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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Native American Sex Abuse Victims Blast New Law

South Dakota Legislation Silences Many Who Were Hurt As Kids

Victims Call Measure 'Racist and Reckless' Because It Protects Wrongdoers

SNAP: "Legislators Basically Encourage Cover-Ups, Instead of Punishing Them"

Holding signs and photos of themselves at the age they were assaulted, Native American victims of sexual abuse will:
-- Tell of the sexual and physical abuse they suffered at Indian boarding schools in South Dakota,
-- Blast a new state law that makes it harder for child sex abuse victims to expose past crimes and prevent future wrongdoing, and
-- Urge lawmakers to rescind the measure.

Victims will also discuss how lawyers for the Catholic-run schools quickly and secretly worked to pass the law with no testimony from victims of sexual abuse or advocacy organizations.

Outside of St. Joseph's Cathedral

521 N. Duluth Avenue in Sioux Falls

Wednesday, September 29 at 1 pm

Eight to nine Native American victims of sexual abuse at Indian boarding schools, plus members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) including the groups' Western Regional Director

Last month a new state law (South Dakota HB 1104) went into effect that prevents dozens of adults who were sexually violated as kids from being able to expose wrongdoers, warn parents, protect kids, prevent recklessness and seek justice. It bars those victimized as children from exposing child molesters and their complicit colleagues in civil courts.

The measure was written by former church defense lawyer Steve Smith and was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Deadrick, Sen. Cooper Garnos, and Rep. Kent Juhnke.

Not a single victim of sexual abuse or an advocate for them was allowed to testify about the bill.

Indian boarding school victims believe that the law is a racist attempt to silence victims of what Amnesty International called "soul torture." While other states are extending or eliminating statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse, only South Dakota - a state where the majority of victims are Native American - has made it more difficult for victims to come forward.

SNAP believes the new law will make it "virtually impossible" to learn who covers up or has covered up for child molesters, making it more likely that someone will cover up for child sex offenders in the future. The "arbitrary" measure stops victims who are older than 39 from taking legal action against anyone except the offender who molested them (leaving out any adult who concealed the abuse). The youngest known victims of the boarding schools are all over 40.

In 2001, Canada established the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, which said that the Indian boarding schools there - many run by the same groups as South Dakota's schools - were responsible for the sexual abuse of children, rampant suicide, unexplained deaths of babies born to rape victims by Catholic priests, and mass sterilization. SNAP says there is no reason to believe that the situation was any different in South Dakota.

Adults who were molested as kids at St. Joseph's Indian School, Tekakwitha Orphanage, St. Francis Mission, Holy Rosary and Marty Mission will participate in the event.

Joelle Casteix, SNAP Western Regional Director (949) 322-7434 cell [email protected]
Bob Schwiderski, SNAP MN Director, (952) 471-3422
Barb Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003 [email protected]

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests