The U.S. Senate wants answers from the Indian Health Service about sexual abuse accusations against physicians.
At the center of the concerns is an IHS pediatrician convicted of sexually abusing boys in Montana and South Dakota.
Stanley Patrick Weber was sentenced recently to 18 years federal custody for molesting two boys on the Blackfeet Reservation. He faces trial in September in Rapid City, South Dakota, for 12 sexual assault allegations on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, on which both Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester serve, will be taking up the issue. Staffs for the lawmakers said they were recently briefed by IHS officials about Weber. Complaints of sexual abuse committed by the pediatrician were first made decades ago and yet he continued to practice within IHS.
“I’m deeply disturbed by this report and am demanding answers from IHS on how the agency plans to ensure that something like this never happens again,” said Tester, a Democrat.
IHS officials revealed to committee members that an inspector general investigation about the Weber case is underway. Daines said what’s already clear is that IHS for 20 years failed to act on allegations of sexual abuse against Weber.
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“While justice is being served in the court of law, accountability must be demanded of IHS and the individuals who enabled Mr. Weber to continue molesting children for over two decades,” Daines said in a letter to acting IHS Director Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee.
Senate Indian Affairs will be looking at how IHS allowed Weber to continue unchecked.
Weber is appealing his Montana conviction.
Weber, 70, was convicted of sexually abusing to boys while he worked in Browning from 1992 to 1995. In 1995 he relocated to Pine Ridge, where he worked until 2016.
In the federal trial in Montana, prosecutors accused Weber of using candy, money, alcohol and video games to lure boys into sexual activity.