New task force will focus on protecting Native American kids in the Indian Health Service

Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 19:32:36-04

WASHINGTON, DC – A new presidential task force will focus on protecting Native American children in the Indian Health Service System.

President Donald Trump made the announcement Tuesday morning.

The Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System (IHS) will investigate the institutional and systemic breakdown that failed to prevent a predatory pediatrician from sexually assaulting children while he was a doctor in the IHS.

The announcement follows the Frontline and Wall Street Journal investigation into Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber, a former pediatrician on the Blackfeet Reservation who sexually abused young boys. Weber was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison in January.

A press release states the Task Force’s focus is separate and distinguishable from other investigations into the IHS because the Task Force will not interfere with:

  • the criminal investigation of one particular pediatrician
  • a review underway at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including a review by the Department’s Inspector General, which HHS Secretary Azar ordered earlier this year
  • a review conducted by an outside, independent contractor retained by the Indian health system

The Task Force will examine any systemic problems that may have failed to prevent this doctor’s actions and led to any failures of the Indian Health Service to protect Native American children, according to the press release.

It will also develop recommended policies, protocols, and best practices to protect Native American children and prevent such abuse from happening again.

The Task Force will be comprised of subject-matter experts from several United States government agencies, and co-chaired by Joseph Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Honorable Trent Shores, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and citizen of the Choctaw Nation.

It will also draw on the expertise of other federal employees and resources and seek perspective and input from tribal leaders and Native American voices, according to a press release.