Montana Public Radio

Senate Committee Gets Redacted IHS Report On Child Sexual Abuse Case

Mar 17, 2020

After receiving pressure from congressional lawmakers, the Indian Health Service is providing some members of the U.S. Senate with redacted report on its response to a former doctor’s abuse patients in Montana and South Dakota. Released this week, the document details the failed oversight on former doctor Stanley Patrick Weber as he abused young Native-American boys.

Last month, members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee took issue with IHS’ refusal to release a quality assurance review. Contracted to a third-party, IHS said the report was meant to outline any agency failures in preventing, and then stopping, Weber’s abuse.

This week, IHS announced sending a redacted version of the report to the Committee's chair and vice-chair. Chairman Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota released a statement still calling for a report summary to be publicly released. MTPR reached out to vice-chairman Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, but did not hear back by deadline.

Both Montana senators, Steve Daines and Jon Tester, also sit on the committee. In an interview last month, Tester said the release of the report was key to the committee’s oversight. He also called for a hearing with IHS Director Michael Weahkee to determine whether steps IHS is currently taking to prevent future abuse are adequate.

“But if it’s not adequate, we can ask them if they’re going to do more and, if they say no, then we can influence them by legislation or language and appropriations bills," Tester said. "There’s a number of ways to do it.”

No such hearing has been scheduled, but Tester continued his call in a Tuesday press release. He also called for public release of the redacted report. Sen. Daines has called for the full report to be released.

IHS issued a press release Monday saying it’s put in place new policies on child sexual abuse reporting and prevention. A separate U.S. Inspector General report said IHS’ new policies still fall short. IHS said it’s expanding the general approach on preventing abuse, as well as rolling out a new tracking system for abuse reports.