Former boarding school students demand complete list of pedophile clergy


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Their court cases were thrown out due to the statute of limitations and the names of their abusers were not released.

Native Americans who say they were abused by Catholic priests, nuns and even lay people are still waiting for some kind of resolution.

KELOLAND Investigates has brought you the stories of “South Dakota’s Secret Past,” when Native American children were snatched from their families and placed into boarding schools, often abused and in some cases, sold.

When the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese released the names of 11 abusive clergy in March, it did not include the names of those who worked in the diocese, but under a different order. 
The watchdog group Bishop Accountability has 25 names of clergy accused of abuse for the eastern part of the state.
It includes seven nuns and eight brothers who worked on South Dakota Indian reservations.
Two sisters say the fact that their abusers are not being named deepens the scars left by years of abuse. 

“You never, ever get rid of that sense of guilt, that sense of shame; that sense of why did this happen to me,” Louise Charbonneau Aamot said.

These sisters say they suffered abuse at the hands of priests, nuns and lay workers at St Paul’s boarding school in Marty during the 50’s and 60’s. 

“I was forced to perform those despicable acts in order to survive,” Barbara Charbonneau Dahlen said. 

Aamot and Dahlen are two of nine Native American sisters who attended the school.

“We all suffer from PTSD. We all have problems with interpersonal relationships. Some of us sisters had problems with alcoholism,” Dahlen said.

Dahlen says this priest Fr. Francis Suttmiller forced her to perform oral sex in the church basement.

“It was the most scary building on campus because many students were abused or raped in that church. And he’d lift me up and put me in a coffin and say, if you say anything, I’ll keep you in here,” Dahlen said.

Fr. Suttmiller is not on the list released by the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese. He is, however, on the list of “Bishop Accountability.” 

“I want no more hiding. I want justice and I want no more hiding the pedophile,” Dahlen said.

The Sioux Falls Diocese contends it does not have to include the names of credibly accused clergy from different religious orders who were stationed in its territory. The Survivor’s Network of those abused by priests or SNAP disagrees.

“It’s another form of cover up.  Every priest, every clergy member kisses the ring of the bishop. They have to have permission from the bishop to serve in the diocese,” Tim Lennon said.

On the other hand, the Rapid City Catholic Diocese released a list of 21 clergy, which did include those who worked in the diocese but fell under control of a different order. Most of them worked on the state’s Indian reservations.

“And we’re not going to go away. We’re going to continue this fight because it’s that important that South Dakota recognize what they did,” Dahlen said.

St. Paul’s students filed lawsuits against the religious orders, the clergy and the Sioux Falls Diocese.
They made it all the way to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled in 2012 the Diocese was not liable for the alleged acts of the clergy and lay people at the school because the Diocese didn’t run the school.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss!

More Don't Miss


More Contests