Hopi Mothers Tell Senate Panel of Molestations
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Five Hopi Indian mothers whose children were molested said Thursday during emotional testimony that the federal government has not provided the services needed to end sex abuse on their reservation.
Using only their first names, the witnesses before a special investigative unit of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs described cases of abuse which have traumatized children and parents.
One story involved the case of John Boone, a former teacher and coach at Pollaca Day School, which is operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona.
Boone pleaded guilty to two counts of child sex abuse on the reservation and is now serving a prison term, according to Senate staff investigators.
Debra, whose son was one of Boone’s victims, said she reported Boone to school authorities in 1986 after her son came home and said he’d taken a shower with the teacher in the teacher’s home. She said they took no action.
″I was devastated,″ she said, her voice cracking.
Debra said she tried to keep her sons from going to Boone’s house, but on one occasion had to send her daughter to retrieve them.
The daughter told her she saw Boone ″wrestling around″ with one of the boys and stole a ″sex book″ from Boone’s house that had photos and definitions of sex terms.
This time, about a year after the first incident, Debra went to the tribal investigator and later the FBI arrested Boone.
Last May, as a result of the Boone incident, the federal government set up a child sex abuse center on the reservation to provide counseling, but the center is understaffed and 38 people are on its waiting list, said a mother identified as Sylvia.
Funding for the center is due to expire this May, but Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., assured the women that it would not.
Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., chairman of the special committee, said the BIA could expect some major changes as the result of the hearings. He said it was ″pretty clear″ the BIA needed an overhaul.
The mothers’ testimony came in the second week of hearings by the committee, which will be in recess until Feb. 21 when more witnesses are expected to testify on the problems of child abuse on reservations.
The Senate panel has been conducting a series of hearings on Indian matters.