News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Jackley investigation raises more questions than it answers

Vern Traversie's belly has become a federal case.  South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley sort of forgot that, or didn't want to acknowledge it.

Last fall when Vern was released from Rapid City Regional Medical Center after open heart surgery, the Attorney General was asked to investigate if someone at the hospital had carved KKK into Vern's belly.  He released  results of his investigation early this week, stating that no evidence was uncovered to indicate a crime was committed and that the scars on Mr. Traversie's torso were from side effects of his surgery.  He implied that all investigations into the matter were over and came to the same conclusion. 

A spokesperson for Traversie,  Kara Briggs, took issue with that implication and issued a statement that said, "There are two federal investigations ongoing, and neither has ruled out that a hate crime was committed,  Vern is just interested in accuracy."  The FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services are also conducting investigations.

There are two incidents in Traversie's accounts of his hospital experience that lie at the heart of why people think a hate crime may be involved.  Traversie is legally blind and cannot clearly see the scars on his body, so he is dependent on others to tell him what appears to be the case. His own sense of what happened comes from two encounters with hospital personnel.  He had been having hostile exchanges with a male attendant who swore at him when he requested pain medication.  And then just before his release from the hospital, a female nurse told him her conscience was bothering her. “I can’t stand it any longer. They did something bad to you. When you get home, have someone take photos of your front and back right away.”  Traversie said she then told him she did not want to be involved. “This is the last time you’ll ever hear from me,” she told him.

Any conclusive investigation must seek out the facts and circumstances of those two incidents, and also look into why Traversie and his care-givers were not briefed and instructed on the scars he went home with. 

As for Marty Jackley, his investigations into both the Secretary of State's office and the Traversie affair seem to indicate he is more dedicated to glossing over the investigations and providing political cover.

Before any conclusions can be drawn about the Traversie case,  a number of agencies have still to report. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States