CHARLES MIX COUNTY – It was one of the worst child abuse cases in South Dakota.
The children were probed. They were denied the use of a restroom. They were denied food. They were bathed in Kwell and alcohol. They were compelled to lie.
However, the scenario may not be as one thinks.
In 1994, four men were convicted of child sex abuse of five children via a South Dakota federal court. Yet, who really abused these children?
Testimony has shown the children were subjected to invasive medical procedures involving their private areas by a physician who failed to provide conclusive evidence of sexual abuse. Yet, the testimony concerning the inconclusive examinations (westlaw.com 100 F.3d 560, 65 USLW 2398, 45 Fed. R.Evid. Serv. 495) was weighed by the jury.The foster mother admitted in court testimony that she bathed the girls in Kwell the night before the girls were examined by a medical doctor for signs of sexual abuse. Or was it alcohol, as several of the children remember? Either way, did the baths skew the examinations?
Diana Faugno, (MSN, RN, CPN, SANE, SANE-A, SANE-P, FAAFS, DF-IAFN), in a 2015 affidavit, agreed that skin redness and rash could result from the insecticide Lindane/Kwell.
She also said, “As the children soaked in this clearly their mucus membranes in the genital area would be red and irritated the next day.”
As for bathing in alcohol, she said in a recent email, “Putting isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on a child’s skin is a popular folk remedy for quickly reducing a fever.”
She added, “It’s safe to apply small amounts to the skin but is toxic in large amounts. Bathing in it is hazardous as you will breath in the fumes which can cause death. It can also irritate the skin.”
Faugno, with her 30 years of experience, also writes concerning the colposcopic examinations of the children in 1994, “Dr. Ferrell’s description of his examination findings clearly denotes normal genital structures. There are many articles relating to the examination of children for sexual abuse from the 80’s-90’s that would have helped both doctors at the time.”
“Doctor Ferrell’s description of breaks in the hymen at the 6 o’clock location in two of the girls is non-specific without photographic documentation. These girls were sedated to be examined, and photographs could have easily been taken.”
“Often times in the past a notch was often wrongly diagnosed as evidence of sexual abuse when we know today that is not true. In other words, it is normal to be normal.”
As per a separate affidavit from 2014, Dr. Joyce Adams, who needs no introduction in the colposcopy field, is a specialist in the fields of pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics. She addressed the use of dye in the examinations and calls into question the competence of the doctors who performed the colposcopies. She also has examined thousands of children for sexual abuse.
She said, “The medical report of Dr. Ferrell describing his examinations (of one of the girls) raises serious concerns about his competence in performing the children’s examinations.”
“The abnormal findings he describes are indicative of normal anatomic structures and normal variations.”
“Dr. Ferrell”s use of Toludine Blue Dye on mucosal surfaces such as the vaginal vestibule and vagina was totally inappropriate and depicts his inexperience and lack of expertise. The dye was never intended to be used on mucosal surfaces. Even in 1994, there were no recommendations that it should be used at all in children,”
She continued, “Dr. Ferrell’s descriptions of the dye uptake which substantially contributed to his diagnosis and expert opinion of child abuse, SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN ANY CREDIT in determining whether or not there were any signs of trauma to the genital or anal tissues.”
Throughout the court proceedings in this case, the court records show no existence of audio, video or photographic evidence.
However, one small court document has surfaced showing the existence of a video listed as an examination of two of the children.
What else happened to these children?
Testimony has shown that the children were not allowed to eat or to use the restroom during their many interviews with investigators and others.
Were they compelled to lie? The children testified the foster mother, DSS, and investigators all told them they could go home if they told the truth.
Some of the children testified that they were sexually abused by nearly everyone in the home, including grandma. Some said that the whole household of extended family was tied up for sexual abuse, including grandma. (Testimony. United States v Rouse et al) Yet, no ropes were found in the home.
Did the children lie about the alleged abuse, or did they lie in recantation? Did the children go home after they told the “truth?” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tAJGargLA0) (See at 1:55.)
What is new?
The Innocence Project of Texas and a film producer have recently become aware of the case.
Attorney Mike Ware, Executive Director of the IPTX, and named Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in 2014 commented on the case.
He wrote in an email, “Anna James, (who is the accused) Desmond Rouse’s wife, reached out to me on this case. It is a case with over 25 years of history. I have been taking a hard look at it for only the last month. There is a lot to know about the case, and I have only just begun to review it.
“I have interviewed (one of the girls) at length. She impresses me as intelligent, tenacious, and a person with a lot of integrity. As one of the original child ‘“victims”’ named by the government, she insists that her uncles never sexually abused her and that as a child, she was pressured by authorities to say and testify otherwise. She is passionate about correcting the injustice, which she maintains was committed against her as well as her uncles.”
Ware continued, “I have had the opportunity to review the expert medical testimony at trial and the techniques used in the sexual assault examinations back in 1994. As well as the conclusions and opinions reached and expressed in court to the jury by the government’s experts. They appear to be seriously flawed, particularly in light of what qualified doctors and sexual assault nurses now know.”
“It seems fundamentally unfair to continue the incarceration of anyone based on such seriously flawed investigative techniques and inaccurate government sponsored ‘“expert”’ testimony.”
Film producer, Deborah Esquenazi, said she became interested in this case through Ware and describes herself as a criminal justice advocate. She said she is completing a documentary featuring another Innocence Project case and wants to build on that. She said of this new case that it is still in the early development stage.
In studying this case, there are a myriad of other questions about the government’s handling of this case.
Meanwhile, the men Desmond and Jesse Rouse, Garfield Feather and Russell Hubbeling remain incarcerated.
To donate to the defense fund, go to www.ipoftexas.org/support-the-project or by mail to: Innocence Project of Texas 300 Burnett Street Suite 160 Fort Worth, Texas 76102. Mention Rouse if possible.
To see video interviews with the grown children, search Interview Rouse children Parts one through four.
(Contact Evelyn Red Lodge at firstname.lastname@example.org)