Fort Erie – The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre issued an apology Tuesday morning, after learning one of their employees sent a letter of support on behalf of convicted child sex offender Matt Myke.
A public statement from FENFC Executive Director Jennifer Dockstader says leadership at the centre was unaware of the letter, sent by FENFC’s Cultural Resource worker Edgar Rodriguez to Wisconsin Justice John P. Zakowski — suggesting Myke was a regular at the centre and would be welcome to return to leadership at the centre upon his release from prison.
“We were horrified. We would never, ever have a convicted child rapist do any work, set foot in, or support in any way, this person to have any contact with any of our community. We were completely unaware of this letter that was issued and in no way support any violence against our people. We stand with the victim of Matt Myke without question and need to make this clear,” writes Dockstader.
On September 4, Myke was sentenced to 20 years total: 10 years in state prison along with an additional 10 years in extended supervision for repeatedly raping a child. He must complete 1000 hours of community service and can have no contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 18 and must submit DNA samples to the state’s sex offender registry.
The letter, issued by Rodriguez, was fashioned on letterhead to appear that it was coming from the friendship centre. “We would never dishonour the trust our community places in us by supporting or allowing any abuser of women or children to be involved with our Friendship Centre. We completely denounce the letter, and consider that letter that was issued by our employee to be fraudulent,” writes Dockstader.
A second statement issued by Edgar Rodriguez on Wednesday admitted that he sent the letter in support of Myke, who is his cousin — and asked the forgiveness of the Fort Erie Indigenous community.
“I, Edgar Rodriguez, issued a letter in support to my cousin Matthew Myke in my capacity as Cultural Coordinator of the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. I was not authorized to do this and the FENFC had no prior knowledge of my intentions. I need to apologize or misleading community” wrote Rodriguez.
“The statements I made in my letter of support were false. My cousin was never in attendance to the FENFC in any capacity. I never intended my error in judgement to affect the community. I now understand I jeopardized the faith the FENFC organization and community has in me. I apologize to each and every one of you,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez letter to the Wisconsin courts was one of 30 letters issued seeking Myke receive a lesser sentence for his child rape conviction, in part because he is a ceremonial leader and can speak the Cayuga language.
Other notable authors include faith keepers in the Sour Springs longhouse, an elementary school teacher from Oneida Nation of the Thames and the Pow Wow Committee for the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow.
TRT reached out to the Grand River Pow Wow Committee for comment on their part in submitting letters of support for Myke to the courts. A campaign across social media was launched Tuesday morning to boycott the annual event in light of the committee supporting a lesser sentence for Myke’s crimes.
The Grand River Pow Wow Committee has not responded to our request for comment.
this employee, knowingly falsified a COURT document, sent it to a US court on work Letterhead conveying alleged support from the Community, and not a personal testament. and he is saying he did not put the community in harms way.? have him look in the eyes of the 14 year old victim and every other child and youth reeling in silence from sexual abuse and trauma. his actions are deplorable and he should not be working in a centre that welcomes youth and promotes healing with his rape apologetic stance. Does anyone think for a moment that the victim cared whether he spoke the language fluently or not while he was assaulting her?? SHAME ON EVERYONE HOLDING SPACE FOR THIS CONVICT
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