Nancy Disgrace and disgraceful senator

By Leslie Silverman

Pennington County Sheriff's Office Submitted Image

I was driving back to the Hills from Minnesota the other day, listening to youcan’tbeserious? Radio when I stumbled across Nancy Disgrace doing a piece on Serenity Dennard, the 9-year-old girl who went missing from the Black Hills Children’s Home in Rockerville on Feb. 3.

That was pretty much the only fact Disgrace got correct in the 40-minute- long segment. What bothered me the most, besides the fact that neither she, nor many of her “expert” guests, have obviously ever stepped foot in South Dakota, was the statements of “fact” that Disgrace referred to as our state senator.

To be fair, Disgrace  was not talking about the senators who represent our state in Washington, D.C. She was, however, referring to a state senator who represents  District 35 which Disgrace calls a “a leader in the search for Serenity.” The senator states the “facts” are the little girl wasn’t dressed at all for the cold with a “storm moving in.” The senator describes the area around the children’s Home “mountainous.” These are not facts at all.

The weather on that February morning was balmy and when the girl went missing she was dressed appropriately for that day’s weather. It wasn’t until much later that afternoon that temperatures dropped. And although the U.S. Geological Survey does not distinguish between a mountain and a hill, I think most hikers and mountaineers would not describe the Hills as a “mountain” region. The senator goes on to say, “You could be in the best hiking boots and have excellent gear and have a difficult time walking through this terrain.” Really? Um…no!

Later in the program the senator went on to say there was “ really no solid plan or protocol in place and that the home is really going to have to make some changes.”  Again, this is not true. In fact, the home was following its plan and has been given a corrective action plan from the Department of Health.

Bit the worse part, in my opinion, of what this senator said was that “Warren Jeffs—he’s the polygamous sect self-proclaimed prpohet who was arrested for marrying off 12- and 13-year-old little girls, you know this little girl is missing within the vicinity of that place.”

So now Rockerville “is in the vicinity” of Pringle? According to my calculations they are 40 miles apart. I would not consider that to be in the vicinity, but then again, I would not consider the Hills to be mountainous.

Please know that I am in no way making light of this situation. I have friends who are on the search and rescue teams that are looking for Serenity and I know how hard they have worked. I have been to the children’s home and I am certain the staff there is caring and competent. Yes, I think mistakes were made during this time frame. Yes, I believe that keeping Serenity’s case at the forefront of the public eye in the hopes that she will be found ASAP is crucial.

I do not believe sensationalizing this case is the way to do that. It makes all the people who have worked so hard to locate her, so hard to care for her, look like buffoons. And this incident shouldn’t be about anything other than finding Serenity.