- A former University of Southern California student health doctor is facing a lawsuit from 48 of his male patients who are accusing him of sexual abuse, battery, and harassment.
- The patients, who are all gay or bisexual, claim Dr. Dennis Kelly made disparaging remarks about their sexual activity, repeatedly asked invasive questions, and inappropriately touched them without warning for extended periods of time.
- The students are also suing USC for inaction after at least five students filed complaints against Kelly.
Doctor and USC Sued
A group of 48 former University of Southern California students have lodged a lawsuit against a former doctor at the university’s Student Health Center, each citing similar reports of sexual abuse and harassment by the doctor.
The male patients accused Dr. Dennis Kelly of using medical exams to sexually abuse patients for more than 20 years, according to an investigative report by the Beacon Project.
The allegations cite multiple instances where Kelly inappropriately fondled the students for a prolonged period of time, asked them sexually inappropriate questions, or forsook medical terminology to use explicit language. All of the men identify as gay or bisexual, and Kelly is openly gay.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, Kelly denied the accusations.
“I can’t second-guess or question anything I’ve done,” Kelly said to the outlet. “I know I did it all professionally and without any other motive.”
Several of the men have said Kelly’s alleged actions caused significant emotional distress, including one report of a student who said he gained 70 pounds and his GPA suffered over a two year period. More than a dozen others said they avoided seeking services at the USC Student Health Center.
In addition to Kelly, the students are also suing USC for allowing the conduct to continue after at least five filed complaints against the doctor. Those men said they directly complained to USC about their interactions with Kelly, but only two of those men heard back — one more than a year later and after the suit was filed. The other man claimed an official said the incident was too old to determine what happened.
On Feb. 12, six of the now 48 students filed the lawsuit, and on the same day, USC issued a statement regarding the situation.
“We are aware of the lawsuit and are concerned by its allegations,” the statement reads. “We’re working to understand the facts of the matter. We care deeply about our entire Trojan family, including our LGBTQ+ community, and take this matter very seriously. We will provide more information as it’s available.”
Examples Cited in the Suit
Editor’s note: This section contains graphic accounts from a lawsuit that details accusations of sexual battery, gender violence, sexual abuse and discrimination, and sexual harassment by Kelly’s former patients. If you would like to avoid reading such descriptions, please skip to the next section.
In one example from the lawsuit against Kelly, a former patient said that after Kelly instructed him to remove his pants and underwear, he asked the patient to stand on his hands and knees on the examination table without medical modesty covering. Kelly then, without warning, allegedly inserted an unknown rectal probe, asking the patient, “How often do you let your partner cum in you?”
Eight of the men said they were subjected to multiple appointments and some had to undergo multiple rectal examinations while trying to receive a prescription for the HIV-preventative drug PrEP.
Another former patient alleges Kelly fondled his genitalia for a prolonged amount of time without ever stating his reasoning for the examination. A total of at least 22 other men provided similar statements in the suit.
Many of the men claimed Kelly did not turn around or leave the room when he asked them to remove their clothing, though Kelly denied those accusations in an interview with the LA Times.
The men also said Kelly shamed them for their sexual practices by making statements such as “using Grindr is risky as a practice” because “Grindr is the new bathhouses.” To one student, he called the app “disgusting” and part of a “disappointing gay culture.”
Kelly reportedly used lewd language during the sexual history portion of his exams, asking students, “Are you eating ass?” or “sucking dick.” Instead of using medical terms to describe certain body parts, the suit alleges he would say words like “pussy” and “asshole.”
One man said Kelly directly asked him the names of his partners after inquiring about their races and whether the student was attracted to older men or “twinks.”
Kelly’s History at Universities
UCLA first hired Kelly in 1980, and a decade later, he worked for the university’s Student Health Center practicing men’s health.
In 1997, Kelly first began practicing at USC as a part-time physician; however, in 2002, Kelly left UCLA after reaching an agreement in an unknown settlement, where he received a lump sum payout of $68,320. UCLA said the settlement was in relation to “conditions [Kelly] claimed he was experiencing in the workplace.” A year prior, Kelly sued the university for preferentially targeting him because of his union activities.
Later in 2002, Kelly was promoted to a full-time physician at USC and was hired to Cal State Northridge as a part-time student health physician.
Accusations of Kelly’s mistreatment toward his patients stretch back to USC’s 1999-2000 academic year and stretch to a final complaint on July 24, 2018. On July 25, 2018, Kelly left office.
