Indianz.Com on YouTube: Indian Health Service at United South and Eastern Tribes Impact Week

VIDEO: Indian Health Service official discusses pediatrician convicted of abuse

By Acee Agoyo

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A senior official at the Indian Health Service addressed leaders of the United South and Eastern Tribes here on Wednesday, discussing the case of a pediatrician who was convicted of abusing young male patients.

Last September, Stanley Patrick Weber was found guilty by a federal jury in Montana for attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, abusive sexual contact of a minor and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in January. He is appealing.

"This conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at IHS," Deputy Director Chris Buchanan, who is a citizen of the Seminole Nation, told USET's board of directors during the organization's Impact Week meeting in the D.C.

During his remarks, Buchanan disclosed that IHS Principal Deputy Director Michael Weahkee, who is the highest-ranking official at the agency, visited the Blackfeet Nation last week to discuss the matter. Weber, who is approaching the age of 70, worked at the IHS facility on the reservation and was convicted for crimes that occurred there between 1992 and 1995, according to a sentencing memorandum.

Buchanan did not immediately say whether a similar meeting is being planned with the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Weber is awaiting trial in connection with abusing boys on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where he was assigned after leaving Blackfeet country.

"We can promise you that IHS will continue our efforts to ensure safe, quality care for our patients," Buchanan said.

Weber has been the subject of numerous reports in Native Sun News Today, dating back to March 2017, when the charges in South Dakota were first announced. But the IHS didn't publicly discuss the case until a Dear Tribal Leader letter was sent out on October 24, 2018.

The case has since drawn wider attention after being featured in the mainstream media. Last month, The Wall Street Journal and FRONTLINE PBS debuted Predator on the Reservation, a documentary that explored how Weber was able to stay employed for long at the IHS despite questions about his dealings with young male patients.

“This conduct is utterly unacceptable and it will not be tolerated at IHS,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who oversees the IHS, told tribal leaders following the release of the report last month.

According to Azar, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation into the case. IHS is also developing policies and plans to address incidents of abuse and suspicions of abuse, Buchanan told USET on Wednesday.

Weahkee, who is a citizen of the Pueblo of Zuni, was invited to address USET but was unable to accept because he is on "leave," Buchanan said. Weahkee is on vacation out of the country, according to a tribal advocate who works closely with IHS.

Buchanan and Weahkee have both served as "acting" director of the IHS over the last two years. Buchanan held the title from the start of the Trump administration in January 2017 till around June of that year. Weahkee then took on the role.

But Weahkee was required to relinquish the title due to limits in federal law governing vacancies, Buchanan said on Wednesday. Weahkee is currently leading the IHS as the "Principal Deputy Director" and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future because President Donald Trump has not nominated a permanent leader for the agency.

Buchanan told USET on Wednesday that there was nothing to announce in terms of a new director. The position has been vacant for more than four years.

'Predator on the Reservation'

From the sentencing memorandum in Stanley Patrick Weber's case in Montana:
Stanley Weber is a pedophile. For over two decades, he used his position as a pediatrician with the Indian Health Service to gain access to vulnerable prepubescent males, and subsequently committed terrible acts of sexual abuse upon his victims under the guise of providing them with “medical treatment.” While living and working on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Weber lured young juvenile males to his home by providing them with alcohol, pizza, soda, ice cream, video games, money, clothing, and overnight trips both on and off the reservation. Once isolated with these children, Weber seized his opportunity to act upon his deviant sexual desires by engaging in forced or coerced sexual activity with them. Weber leveraged his position within IHS and the communities where he worked and lived to gain the trust of many of his coworkers and supervisors, allowing him to survive multiple allegations and investigations into his suspicious behavior.

Although the crimes at issue in this case occurred more than 20 years ago, Weber has never had to face the consequences of his actions. In fact, when questions were raised about his behavior, he simply moved to a new community where he continued his pattern of criminality. Meanwhile, his victims grew up, saddled with confusion, shame, and fear that they could not reveal what happened to them as children, lest they face further embarrassment and ridicule from members of their community. The impact of Weber’s crimes ultimately manifested in his victims in the form of legal problems, drug and alcohol abuse, the inability to maintain stead

Even after his conviction, Weber continues to be unapologetic for his actions and shows no remorse for his victims or the harm he inflicted upon them. In fact, it is doubtful that he views his actions as criminal at all. His decades of predatory sexual abuse of children are among the most heinous and serious crimes cognizable by federal criminal law. At nearly 70 years of age, and with no sign of remorse, there is no reason to believe that Weber either recognizes the severity of his crimes or any realistic hope that he can ever be rehabilitated. Accordingly, justice demands that Weber face a severe sentence despite the age of his misconduct in this case.

FRONTLINE PBS: Predator on the Reservation

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