One of the principle investigators in South Dakota levied serious accusations against South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and former Brown County State’s Attorney Kim Dorsett, alleging they both covered up for a child rapist in order to protect their financial interest and do favors for campaign contributors.
Mark Black, who was the lead investigator on a case against attorney Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab, issued a statement on Feb. 23 that alleged criminal wrongdoing committed willingly by the highest law enforcement official in South Dakota — Marty Jackley.
“I remind you the real victims are the Mette children, who have been failed by the system set up to protect them,” said Black in a prepared statement. “The most shameful consequence being that they were returned to an adopted mother who did not protect them and this was as a result of the actions of Kimberly Dorsett and Marty Jackley whose true motivation was financial gain for Dorsett personally and the financial gain of Jackley’s largest political contributors.”
The background of the case begins in 1999, when Richard and Wendy Mette, a white couple living in Aberdeen, South Dakota, had seven Lakota siblings placed with them by the South Dakota Department of Social Services.
The Mettes then began a pattern of sexual and physical abuse that defies the imagination and despite a preponderance of evidence that showed the children were subjected to horrendous living conditions the state DSS continued to allow the children to stay in the home.
Finally, in 2010, when a doctor noticed signs of abuse on one of the children and alerted law enforcement the police raided the house and discovered the children had been abused consistently for the past decade.
The case was given to Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab, however, after the two officials began to openly question the DSS’s competence in the case they were summarily removed by Taliaferro’s boss Kim Dorsett and replaced by a different attorney, Mike Moore.
Moore promptly dropped 22 of the 23 counts against Richard Mette and all 11 counts against Wendy Mette in exchange for a plea.
If this wasn’t horrible enough, the Brown County State’s Attorney then filed charges against Taliaferro and Schwab, the only officials who had protected the children, accusing them of perjury. In January 2013, Judge Gene Paul Keen tossed the case against Taliaferro and Schwab out of court and admonished the prosecution for even bringing charges with such lacking evidence.
Yesterday, Black issued a statement that accused Dorsett of illegally embellishing an affidavit that said the Mette children lied about Wendy Mette’s involvement in their prolonged abuse. He further asserted that Dorsett lied as an effort to protect her $75,000 annual contract she had with South Dakota Department of Social Services.
“Dorsett’s embellishment of the affidavit for the removal of Schwab, withholding of the Wendy Mette plea agreement, the misinformation about the unsigned document and her request that I lie with respect to a friendship, is not mere happenstance or carefully crafted incompetence, but rather an obvious attempt to see that Schwab and Taliaferro were prosecuted unjustly to protect (her contract),” Black said.
Black then said that having the children placed back with Wendy Mette would subvert the Mette children’s civil lawsuit against the state DSS.
Jackley has long maintained that he was not privy to the details of the case, but Black asserted in his statement that Jackley’s two largest campaign contributors had a direct financial interest in ICWA funds. Those contributors and Jackley maintained a vested interest in the state DSS continual seizure of Lakota children, which had been happening at an unprecedented rate beginning in the 1990s.
“Schwab and Taliaferro’s attempt to raise issues surround the ICWA funds potentially jeopardized the money these contributors received,” Black said. “I think we can put two and two together that if Jackley’s corporate political contributors are benefiting financially that benefits Jackley and his future political ambitions.”
Black also said he was order to keep the Attorney General’s office updated on the progress of the case against Taliaferro and Schwab.
“For Jackley to say that he was not involved in the decision making process with respect to my investigation is ludicrous,” Black said.
Black said he has since been subjected to the same official retaliation that Taliaferro and Schwab received and called upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the South Dakota Bar Association to open an investigation into the actions of Dorsett and Jackley with respect to obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence and violation of civil rights and the abuse of power and public corruption.
For more visit Lakota People’s Law Project’s initial investigation into the case here:
Mark Black’s entire statement can be read here: