Demand for Investigation of Rape and Murder of Jancita Eagle Deer
For more on Janklow see the DLN Janklow Watch section
Jancita Eagle Deer
From Steve Hendricks', The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the STruggle for the Soul of Indian Country:
"The rules that govern the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court say that when a
member is disbarred from another court, he or she is, ipso facto,
disbarred from the Supreme Court. After Janklow was elected to Congress
in 2002, a law student named David Harris who had spent part of his
childhood on the Rosebud Reservation sent the Supreme Court a copy of
Judge Gonzalez's order disbarring Janklow from tribal court. Harris told
the justices that, given the rules of the bar, they had to disbar the
congressman. The court ignored him.
"I called the court to ask why. A spokeswoman told me that for a member
of the Supreme Court bar to be expelled, the lower court making the
initial disbarment had to request the Supreme Court do the same. In this
case, the tribal court had not done so, so the Supreme Court would not
disbar Janklow. The spokeswoman also said that the lower court had to be
highest court in its jurisdiction, which a tribal court was not. I
confessed my puzzlement. I had a copy of the rules of the Supreme Court
bar before me, and nowhere could I find the requirements she was
citing. There followed much ummminng and ahhhing from her end of the
line, until finally she said that requirements were not actually written
in the rules; they were just sort of implied..."
..."A lone exception to the media blackout was a columnist for the
Washington Post named Richard Leiby. Leiby had become interested in the
story after talking to law student David Harris, and in the course of his
research he received a bootleg audiotape of the testimony Jancita Eagle
Deer gave before Judge Gonzalez in 1974. Gonzalez, now retired, has the
master tape, but his fear of Janklow is such that he will not distribute
copies. He is wont to offer reporters to listen to it in person, only to
rescind the offer, presumably in fright, after they have traveled
considerable distance to do so. Leiby was deeply moved by Eagle Deer's
" 'It was devastating,' he said, 'utterly convincing. You cannot listen to
her without getting chills and feeling she is telling the absolute truth.'
"He wrote a column to this effect, supported by evidence from my
investigation, and gave it to his editors, who spiked it. As it happened,
the Washington Post company owned Newsweek, and Janklow's suit against the
magazine two decades earlier had not faded from corporate memory. The
conglomerate did not care to court another lawsuit over so 'minor' an
event by so 'minor' a politician."
12/31/02 Letter from the Attorney General of Nebraska -- Page
1 -- Page
1/4/03 Letter to Senator Edward M. Kennedy
1/4/03 Letter to former Vice-President Walter Mondale
1/4/03 Supreme Court of the United States Rule 8.1 Dictates
Suspension of William Janklow from the Supreme Court Bar -- Fax to Clerk
CNN: Janklow's Driving Record Scrutinized after Crash
Washington Post: Rep. Janklow Probed in Fatal Crash
8/19/03 Minneapolis Star Tribune - Coroner
Says Congressman Failed to Stop before Fatal Crash
8/19/03 USA Today - Prosecutor:
Janklow Apparently Ran Stop Sign Before Crash
8/25/03 Counterpunch - Killer
on the Road: Who Killed Jancita Eagle Deer?
8/27/03 KSFY Dakota First News - Calls
for Janklow's Resignation
The following reproduced letter was written to The Honorable John D. Ashcroft
Attorney General of the United States, Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530, on January 2, 2003:
Dear General Ashcroft,
I graduated from Yale College in 2000 and matriculated at Northwestern University
School of Law last fall. I co-authored the first study of the number of women
in National Institutes of Health cardiac trials, which was published in the
New England Journal of Medicine on August 17, 2000. I am founding a charity
to combat terrorism, Biometrics Council of which I am President, and [currently
attend University of Nebraska Law School.] The statements that follow do not
reflect the views of my colleagues.
I am enclosing evidence relating to the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer
by William Janklow on January 13, 1967 within the boundaries of the Rosebud
Reservation for which he was disbarred in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court on October
31, 1974 by Judge Mario Gonzalez. A summary of the evidence is as follows:
- Ms. Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl was struck by an oncoming car near
Aurora, Nebraska while outside of a vehicle on April 4, 1975 and died.
