of “steady progress” neither my sources nor I have seen anything that would pass for “progress”.
A little girl, who on the first day of pre-school gave an
aide an accurate and detailed description of what was involved in giving a blow
job, was removed from her home due to
physical abuse. When evaluated at the Children’s
Since the Tribe would be required to pay for the therapy the Foster Parents had to get approval from TSS. They were turned down initially and at least once a month for the last six months because as the TSS case worker said, “If I approve this request for therapy, I will be fired in the morning as soon as the Tribal Council learns of it.” (The Catholic Archdiocese in Los Angeles, CA followed a similar policy not so long ago so that pedophile priests were not allowed by the Church to go to therapists who were required by law to report the sexual abuse of children by their clients to law enforcement).
This little girl is the granddaughter of a convicted
sexual offender who also serves on the Tribal Council. Since the BIA has taken
over all responsibility for TSS activities at
13. I understand two young children (two and three years of age) who had been removed from their homes in late December, 2010 and were evaluated at the nationally recognized Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Center at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks, ND during the late winter of 2011 and were diagnosed with severe developmental delay – they did not and could not speak, they did not understand simple words, they acted as though they had never seen a toy and had no idea what to do with them. Their only form of interaction was to hit each other and fight.
The Founder and Executive Director of the Center evaluated these children. His expert recommendation, provided in a written report, was that these children should never be returned to the home they came out of, that it would be a crime if they were ever placed back in that home.
The TSS Director ignored this expert evaluation and recommendation and placed these children back in that home shortly after he received that written report. They are still there suffering ever more developmental delay with every passing day.
TSS and BIA staff have been reviewing and correcting any
problems with paperwork for most of the last several months. Why has this
expert recommendation been overlooked? This is just one more example of the
continuing, grotesque failure of the BIA to protect the children of
A few weeks ago I was informed about a case that is well
known to you, Ms Settles, because you intervened to assist a concerned adult.
This adult was concerned for the welfare of a foster child who had confided to
her about his abusive home life, the refusal of the foster parent to spend
money received for this child on this child as well as other examples of abuse
and neglect. This child’s mother took her own life. This child attempted
suicide a year ago. He has for some time been demonstrating profound depression.
When a BIA social worker was assigned to his case, she closed it without even
speaking with this child. When this adult spoke with Marge Eagleman, BIA
Supervisor of Social Services, she was told, “well the investigator has done
her job and the case is closed.” When this adult spoke with Rod Cavanagh, BIA
When this adult spoke with you, Ms. Settles, you ordered the case reopened. Unfortunately, it has been more than two weeks since you took that action and no one has yet spoken with that little boy. I trust all of us understand how those mindless decisions and failures to follow up can turn a difficult situation into a tragic one.
The adult mentioned in # 14 is a Mandated Reporter of
suspected child abuse since they are on the staff at the
Mr. Purdon, what will you be doing to protect the rights of these two Mandated Reporters?
It is my understanding that some believe my Tenth Mandated Report, filed
on January 2, 2013, lead to the indictment of the father described in that report
on charges of Gross Sexual Imposition (a Class 2 Felony) In Ramsey County, ND.
If that is true, the county attorney in
The predators have been defended by the actions of the Spirit Lake
Tribal Chair and council. The state, TSS, FBI, BIA and other federal agencies’
leadership by their failure to investigate complaints, made several years ago,
about such abuse have facilitated this abuse. By their delay in effectively
responding to these Mandated Reports, these organizations and their leaders have
extended the reign of terror inflicted on the children of
A child at
Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF,