We are appalled that a trusted entity, such as a community church, introduced five sexually abusive individuals into the Skagway community. It concerns us that there may be much more as this investigation only included years after 1951. In comparison, the St. Pius Mission operated for 19 years that would not be included in this investigation. This investigation also only includes abusers that were reported and had sufficient evidence of their abuses. This leaves room for many more that minors did not report or could not report. This is not a definitive list.
In terms of St. Pius, we have seen no record of Cowgill being held accountable for his sexual misconduct during his lifetime. It is a sad truth that many priests who have abused children never face consequences for their actions and at times are allowed to return to the congregation. The time of this investigation and letter also is concerning as many of the priests are no longer with us to face consequences. Furthermore, we are not aware of this letter being sent to students and/or their family or other actions that were taken as a result of releasing these criminals to our community under their watch.
At this time, we would like to point out how important it is to report and document all abuses. We urge parents and educators to learn and be aware of signs of child abuse. Talk to children and teens about signs, and safe/unsafe touch. Teach children who they can talk to if they feel something isn’t right. This includes parents, teachers, tribe, police and clinic. We all need to do our part to watch out for and care for children who may not have the courage, may not know actions are criminal or do not have trusting adults that they feel comfortable talking to. We hope that the diocese takes action to be sure these types of crime never happen again. The damage done to children in such situations is life long and has generational trauma that continues. We will be interested as to what actions the diocese will take now that there is evidence of wrongdoing.
Skagway Traditional Council
Editors Note: The documents referred to in this letter are printed on page 2 of the Feb. 2, 2022 Skagway News.