This was hundreds of miles away from where she lived, and only a few
months after she had testified in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court that she
was raped at gunpoint by William Janklow. At the time, Mr. Janklow was
undergoing Senate confirmation as a Board Member for Legal Services
Corporation, and in this context, the allegations were raised. In the
absence of her testimony, the Senate committee was impaired, which led
to claims of insufficient evidence - a fact that has been much touted
by Janklow as the imprimatur of his innocence. No analysis was done
on the admissibility of her prior in-court testimony - whether it bore
adequate indicia of reliability since it was not subject to cross-examination.
Mr. Janklow well-knows that absolution does not come at the hand of
a Senate inquiry, but by a jury of his peers, but that requires a prosecutor
to care about the sanctity of a Lakota child.
- In his disbarment order of October 31, 1974, Judge Gonzalez writes that Ms. Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl testified under obvious emotional difficulty that she had been raped by William Janklow, and that he threatened her life with a gun. Portions of her testimony were corroborated by her high school guidance counselor (Kaye Lord) (1), her foster parents, a rape examination, and a BIA investigator.
- Eric Sheldahl, the divorced husband of Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl, executed an affidavit in connection with the probate hearing for her estate. The affidavit is referenced in a letter from United States Department of Interior Administrative Law Judge Frederick W. Lambrecht to an administrator of the Wagner Service Unit of the Indian Health Service on August 30, 1976 and on January 21, 1977. According to Judge Lambrecht, the affidavit states that Jancita Eagle Deer was raped on January 13, 1967.
- In a polygraph, Ms. Eagle Deer was too emotional to be tested when she was asked if she was raped by William Janklow and if he threatened to kill her.
- In an affidavit executed in the context of Janklow v. Viking Press, Dr. Kent Bergh, formerly of Indian Health Service, states that he viewed the medical record of Jancita Eagle Deer and that it identified Janklow as the alleged assailant. I spoke with Dr. Bergh independently on December 22, 2002, who confirmed his prior affidavit.
- A subpoena was granted by Judge Gonzalez in connection with the disbarment hearing of Janklow for the BIA investigative record of the rape. The BIA Aberdeen Area Director, Harley Zephier, directed BIA Officer Norman Bear not to honor the subpoena on the grounds of confidentiality and privilege in a telegram dated October 30, 1974, 4:15 pm.
I have additional recently executed affidavits, which are stored in a bank
vault and with friends of mine in the media and legal academy, and will be turned
over to your office, provided guarantees can be made by you for the witnesses'
In her boarding school admission papers, Mr. Janklow signs as Ms. Eagle Deer's
guardian, and in a letter dated September 22, 1983, Mr. Janklow, writing on
his Gubernatorial stationary, instructs Mr. Larry Parker of the Rosebud Boarding
School to "send [Mr. Janklow] copies of any and all records relating to the
residence of Jancita Eagle Deer in the boarding school during the period from
1966-1969 which reflect actions taken by me as her guardian, including any admission
Depending on the nature of this guardianship, it may constitute consanguinity
and implicate the South Dakota incest statute in a prosecution, which would
apply due to the Assimilative Crimes Act (See United States v. Renville,
779 F.2d 430) in addition to federal law. (2) (3)
In 1918, Justice Whiting, writing for the Supreme Court of South Dakota, held:
"The welfare of society requires that the law recognize the uncorroborated testimony
of a ravished woman as sufficient to warrant a conviction for the crime of rape
or of assault with intent to commit rape." (State v. Schultz, 41 S.D. 184;
169 N.W. 547). The standard for incest is similar, as is rape at federal
The fact that Ms. Eagle Deer had offered such testimony in the context of
a tribal disbarment proceeding, and that portions of it were corroborated by
an examination hours after the incident at the Rosebud Service Unit of Indian
Health Service; the guidance counselor of the Rosebud Boarding School; the foster
parents of the alleged victim, and a rape investigation conducted by the Bureau
of Indian Affairs at which the alleged perpetrator was present and made threats,
leads me to believe that we are well-beyond the islet of uncorroborated testimony
of a ravished woman.
