3 members of Blackfeet Nation sue IHS over sexual abuse

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Three members of the Blackfeet Nation have filed a civil lawsuit against the Indian Health Service and are seeking $9 million in damages, alleging the organization violated their treaty rights by failing to prevent a former IHS doctor from sexually abusing them.

The lawsuit refers to Stanley Patrick Weber, who was convicted of sexually assaulting boys while working for the IHS on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Federal Claims Court by three men who are in their 30s and who allege they were abused in the early 1990s, Montana Public Radio reported. Weber was convicted of abusing one of the plaintiffs.

The IHS declined to comment on the lawsuit, which alleges the agency ignored warning signs about Weber's abuse in violation of the plaintiffs' rights under the U.S. Government's 1855 treaty with the Blackfeet Tribe.

“They specifically agreed that they would protect Blackfeet National Members from depredations and other unlawful acts committed by white men residing on the reservation. That's the language in the treaty," said attorney Peter Janci.

IHS issued a general statement saying the agency is working to revise its policies and procedures to ensure a safe environment for patients.