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March 5, 2003

Abuse Allegations Update: Parents Respond

From: KSFY, SD - 05 Mar 2003

Frustrated and held-back, a South Dakota School for the Deaf administrator wishes he could say more about an abuse investigation at his school. But even though he says the law holds him back, others are talking.

An elementary school parent tells KSFY administrators hired a counselor from Omaha. She says the counselor asked her daughter several questions to see if she was a victim of abuse.

School for the Deaf Superintendent Dr. Jon Green talked publicly Tuesday, saying there is "an ongoing investigation. I'm frustrated I can't tell my side of the story."

But some school parents gave us insight into how the administration is handling the investigation. "I was shocked when I heard it, and hoped the allegations weren't true," says Marla Nelson outside of the school. She says the school called her as soon as they learned of the allegations, "and told me they were investigating a student for possible abuse."

We also talked with an elementary school parent on the phone from Estelline. "I just hope that it gets resolved, and I think it's a very sad thing to happen and I feel bad for the parents who did have children involved," says Julie Saathoff. She says a counselor was brought to the school to find out if her daughter was a victim. "That's what the counselor was there for. We read a story talking about, I mean, like the good touch bad touch type thing," she says.

She's relieved because her daughter showed no signs of abuse, but feels sorry for other parents. "The parents who have children who are involved want their children to see an outside counselor who is not involved with the school for the deaf," she says. That's what the attorney for the parents alleging abuse is fighting for. "I want the school for the deaf to acknowledge that sexual abuse occurred. I want them to acknowledge they have a responsibility for these children," says Attorney Kenneth Dewell.

By: Tom Powell

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