A $10 million class-action lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of 20 Ute Indian children who were allegedly sexually abused.
Darrell and Colleen Gardner, relatives of two of the children, filed the suit against the Ute Indian Tribe and its ruling Business Committee, who they claim is responsible for the refusal to prosecute sexual abuse cases on the Ute Reservation. The Gardners claim the civil rights of the children were violated. The suit also accuses the committee of "conspiring to suppress evidence" in the case.According to the suit, the sexual assaults occurred throughout 1987 and 1988 and were reported to the proper Ute officials who promised an investigation. However, the relatives were "told to keep our mouths shut" and that pursuing the investigation would give the Ute Tribe a bad name.
The suit seeks $10 million in punitive damages, as well as psychological counseling for the children and a permanent injunction against the individuals who are accused of the assaults.