Will We Fail These Children Again? Or Answer Their Prayers?

Will We Fail These Children Again? Or Answer Their Prayers?

Friends, I’m calling on your support and prayers. I don’t often say “read this” but READ THIS. Take two minutes and read the whole thing.

I’m about to fly to Washington D.C. to give a press conference on Monday. Much is at stake but nothing more important than the girls who have been let down time and again in the Mette Rape Scandal.

Almost nobody knows about this story and that’s part of the tragedy.

mette-phorRichard Mette and his wife Wendy took in foster children in South Dakota who they adopted. The Mettes were given about $300,000 in taxpayer money over the years as foster & adoptive parents.

Richard Mette raped the girls for years. Both parents beat them, sometimes with shoes or belts. The children said Wendy knew about the abuse.

Imagine the terror these girls faced every night for around a decade: not knowing if 6’9″ Richard Mette would once again force to choose between a beating or sex with him, not knowing whether they would be beaten or cut with a knife. As evil as the abuse was, it’s the waiting and not knowing what would be next that makes me cry when I think about it: thousands of nights anticipating more abuse.

Now imagine these children praying every night that someone would come and help them, to make the terror stop. Their hopes were dashed every single time.

In 2001, the Department of Social Services and police investigated. The children were betrayed: the Mettes were given a warning. In 2007, another investigation and another betrayal. Years more abuse as the state of South Dakota ignored porn everywhere in the house and stories of abuse and touching. Wendy was furious at the children who’d reported the abuse, and yelled at them until they cried.

In 2010, the children are finally removed from the home. Arrests followed as the sickening details came out. Now-finally-maybe the nightmare would end. They were saved, with the help of prosecutor Brandon Taliaferro and child’s advocate Shirley Schwab.

But the children were about to face the biggest betrayal of all.

The state of South Dakota was worried about a lawsuit since they’d failed the children so many times. The dropped all charges against Wendy Mette. They dropped all but one charge against Richard Mette. Then the state of South Dakota snatched the children from the sister they were living with and sent them back to live with Wendy. And in an unbelievable twist, they arrested the people helping the children: Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab.

Now, the children were betrayed not just by their adoptive parents and the state of South Dakota’s highest official but by the South Dakota media, who didn’t want to rock the boat.

That’s why almost nobody heard of this story. The South Dakota newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and other media outlets failed these children, too. I truly don’t understand this: did these reporters go into journalism to cover up for politicians or to tell the truth that protects the voiceless?

Nobody told their story. Now, many powerful people want to cover it up. The girls were let down at every turn.

Now, I’m begging you.  plea let’s make sure that you and I don’t fail these girls.

Right now, you can help them by making sure their story reaches as many people as possible..

You’re busy. A million things call for your attention. Your life has enough struggle and drama.

But now that you know some of the story, don’t just walk away. Take a few moments and do something. Tell others.

One of the girls wrote this a few days ago:

“Although all of this is hard for me to talk about and brings up horrible memories, I have a voice and I’m going to use it. This is the some of corruption in the state of South Dakota that my siblings and I had to deal with. Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab are our heroes NOT criminals like they were/are made out to be. They were the ones who were there for us and helped us find a safe place and until people like the Attorney General Marty Jackley, States Attorney Kimberley Dorsett and others took that away. Please spread the word, the truth”

Now, YOU are the voice.

Those girls survived because for year, they said thousands of prayers for help. Their faith that someone would answer them kept them going.

In this moment, I want you to see that you are the answer to one of those prayers.

For more on the story read this summary and listen to Season One of Brought To Light.

The Mette Scandal: Summary Of The Shocking Cover-Up

The Mette Scandal: Summary Of The Shocking Cover-Up

For years, 6’9” 310 pound Richard Mette raped & tortured his adopted Lakota Indian daughters at the home he shared with his wife Wendy Mette in the town of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

After Richard Mette was arrested in 2010 authorities learned he assaulted KM nearly whenever they were alone from the time she was eight years old, sometimes forcing her to play a game he called “Beating or Blow Job.” The police found a huge collection of pornography including titles like “Family Lust” in Richard & Wendy’s bedroom. In the open, public area of the house they found a large set of “Sex Dice” with the pictures of of body parts on one die and words like kiss, suck or caress on the other.

