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Former Indian Health Service doctor sentenced to 10 years for sexually abusing patients

Alexius Horatius
The federal courthouse in Sioux Falls.

A former doctor with the Indian Health Service on the Yankton Sioux Reservation has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after admitting to sexually abusing patients in locked exam rooms.

Pedro Ibarra-Perocier must also register as a sex offender, pay a $35,000 fine and self-surrender on Jan. 10.

Ibarra-Perocier was sentenced at the federal court in Sioux Falls after pleading guilty to five counts of abusive sexual contact. He admitted to sexually abusing five female patients over an 11-year period at the Wagner clinic. Eight other charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.

The IHS banned Ibarra-Perocier from practicing in 2018 after a patient reported abuse, the Wall Street Journal previously reported. The clinic forwarded the report to law enforcement, and the IHS began an internal investigation. But Ibarra-Perocier was eventually allowed to work at the administrative offices in Aberdeen.

Ibarra-Perocier joined the Wagner clinic in 2006 and it was his first assignment at the IHS, the agency said. His employment ended in 2019 and he was indicted in February 2020.

The IHS is making changes to its sexual abuse policies after the Wall Street Journal, government and independent investigations found the agency lacked proper prevention and reporting measures.

The investigations were triggered after the newspaper and PBS reported about another abusive doctor. Stanley Patrick Weber, a former pediatrician based on the Pine Ridge Reservation, was allowed to switch clinics after credible reports of child sexual abuse. The doctor is serving a life sentence after being convicted of the abuse.

Arielle Zionts, rural health care correspondent, is based in South Dakota. She primarily covers South Dakota and its neighboring states and tribal nations. Arielle previously worked at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, where she reported on business and economic development.