The men broke down when first approached about a former Indian Health Services pediatrician they say sexually abused them as children, the lead investigator on the case testified Thursday while also acknowledging there isn't much physical evidence of the doctor being a pedophile.
Curt Muller, a special agent with the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, testified on the third and last day of testimony in the trial against Stanley Patrick Weber at the federal court in Rapid City.
Weber, 70, was originally charged with 11 sexual abuse crimes that he allegedly committed against four Native American boys, some as young as nine, in Pine Ridge between 1995 and 2011. But Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Viken agreed to dismiss two counts involving two of the victims after prosecutor Sarah Collins said there wasn't enough evidence for them based on the testimony.
Weber, who didn't testify during the trial, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of certain crimes.
The trial will wrap up Friday morning with closing arguments after prosecutors originally expected it to last through Tuesday.
Muller said Thursday that he learned about the victims through law enforcement and anonymous tips, law enforcement reports and medical records. He said he interviewed the Sioux Falls victim inside a prison — where he didn't feel very comfortable speaking — and the three other victims in his car in Pine Ridge or Wounded Knee.
He said the victim from Wounded Knee was crying, shaking and looking toward his lap during their interview, while the Pine Ridge man "immediately flinched" and grabbed for the car door handle as he brought up Weber. But the man agreed to stay, crying and bowing his head as he spoke.
"Is this about Dr. Weber?" Muller said the Rapid City victim asked during an interview in Pine Ridge. Muller said the only other times he's seen an adult man cry as intensely as the victim did is after the loss of a child or spouse.
Muller said he investigated problems with staff stealing unsecured drugs from the Pine Ridge IHS emergency room and pharmacy from 2000-2010. He told Harvey Steinberg, one of Weber's defense lawyers, that doctors could access drugs at any time but there's no evidence Weber did that.
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He also told Steinberg that a February 2017 search of Weber's home, computers and cell phone turned up no child pornography, photographs of or calls with alleged victims, or women's clothing (one victim said Weber liked to wear dresses). He admitted that one victim's trial testimony differed from what he said during his original interview. A victim previously testified that he told a female friend about being abused (but did not mention Weber), but Muller said he never interviewed the woman.
Muller told Collins that not all pedophiles watch child porn or keep photos of their victims and that Weber could have thrown away computers or cell phones since he learned about the investigation months before the search warrant.
Earlier in the day the jury heard testimony from an IHS nurse and former neighbor of Weber's who said that he usually treated boys 8-15 and saw groups of boys doing odd jobs around Weber’s home. She also said she saw people who looked like males based on their stance and shadows visiting Weber's home at midnight or 1 a.m.
“It was concerning to see such young boys” at his home, the woman said.
Joe Gutierrez, commander of the juvenile jail in Rapid City, confirmed parts of the Sioux Falls victim's testimony that the jail allowed Weber to take him out for a “pass” when he was 17-years-old on Dec. 24, 2014. The victim said Weber spent hundreds of dollars on him while shopping at the mall before sexually abusing him in a car and motel. Gutierrez said Weber picked the victim up at 10:10 a.m. and reported that he ran away by noon.
Collins said outside the presence of a jury that the Sioux Falls victim was hit with pepper spray and stun gun while being arrested in 2005 or 2006. She said she wanted to question Dan Hudspeth, the former police officer with the Oglala Sioux Tribe who picked up the victim and offered to take the victim to the hospital for treatment. But the victim, who Collins said was drunk at the time, told Hudspeth that he didn't want to see an IHS doctor and confided to him about Weber's abuse.
The victim and Hudspeth recounted this conversation in a Wall Street Journal/Frontline documentary, but both said it happened during a different arrest than the one Collins referred to. Hudspeth said in the documentary that he reported the allegation to the Bureau of Indian Affairs — which refused to comment — but the victim said no one from the BIA ever reached out to him.
Viken barred Hudspeth from testifying, saying the differing accounts of the conversation and assault would be too confusing for the jury.