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One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. This two-part series tells the story behind this shocking statistic — a story of both human tragedy and systematic failure of criminal justice on and off of reservations. This series led to the reopening of a sexual assault case, Congressional hearings, and the launching of a website to manage donations to help sexual assault victims living in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Part One: Rape Cases on Indian Lands go Uninvestigated
Laura Sullivan reports from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the story of Leslie Ironroad. Five years ago, Ironroad was brutally beaten and raped. Before slipping into a coma and dying, she managed to scratch out a statement for a Bureau of Indian Affairs policeman who came to question her in the hospital. Yet her rape and murder remained uninvestigated until this story was aired on NPR. As Sullivan reports, Ironroad’s story is typical rather than exceptional.
Part Two: Legal Hurdles Stall Rape Cases on Native Lands
Sullivan investigates the legal system that has failed to respond to sexual assault cases like Leslie Ironroad’s. She finds a convoluted system: tribal police can’t charge non-Indians with crimes, while the US Attorney’s office, which can, rarely does. The result is what one tribal police chief calls “almost a lawless community.”
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