State Senator declares that we need an independent investiator

State Senator Bill Napoli is in the Argus Leader this morning expressing that an independent investigator is needed to prevent a Klaudt situation from ever happening again:
In the wake of the felony charges announced Friday against former Rep. Ted Klaudt, a child advocate and a state senator both said South Dakota should reconsider funding a totally independent investigation position.

Such a person would be capable, perhaps, of catching complaints early.

"Sooner or later, we're going to have to go back to that and see if we can create a totally independent investigator," Republican Sen. Bill Napoli of Rapid City said Tuesday. "Whether next session or after, we have to look at that again."

Lawmakers considered such a position after 14-year-old Gina Score died in DOC custody in 1999. Instead, they created the position of juvenile monitor within the state Human Services Department. State officials have said the monitor has unchecked authority to investigate the juvenile corrections system, but some skeptics wonder.
Read it all here.


Nicholas Nemec said…
When I read that one of the victims in this case first reported Klaudt over a year before but there was no investigation because she later recanted her story I was troubled. The simple fact she recanted should not be reason enough to drop an investigation. A victim in a case like this is very subject to intimidation and recantation might be strong evidence of witness intimidation. An investigator, with subpoena authority, completely independent from Social Services and Corrections, might have gotten to the bottom of this sooner.
Anonymous said…
Could someone please remind me wasn't part of the last investigation done by a non partisian outside organization outside of SD?
Which at the conculsion of its investigation weren't there many ruffled feathers not that that matters.
Here we will go building a larger government i have a feeling. Now do not get me wrong oversite is a good thing when it comes to protecting youth, the elderly and everyone between in all areas.
The line that comes to mind is who is going to oversee the overseer's.
I do agree with nic but we might be on a different path.
Anonymous said…
Bill Napoli fixes up old, junk cars for a living. He's exactly the person who should be deciding how to and when to pursue criminal charges. Go get'um Bill!

If the AG's office were to act sooner, they'd be criticised and could lose the case by being accused of "jumping to conclusions." Why create another bureacracy when the current one seems to work?
Anonymous said…

Gwen Caldwell
Voice of Women
(605) 279-2309
PO Box 135
Wall, SD 57790

Photo credit: Elli Schwiesow

As a family rights advocate and Founder of Voice of Women,the recent arrest of former SD lawmaker Ted Klaudt is of special interest to me. I applaud these young women for having the courage to come forward and report this inappropriate behavior.

The affidavit is a heart-wrenching read. We are aware that this is not an isolated problem, especially where Native American children are concerned. I encourage anyone that has been abused or witnessed abuse of any child in foster care to report it to authorities immediately.

You do not have to be victimized by your caregivers no matter who they are. You have the right to be safe and protected in your living environment. Anyone wishing to talk to an advocate for resources or more information may call (605) 279-2309.

Myself, numerous clients and other very credible advocates had been working with Klaudt in his official capacity as the highly esteemed Chairman of the Government Operations and Audit Committee. The relationship with former Rep. Klaudt was to resolve issues, that he insured us he had the “ Constitutional authority”(and obligation) to take action on, including allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in South Dakota’s foster care system.

The allegations against Klaudt coincide with the very time frame that we were testifying, providing documentation, and actively seeking solutions to the very charges he’s now accused of.

I am concerned that the Department of Social Services would drop an investigation, because the alleged victim recanted her statement, as this is a very common problem, and well known to most professionals that deal with such domestic abuses. It also appears that the Department violated their own policies, procedures and protocols, which was another complaint we brought to the table during hearings. I find it particularly alarming that their investigation would be dropped when the issue of sexual abuse allegations in foster care, were being presented for that very Department to be investigated by the Committee that Klaudt chaired and had influence over.Is this a coincidence?

Is Ted Klaudt innocent? I know better than most how charges are exaggerated and at times invented against parents, accused of abuse. However, in this case only the children are innocent. Ted Klaudt had knowledge of the problems, as did all members of his Committee, Secretary Bowman, Child Protection Administrator Virgena Weisler, Attorney General Larry Long, Juvenile Corrections Monitor John Ellis and Governor Rounds.

The failure in their official capacities to address these issues makes them all guilty of putting children in the system at risk in my opinion. Our complaints were minimized, our testimony interrupted, our documentation disregarded. Our requests for an Ombudsman or an Oversight Committee to insure the safety of children and the legal rights of parents, for the passage of a State Indian Child Welfare Act, amending SD Adoption and Safe Families Act and child protection laws to clarify definitions and to redirect available funds into family preservation were all disregarded. Our requests were legitimate and had they been taken seriously and responded to would have gone a long way toward showing good faith on the part of the state to protect our children and ensure their safety.

If there is any opportunity in this very embarrassing development, then perhaps in this case, it will be taken to revisit some of our initial complaints and immediate action taken to resolve the systemic problems that have long existed in South Dakota surrounding the foster care and child protection industry.