The BIA's decision not to comply with the Tribal Court subpoena for the documents
relating to the BIA investigation of the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer
is of much interest. After Officer Norman Bear did not produce the documents
for the Tribal Court, Judge Gonzalez found him in contempt of court. The United
States Attorney for South Dakota successfully petitioned the United States District
Court for South Dakota for a writ of habeas corpus for BIA Officer Bear. Given
the petition, the United States Attorney's office had a great familiarity with
the evidence of the alleged rape. In what alternate universe could that office
not have committed obstruction of justice due to its failure to prosecute Mr.
Janklow for the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer?
I wrote the Attorney General of Nebraska on December 23, 2002, conveying the
same evidence and writing, in part: "I spoke with Dr. Donald J. Larson, the
general practitioner, who examined Ms. Eagle Deer's body after she was hit by
a car. He recalled that she had multiple fractures, but did not think that an
autopsy had been performed; the procedures for which required removing the body
to Lincoln. While the State Patrol might not have known of the extent of the
rape allegations and the respective proceedings, the immediate circumstances
of her death should have been enough to arouse suspicion and conduct an autopsy.
Where was her car? How did she get hundreds of miles away from home in the dead
of night? Was she drugged, beaten, thrown in front of the car prior to impact?
When I ask myself if Ms. Eagle Deer had been a wealthy young woman of a different
race found in the dead of night on a stark, desolate Nebraska highway
would the State Patrol have deprived themselves of the opinion of a board certified
forensic pathologist, the answer haunts me."
We are all familiar with the long and odious history of the treatment of Native
Americans, which unfortunately extends into the realm of jurisprudence. Possess
it merely - that it should come to this. As James M. Landis wrote, "A statute
rarely stands alone. Back of Minerva was the brain of Jove, and behind Venus
the spume of the ocean." (4)
Accordingly, I am suggesting that the Attorney General of the United States
prosecute Mr. Janklow for the crime of assault with intent to commit rape and
carnal knowledge of a female under the age of sixteen years and all crimes concordant.
Thank you. Mitakuye Oyasin.
Very Truly Yours,
David J. Harris
1) In State v. Peterson, 1996 SD 140, 557 NW 2d 389, the
Court held: "Evidence available to the court at the motion hearing supported
court's finding that child's out-of-court statements were sufficiently reliable
where social worker testified testified to what child told her in their two
interviews." The firmly-rooted hearsay exception of excited utterance also would
apply to statements Ms. Eagle Deer offered to all of these individuals since
they came in the immediate minutes following her alleged rape and abduction.
See also Chief Justice Rehnquist's majority opinion in White v. Illinois,
502 U.S. at 356, 112 S. Ct. at 742-43: "A statement that has been offered
in a moment of excitement--without the opportunity to reflect on the consequences
of one's exclamation-may justifiably carry more weight with a trier of fact
than a similar statement offered in the relative calm of the courtroom."
2) In Williams v. United States 327 U.S. 711,
the Supreme Court of the United States held: "After a cession of jurisdiction
by the State and after being memorialized to do so by the legislature of South
Dakota, Congress, in 1903, granted jurisdiction specifically to the courts of
the United States for the District of South Dakota over actions charging any
person with certain major crimes committed within any Indian reservation
in that State. 32 Stat. 793; 35 Stat. 1151; 36 Stat. 1167; 18 U. S. C. § 549."
(emphasis added) However, in United States v. Lawrence 51 F.3d 150, the
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held: "Under the Indian
Country Crimes Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1152, federal courts do not have
jurisdiction over offenses committed within Indian country unless either the
defendant or the alleged victim is Indian. See Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676,
680 n.1, 109 L. Ed. 2d 693, 110 S. Ct. 2053 (1990); United States v.
McBratney, 104 U.S. 621, 624, 26 L. Ed. 869 (1882)."
3) In Renville, the
Indian Major Crimes Act was involved; since the alleged perpetrator is non-Indian,
the Indian Country Crimes Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1152 would apply.
4) James M. Landis, Dean of Harvard Law School, in "A Note on
'Statutory Interpretation,' " 43 Harvard Law Review 886, 891 (1930).
