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Five Oglala Sioux members cite ‘bad men among whites’ clause in Weber lawsuit
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Five Oglala Sioux members cite ‘bad men among whites’ clause in Weber lawsuit

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Weber trial

Stanley Patrick Weber is pictured in this passport photograph from the 1990s. 

Five members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe are citing the “bad men among whites” treaty clause to argue that the federal government owes them money after they were sexually abused by a former Pine Ridge pediatrician.

Stanley Patrick Weber caused the five men — four of whom were victims in his criminal trial — to “suffer from severe anxiety, depression, shame, humiliation, the inability to lead a normal life, and psychological and emotional trauma,” according to the May 15 lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The “injuries are persistent, permanent and debilitating in nature.”

Weber, who worked for Indian Health Service, received multiple life sentences after a jury at the federal court in Rapid City found him guilty last fall of sexually abusing four Native American boys as young as 9 between 1999 and 2011 at IHS and his home in Pine Ridge. 

Accusations about Weber sexually abusing boys circulated among his co-workers, patients and the wider community when he worked at the Pine Ridge and Browning, Montana IHS hospitals, according to a Wall Street Journal/Frontline investigation. But some complaints were ignored and not investigated, while others resulted in investigations that cleared him of any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit — filed by Rapid City attorneys Michael Shubeck and Gregory Yates — cites the “bad man among whites” clause of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

“If bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to the authority of the United States, shall commit any wrong upon the person or property of the Indian, the United States will … proceed at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States, and also reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained,” Article I reads.

This clause was successfully cited in Elk v. United States and Richard v. United States, two cases that ended in victory for citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who were harmed by white men on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The five men in the Weber lawsuit sent detailed claims for damages to officials at the Department of Interior — which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs — the complaint says. But the federal government "has refused to consider" their claims so a lawsuit was filed.

The plaintiffs are asking the U.S. government to award them monetary damages and pay their attorney fees. The federal government has not yet responded.

Three men who say Weber sexually abused them when he worked on the Blackfeet Reservation have also filed a lawsuit citing a treaty. That lawsuit cites two articles from the 1855 Treaty with the Blackfeet to argue the U.S. government owes plaintiffs compensation after failing to protect them from Weber. The federal government must respond to their compliant by July 21, court records show.

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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