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020919-nws-weber

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

A former doctor with the Indian Health Service in Pine Ridge and convicted child sexual abuser is the subject of an upcoming Frontline documentary. 

"Predator on the Reservation" is the result of a two-year investigation into Stanley Patrick Weber, a 70-year-old white man who was recently found guilty by a federal jury in Montana and sentenced to 18 years for sexually abusing two Native American boys on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. Weber is appealing that decision and awaiting a September 2019 trial at the Rapid City federal courthouse. He faces 12 charges for allegedly committing similar sex crimes against Native boys on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

The 50-minute documentary, produced by Frontline and the Wall Street Journal, illustrates "the decades-long failure to stop Weber, a government pediatrician, who moved from reservation to reservation despite warnings about his behavior," Frontline writes on its website

It will air on South Dakota Public Broadcasting TV on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. 

Many local former IHS and criminal justice officials are featured in the film including Bill Pourier, former CEO of the Pine Ridge IHS; Mark Butterbrodt, a former IHS doctor; Elaine Yellow Horse, a former prosecutor with the Oglala Sioux Tribe; and Tatewin Means, the former OST attorney general. Bob McSwain, a former director of the IHS, admitted the agency tolerated problem doctors since it's hard to find good physicians who want to work on reservations. 

The film also features interviews with victims from Pine Ridge and Montana, former IHS staff in Montana, and Christopher Weaver and Dan Frosch, the WSJ reporters and Frontline correspondents who investigated Weber and the IHS. 

The film opens with a sign reading "Welcome to Oglala Lakota Nation" and a recording of a detective interviewing Weber in his home in Pine Ridge. The detective asks him why nurses said he was "emphatic" about seeing skinny, muscular, young male patients and why he has been accused of sexual abuse for the past 20 years. Weber denies ever having sexual relations with patients.

The documentary zooms into the WSJ reporters explaining how they learned about Weber. It then focuses on accusations made against Weber after he arrived to work as an IHS doctor in Browning on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1992, and then accusations against him in Pine Ridge. 

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Some complaints against Weber were ignored and not investigated, while others resulted in an investigation that cleared him of any wrongdoing. For example, after a boy told a police officer with the Oglala Sioux Tribe that Weber abused him, the officer reported the incident to the Bureau of Indian Affairs since the OST can't prosecute major crimes. But the BIA never contacted the boy. In 2009, IHS officials did investigate and temporarily suspend Weber but found no wrongdoing. The man who investigated him pleaded guilty in 2012 to possessing child porn

The investigation that finally lead to charges came about after Elaine Yellow Horse, then a prosecutor for the OST, remembered in 2015 that Butterbrodt had told her about Weber years ago. She reached out to Tatewin Means, the OST attorney general at the time, and they agreed to look into the complaints against him.

The pair looked into a past assault against Weber that resulted in serious injury to him but no police report and no charges. Yellow Horse and Means eventually got in touch with the people who attacked him, which included a boy who Weber abused.

They gave the boy's name to the BIA which investigated Weber. In 2017 he was charged in South Dakota federal court with 10 sex crimes against minors. In February 2018, he was indicted for five crimes in Montana. Later that year, two more charges were added to his South Dakota case

Toward the end of the movie, actors read from the transcript of a victim who testified during the Montana trial. Victims from Pine Ridge also testified and broke down in tears at that trial. Weber, a tall, slender man, is shown smiling as he enters and exits the courthouse. "It's a nice day today, nice sunny day," he told the cameraman. 

Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, acting IHS director, agreed to be interviewed after Weber was sentenced. He said he's creating a new policy to make all IHS employees mandated reporters, and investigating which employees knew about the allegations against Weber. So far, no one at IHS has been held accountable for failing to act on allegations against him. 

The film ends with people reflecting on whether they could have done more to stop Weber, who is set to go to trial in Rapid City on Sept. 23, 2019 unless he reaches a plea deal by Sept. 6. 

At 11 a.m. Mountain Time on Feb. 12, Yellow Horse, Means, Weaver, and Joe Flood, a journalist who broke the news of the investigation into Weber, will appear on the Native America Calling radio show. People call 800-996-2848 to comment or ask questions. A recorded version of the show will later be posted online. 

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

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