SD reservation opens investigation into Minn. priest's alleged sexual abuse

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Rosebud, South Dakota
Rev. Clarence Vavra spent a year working alongside Jesuit missionaries on the Rosebud Sioux tribe's reservation in South Dakota. He admitted later to abusing several young boys and a teenage boy there.
J. Stephen Conn / Creative Commons

Law enforcement authorities on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota have opened an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children by a Minnesota priest.

Supervisory special agent Grace Her Many Horses said authorities will attempt to locate several men who as boys may have been sexually abused by the Rev. Clarence Vavra. She said they will also try to interview Vavra and officials with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Tribal investigators will likely ask the FBI for assistance, she said.

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"We would interview the victims and anyone else who would have knowledge of this," Her Many Horses said. "And, apparently the archdiocese did have knowledge of it. Otherwise they wouldn't have moved him around."

The development follows an MPR News investigation that found Vavra had admitted to sexually abusing several young boys and a teenager on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the mid-1970s. Vavra admitted to the abuse in a psychological evaluation in 1995, but church leaders did not contact police. Vavra retired in 2003 and lives in New Prague in southern Minnesota.

Vavra did not answer his phone Tuesday. Officials at the archdiocese declined to comment. Spokesman Jim Accurso said the archdiocese has not been contacted by law enforcement in response to MPR News' story on Vavra.

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