A new drug and alcohol addiction counseling agency in Rapid City has brought on a convicted sex offender to manage its spiritual programs, the Journal has learned.
Promotional materials for "A New Day Recovery Services" list William Good Voice Elk Jr. as the “spiritual program manager” who would provide talking circles, spiritual mentoring and sweat lodge experiences for people with substance abuse problems as part of their treatment. The flyers from A New Day also include a reference to future counseling services for adolescents.
Good Voice Elk, 45, a registered sex offender with two sex-related convictions on his record, served prison time on 1996 charges that he had sex with an under-aged girl.
He was also convicted in 2008 for having sex with a 26-year-old woman who was incapacitated, federal records show.
A New Day, with offices listed at 2040 West Main St., is a service provider for the Oglala Lakota tribe, and provides addiction counseling services free of cost for Native Americans. The agency has just opened and it is unclear if clients have been treated yet.
Cindy Fleming, founder of A New Day, told the Journal in a phone call this week that Good Voice Elk is a volunteer. Fleming said she was aware of his convictions and added that: "I'm the clinical person here, he doesn't see my clients."
On the same call, Fleming then handed the phone to Good Voice Elk, who became angry.
"So, now you're trying to play judge, prosecutor and God, huh?" Good Voice Elk said. He later defended his ability to be a spiritual counselor.
"Spirituality has nothing to do with being a registered offender," he said.
When informed by the Journal of Good Voice Elk's status as a registered sex offender, a representative of the Oglala Lakota tribe said she was not aware of his status or involvement with A New Day.
Leslie Mesteth, project director for the Oglala Lakota Tribe's Access to Recovery program, said that Good Voice Elk's name does not appear in A New Day's application paperwork.
"(Fleming) said in an email that she had a spiritual adviser coming on board, and they needed help getting a drum" for a pow wow, Mesteth said. But, "I'm not even familiar with his name."
She said that the tribe would not fund any spiritual programs run by Good Voice Elk.
"I can't have convicted sex offenders providing services, no," Mesteth said.
Mesteth confirmed that the tribe has not funded any spiritual services that may have been provided so far by Good Voice Elk, though it has reimbursed A New Day for clinical services not related to him.
To be considered a service provider for the tribe, applicants must disclose whether they've been convicted of a felony, according to Mesteth. Having a felony conviction that involves the harm of another person would disqualify an applicant, she said. Mesteth said the tribe received an application only from Fleming.
Fleming "needs to put measures in place" to check the backgrounds of those she works with, Mesteth said.
Federal prosecutors indicted Good Voice Elk in 1998 for rape and incest after he allegedly sexually assaulted his niece. Good Voice Elk pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual abuse and was sentenced in June 1999 to just under six years in prison. He was released in February 2004, according to federal prison records.
In July 2008, Good Voice Elk was arrested again and charged with, among other things, two counts of rape. He pleaded guilty to sexual contact with someone incapable of consent and served a little more than two years in prison on a sentence of five years, with another five years suspended.
A representative of the state Department of Corrections confirmed that Good Voice Elk is still under parole supervision.
Calls and emails made late Wednesday afternoon to Fleming — after the Journal informed the tribe of Good Voice Elk's status — were not returned.
Fleming is a certified counselor in good standing with the state Certification Board for Alcohol and Drug Professionals.