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President Julian Bear Runner of the Oglala Sioux Tribe addresses the National Congress of American Indians in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

Leader of Oglala Sioux Tribe under scrutiny amid sexual misconduct allegations

Friday, September 11, 2020

Tune In: KILI Radio | KOLC-TV

Just days ahead of an impeachment hearing for the embattled president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the FBI has reportedly begun an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Julian Bear Runner.

At a meeting on August 24, the tribal council voted to accept a complaint against Bear Runner and suspended him without pay. An impeachment hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

According to some reservation residents, the FBI has begun questioning people with knowledge about allegations made by a young resident of the Pine Ridge Reservation who has accused Bear Runner of engaging in inappropriate contacts. The individual said the contacts began when he was 17 years old and continued recently after he turned 18.

According to a post circulating on social media, Bear Runner took the teen to a hotel in Rapid City, off the reservation, in June and engaged in unwanted physical contact in the room. The teen and his family members and supporters have shared the post, which led to a written complaint against the president.

An FBI spokesman in Minneapolis this week declined to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into Bear Runner’s activities, per the agency’s policies regarding active investigations. The young man who posted allegations on social media about inappropriate contacts with Bear Runner said he didn’t know about an FBI investigation.

However, two Pine Ridge residents with knowledge about the investigation said FBI agents have interviewed the alleged victim and others who may know about his allegations. One reservation resident said a second victim also may be speaking at Monday’s Tribal Council impeachment hearing, which will be held at the Prairie Winds Casino on the reservation starting at 10 a.m. MST.

The hearing will be broadcast on KILI Radio and KOLC TV on YouTube.

Bear Runner was suspended for 30 days in July in connection with COVID-19 directives he issued on the reservation. He returned to work in early August.

Immediately following his suspension, Bear Runner shared some personal information. In a post on social media, he said he had “recently come to terms” with his bisexuality.

In early May, Bear Runner acknowledged he had been arrested by tribal police. He was charged in tribal court with driving while intoxicated and verbal assault.

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