A Montana senator has introduced a bill that would deny pensions to a former Pine Ridge doctor and any federal employee convicted of child sexual abuse.
The law would make sure "any monster who's guilty of the unspeakable crimes that Stanley Patrick Weber was convicted of will not receive a federal government pension," Republican Sen. Steve Daines said at a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 1. "A convicted pedophile should not receive one cent of taxpayer money in retirement benefits."
Daines' bill, Denying Pensions to Convicted Child Molesters Act, is inspired by the fact that Weber — who awaits trial in Rapid City to face allegations that he sexually abused Native American boys while working at the Indian Health Service on the Pine Ridge Reservation — is set to receive more than $1.8 million while serving his more than 18-year sentence after being found guilty of sexually abusing boys on Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"It's shocking that a government employee can still receive a pension after being convicted of sexually abusing children," said Daines, calling it "unacceptable" and "outrageous."
Daines said he hopes federal agencies will try to come up with a fix as he works on the legislative angle.
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Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee, principal deputy director of the IHS, told Daines he is exploring "every possible avenue" to hold Weber accountable and make sure he doesn't receive his pension.
Weahkee said he's working with lawyers to see if IHS is able to cancel the pension itself, or if it can only be done through legislation. He also said he asked the Health and Human Services Department and Surgeon General's Office to see if they can do anything.
Weber, 70, receives his pension, worth about $100,000 a year, from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which sends doctors to the IHS and other federal agencies. His trial is scheduled to begin in September.
There are three current and planned investigations into the IHS, which for decades failed to investigate or cleared Weber after receiving tips that he was abusing children. A White House task force is investigating how Weber was able to sexually assault children in his care and how to prevent future abuse, while the Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing the effectiveness of the actions IHS has already taken. The IHS is hiring an independent contractor to review whether laws and policies were followed in the past, and what future improvements it can make.