May 3, 2002
Native American Press / Ojibwe News

FBI files criminal complaint against Red Lake Indian
Gary Lee Wipf charged with possession of child pornography

By Bill Lawrence and Clara NiiSka

On April 12th, 2002, Gary Lee Wipf, 42, was charged with possession of “material containing an image of child pornography” in violation of USC 15 § 2252(a) 5.  The charges were based on a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent John P. Egelhof, sworn to before U.S. Magistrate Judge Randall Burg in Bemidji, Minnesota.  Wipf waived his rights to a detention hearing, and is currently being held in federal custody.  There is also a warrant outstanding for Wipf’s arrest on the Red Lake reservation.

Wipf, the son of Joan née Maxwell, is a Red Lake enrollee.  He had worked as school janitor and as a basketball and baseball coach at St. Mary’s Mission for more than a decade, but was fired at the end of September 2001.  He then went to work for the Red Lake Band in the Band’s recreation department as Coordinator of Youth Activities.

According to the F.B.I., on April 4, 2002, Red Lake Police Department director Patrick W. Mills, Sr. interviewed a twenty year old male, identified in Engelhof’s Affidavit as “Victim 1.”  The young man is a Red Lake enrollee.  He reported to Mills that “when he was in the fifth grade, during the time he was 10 years old, he attended St. Mary’s Mission School” at Red Lake.  He told Mills that beginning in or around September 1992, Gary Lee Wipf began sexually abusing him during times when ‘Victim 1’s’ mother allowed the boy to stay over at Wipf’s house, located in the Little Rock Section of the reservation, and, on occasion, abused him at the school itself.

According to the FBI special Agent’s report, ‘Victim 1” told Red Lake police director Mills that “this abuse would take the form of Wipf touching Victim 1’s penis, Wipf’s open mouth kissing of Victim 1, and Wipf penetrating the anus of Victim 1 with his (Wipf’s) penis.  Victim 1 told Director Mills that Wipf, on numerous occasions, anally penetrated Victim 1 with his (Wipf’s) penis.”

‘Victim 1’ was reinterviewed on April 5, 2002, by Red Lake police Criminal Investigator Jason Lawrence.  He told Lawrence that he recalled that during the period of sexual abuse, Wipf would videotape him.

On April 5, 2002, Criminal Investigator Jason Lawrence obtained a search warrant from the Red Lake Tribal Courts for Wipf’s residence.  According to the F.B.I., “During the execution of this search warrant, CI Lawrence recovered numerous VHS and 8 mm video tapes.”  He obtained a separate tribal search warrant to view the video tapes on April 9, 2002, and during the course of viewing the tapes on April 12, 2002, he discovered that one depicted Gary Lee Wipf performing oral sex on a sleeping or unconscious boy.”

Red Lake Criminal Investigators Lawrence and Donovan Wind recognized this boy as a now-thirteen year old boy, who is an enrolled Red Lake member, and whom the F.B.I. refers to as “Victim 2.”  According to Engelhoff’s affidavit, “CI Lawrence told [Engelhoff] that during the entire course of the videotape which depicts Victim 2 as being sexually abused by Wipf, and which appears to be two separate occasions, the boy never appears to be awake or conscious.

“CI Lawrence told [Engelhoff] that on the same video tape, there is filming of a Red Lake Warriors basketball team trip, and that, due to the players present, he can date the video to the school year of 1998 – 1999, when Victim 2 would have been between nine and ten years old.”

The Red Lake police reportedly retrieved more than two hundred video tapes from Wipf’s residence.  The videos have been turned over to the FBI.

According to the F.B.I., Wind “briefly interviewed Victim 2, who denied ever being alone with Wipf.  CI Wind told [Engelhoff] that he suspected that Victim 2 was too embarrassed to acknowledge that he was sexually abused by Wipf, or was not aware that the abuse had occurred.”  Victim 2 is the boy shown on videotape as “sleeping or unconscious.”

Wipf was fired by the Tribe on April 8th, 2002.

On April 12, 2002, after viewing the videotape depicting Wipf sexually abusing the Victim 2, Special Agent Engelhoff arrested Wipf at his residence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget Dowdal is prosecuting the case, United States v. Gary Lee Wipf, Magistrate Case No. 2-119, for the United States.  She was out of town and thus not available to answer questions.

Paul Murphy, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division of the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office, told Press/ON that the government has thirty days during which to file charges.  He said that the policy of the U.S. Attorney’s office is to not comment on pending cases, and so he would not comment on whether additional charges would be filed against Wipf later.  Murphy said that Wipf is presently being detained in the Minneapolis area.

Press/ON called Pastor Pat Sullivan of St. Mary’s Catholic Mission at Red Lake to ask him several questions, but Sullivan had not returned our phone call by press time.  Press/ON would like to ask Pastor Sullivan how long Wipf worked at St. Mary’s, who supervised him, and why Wipf was fired.  Press/ON would also like to ask Pastor Sullivan if the Catholic Church has conducted any investigation since they became aware of Wipf’s alleged sexual predation and abuse of young boys, and if Sullivan knew of any additional children who may have been victimized by Wipf.  Press/ON would also like to know if the Catholic Church conducts any type of background check on employees before hiring them for teaching positions or other jobs involving contact with children, and what the Catholic Church intends to do to help those who have been victimized by sexual predators in its employ.