U.S. Department of Interior Judge Frederick Lambrecht's 8/30/1976 letter to Administrator of Wagner Service Health Service citing affidavit from Eric Sheldahl mentioning rape of Jancita Eagle Deer on January 13, 1967. -- Image -- Transcription
Judge Lambrecht's 1/21/1977 letter to Indian Health Service - Second Request -- Image -- Transcription
Judge Mario Gonzalez's Disbarment Order of William Janklow from practicing law in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court --
Image -- Transcription
Disbarment Opinion -- Page 1 -- Page 2 -- Page 3 -- Page 4 -- Page 5 --
Transcription of the 5 pages
Fort Thompson Agency Tribal Chairman Robert Philbrick's Affidavit alleging Indecent Exposure, Public Inebriation, and Driving under the Influence, and Assaulting an Officer by William Janklow -- Page 1 -- Page 2 -- Transcription
Dr. Kent Bergh Affidavit in which he swears he reviewed the medical chart of Jancita Eagle Deer, which contained an examination of her immediately following the rape, and identified Janklow as the assailant -- Image -- Transcription
Jancita Eagle Deer Polygraph regarding alleged rape by Janklow and if he threatened to kill her -- Image -- Transcription
Letter from Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Aberdeen Area Director Harley Zephier to BIA Rosebud Officer -- Image -- Transcription
Judge Gonzales Finding of Probable Cause of Assault with intent to commit rape by William Janklow and Carnal Knowledge of a Child under the Age of 16 years -- Warrant to Apprehend -- Image -- Transcription
Judge Bogue's Writ of Habeas Corpus -- releasing Norman Bear from jail for his refusal to comply with Judge Gonzalez's subpoena -- Image -- Transcription
Jancita Eagle Deer Rosebud Boarding School Admission Papers --
Page 1 -- Page 2
Letter from Janklow to BIA written on Gubernatorial stationary in which he characterizes himself as Jancita's guardian and requests her school records -- Image -- Transcription
Supplemental background information
BLOOD OF THE LAND: The Government and COrporate War Against the American Indian Movement,
by Rex Wehler
The Strange case of Wild Bill Janklow, by Ward Churchill, published in "Covert Action" 1985.
BLOOD OF THE LAND: The Government and COrporate War Against the American
by Rex Wehler
"DUE PROCESS"...Chaper 5
Due Process p. 125
In October 1974 Janklow ran for South Dakota Attorney General against
his boss, incumbent Kermit Sande. The Wounded Knee publicity had frightened
the conservative electorate, and Janklow's campaign fires were fueled by
promises of "law and order" in the face of "AIM lawlessness:' Sande, on
the defensive, attacked Janklow with charges of personal immorality Sande
claimed that Janklow had been brought before juvenile court in 1955 at
the age of sixteen for allegedly having assaulted a seventeen-year-old
girl in Moody County, South Dakota. Although the juvenile records were
confidential, Sande repeated in public the rumor that the juvenile offense
had been rape. Janklow said that the juvenile delinquency petition against
him was dismissed, and that the alleged offense was not rape. "it didn't
go that far:' he told the media, "but it was preliminary to that sort of
thing:' He later regretted that statement, and said it was merely a cynical
wisecrack intended to counteract the lies being spread about him.
