Oregon Health & Science University leaders told students and employees Thursday that they will be able to share their experiences and observations as part of an external investigation of the teaching hospital’s culture regarding harassment and retaliation claims.
The investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former federal prosecutor Nancy Kestenbaum, was announced last week. The investigation will look into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and racism.
It comes about a month after a female employee filed a federal lawsuit against a doctor at OHSU for sexual assault. The suit includes the institution itself and other employees. The main defendant in the case is Jason Campbell, a former anesthesiology resident at OHSU who was also known as “TikTok Doc” for posting dance videos that went viral.
The woman who filed the lawsuit said multiple OHSU employees violated mandatory reporting rules by not properly filing complaints about the allegations against Campbell. She also said she faced retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct.
OHSU Executive Vice President Connie Seeley said in a statement that leaders at the school believe the woman was sexually harassed by Campbell, and that they moved to terminate him, but he ended up resigning.
OHSU denied the plaintiff’s accusations that university employees did not adequately respond to sexual misconduct allegations, according to court documents. It also said the employees mentioned in the lawsuit were not “mandatory reporters” under the federal law known as Title IX.
Looking at systemic problems
OHSU leaders said the lawsuit against Campbell is not the sole reason for the investigation, which is being run by the law firm Covington & Burling LLP.
“Although the recent litigation against OHSU and a former resident is one reason why we have commissioned this investigation, that lawsuit will be addressed through a separate legal process. This investigation is not about a single incident, and it’s not about individual people,” OHSU President Danny Jacobs and Chairman Wayne Monfries said in a news release. “Covington’s investigation will examine our culture — including our policies, programs and procedures — from a wider lens to help us identify root causes and identify or create ways to address areas requiring improvements.”
Jacobs and Monfries said the investigation will be looking into accusations of systematic discrimination and harassment at OHSU as well as how OHSU has handled — and should handle moving forward — reports of misconduct.
Jacobs and Monfries wrote that some of the “concerns and challenges” facing OHSU are not unique to the institution, which is why the teaching hospital has hired the law firm to conduct the investigation.
In the past, the law firm has conducted similar workplace investigations for companies like Airbnb, Uber and Starbucks.
Jacobs and Monfries wrote that members of the OHSU community will be able to share their experiences to Holder and the law firm investigators through email, voicemail or the U.S. mail. School leaders said they will share information on how to contact the law firm soon.
Kim Sordyl, an attorney for the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the anesthesiology resident, said she is not hopeful for this investigation.
“OHSU has placed its HR Committee Board members Ruth Beyer and Chad Paulson in charge of working with the investigation team. We have evidence that those Board members have years of detailed knowledge of sexual misconduct, and apparently failed to act until we filed this lawsuit,” Sordyl said in a written statement.
Michael Fuller, another lawyer in the suit against OHSU and against Campbell, said that last month he and Sordyl gave Holder nearly 1,400 pages of confidential witness statements and what they describe as evidence of misconduct at OHSU.
“As of today, we’ve heard nothing back from his office,” Fuller said.
Sordyl also said in hiring Holder and the law firm for this external investigation, OHSU is not prioritizing spending its money to support survivors of sexual misconduct and violence.
“The community gets PR updates, but nothing on how OHSU is addressing safety, especially in light of the most recent news of the allegations of sexual violence by another one of its residents,” Sordyl said.
That other resident is OHSU anesthesiology resident Dr. Andrew Davoodian.
A woman filed a $2 million lawsuit against Davoodian last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court claiming sexual battery, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress.
The woman said she met Davoodian on a dating app in 2018 and agreed to go on a walk with him near his home on the southwest waterfront in Portland. The woman said Davoodian took her to his apartment, after lying to her and saying they were going to a rooftop, locked her in the unit and pinned her down — touching and kissing her without consent while she told him multiple times to stop.
The woman said at one point, she thought Davoodian was going to kill her.
According to the lawsuit, Davoodian “looked around the room, pointed to an object and said, ‘I wonder if I grabbed that and hit you with it, if that would kill you.’”
Davoodian filed his own $2 million countersuit against the woman a few days before she filed hers after he received a letter through the woman’s attorney notifying him that her lawsuit was coming.
Davoodian’s lawsuit states that the acts between him and the woman were consensual. He is suing for civil extortion and infliction of emotional distress. He is also asking for declaratory judgment — requesting that the court issue a declaration that he is not liable to the woman because her claims are passed a two-year statute of limitations under Oregon law.
OHSU did not comment on the pending litigation. Its spokesperson, Tamara Hargens-Bradley, said the institution itself is not a party in the lawsuit.
Hargens-Bradley did confirm that Davoodian is still currently employed at OHSU.