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FRONTLINE: The Silence

Airs Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Elsie Boudreau and Alberta Steve in St. Michael, Alaska from "The Silence."

In "The Silence," FRONTLINE examines a little-known chapter of the Catholic Church sex abuse story — decades of abuse of Native Americans by priests and other church workers in Alaska. Through candid interviews with survivors, producer Tom Curran and reporter Mark Trahant examine the abuse by a number of men who worked for the church along Alaska's far west coast in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The isolation of the villages and the absolute authority of the church over the Native population created an atmosphere where molestation could go unchecked and unreported. All told, they would leave behind a trail of hundreds of claims of abuse, making this one of the hardest hit regions in the country.

As part of the recent church settlement with the victims, the bishop of Fairbanks returns to all of the villages where the abuse occurred and apologizes to the victims in person. FRONTLINE is there when the bishop comes face-to-face with the reality of the abuse that the church denied for years. The Silence is a co-presentation with Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT)

Crash site of Continental Connection Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 2009.
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Above: Crash site of Continental Connection Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 2009.

Also in this hour, a re-airing of “Flying Cheap,” a January 2011 investigation into the outsourcing of major airline repair work to lower-cost independent maintenance operations in the U.S. and abroad. Correspondent Miles O’Brien provides a news update on “Flying Cheap.”

The program ends with a follow-up on the story of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who was taken into custody by government authorities days after FRONTLINE’s March 29, 2011 profile of him, as part of a larger crackdown on artists, bloggers and human-rights advocates.

FRONTLINE is on Facebook, and follow @frontlinepbs on Twitter.

Video

Preview: Frontline: The Silence

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Above: In "The Silence," FRONTLINE examines a little-known chapter of the Catholic Church sex abuse story: decades of abuse of Native Americans by priests and church workers in Alaska.