Opinion: Adopted Lakota boy suffered abuse

"I am a voice from the faraway past of Timothy Sean Caffrey. I am Betty Adams Aitchison, whose husband pastored the little Faith Missionary Church in Martin, S.D., for 10 years. This was in the mid-1960s and 70s. The Bill and Olive Caffrey family attended our church. I knew them well.

Tim Caffrey is an Oglala Sioux, adopted by the Caffreys when he was less than a year old. I was a part of Tim's formative years. I taught him in Sunday School and vacation Bible school.

Bill Caffrey was a politically powerful man as South Dakota regional director of health and welfare. He also was an abusive alcoholic. I witnessed some of the abuse of Tim and tried to intervene but to no avail.

One particular incident has continued to haunt me through the years. It is a picture of a little 14-year-old Sioux Indian boy, sitting in the living room of Bill and Olive Caffrey's home, being disciplined for sharing marijuana with a friend.

Olive began the questioning. I still remember exactly how we were all seated. I was on the couch. Olive was across the room to my left, Tim, to my right, and Bill, pacing the floor. Olive asked Tim where he had gotten the marijuana, and Tim reluctantly told her. She asked, "Why didn't you just say 'no' and tell us what had happened?"

Tim replied, "I made a mistake, and I'm sorry."

At this point, Bill stomped toward Tim. "You made a mistake. We are the ones who made the mistake. The biggest mistake we ever made was when we adopted you, you stupid Indian," Bill said, cuffing Tim on the head.""

Get the Story:
Betty Adams Aitchison: Picture of abused child continues to haunt woman (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 8/7)

Relevant Links:
South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles - http://www.state.sd.us/CORRECTIONS/parole.htm

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