In August 2018, Kelly resigned from USC of his own accord and without severance. At the same time, Kelly continued practicing at Cal State Northridge.
Six students jointly filed their lawsuit in February, and after its filing, Cal State Northridge placed Kelly on a paid administrative leave of six hours per week.
Kelly has never been openly accused of any sex crimes at either UCLA or Cal State Northridge.
See what others are saying: (Buzzfeed News) (LA Magazine) (LAist)
Biden Issues Targeted Eviction Moratorium for Counties With High Community Transmission
While more limited than the previous eviction ban, the new policy applies to all areas with “substantial” and “high” COVID transmission, which currently includes 80% of counties that compose 90% of the population.
New Eviction Ban
Three days after the federal eviction ban expired, the Biden administration issued a new, more limited moratorium that will extend until Oct. 3.
Unlike the last freeze, the latest version announced Tuesday only pertains to areas of the country experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled “substantial” and “high” cases of COVID-19.
However, the rule still applies to the majority of the country given the new surges driven by the delta variant.
According to the CDC, 80% of counties that make up 90% of the population are currently experiencing substantial or high community transmission.
While not a full ban, many housing still advocates cheered the Biden administration, which has faced immense pressure to help the millions of Americans who risked losing their homes once the previous freeze expired.
“This is a tremendous relief for millions of people who were on the cusp of losing their homes and, with them, their ability to stay safe during the pandemic,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.
Still, others noted that there are outstanding issues with the new policy.
First and foremost, while the moratorium covers most Americans, it does not cover all. According to reports, there are counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York that are protected from evictions while neighboring counties are not.
The county-to-county patchwork also adds another layer of confusion for many people who are on the brink of eviction or who have already been evicted.
Tenants and landlords are now scrambling to see if the freeze applies to them, and because of the temporary lapse in protection, evictions resumed in some states and cities, meaning that some people who would now be covered under the ban have already been evicted.
Perhaps the most notable obstacle is the fact that the new moratorium will almost certainly face legal challenges.
The Biden administration previously argued that it did not have the jurisdiction to extend the eviction freeze unilaterally, citing a recent decision from the Supreme Court, which ruled that the CDC could not extend the ban past July and that Congressional action was needed.
Three days before the moratorium was set to expire, Biden asked Congress to pass legislation to extend it before leaving for their August recess. Republicans blocked the effort by unanimous consent, and Democratic leaders, frustrated with the president’s last-minute demand that left them with few options, said they did not have enough support for a formal vote.
Biden, for his part, has acknowledged that any freeze that comes from his administration would face this obstacle.
“Any call for [a] moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve indicated to the CDC, I’d like them to look at other alternatives [other] than the one that is in existence, which the court has declared they’re not going to allow to continue.”
Any legal proceedings, however, will take time, meaning Congress could act before any disputes are resolved. The extended timeframe would also give state and local governments more leeway to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental aid approved in the last two stimulus packages.
Only $3 billion of the funding has been distributed due to the numerous delays and hurdles municipalities have faced while struggling to create new systems to dole out the much-needed aid.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CBS News)
Virtually All Emperor Penguins Doomed for Extinction by 2100, Study Finds
The new study comes as the U.S. The Fish and Wildlife Service moves to submit a proposal Wednesday to add the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species.
Concerns for Emperor Penguins
Nearly all of the world’s emperor penguin colonies may be pushed to the brink of extinction by 2100, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology.
More specifically, researchers behind the study said 98% of the colonies could be gone in the next 80 years if climate change continues causing sea ice to melt at its current pace. About 70% of colonies could die off by 2050, it added.
That is pretty huge news because Emperor penguins — the world’s largest penguin species —are a vital part of the Antarctic food chain. They prey on krill, squid, and small fish, and provide a source of food for leopard seals and killer whales.
However, the birds are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they depend on sea ice for viral activities like breeding, feeding, and molting, along with resting or seeking refuge from predators.
U.S. Moves To Protect the Species
The new study comes as the U.S. government considers adding the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to build off this new research, along with other data, for its proposal on Wednesday. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period.
If the classification is granted, the species would receive protections, including a ban on importations of the birds for commercial purposes.
“These penguins are hard hit by the climate crisis, and the U.S. government is finally recognizing that threat,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, told the Associated Press.
“Climate change, a priority challenge for this Administration, impacts a variety of species throughout the world,” said Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the wildlife service. “The decisions made by policymakers today and during the next few decades will determine the fate of the Emperor penguin.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (AP News)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.