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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Shores Appointed Co-Chair of Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma

President Donald J. Trump today appointed Trent Shores, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, as a co-chair of a Presidential Task Force formed to address the institutional and systemic breakdown that failed to prevent a predatory pediatrician from sexually assaulting Native American children for years while employed by the Indian Health Service. U.S. Attorney Shores will partner with Joseph Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, to lead the Task Force.

The President announced the formation of a Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American children in the Indian Health Service System today to examine any systemic problems that may have failed to prevent this doctor’s actions and led to any failures of the Indian Health Service to protect Native American Children.  The Task Force will develop recommended policies, protocols, and best practices to protect Native American children and prevent such abuse from ever happening again.

“I appreciate the confidence placed in me by President Trump to help lead this Task Force. We have the opportunity to do good work for a righteous cause. Protecting Native American children who enter the Indian Health Service system is a common sense mission. It’s also one which this Task Force will approach with a great sense of purpose and urgency. I’m thankful for President Trump’s focus on this issue and commitment to finding solutions to prevent these atrocities from happening again. This is about doing the right thing.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker voiced his support for the appointment, “Trent Shores, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, has a history of working to protect Indian children in Oklahoma and I have confidence in his ability to make safety recommendations as part of this new designated task force.”

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby stated, “It is heartbreaking and unconscionable that an IHS pediatrician was allowed to prey upon Indian children. We commend and support the Administration and the Department of Justice for initiating this important review of IHS practices so that all proper measures are taken to ensure the protection and safety of all children.”

The Task Force will be comprised of subject-matter experts from several United States Government agencies, and co-chaired by Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Joseph Grogan and U.S. Attorney Shores, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.  In addition to U.S. Attorney Shores, the Task Force will include two other Oklahomans, Shannon Bears Cozzoni and Bo Leach. Ms. Cozzoni is an Assistant United States Attorney and Tribal Liaison in the Northern District of Oklahoma where she regularly works with tribes to address justice-related issues. Ms. Cozzoni previously served as the First Assistant Attorney General at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and brings a wealth of experience to the Task Force. Bo Leach is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Oklahoma City Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services. ASAC Leach is a skilled criminal investigator with vast experience in law enforcement Indian Country, including investigating child sexual abuse. He is also a member of the Choctaw Nation.

The Task Force will draw on the expertise of other Federal employees and resources and seek perspective and input from tribal leaders and Native American voices. However, the work of the Task Force will not interfere with: (1) the criminal investigation of one particular pediatrician; (2) a review underway at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including a review by the Department’s Inspector General, which HHS Secretary Azar ordered earlier this year; or (3) a review conducted by an outside, independent contractor retained by the Indian health system.

Members of the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System:

Joseph Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, Co-Chair

United States Attorney Trent Shores, Co-Chair

Bo Leach, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services

Stephanie Knapp, MSW, LCSW, Child/Adolescent Forensic Interviewer, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Office for Victims Assistance, Child Victim Services Unit

Shannon Bears Cozzoni, Tribal Liaison and Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Caitlin A. Hall, MD, FAAP, Clinical Director/Pediatrician, Dzilth-na-o-dith-hle Health Center, Indian Health Service

Farnoosh Faezi-Marian, Program Examiner, Office of Management and Budget


Public Affairs

Updated March 26, 2019

Indian Country Law and Justice