(SD)-Former IHS Pediatrician Gets Multiple Life Terms In Pine Ridge Molestation Case
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A former Indian Health Service pediatrician convicted of sexually abusing Native American children on both the Pine Ridge Reservation and the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana will spend the rest of his life in prison.
71-year old Dr Stanley Patrick Weber was sentenced last year to 18-years in prison for child sexual abuse convictions in Montana, and on Monday Federal District Judge Jeffrey Viken of Rapid City handed down sentences that included life in prison for his convictions in South Dakota.
Weber was convicted last year in a week-long trial of 5 counts of aggravated sexual abuse and 3 counts of sexual abuse of a minor for incidents that occurred between 1999 and 2011 while he worked at the IHS hospital in Pine Ridge.
Judge Viken gave him life on the 5 aggravated counts and 15 years on each of the 3 other counts, and ordered each sentence to run one after the other - including the 18-year term from the Montana case. He also ordered Weber to pay $800,000 in criminal fines.
Viken said he based his extreme sentence on how Weber took advantage of the vulnerability and innocence of his young victims and the trust placed in him by their parents.
Five of the victims, including current Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner, told Judge Viken their stories of abuse at the hands of Weber - with the other 4 saying they're still working through the trauma and that Weber "ruined their lives."
The mother of one of the men said she felt she'd failed her son because she trusted Weber with him. One of Weber's former IHS colleagues at the Pine Ridge hospital told how he spent 15 years trying to expose Weber and how frustrated he grew with the lack of action.
U-S Attorney for South Dakota Ron Parsons said afterward that he and his team were pleased with the sentence and hope the case sends the message of "never again," with multiple agencies learning lessons about what went wrong and how to make sure it never happens again.
Parsons also said that the federal government has been offering counseling services to the victims for several years now and will continue to do so.
The grandmother of one victim said the guilty verdicts and heavy sentences made the case a major moment for the Native American community because it "finally feels like a victory, where we were heard and believed."
Investigators from the BIA and the Dept of Health and Human Services Inspector General's office conducted more than 200 interviews while prosecutors spent thousands of hours of preparing their case.
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