“PREDATOR ON THE RESERVATION”

Frontline and The Wall Street Journal investigate the federal government’s decades-long failure to stop a pediatrician accused of sexually abusing Native American boys.

Aired February 12, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> IN JANUARY, A GOVERNMENT PEDIATRICIAN WAS SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 18 YEARS IN PRISON SEVERAL COUNTS OF SEXUALLY ABUSING NATIVE AMERICAN BOYS IN HIS CARE.

THE DOCTOR HAD BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE, A FEDERAL AGENCY THAT OVERSEES HEALTH CARE AND RUNS HOSPITALS ON NATIVE AMERICAN RESERVATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

AN INVESTIGATION BY THE 'WALL STREET JOURNAL' AND 'FRONTLINE' HAS UNCOVERED THAT FOR DECADES THE AGENCY IGNORED REPEATED WARNINGS ABOUT THE DOCTOR'S BEHAVIOR AND EVEN TRANSFERRED HIM FROM RESERVATION TO RESERVATION DESPITE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM.

THE REVELATIONS ARE THE SUBJECT OF 'PREDATOR ON THE RESERVATION' A NEW PBS DOCUMENTARY.

ALLEGATIONS SWIRLED AROUND THIS RESERVATION DOCTOR FOR YEARS.

I WAS FLOORED BECAUSE OF WHAT I SAW THERE, A LOT OF ITEMS THAT BOYS WOULD PLAY WITH.

WE INVESTIGATE THE GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE TO STOP DECADES OF ABUSE.

WHY PROTECT A PEDOPHILE?

IF THEY KNEW ABOUT IT, WHY DID THEY PROTECT HIM?

DESPITE THE WARNINGS.

WHAT KIND OF COVERUP IS THIS?

THIS INVOLVES A LOT OF PEOPLE IN A LOT OF HIGH PLACES.

WATCH ONLINE OR ON AIR STARTING FEBRUARY 12th.

> JOINING US NOW IS CHRISTOPHER WEAVER, ONE OF THE 'WALL STREET JOURNAL' REPORTERS FEATURED IN THE DOCUMENTARY.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FIRST, LET'S START OFF WITH JUST HOW YOU WERE ABLE TO UNCOVER THIS STORY, BECAUSE THIS SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A COMMUNITY I THINK MOST AMERICANS DON'T REALLY GIVE THAT MUCH THOUGHT TO AND A HEALTH CARE PROBLEM THAT NOBODY EVEN KNEW EXISTED.

SO IT STARTED OFF A COUPLE YEARS AGO WITH A COLLEAGUE.

WE WERE WRITING ABOUT SOME INDIAN HOSPITALS RUN BY THE U.S.

GOVERNMENT OUT THE IN THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY, THE DAKOTAS, NEBRASKA, MONTANA WHERE HOSPITALS THAT THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF WAS RUNNING WERE FALLING SHORT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S OWN REQUIREMENTS FOR WHAT HOSPITALS COULD DO.

THAT MEANT MISSING DIAGNOSES AND HAVING PATIENTS DIE FOR REALLY NO GOOD REASON.

WE REALIZED THEY HAD A LOT OF STRUCTURAL ISSUES.

ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THEY WERE FACING WAS IT WAS HARD TO GET DOCTORS TO COME WORK THERE.

AS A CONSEQUENCE THEY WERE HIRING DOCTORS WHO BROUGHT SOME BAGGAGE WITH THEM TO THE JOB.

OF COURSE THAT LED YOU TO THIS SPECIFIC DOCTOR, DR.

STANLEY PATRICK WEBER.

YEAH.

IN THE COURSE OF THE REPORTING WE STARTED HEARING RUMORS ABOUT A PEDIATRICIAN AT THE PINE RIDGE INDIAN HOSPITAL IN A REMOTE SOUTHWESTERN CORNER OF SOUTH DAKOTA.

THE WORD ON THE STREET WAS THIS DOCTOR WAS MOLESTING HIS PATIENTS AND HAD BEEN FOR SOME TIME.

