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An Indian Health Service pediatrician was convicted of sexually abusing young Native American boys under his care for two decades and was sentenced to five lifetime prison terms on Monday.
According to court documents, Stanley Patrick Weber, 71, groomed and abused Native American boys about 9 years old on reservations in Montana and South Dakota between 1995 and 2011. His supervisors in the federal government suppressed their own suspicions about his conduct and tried to silence others who had raised concerns, and moved the doctor from one reservation to another after the managers stated that he might had molested his patients.
The agency’s handling of Weber has shown broader dysfunction at the U.S. agency that provides health care to 2.6 million Native Americans, frequently in some of the nation’s poorest and most remote communities. The Journal and Frontline also reported that the agency had employed lots of doctors with track records of malpractice, licensure sanctions and even criminal convictions who had gone to the extreme of harming patients at IHS hospitals.
In September, Weber was convicted in South Dakota of abusing four of his patients at the IHS’s Pine Ridge hospital and his government housing unit. One victim affirmed at the trial that Weber had used narcotics to pacify him before sexually assaulting him, and another victim described increasing assaults during a series of visits in hospital exam rooms. Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken described his four-decade legal career before stating that he had never seen anything like the “abuse of trust you have inflicted on these men.” while delivering the sentence. Judge Viken has imposed 45 years and an $800,000 fine with five life sentences. Three of the victims he was convicted of abusing were present in the courtroom and spoke of the impact of Weber’s crimes.
In 2018, Weber was also convicted in a separate trial in Montana for abusing two former patients and sentenced to more than 18 years in prison. He had appealed that conviction, but a higher court affirmed it on Monday just hours before his South Dakota sentence.
An IHS manager in Montana stated that in 1995, Weber might be molesting his patients, and ordered his supervisor to fire him. However, few weeks later, Weber re-emerged with another agency job, at Pine Ridge and survived multiple investigations and years of complaints by colleagues about the boys who visited his home at night.
Weber had no visible reaction after hearing his sentence on Monday. His lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, refused to comment as he left the courtroom.
Source: The Wall Street Journal