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Chuck Haga, Forum News Service, Published January 23 2013

Spirit Lake official gets court record corrected

GRAND FORKS – An Internet public records site operated by the state incorrectly showed a 2004 assault conviction for Mark Little Owl, director of Tribal Social Services at Spirit Lake. That case was dismissed, as were two similar charges brought in 2009, according to the clerk’s office at Grand Forks District Court.

A spokeswoman for the clerk’s office said, “Through data conversion to the new software system, the wrong disposition (of the 2004 case) was displayed” on the state public search site. It was immediately corrected.

Little Owl sought the clarification from the court after a report in the Herald on Wednesday, citing the posted court record, stated that Little Owl had pleaded guilty in the 2004 case.

As reported Wednesday, Little Owl faces new charges in connection with an Aug. 21, 2012, incident in Grand Forks, at the apartment of his former wife, who is the mother of two of his children.

Little Owl is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 11 for a preliminary hearing on a felony theft charge and misdemeanor charges of simple assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“Those charges are totally false allegations, and in time we will prove that,” he said Wednesday.

He expressed concern that publicity about “a personal issue” could hamper efforts by the Spirit Lake Tribe, its Tribal Social Services office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to resolve problems in the tribe’s child protection program.

The BIA took over responsibility for child protection services on Oct. 1, 2012. Little Owl had been hired last summer to improve staffing and daily operations of the social services office, and the tribe retained him to administer other social services programs after the BIA assumed control of services related to child protection.

The latest charges against Little Owl, filed on Dec. 31, “are a personal issue, not a tribal issue,” Little Owl said. “The last thing I want to do is bring any more negative attention to the tribe. There’s been enough of that.”

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