Warning: This story includes details of sexual violence.
On March 3, 2021, Sheriff Karl Dailey of Dawes County, Nebraska, was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct for his refusal to accept a detainee into the Dawes County Jail. This story may sound minor, but it is yet another case demonstrating why electing sheriffs leads to toxic men failing communities all around the country.
Judging from social media posts, the victim in this story is a Lakota woman. I will call her Judith to protect her identity. We have all heard the harrowing statistics about how crimes against native women are not adequately pursued by the criminal justice system. Over half of native women experience sexual violence, and in some locations they are murdered at ten times the national murder rate. Yet due to racially discriminatory laws and biases within the justice system, these crimes often go unsolved. This is a look at one Nebraska sheriff’s total dismissal of the gravity of such a crime.
Here is what is alleged in the court documents. In July of 2019, a complete piece of shit I will call J.S. to protect his victim’s identity, who lived in South Dakota, kidnapped his 21-year-old girlfriend, Judith. Moving from one location to another in southwestern South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska, J.S. inflicted horrific trauma on Judith. He raped her repeatedly. After raping her he strangled her until she passed out, using both his hands and Christmas lights. When he strangled her on July 19, 2019, she regained consciousness to discover that her eyes had been so badly damaged in the strangulation that she was blind for six days, during which time he continued to rape her, strangle her into unconsciousness, and move her to new locations. At one point this fucker dug her a grave and made her sit in it.
Can we take a moment to breathe here? This is life-altering terror. The kind people will struggle to overcome for decades.
Okay. So eventually the dickrot rapist took Judith to the Hilltop Hotel in Crawford, Nebraska, population 930. Crawford is in Dawes County, where a toxic shit of a man named Karl Dailey has been sheriff since 1986 and is very certain of his role as Seigneur of his little fiefdom.
At some point, the rapist and his brother took Judith to the hospital in Chadron, 24 miles to the east of Crawford. J.S. told Judith that if she didn’t meet him at a local McDonald’s in two hours he was going to kill her. The hospital, upon learning of this threat, went into lockdown and called the police, who arrived and interviewed Judith. The Chadron police knew they were dealing with serious crimes across five possible jurisdictions, and began contacting the different jurisdictions and forming plans to find and arrest the asswipe. During this process, they even tried to reach Sir Lord Whitedick, Sheriff of Dawes County, but simply left a message with a deputy who apparently didn’t get it to him in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, a Nebraska State Patrol trooper traveled to Crawford to find the hotel room where J.S. had tortured Judith. The trooper first stopped at a different hotel in Crawford (presumably thinking it was the crime scene), where one of Dailey’s deputies was waiting in a car in the parking lot. That deputy was not there to help, though–she was there to run recon for her boss. Without offering assistance, the deputy followed the state trooper to the Hilltop Hotel, where the trooper recognized the crime scene from Judith’s description and waited outside the room for an hour as a search warrant was approved.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s deputy sat in her patrol car seemingly communicating with his Lord Sovereign Wrinklesack, who then showed up and began a territorial rage bender, announcing that he was not going to allow the state patrol to house anyone they arrested in his jail, and then calling various officials in other agencies to unload obscenity-laden diatribes about the sheer nerve of cops solving a crime without kissing his ring first. When the search warrant was approved, the sheriff’s deputy who had been sitting in her car feeding her boss’s ego did not assist the state troopers in searching the room.
Again, let’s just take a moment to reflect on this. Some actual cops were searching a fucking crime scene where a young woman had been tortured, and this underling was so well trained to put her liege’s feelings above all other things that she sat in her patrol car managing his fragile male ego rather than actually helping solve a serious, violent crime.
As Dailey was wrapping up a hissy fit directed at the troopers who were actually working the crime scene, the troopers learned that the rapist had been located in Chadron and went to pick him up.
The rapist had recently been in a fight and had non-serious injuries, unfortunately. He was taken to the Chadron hospital, examined, and released to a state trooper, who would have normally then transferred the rapist to the county jail. But Sheriff McPizzle announced that he would not be accepting the rapist at his jail, despite his legal obligation to do so, now claiming it was because of the rapist’s medical condition, which was an obvious lie he made up to cover for his plan all along to refuse to help. For this reason, Karl Dailey was charged with and found guilty of official misconduct.
Court records indicate that Dailey considered the request to jail a violent rapist “as just a fuck you” and that he said “I don’t get bitch slapped by anybody. I am Sheriff Karl Dailey.”
First, I want us to take a second to point and laugh at the ridiculous shit of a man who is so high on his own supply that he would actually utter the words “I don’t get bitch slapped by anybody. I am Sheriff Karl Dailey.” Is this like Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations, but for arrogant toxic assholes who have been big fish in small ponds for their entire adult lives?
But really this is serious. Dailey moved to Chadron from New York in 1971 to study at Chadron State College. For a while he had an unbearably vapid column in the local newspaper called “Karl’s Korner” in which his 20-something white dude brain pontificated on matters dumb and dumber. He joined the Chadron Police, then ran unopposed for sheriff in 1986. For 35 years he has held that position, usually running for reelection with no opposition. The conditions are ideal for a good old boy tyrant to rule that area–an area that, incidentally, needs leadership with a sophisticated and empathetic understanding of the generational trauma, racial oppression, and poverty that afflicts the neighboring Pine Ridge, where 54% of residents live below the poverty level.
Imagine that you or one of your loved ones has been abducted and tortured, and that during the crucial first hours of investigating the crime, an official whose job is to help instead berated investigators for not kissing his ass and refused to even house the sadistic piece of shit in the county jail? Would you have any confidence whatsoever that your humanity and this crime were being taken seriously? What if this petulant man-child’s misbehavior allowed the rapist grounds for a dismissal or an appeal? How many other times has something like this happened in Dawes County?
The problem’s roots are in the very nature of sheriffs as elected officials. Sixty percent of U.S. sheriff elections are of unopposed candidates. Ninety percent of U.S. sheriffs are white men.
Nebraska is no stranger to toxic sheriffs. In 1993, Richardson County sheriff Charles Laux demeaned Brandon Teena, the victim of a transphobic rape, when he reported the crime. Laux chose not to arrest Teena’s rapists, giving them the opportunity to murder Teena and his two friends, Lisa Lambert and Phillip Devine. Laux was voted out the following year but was later elected county commissioner.
In Nebraska, our legislature imposed term limits just so they could drive out one elected black man, Ernie Chambers, who worked within the natural checks and balances of the other 48 senators. But when it comes to the counties of Nebraska, we are content for pea-brained fragile white men to ensconce themselves in little fiefdoms and perform arrests and evictions with little to no contest or transparency.