South Dakota and Montana Teams that Convicted Former IHS Doctor for Serial Abuse of Native American Children Honored with Attorney General’s Award
National Award for Stanley Weber Prosecution is Highest Honor given by the Department of Justice
RAPID CITY, SD (STL.News) In a ceremony on January 25, 2021, United States Attorney Ron Parsons presented several federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials with the prestigious Attorney General’s Award, the highest honor given by the Department of Justice, for their exceptional efforts in the multi-district federal prosecution of Stanley Patrick Weber.
A longtime pediatrician with the Indian Health Service (IHS), Weber was convicted on multiple counts for the sexual abuse of Native American children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. He was first sentenced in Montana by U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris to 18 years in federal prison. In South Dakota, he was then sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken to five consecutive life sentences plus an additional 45 years, all of which was ordered to also run consecutive to the Montana sentence. Collectively, Weber was fined more than $1 million.
Fifteen men and women working for federal and tribal law enforcement agencies on the Weber prosecutions were among those honored with the 68th Annual Attorney General’s Award, given to Department of Justice employees and partners for extraordinary contributions to the enforcement of our nation’s laws. The honorees were selected in late 2020 by then Attorney General William P. Barr. Typically, the U.S. Attorney General hosts a ceremony to honor recipients at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The coronavirus pandemic prevented this event in 2020.
Five of the honorees were present in Rapid City to receive their awards from U.S. Attorney Parsons, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah B. Collins and Eric Kelderman, and Paralegal Lori Climis, who handled the successful prosecution for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota.
Retired BIA-OJS Special Agent Fred Bennett also was present to receive his award. It was Special Agent Bennett, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe working as an investigator serving the Pine Ridge Reservation, who cracked the case that led to this successful result. He was the first law enforcement officer to convince one of Weber’s victims to go on record about the abuse that occurred. That critical event launched the investigation.
“This award honors the incredible work done by these talented and dedicated Federal and Tribal law enforcement professionals to bring this predator to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “Just as importantly, it is a tribute to the true courage of Weber’s victims in stepping forward to reveal what was done to them as children to the juries who rendered these historic verdicts.”
“This case was always about getting justice for these victims who suffered from the actions of an evil man, a doctor who abused the kids entrusted to his case,” added Special Agent Bennett, who recently retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs after many years of distinguished federal service.
The investigations in both South Dakota and Montana were overseen by Curt Muller, Special Agent in Charge for the Department of Health and Humans Services, Office of Inspector General, who also was present in Rapid City to receive his award. Three other members of Muller’s team at HHS-OIG who worked on the federal investigation also received the award but were unable to attend: Assistant Special Agent in Charge Anissa D. Andrews and Special Agents Justin W. Reedy and Justin C. Christman.
Also receiving the Attorney General’s award for the Montana facet of the Weber cases were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey K. Starnes and Lori A. Suek, Paralegal Tammy M. Farris, and Victim-Witness Specialist Keri Leggitt from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana and Blackfeet Tribal Police Officers Frank Goings, Charlie Wolftail, and Sarah Wolftail.
Weber began working for IHS in 1986 in Oklahoma but transferred to the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana in 1992. While there, Weber used his position of trust in the community to gain access to, and sexually abuse, young Native American boys. He remained in Browning until 1995 when he transferred to the IHS facility in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where he remained for nearly 21 years before being put on leave under a cloud of suspicion. For most of this period, he resided in IHS housing near the hospital and it was there, and in his office at IHS, that investigators learned, decades later, he sexually preyed upon more young Native American boys.
Notwithstanding years of suspicion on the part of other IHS employees, Weber sexually molested numerous male child patients managing, at the same time, even to attain promotions in Pine Ridge to supervisory positions at the hospital ultimately becoming the acting clinical director until he left while under investigation in 2016. After four years of demanding, painstaking investigation and preparation, the Districts of Montana and South Dakota joined to successfully deliver justice to this serial child abuser.
The severity of the federal sentences imposed for Weber’s egregious abuse helped to assuage some of the national outrage that his conduct engendered. The significance of the prosecutions was reflected in the attention the cases received from media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the investigative public television program Frontline. Notably, South Dakota Public Broadcasting Correspondent Victoria Wicks received the prestigious 2020 National Edward R. Murrow Award for her reporting on Weber’s trial from Rapid City.