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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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Investigation into Alleged Mistreatment Complete


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :   Monday, August 6, 2012    
CONTACT:    Sara Rabern,  (605) 773-3215 


Investigation into Alleged Mistreatment Complete


PIERRE, S.D.  – The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office has completed its investigation and review into the alleged mistreatment of Vernon Traversie at Rapid City Regional Hospital. Below is a timeline of the agency investigations:

9-10-2011 -Vernon Traversie reports alleged mistreatment to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Law Enforcement.
9-16-2011 - Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Law Enforcement forwards complaint to state and federal law enforcement.
9-20-2011- Rapid City Police Department opens investigation and conducts interviews
October 2011- South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners has an independent cardiac surgeon review case.
04-26-2012- Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) receives request to investigate a hate crime against Traversie, and opens independent investigation.
May and June 2012- DCI and FBI interview 14 individuals, including three Western Dakota Technical Institute students who were present in the operating room during the surgery.
6-21-2012- FBI and DCI conduct interview with Traversie.

According to the investigations, the scars on Mr. Traversie are a side effect of the surgery performed on him. Specifically, these investigations found that the marks sustained by Traversie were the result of a skin reaction to the medical grade tape used to secure tubes that remain in place after surgery. It was found that the allegations of mistreatment were not supported by the evidence.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the South Dakota Department of Health also investigated the allegations from a healthcare facility regulatory perspective. The department received the initial complaint September 28, 2011 and concluded its investigation October 5, 2011. That investigation was unable to substantiate the allegations of patient abuse, neglect or improper patient care and that information was reported to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  

“The serious allegation that someone intentionally engaged in the hate crime of carving ‘KKK’ into a South Dakotan, if true, would justify criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” said Jackley. “The independent investigations have produced no evidence of such criminal or intentional conduct.”

The Attorney General’s Office additional review of the records and independent findings and conclusions of the above listed agencies are consistent with the evidence presented.

The Attorney General’s Office would like to thank Mr. Traversie and the Rapid City Regional Hospital staff for their full cooperation in this investigation. 

For any additional information contact Sara Rabern at 605-773-3215.