48 gay and bisexual men have joined together in a lawsuit against the University of Southern California, alleging that the school failed to stop a sexual predator doctor who targeted them for sexual abuse and harassment based on their sexualities.
According to the lawsuit, 73-year-old Dr. Dennis Kelly forced students to undress for no valid medical reason, gave them unnecessary genital and rectal exams, and made inappropriate remarks regarding their sex lives.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the students had no choice but to see Kelly because he was the only full-time men’s sexual health doctor for two decades when they were students. The plaintiffs say that Kelly began abusing gay and bisexual men in 1999 and that he never treated heterosexual patients the same way.
Several of the plaintiffs say that they realized what Kelly was doing was wrong after discussing their concerns with other doctors. Five of them claim to have filed complaints with USC, but only two say they got a response. One of those two was told that the incident had happened too long ago for anything to be done. The second only received a response after the lawsuit had been filed in February.
The lawsuit accuses Kelly of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender violence. The plaintiffs have also accused USC of negligence for their alleged mishandling of the allegations.
Kelly stopped seeing patients in July of 2018 and resigned from USC the following month. However, he continued seeing student patients at California State University – Northridge. He was placed on leave at that school after the lawsuit was filed.
Attorney contributor Bobby Thompson is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents victims of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits. Bobby has offered to share some information on the legal rights of those who have been sexually abused by doctors:
Perhaps more than any other profession, doctors are inherently trusted by their clients. We all expect that when we need medical care, the doctor we see will provide the best care possible and treat us with respect. Most of the doctors in our communities do so, but unfortunately, the medical community also has a problem with sexual predators who exploit the trust of their patients and commit heinous sexual crimes.
When patients come forward with allegations of sexual abuse or harassment involving a doctor, the doctor must be investigated and prosecuted. However, the legal rights of these victims don’t always end here. In many cases, victims of doctor sexual abuse may have grounds for a lawsuit against the doctor and the facility where the abuse occurred if that facility was negligent.
For example, a medical facility may be considered negligent if they had received complaints of sexual misconduct about the doctor but failed to act on those complaints, allowing the doctor to abuse other patients.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a doctor or another medical professional, you can learn more about your legal rights by speaking with an experienced sexual abuse victims attorney.