Then, on October 16, AIM leader Dennis Banks publicly accused Janklow
of another rape charge. According to Banks, in 1966 Janklow, working for
the Office of Economic Opportunities$ on the Rosebud reservation, had been
accused of rape by fifteen-year-old Jancita Eagle Deer, the Janklow family
babysitter. Eagle Deer alleged that Janklow had raped her at gunpoint while
giving her a ride home, Janklow claimed that the accusation was false,
and that AIM was using a "smear campaign" and "gutter attacks" to discredit
AIM lawyer Ken Tilsen felt that the Jancita Eagle Deer story would not
hold up in court without further documentation, and Eagle Deer herself
had been described as "a confused person" who was "easily intimidated and
manipulated:' Banks, however, convinced Chief Justice Mario Gonzalez that
there was enough evidence to initiate disbarment proceedings against Janklow
in the Rosebud Tribal Court where Janklow was still licensed to practice
law. Judge Gonzalez issued an order to appear to Janklow, but neither Janklow
nor his lawyer
15. The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash, Johann. Brand, James Lorimer
& Co., Toronto, 1978, p103
Blood of the Land p 126
appeared when the case opened on October 31. The court had also subpoenaed
BIA documents from the bureau's investigation of the incident. However,
on October 30, the day before the court hearing, BIA Acting Area Director
Harley Zephier sent a telegram to Acting Agency Special Officer Norman
Beare, ordering him not to deliver the documents to the court. The telegram
read: "Be advised that 68 I.A.M. 5.6 reads as follows, 'All reports listed
above will be marked U.S. Government use only: Thus limiting access to
such reports to appropriate officials. Furnishing of case reports to other
than appropriate federal officials must be cleared poor to release with
the U.S. district Attorney You are directed by Judge Mario Gonzalez and
respectively decline to produce the records on the grounds that the production
is prohibited and are considered of a confidential nature:'
Judge Gonzalez was furious that the government had defied his subpoena
when the hearing opened with the testimony of Jancita Eagle Deer. He concluded
in his opinion dated October 31, 1974." that "the Court is satisfied that
the rape allegations against Janklow are properly proven for the purpose
of the hearing held today [to determine whether or not charges should be
brought] to warrant disbarment:'
Despite Judge Gonzalez's opinion, a simultaneous investigation by the
FBI found that the allegations brought against Janklow were completely
Furthermore, in the summer of 1975 ~ Janklow having been nominated to
the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, the FBI conducted
a second investigation, again reviewing each of the charges, and again
concluding that they were unfounded. Further investigations by both the
White House and the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare ruled
unequivocally that there was no truth either to the charges of the alleged
rape of Jancita Eagle Deer, or to any of the other charges brought against
Janklow. In a letter dated June 10, 1975, White House Counsel Philip W.
Buchen made particular reference to the White House investigation, concluding,
"The results of this investigation and two previous investigations which
have been communicated to the committee indicate that these allegations
are simply unfounded:' He continued, "I would appreciate the inclusion
of this letter in the official record of Mr. Janklow's nomination, hopefully
to put these charges to rest:' During the subsequent Senate committee proceedings,
Senator Alan Cranston referred to this letter in a statement to William
Janklow: "I wish to state for the record..that this Committee has been
fully briefed on the results of the three investigations . . .
16 Mario Gonzalez, Chief Justice, Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court,
Rosebud. South Dakota The account is taken from Justice Gonlalez's "Judicial
Opinion:' CIV NO 74-2840 from the Rosebud Tribal Court, October 31.1974.
Due Process p.127
and concurs fully in Mr. Buchen's conclusion that these investigations
indicate clearly that the allegations against you are totally unfounded:'
Later during the same proceedings, he dressed that "in regard to the eight
or nine allegations that were made, the investigation[s] conducted by the
FBI are complemented by other investigations, [andl showed absolutely no
substantiation in any way for anyone of the charges:'
On November 2, 1974. William Janklow was elected South Dakota State
Jancita Eagle Deer was found dead less than four months later.
In the summer of 2000, the FBI released a report
that literally leafletted Pine Ridge Reservation purporting to answer questions
concerning unsolved murders during the "reign of Terror " in the early
An excerpt below from Ward Churchill's
response to the FBI "investigation" of Jancita EagleDeer:
Jancita Eagle Deer
The report recounts simply that Eagle Deer was struck by an automobile
killed while standing in the middle of a remote stretch of Nebraska
in the dead of night. It is not mentioned that she was last seen
the car of FBI infiltrator Douglass Durham, or that he had recently
as a pawn in an elaborate counterintelligence gambit designed to discredit
AIM leader Dennis Banks and was in the process of trying to cover his
tracks. Also neglected are the facts that the driver of the care
her described Eagle Deer as appearing to have been "drunk" immediately
to the impact, but that an autopsy revealed no alcohol or other intoxicants
to have been present in her bloodstream. This obviously raises
of whether her peculiar behavior resulted from having been beaten senseless
and dumped along the road, presumably by Durham, before regaining
consciousness and being run over. Whatever the truth, the FBI
absolutely no interest in investigating one of its own.
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