Richard Mette would be charged with 23 counts of rape of child under ten years old and related charges. Wendy Mette would also be arrested and charged with 11 counts of abuse or cruelty to a minor.

The abuse could have been stopped earlier. The South Dakota Department of Social Services investigated the Mettes twice before the 2010 arrests; once in 2001 and another time in 2007, when Richard was sexually assaulting his daughter constantly. In both investigations, the police and DSS found evidence of inappropriate touching and physical abuse but left the children in the home and allowed the Mettes to continue in the foster parent program with a warning to stop spanking the children.

After the 2001 case, the Mettes were allowed the adopt the foster daughters that Richard would go on to assault.

In the 2007 case, State’s Attorney Kim Dorsett failed to file any charges, despite the fact that the Mette daughters told police that Wendy Mette had been told that Richard Mette was assaulting them.

After the 2010 arrest, the rape and abuse cases against the Mettes were spearheaded by a young Assistant State’s Attorney named Brandon Taliaferro and a children’s advocate named Shirley Schwab. Both Taliaferro and Schwab clashed with the DSS, who were trying to reunite with girls with Wendy.

But a few months into the case, a stunning turnaround happened.

After a June 1st, 2011 hearing where it was announced that a lawsuit against the DSS on behalf of the Mette Girls was in the works, Taliaferro was removed from the Mette case. In September 2011, under a direct order from South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, Brandon Taliaferro was fired from his position as an Assistant State’s Attorney.

Schwab contented to work on the case. On October 31st, 2011 she filed a court report that included evidence that State’s Attorney Dorsett had a lucrative side contract with the Department of Social Service that prohibited her or her private law firm from doing anything “in opposition to the interests of the state of South Dakota or any of its departments.”

That motion exposing the conflict of interest by Kim Dorsett happened to come just days after NPR ran a three part story by journalist Laura Sullivan called Lost Children, Shattered Families that put a national spotlight on South Dakota.

Nearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year, sometimes under questionable circumstances. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is largely failing to place them according to the law.

The combination of the NPR exposé and Schwab’s conflict of interest revelation created an immediate pushback from Dorsett, working in concert top law enforcement officials in South Dakota at the direction of Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Within days;

  • A secret plea deal was made to drop all charges against Wendy Mette, despite Dorsett being told on November 2nd that KM said that Wendy Mette knew about the abuse. (November 3rd)
  • AG Marty Jackley gave the order that investigating Schwab and Taliaferro for witness tampering was the ‘top priority’ of Division of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Black. (November 3rd)
  • Black removed the Mette girls from school and interrogated them in the basement of the DCI office. The girl’s lawyer was not present and permission to remove the girls was given by the DSS. (November 4th)
  • Dorsett wrote an affidavit containing information she knew to be false and had DCI Agent Black sign and submit it in an ex partè hearing to remove Schwab from the Mette case. (November 5th)
  • The home and office of Taliaferro and Schwab were raided and their computers seized. (November 7th)
  • Despite a court order, Agent Black went to the home of an older sister who was taking care of the Mette girls. (December 7th)

South Dakota State’s attorney Micheal Moore officially dropped all charges against Wendy Mette and dropped 22 of the 23 charges against Richard Mette, who was given a 15 year sentence for years of taxpayer subsidized rape and torture of his adoptive daughters. The girls were ordered to be sent back to live with Wendy Mette, which ended any lawsuit against the State or the DSS.

Schwab and Taliaferro were arrested and charged with witness tampering and subornation of perjury. They faced forty years in prison.

When the trial eventually happened, the state’s case against Taliaferro & Schwab was so weak that the Judge took the almost unheard of step of stopping the trial halfway through after the prosecution rested. Two charges had been dismissed by the state, and the Judge threw out the rest.

That didn’t end the nightmare for Schwab and Taliaferro, however, who had lost their livelihoods and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills. Taliaferro was unable to get the dismissed charges expunged from his record because South Dakota law requires consent of the prosecutor.