The federal government revoked the pension of a former U.S. Indian Health Service physician who was convicted of sexually abusing children under his care on two Native American reservations, according to federal officials.
Until last fall, the doctor, Stanley Patrick Weber, was receiving a taxpayer-funded pension worth $98,285.64 a year, court records from February 2020 show, even though he was by then serving an 18-year sentence for child sex crimes.
In March 2019, the Journal reported that Weber continued to receive his pension after an initial conviction in Montana in September 2018. At a sentencing hearing in a second trial in South Dakota in February 2020, he was sentenced to an additional five lifetime prison terms.
Weber’s pension was finally cut off on Nov. 12, 2020, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard told the Journal last week. The Coast Guard processes pension payments for retired members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, such as Weber.
Last July, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Service, Kate Migliaccio-Grabill, explained the delay in removing Weber’s pension benefits. She said the agency had to wait until Weber was convicted and sentenced before acting to strip him of his pension.
About 21 months passed between the time Weber was initially sentenced and a Board of Inquiry convened, costing taxpayers almost $180,000 by the time the pension was cut off.
The Public Health Service, a uniformed service that provides medical personnel to some federal programs and is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to answer any questions about Mr. Weber’s pension, claiming it was barred from disclosing such personnel information by the federal Privacy Act.
On Oct. 13, the Public Health Service convened the Board of Inquiry to review Weber’s discharge status, with the aim of blocking his pension. Rear Adm. Estella Jones, a senior veterinarian in the Public Health Service and regulatory official at the Food and Drug Administration, presided over the board. Ms. Jones didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The board recommended changing Weber’s discharge status from “honorable” to “dismissed” and terminating his retired commission along with all related benefits, including his pension, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, said. The spokeswoman said HHS briefed the office of Mr. Daines on Monday evening about the developments.
Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the time, said in an interview that he adopted the recommendations in full. He said the Public Health Service lacked the existing legal authority granted to other uniformed services to review a retired officer’s discharge status, leading to a lengthy process behind the scenes.
But “we were on it. We didn’t drag our feet at all,” said Dr. Giroir, who also served as the Trump administration’s Covid-19 testing czar.
“It is outrageous that a convicted pedophile was receiving taxpayer funded pension checks while serving time in prison,” said Mr. Daines in a statement.
The statement said Mr. Daines planned to reintroduce legislation he first proposed in 2019 to strip sexual predators of taxpayer funded pensions. The legislation, and a similar bill in the House of Representatives, never progressed during the last Congress.
Since Weber’s convictions, a number of Weber’s confirmed and alleged victims have taken steps to sue the federal government for its role in allowing the doctor to repeatedly abuse his patients, in both Montana and South Dakota.
While most of those cases remain in litigation, the government paid $200,000 to settle one of them last month, according to a Treasury Department record and an attorney in the case.
In the settled case, a Blackfeet tribal member from Montana claimed he was abused by Weber as a young boy in the 1990s. The settlement came during the administrative process that precedes litigation in federal tort cases, a lawyer for the man, David Sheldon, said in a statement.
Weber, now in a federal prison, didn’t respond to a letter seeking comment about his case earlier this month.
—Dan Frosch contributed to this article.
Write to Christopher Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections & Amplifications
Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the time, said that he adopted the recommendations in full. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to him as
Rear Adm. Brett Giroir.
(Corrected on March 17)
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