Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana): Denying Pensions to Convicted Child Molesters Act

A 'monster': Outrage over Indian Health Service doctor convicted of abuse

The case of Stanley Patrick Weber, a former Indian Health Service pediatrician who was convicted of sexual abuse and awaits trial on even more charges, continues to cause headaches for the beleaguered agency.

Though Weber was found guilty of abusing young male patients on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, he is still in line to receive his government pension, an amount that could run around $100,000 a year. That has one key lawmaker outraged.

"A convicted pedophile should not receive one cent of taxpayer money," Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) said at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, calling the situation "outrageous."

The highest-ranking official at the IHS is also troubled by the case. Michael Weahkee, the principal deputy director at the agency, doesn't want Weber receiving his pension either, especially since the former employee is appealing his conviction while he awaits trial for abusing boys on the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, in South Dakota.

“I have personally submitted a letter requesting that Dr. Weber’s retirement pay be discontinued and we are working through with the legal counsel, whether or not we have the authority to do that,” Weahkee said at a Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing that was called to discuss the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the IHS.

“Dialogue continues as we evaluate whether or not we have current authority or if we’re going to need to seek legislative support to make those changes," added Weahkee, a citizen of the Pueblo of Zuni who remains in charge of the IHS because the Trump administration has failed to nominate a permanent director.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies - Review of the FY2020 Budget Request for the Indian Health Service - May 1, 2019

Amid that dialogue, Daines introduced the Denying Pensions to Convicted Child Molesters Act on Wednesday. The bill, if enacted into law, would prevent government employees from receiving taxpayer funds after being convicted of certain crimes.

"Any monster who is guilty of the unspeakable crimes that Stanley Patrick Weber was convicted of in Montana will not receive a federal government pension," said Daines, who also serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, where he previewed his plan to introduce the bill at a hearing last month, also calling him a "monster."

The bill, however, only applies to crimes committed after its enactment. That means it will not affect Weber, whom federal prosecutors say abused IHS patients at Blackfeet between 1992 and 1995, before being sent to Pine Ridge, where he has been charged for incidents that took place between 1998 and 2011.

Daines said he will encourage the Trump administration to "continue pursuing every possible to hold Mr. Weber accountable and to strip Mr. Weber of his pension."

Weber, age 70, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the charges in Montana. If he lives to serve the entire term, he could receive upwards of $1.8 million in government retirement benefits.

A 'pedophile': Stanley Patrick Weber, a former Indian Health Service pediatrician, has been convicted of abusing Indian children on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana and is facing a trial for abusing children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: U.S. Attorney's Office

But Weber has other plans in mind. He is taking his case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of overturning his conviction.

Though his opening brief was originally due at the end of April, the 9th Circuit on April 23 granted his request for more time. It's now due on May 30, with the government's response due on July 1, according to a court docket entry.

While that appeal is underway, prosecutors are moving forward with the Pine Ridge case. The trial is scheduled to start September 6 in federal court in Rapid City, according to the order from the chief judge.

The charges first broke in Native Sun News Today back in March 2017. But the IHS didn't publicly discuss the matter until a Dear Tribal Leader letter was sent out on October 26, 2018.

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

"Quite frankly, there are just not even words to describe the anger, the disappointment, the empathy for the victims," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Senate subcommittee which writes the appropriations bill for the IHS, said on Wednesday. She said the IHS "mishandled" the situation by continuing to employ Weber amid doubts about his record.

"Employees with a history of egregious conduct must not slip through the cracks," added Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the top Democrat on the panel. He also serves as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which counts Murkowski as a member as well.

Since February, IHS officials and employees have met with leaders of the Blackfeet Nation and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to discuss the case.

"I expressed my sincere regret that children were victimized by those entrusted to care for them and have made it absolutely clear that IHS will not tolerate sexual assault and abuse in its facilities," Weahkee said on Wednesday.

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The IHS also has taken other steps to address how it handles allegations of abuse within the system. Some were detailed in Weahkee's testimony and others in a letter sent to Sen. Daines on Tuesday.

Among the actions, the IHS will engage an outside contractor to review "policies and procedures regarding the reporting of of allegations of sexual abuse," according to the letter. The contract is expected to be issued shortly and a report will be due within six months of the award date.

Additionally, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation into the case. And the White House has established a Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System to examine ways to prevent future instances of child abuse.

The group held its first meeting last month in Oklahoma, where Weber once worked, and heards from Mark Butterbrodt, a physician who used to work at the Pine Ridge Hospital. He raised suspicions about the predator pediatrician but was then transferred to another state by the IHS.

“Despite numerous reported suspicions of Weber’s inappropriate behavior, IHS turned a blind eye and enabled Weber to continue his unspeakable actions for years,” Daines said on Wednesday.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) is seen at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on April 10, 2019, when he discussed the case of Stanley Patrick Weber, a former Indian Health Service employee who has been convicted of abusing young male patients and awaits trial on similar charges. Photo: SCIA

'Stanley Weber is a pedophile'
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.

'Predator on the Reservation'

FRONTLINE PBS: Predator on the Reservation

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