Six former students sue USC and former doctor who allege sexual harassment
Dr. Dennis Kelly, a former men’s sexual health doctor at the Engemann Student Health Center at The University of Southern California (USC), has been accused of several counts of sexual abuse by six anonymous homosexual and bisexual male students. Among other things, the charges include sexual assault, sexual abuse, and gender violence.
A lawsuit has been filed against Dr. Kelly, and included in the lawsuit is USC for the lack of active investigation, discipline, and warranted removal of the doctor. There is a reason to believe that although USC received several complaints of abuse by Dr. Kelly, that it did not attempt to investigate or stop the doctor from abusing these students. USC has insisted that its number one concern is the students and is fully cooperating with the lawsuit. Dr. Kelly resigned from his position in 2018.
Sexual abuse occurs when a perpetrator forces a victim to engage in sexual activity against their will, taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerability to fulfill the perpetrator’s desires. The victim and perpetrator usually know each other, such as in a doctor and patient situation. This is not the first time a medical professional from USC has been accused of sexual abuse. Four women treated for reproductive health care services at the University of Southern California (USC) during the 90s are claiming they were sexually abused and assaulted by then campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall.
A school institution trusts a staff member with the safety of its students. In many cases such as this, incidents are hushed away by the institution, and the abuser will continue his or her acts as long as no one stops them. Dr. Kelly abused his power and took advantage of these men by sexually violating them against their will, and the school was not willing to investigate and make it public because of the effect it would have on their status.
A sexually abused person will feel shaken after an incident and feel a lot of self-doubt, and therefore will many times not feel comfortable reporting the incident to officials or even family and friends. Attempting to report such an event, only to have nothing happen, leads to further feelings of powerlessness. Therefore, it is important to find the subject institution accountable as it was their hiring that put the abuser in his position of control.
The six students, unnamed for their personal privacy, were made more than uncomfortable by the doctor’s egregious acts. He would refuse to give a medical gown to provide sufficient coverage for private body parts. Students endured uncomfortable questioning regarding their sexual practices. Some were forced to get on the table on their hands and knees, exposed from the waist down. Several times, Kelly used instruments and fingers for anal penetration, with no medical reason and no explanation for the intrusion. It has been shown that there were no such incidents involving non-homosexual males.
The law firm filing the suit, Kellogg & Van Aken, is making certain that the matter is thoroughly investigated regarding the victims as well as the school’s proper handling of these incidents. The damage done to these victims cannot be taken back. But by coming forward with their stories, these victims are handling the situation and gaining back the feeling of power for themselves. Kellogg & Van Aken’s website has a page for Kelly’s former patients to enable them to report their story.
Sexual abuse in any form is illegal and unacceptable. If you or anyone that you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, contact KBA Attorneys. We have a wealth of knowledge of abuse cases and will ensure that you are treated with respect and receive the compensation you deserve after this ordeal.