RAPID CITY, S.D. — In the second day of a federal trial against a former physician who allegedly sexually abused young Native American boys while he worked for the Indian Health Service, three men who say they were abused as children testified.
Wednesday, Sept. 25, marked the second day of the United States' trial against Stanley Patrick Weber, a former Indian Health Service pediatrician who worked at the hospital on Pine Ridge between 1995 and 2011. Four men who grew up on the southeastern South Dakota reservation have testified this week at the U.S. District Court in Rapid City. The men have accused Weber of sexually abusing them — both in the hospital and at his nearby home on the reservation — while they were adolescents.
Weber, now 70, is pleading not-guilty to the 11 sexual abuse charges he faces in South Dakota for his alleged abuse at Pine Ridge. He could be sentenced to life in prison for some of the charges, if found guilty by the jury. He has already been convicted by a Montana jury for four sex abuse crimes committed against two Native American boys on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana between 1992 and 1995.
Weber worked as a pediatrician at the Indian Health Service facility in Browning before coming to Pine Ridge. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and is appealing his conviction.
Wednesday began with prosecutors' third witness, who began his testimony on Tuesday, Sept. 24, along with two other men.
The 24-year-old from Pine Ridge, wearing an over-sized white t-shirt which hung from his thin frame, said Weber fondled his genitals during two physical exams when he was an adolescent. He also said he went to Weber's house on multiple occasions, once watching pornography together.
The man said Weber told him not to tell anyone what happened or they "would both get into trouble," and later gave him $600 and a "crate of drugs," including codeine and morphine.
It wasn't the only time Weber allegedly gave money to boys. Another witness said Weber would give him and his friends money for drugs, and regularly provide alcohol at his home. Evelyn Weston, a registered nurse who worked at the Pine Ridge Indian Health Service facility while Weber was there, said she saw Weber exchange money with boys in the hallways.
The second man to testify Wednesday was a 40-year-old from Pine Ridge, who said he was 16 when he first received a physical exam from Weber in order to be on the cross country team. During the exam, the man said Weber donned a blue latex glove and penetrated him. With the other hand, the man said Weber held him in place.
The first time it happened, the man said Weber penetrated him for a few seconds. When Weber called him back for a subsequent exam, Weber said it was mandatory for school, the man said Weber "did it again" — this time for several minutes.
"I was like, crying," the man said.
Asked if he thought Weber's actions served any medical purpose, the man said no. After a third appointment, which he still thought was for school at the time, the man said he left.
"I thought I was getting molested," he said. He said he hasn't had a physical since.
A common thread between several of the witnesses were their circumstances: Not only were they young Native American boys living on reservations, but several struggled with poverty and rocky home lives. One said he was homeless. Several said they began using drugs and alcohol when they were children (some of which was allegedly provided by Weber). Several have mental health diagnoses.
One of the witnesses, a 36-year-old from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, was taken by Youth and Family Services from his mother when he was 10-years-old. He said after Weber assaulted him on several occasions. He told him that he could reunite him with his mom. It never happened.
Each of the witnesses expressed a reluctance to come forward, saying they were ashamed or angry. Some said they just wanted to forget it happened, and denied having been abused before federal officials began investigating Weber. The 40-year-old from Pine Ridge said Wednesday, "I kept it down in my heart."
"I wanted to tell someone, but I couldn't," he said. "I was young. No one wanted to believe young people."