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Inside The Alleged Abuse Scandal That Destroyed The Dolezal Family

Rachel Dolezal's brother is charged with sexually abusing their adopted sister — a claim their parents vigorously denied to BuzzFeed News. Warning: This post contains graphic details of alleged sexual abuse.

Last updated on June 16, 2015, at 5:23 p.m. ET

Posted on June 16, 2015, at 4:23 p.m. ET

Joshua and Rachel Dolezal
Twitter/Facebook

Joshua and Rachel Dolezal

The criminal case that Rachel Dolezal said led her parents to spitefully reveal that the former president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP is biologically white involves charges that her older brother sexually abused their adopted black sister — allegations her parents told BuzzFeed News were fabricated.

As first reported by the New York Daily News, Joshua Dolezal, 39, is facing four counts of sexually assaulting a child in Colorado after being arrested in March 2014. He was released on a $15,000 bond after his arrest and works as an associate professor of English at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

According to a Colorado affidavit and arrest warrant reviewed by BuzzFeed News, the alleged abuse occurred in the Dolezal home between 2001 and 2002. The documents state that the alleged victim was age 6 or 7 when the abuse was allegedly carried out by Joshua, who court documents said was 19 years older than the alleged victim. The documents obscure the identity and gender of the victim, but Rachel Dolezal previously told the Spokesman-Review of a "Colorado lawsuit filed by her sister against their brother."

Rachel and Josh's parents, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that their adopted daughter Esther had made the criminal complaints, but said the allegations were "absolutely untrue." BuzzFeed News has contacted both Esther and Joshua Dolezal for comment.

"J. Dolezal would follow [redacted] into bathroom and would make [redacted] undress and would touch [redacted] and [redacted] area on [redacted] skin. This happened over 20 times," according to an affidavit prepared by Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office Detective Al Billinger.

Rachel Dolezal on the Today show on Tuesday.
Stephanie Keith / Reuters

Rachel Dolezal on the Today show on Tuesday.

According to the affidavit, the alleged victim told police Joshua Dolezal repeatedly made her touch his penis and perform oral sex on him. He allegedly threatened his victim with harm if she spoke out. The affidavit also says the victim told her adoptive mother, who did not believe her "lies." However, the alleged victim was eventually placed in "a home for abused children," according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also claimed "that Joshua Dolezal had victimized [redacted] older sister" — a possible reference to Rachel.

In a separate incident that allegedly took place in 1991, an alleged victim told Billinger in an emailed statement that when Joshua Dolezal was age 16 or 17 he allegedly pinned her to the ground and tried to pull off her clothes. According to the statement, Joshua showed the alleged victim "[a] collection of photos of topless and naked African women" from a National Geographic magazine and said "he would masturbate and would 'get off' to these pictures" and "was turned on by the black body and was curious about black women generally." Joshua allegedly apologized to the victim for the incident when he "came home for summer break in 1996 ... and said that he probably messed [redacted] up from that and that he couldn't take it back but that he was sorry."

Esther was not alive at the time of this alleged 1991 incident.

Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal claimed to BuzzFeed News that Esther had invented the story of abuse due to mental health problems, describing her as "a chronic liar."

The Dolezals said Esther was sent to Shiloh Christian Children's Ranch in Missouri for medical treatment. The center describes itself as offering treatment to "abused, neglected, and other children." An employee of the ranch, who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the center "would not exclude" a child who had mental health issues but who had not been abused. "We don't exclude children that have not been abused," the employee said. "Our primary focus is on abused and neglected children but there are other categories too."

Colin Mulvany / AP

Ezra Dolezal, Rachel's other adopted sibling, told BuzzFeed News on Friday that Rachel was instrumental in a legal action against a family member who was unhappy when she took her parents to court and won custody of Izaiah Dolezal, another adopted brother. Rachel now refers to Izaiah as her own son.

The Dolezals said they do not understand why their adopted daughter would "team up" with Rachel to "destroy the family."

"Our daughter Rachel is desperately trying to destroy her biological family and over times those attempts have become more serious," Ruthanne said. "These malicious accusations need to be recognized for what they are. We are just hopeful and praying that our justice system will work for justice and not just be a platform to be abused."

When asked why Rachel turned against her family after she divorced her husband in 2004 and would now seek to perpetuate "fabricated" allegations of abuse against her brother, the Dolezals said they had no idea. "I think she somehow attributed her difficulties as an adult to her family and so she is blaming us," Ruthanne said.

"Now the whole nation is wondering with us what her motivation is," Ruthanne said. "Why does she want to reject her biological family and claim to be someone she is not?"

Esther Dolezal was allegedly abused between 2001 and 2002. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the alleged date of abuse. This story has also been updated to clarify that the "National Geographic" incident allegedly took place in 1991.


Read the court records:

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