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2017-03-15 / Top News

Former doctor charged in sexual abuse scandal

I.H.S. officials and tribal leaders cover-up sexual misconduct for decades
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today Managing Editor

PINE RIDGE –– A former Indian Health Service pediatrician stationed at the Pine Ridge Service Unit was formally charged with sexual abuse crimes against a minor.

Patrick Stanley Weber, 68, appeared in U.S. District Court March 1, charged with five counts of aggravated sexual abuse, one count of sexual abuse, and four counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

The ten charges against Weber involve three victims younger than 12; and six victims between 12 and 16. The alleged incidents took place between May 1998 and April 2003.

Weber who now resides in Spearfish pled not guilty and was released wearing an ankle monitor pending his May 9 trial.

According to a December 8, 2016 investigative article published in Medium by journalist Joe Flood, OST Attorney General Tatewin Means spoke about the investigation into allegations against Weber.

“When I was first appointed as attorney general [in 2012], a community member came to me with this issue and asked for me to look into it,” Means reported to Flood. “My initial investigation was brief because I did consult with federal partners, and it seemed like it had been dismissed, that there was nothing to the allegations, based on what those federal partners said.”

According to Flood, Means turned the investigation of allegations of criminal misconduct by Weber over to a prosecutor on her staff, Elaine Yellow Horse.

Means reported that Yellow Horse pursued the case and was successful in locating and identifying a possible victim of Dr. Weber’s in the spring of 2015, and Means’ office quickly referred the case to federal investigators and the US Attorney’s office.

According to a former associate, Weber, the acting clinical director at Pine Ridge Hospital, resigned abruptly last May under a cloud of suspicion after the Office of the Inspector General seized his computer. Weber had worked at the Pine Ridge Service Unit as a pediatrician for more than 20 years.

The former associate claims he warned I.H.S. and tribal officials about Weber’s suspicious criminal behavior, but investigations into Weber’s behavior were hampered by indifference for nearly three decades.

“If you’re white, a doctor, and what’s more a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and work in I.H.S. you can get away with murder,” the associate told Native Sun News Today last May. “Dr. Weber has been preying on the boys of Pine Ridge for two decades with full knowledge of people on tribal council and I.H.S. medical staff all the way to headquarters and administration at least as high up as the area office and probably higher.”

Allegations against Weber span nearly three decades and involve at least three I.H.S service units, the Pine Ridge service unit, the Browning, Montana service unit and one in Ada, Oklahoma, reports a mental health professional who worked with Weber.

According to another source, an OST Council representative reported as far back as 1995, nursing staff members were aware of Weber’s affinity for young boys and instead of expelling him from the medical profession; the routine for Pine Ridge IHS nursing staff orientation was “not to let him alone in a room with a boy.” That same council rep, aware of Weber’s misconduct, saw fit to honor him last year on behalf of the tribe for his 20 years of service with Pine Ridge I.H.S., the source said.

In 2009, it is reported that Weber was suspended pending an investigation into an assault he suffered at the hands of several young men at 1:30 a.m. on hospital grounds. Allegedly, Weber was plying these boys and others with money, alcohol and possibly marijuana. After the assault one of the young men reportedly stated, “I think we killed him.”

Flood in his Dec. Medium article states “According to tribal law enforcement officials who handled the case, Weber identified one of his alleged assailants and they arrested the young man, who told investigators that the altercation stemmed from a sexual relationship with the doctor.

After that, tribal investigators say, the case was hushed up and no charges were ever filed (according to arrest records, the alleged assailant/ possible victim was arrested for possession of alcohol, which is illegal on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but not charged with any further crimes). A recent records check found that any files related to the case were lost or destroyed. After the assault, numerous IHS employees say, IHS did suspend and investigate Weber, but he was quickly reinstated and actually promoted to acting clinical director of the hospital. A year later he let his medical license expire, but continued to see “special patients” as one hospital staffer put it, who came to the hospital and requested to see him, and frequently had young boys visiting his house at all hours— to do odd jobs and work in his garden, he told neighbors.”

Instead of reprimanding Weber’s unprofessional and possibly criminal behavior, the former Service Unit Director reportedly reprimanded another staffer for speaking out against Weber and exiled him to another I.H.S. Service Unit. The SUD then placed Weber in charge of the Pine Ridge medical staff and joked about the incident, “It was probably one of Weber’s boyfriends.”

Weber’s affinity for young boys was a subject of merriment and gossip amongst staff “who had Weber throw charts at them when they tried to get him to see overweight boys, teenage girls or infants, who knew he was cherry picking cute teenage boys for years in the Pine Ridge IHS Clinic,” the source reported.

Weber allegedly billed himself as an “adolescent expert” and once went to Thailand for continuing medical education, paid for by I.H.S. He once bragged that he got around the cumbersome appointment and screening process at IHS by telling boys they could come directly to his office without an appointment the source states.

If it can be proven that I.H.S. and tribal officials covered up this travesty for decades, will they assure that when victims come forward, they will be awarded damages and be given treatment for what was done to them?

“This cover up has been going on for three decades and no one wants to be asked ‘Why, when you saw this going on under your eyes, did you care so little about the safety of our young men that you did nothing about this predator?’” a former IHS doctor said.

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at executiveeditor@ nativesunnews.today)

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