Shirley Schwab, BSW, MA
Shirley Schwab has brought tremendous energy and commitment to her work as a child and family advocate since 1997. She has worked closely with law enforcement, schools, prosecutors, hospitals, and medical and mental health professionals to develop a multidisciplinary approach to responding to child abuse, especially sexual. Ms. Schwab received extensive training and education in the area of sexual abuse, and she has been an avid supporter of the team methodology for advocating for sexually abused children, and prosecuting perpetrators.
As an experienced court appointed special advocate, Shirley served for many years as an officer of the court appointed by Judges to help the Court. In this capacity, Ms. Schwab was required to solely look out for the best interests of the children she represented. Her role included researching and exploring all information that may have been vital to the safety and well being of her charges. Shirley very often put information into written court reports, filed them with the court, and presented those reports to the Judge on record for particular cases.
Over the years Shirley has been especially concerned about the plight of Native American children. It was in the context of her fighting for abused Lakota children that she was maliciously charged criminally in 2012 for blowing the whistle on horrific injustices being done to four youth from the Standing Rock and Oglala Reservations in South Dakota.
On October 31, 2011 Shirley presented a court report to the Judge on record in a criminal case in which she was involved, the State of South Dakota vs. Richard and Wendy Mette. The case concerned two defendants, a husband and wife, who, between the two of them, were charged with 34 counts of child abuse, including rape. Shirley’s report indicated a serious conflict of interest on the part of then Brown County State’s Attorney Kimberly Dorsett. The conflict entailed Ms. Dorsett having a $75,000 contract with the SD Department of Social Services, even while her office was responsible for investigating DSS decision-making surrounding the Mette affair.
Shirley’s report brought forth other vital information, as well, for the Judge to review about the best interests of the Mette children, in light of the abuse they had endured.
Beginning on November 3, 2011, Shirley was targeted by the Attorney General and State’s Attorney’s Offices. These agencies investigated her activities surrounding the Mette case after a guardian ad litem appointed by the judge in the Mette case concluded that the State of South Dakota (DSS) deserved to be sued by the foster children’s birth family on account of the abuse they had endured over a ten year period, between 2001-2010. Ms. Schwab’s professional reputation, career, and livelihood were essentially destroyed by malicious prosecution charges and constant news articles in the Aberdeen American News consisting of biased, one-sided reporting and numerous inaccuracies. Prior to Shirley’s indictment, the Aberdeen paper printed well over 20 stories about the investigation, and among the topics covered was the AG’s ordering of search warrants for Shirley’s home and office in November, 2011. The Aberdeen News posted the actual search warrants online until after the January 2013 trial.
On January 10, 2013 a complete Judgment of Acquittal was granted to Ms. Schwab by Circuit Court Judge Gene Paul Kean, who stated during his ruling “And what the motion is based on is the concept that the testimony that’s been presented, the evidence that’s presented, is so lacking that as a matter of law the case should be dismissed at this time.”
Two very talented and dedicated child advocates have been maliciously charged and prosecuted by a bullying state government intent on protecting itself from a lawsuit. As a consequence, these advocates have incurred over $180,000 in legal, expert, and investigator fees. All because they blew a whistle on the injustices being done to children in South Dakota.
Shirley received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1997. She received her master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix in 2005. Shirley received extensive training in the area of child sexual abuse and remains passionate about fighting against the injustices that so often occur to those small victims of sexual crime.