It is disappointing to know that years of effort on our parts have done little if anything to ensure the safety of our children. I submit to you that many of these children would have been far safer in the home of their parents (or extended family)that the state deemed as “unsafe”. I question, based on what standard, these homes were deemed unsafe? Especially when in the case of Indian children this would be in compliance with the federal mandates of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Rep. Deb Peters stated during GOAC hearings, “These children deserve to know what it’s like to live in a functional family.” I can’t help but wonder if Ted Klaudt’s foster children who have made these allegations think that they deserved this functional family?

The notion that only professional (foster/adoptive) parents and the state know what’s best for our children is ridicules. That only they can protect our children,keep them safe and love them is a lie. Historically, statistics throughout the United States indicate children are always at a much higher risk of sexual abuse and death at the hands of their professional parents than in the homes of their natural families. The biggest lie is that this isn’t about the money! The federally subsidized child abuse machinery is run by under qualified, over zealous, incentive based non-governmental agencies and contracted care providers at the expense of American families and the safety of children, with no oversight.

More information is available at The Lakota Peoples Law Project is currently investigating abuses in the foster care system in South Dakota and may be reached at (605) 745-4275
Anonymous said…
Considering the fact that Napoli and Klaudt were best buddies, I don't see how an independent investigator is going to catch anything. Any complaint would have to initially be turned over to this investigator. If DSS thought it was that serious than they would have investigated it themselves. Hindsight says it was a mistake not to investigate but it is very common for kids to make these claims. Perhaps they were a little carless considering Klaudt's position. We simply dont need this because of one potential mistake. If Napoli makes a mistake on his taxes, should the federal government send an independent auditor to check his tax returns every year?

For Gwen Caldwell,
I have plenty of issues with your statement but I want to specifically address ICWA. You want to talk about a political piece of trash that does more to hurt kids than a 1000 Klaudt scandals this is it. The fact is indian children should be re-placed to other families if possible but if that isn't a suitable environment then foster care is appropriate. ICWA says no way can nonindians take indians off the reservation. I am not going to generalize a group of people but we all know the problems that we have on the reservation and they are growing and if those kids can't get good care then they should be taken where they will.
Anonymous said…
Hasn't anyone noticed yet - Napoli just likes the attention.

He runs second only to Kloucek for doing whatever's possible to shine the light on himself.
Anonymous said…
in a perfect world, we would read ted's mind...if he had one...and know, in advance, that we should not place kids with him.

but, it is not a perfect world.

in a perfect world, there would be numerous blog posting experts who would step up and say "i'm not a pervert, i am a good parent, i will take an orphan or a foster child."

however, it is not a perfect world.

therefore, society tries to train foster parents and trust them...knowing full well in some cases that there might be others better suited for the job, but those others are not willing to take it....

and then, on rare occasion, one of the folks who ARE willing to take kids, abuses the kid.

then, they go to prison.

It is not a great system, but it is based on reality.

the only reason screwballs like ted end up as foster parents, is because most of the rest of us are not willing to take on the job.

which leaves guys like him, a fine opportunity.
Gwen Caldwell said…
The Indian Child Welfare Act is a FEDERAL has nothing to do with politics! It's being grossly violated in South Dakota. The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled many times against the state for violations of that law. My suggestion for those who think it's a "piece of trash", should then petition Congress to change the LAW. Until you are successful at doing that, the law should be honored and followed. And yes, please don't stereotype, it wouldn't be politically correct and may even hurt your anonymous credibility. You might appear to be racist and therefore, think it's okay for former legislators and foster parents to sexually abuse young Indian women.
Anonymous said…
ICWA is a piece of trash legislation? Perhaps the author should research the history of ICWA and how and why it came about. Then one might research the UN Genocide Treaty of which the US is a signatory. We are taking DSS' word ("trust us")that there was no "safe" home in which to place the victims, so they were placed in Klaudt's home - laughable were it not so tragic. DSS is allowed to make statements without evidence because they are a secret agency. Don't blindly believe the propaganda machine. Foster care is a $12 BILLION a year industry in this country. Follow the money.

The "juvenile monitor" only has the authority to investigate DOC children placed in facilities. Note that he stated this is the very first investigation he has been asked to do on a private foster care home. The blameless foster children of DSS have NO MONITOR.

I have noticed that no DOC or DSS official or any legislator has once expressed any concern for the victims or given us any assurance that they will take steps to ensure the safety of ALL foster children. They are busy disassociating themselves from the problem. The state is in denial, refusing to accept responsibility for their actions and blaming others for their mistakes.

Some legislators are now calling for what we family rights advocates have asked for for three years - OVERSIGHT (Ted Klaudt assured us that HE was in charge of oversight), a COMPLETE AUDIT (Ted Klaudt assured us that he would ask for audits), and an INDEPENDENT OMBUDSMAN.

Popular posts from this blog

Why should we be surprised?

That didn't take long