Oglala Sioux leader suspended following improper contact allegation
The Associated Press
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota has been suspended and will face an impeachment hearing after he was accused of inappropriate contact with a 17-year-old boy.
The tribal council voted last week to suspend Julian Bear Runner, the president of the tribe located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, after receiving a complaint from the boy's father, the Rapid City Journal reported. A tribal judge will oversee an impeachment hearing on Sept. 14.
The father accused Bear Runner of grooming his son, who was 17 at the time, for inappropriate sexual touching in a motel room once he turned 18. According to the accusation, Bear Runner, who is in his 30s, contacted the boy on social media and once rubbed his thigh.
Attempts by Indian Country Today to reach Bear Runner for comment were not immediately successful Tuesday. His voicemail was full, and a number for his spokesman, Chase Iron Eyes, was disconnected.
A message left with tribal spokeswoman Karin Eagle was not returned.
Robert Ecoffey, chief of the Oglala Sioux police, told the Cheyenne Post he couldn't comment on whether the teen had filed a criminal complaint.
Bear Runner served a 30-day paid suspension approved by the tribal council in July after he enacted a 72-hour coronavirus lockdown and then council members said they could not reach him.
He also pleaded not guilty after he was arrested in May on allegations of driving while drunk and threatening a man. The attorney general for the Oglala Sioux Tribe did not immediately respond to a request on the status of charges related to the arrest.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe president can be impeached for committing crimes, gross incompetency, corruption or malfeasance. Two-thirds of the tribal council must vote for his removal.
Indian Country Today contributed to this report.