- 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)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)
Biden To Block Trump’s Order Lifting COVID-19 Travel Ban
- President Trump issued an executive order Monday lifting a ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.
- Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when the CDC will start requiring all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
- The move was cheered by the travel industry; however, incoming White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki warned that Biden’s administration does not intend to lift the travel restrictions.
Trump Order End To COVID-19 Travel Ban
President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday ending his administration’s ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.
That ban was put in place last spring in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. In his announcement, however, Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention go into effect.
Starting that day, the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
The recommendation to lift the ban reportedly came from Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to Trump’s proclamation, “the Secretary reports high confidence that these jurisdictions will cooperate with the United States in the implementation of CDC’s January 12, 2021, order and that tests administered there will yield accurate results.”
It’s worth noting that the ban will stay in place for travelers from Iran and China. Still, Trump’s announcement was generally cheered by members of the travel industry who have been pushing to lift the ban and require preflight testing instead.
Biden To Block Trump’s Order
Soon after the news broke, the incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, Jennifer Psaki, warned that Biden would block Trump’s order.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she wrote on Twitter.
“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.
With that, it seems unlikely that Trump’s order will actually take effect.
It’s also worth noting that this is one of many executive orders Trump has issued just before inauguration day.
Some of these orders could soon be overturned once Biden takes office Wednesday. Biden is also expected to roll out his own wave of executive orders in his first 10 days as president.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)
New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns
- The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
- The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
- The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.
CDC Issues Warning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus.
The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.
Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.
Mitigating Spread of Variant
“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”
The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.
“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.
“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”