WHEN I WAS INDICTED ON TEN COUNTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ON NATIVE AMERICAN BOYS IN FEBRUARY OF 2017, WE THOUGHT THIS COULD BE A BIG STORY AND WE REALLY NEED TO FIND OUT DID THEY KNOW, DID THE U.S. GOVERNMENT OR AT LEAST ITS LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES KNOW THEY HAD A PROBLEM WITH THIS GUY.

OF COURSE THAT SEEMS TO BE THE CRUX OF THE WHOLE DOCUMENTARY THAT WE SEE, IS EXACTLY WHO KNEW WHAT, WHO DID OR DID NOT SAY ANYTHING AMID WHEN.

WITHOUT GIVING THE WHOLE THING AWAY, TELL US SOME OF WHAT YOU WERE ABLE TO UNCOVER.

YEAH.

BASICALLY WE FOUND THAT FOR AT LEAST 21 YEARS THERE WERE PRETTY SERIOUS WARNING SIGNS COMING TO THE ATTENTION OF U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN MONTANA AND THEN IN SOUTH DAKOTA.

IT GOT TO THE POINT AT A HOSPITAL WHERE THIS GUY WORKED IN THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION IN THE FAR NORTH OF MONTANA THAT REGIONAL IHS OFFICIALS, INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE OFFICIALS THERE WERE SO CONVINCED HE WAS A PEDOPHILE THAT THEY ORDERED HIS BOSS AT THIS PARTICULAR HOSPITAL IN BROWNING, MONTANA, TO DO WHATEVER IT TOOK TO GET RID OF HIM.

BUT INSTEAD OF FIRING THE DOCTOR, STARTING AN INVESTIGATION, WHAT THEY DID IS THEY TRANSFERRED HIM TO ANOTHER FACILITY RUN BY THE SAME FEDERAL AGENCY IN SOUTH DAKOTA.

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS RINGS VERY FAMILIAR TO STORIES THAT WE'VE SEEN, OF COURSE, COVERED ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

BUT I DO WANT TO TURN A LITTLE BIT TO THE VICTIMS, BECAUSE YOU WERE ABLE TO CONTACT SOME OF HIS VICTIMS AND GET A SENSE OF WHAT THE LONG-TERM IMPACT HAS BEEN ON THEM.

YEAH.

WE'VE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH A NUMBER OF HIS KNOWN AND ALLEGED VICTIMS.

WE WERE NOT ABLE TO GET ON VIDEO SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE TALKED TO AND THE REASON IS THAT MANY OF THE PEOPLE THAT, YOU KNOW, SAY HE MOLESTED THEM AS BOYS ARE IN PRISON NOW OR JAIL AND A NUMBER HAVE CYCLED IN AND OUT OF INCARCERATION, EVEN DURING THE TIME WE'VE BEEN REPORTING THIS STORY.

AND BEYOND THAT, MANY HAVE STRUGGLED WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND DRUGS AND ALCOHOL, POVERTY, DEPRESSION.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE FACT THAT THE GUY HAS BEEN INDICTED AND NOW CONVICTED IN MONTANA HAS SORT OF FORCED SOME OF THESE BOYS TO LOOK IN THE FACE WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM AND WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES OVER THE COURSE OF THEIR LIVES HAVE BEEN.

WELL, WHAT DO YOU THINK, IS THIS STORY A CANARY IN A COAL MINE?

OR DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE MORE INCIDENTS?

JUST IN OUR REPORTING WE FOUND MANY EXAMPLES OF DOCTORS WHO HAD ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS IN THEIR PAST, CLINICAL ISSUES, CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS, LICENSING BY STATE AGENCIES.

THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE HAS A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE TROUBLING BACKGROUNBACKGROUNDS.

THEY FACE ALL KINDS OF ISSUES LIKE HOW MUCH MONEY THEY GET FROM CONGRESS TO RUN THESE SERVICES.

WHAT THE ANSWER IS A LOT LESS CLEAR BECAUSE THE PEOPLE TRYING TO FIX IT HAVE FEW OPTIONS.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPORTING.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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