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March 3, 2003

Abuse Allegations Update

From: KSFY, SD - 03 Mar 2003

A controversy at The South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls has some parents pulling their children out of school. The lawyer representing some of the parents says the children were apparently sexually abused. Attorney Kenneth Dewell says it was an older student who apparently sexually abused younger victims during school activities. KSFY called school administrators but they refused to talk.

Attorney Dewell tells KSFY, "It came to our attention that an investigation regarding sexual abuse within The School for the Deaf had occurred and that the investigation was underway." School officials aren't talking but Dewell says the school informed the parents about the investigation several weeks ago. "It involved several younger children in the school with a perpetrator that was going to school at the same time," he says. Children at the school range in age from kindergarten to high school. Dewell says the perpetrator is an older student and the victims are in middle school. "I want the School for the Deaf to acknowledge that the sexual abuse occurred, to acknowledge they have a responsibility to these parents,"says Dewell. He also wants the school to bring in private counselors experienced in dealing with victims of sexual abuse.

We don't know if there is a criminal investigation, but so far Dewell says no one has been charged. He also says there is no lawsuit right now, and that parents are concentrating on getting counseling for their children. Dewell won't say how many students are involved, but he did tell us they're from South Dakota.

By: Tom Powell

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