- 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)
Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video
- Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
- Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
- Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
- If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.
Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood.
The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.
“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”
The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.
The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk.
It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”
“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”
Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home
After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.
As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”
Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”
Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.
“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”
On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC News) (Huffpost)
Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates
- Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates.
- A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
- That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
- The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.
Racist Snapchat Group
Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates.
A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.
According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”
That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.
Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.
“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.
After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.
The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.
“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”
District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”
The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause
- The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
- The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time.
- The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
- Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.
CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.
The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.
Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”
That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe.
What Happens From Here?
Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.
FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”
Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.
When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”
In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.
What If I Had A J&J Appointment?
Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.
The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day.
If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.
For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.
Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.