DOCTOR ACCUSED OF MOLESTING HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN AT ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL
(New York) — More than 100 people have come forward to allege that a doctor at Rockefeller University Hospital, Dr. Reginald Archibald, sexually abused them as children under the guise of treatment.
In a statement dated October 5, 2018, Rockefeller University Hospital revealed that it contacted former patients of the hospital to advise them that Dr. Archibald “engaged in certain inappropriate conduct during patient examinations.” The statement indicates that Dr. Archibald worked at the hospital from the early 1940s through most of the 1980s, and that he died in 2007. According to the statement, Dr. Archibald “studied childhood growth and maturation, focusing on children of short stature.”
Rockefeller University’s statement acknowledges that in 2004 it learned of a report by a former patient that raised questions regarding Dr. Archibald’s conduct during physical examinations. During an investigation, the University’s defense lawyers “found certain allegations credible and determined that it was likely that some of Dr. Archibald’s behavior towards this patient was inappropriate.” The statement emphasized that the investigation included interviews with former patients, faculty, administrators, and staff, as well as the discovery of “two prior reports made in the 1990s that were located.”
In early 2018, the statement indicates another former patient of Dr. Archibald came forward to make a similar report. Rockefeller University conducted another investigation, which led to “several former patients who came forward,” and its lawyers concluded that “some of Dr. Archibald’s behaviors involving these patients were inappropriate.” The University’s “response” to the findings was to announce that Dr. Archibald’s emeritus status had been rescinded and all references to him were removed from its webpages.
On October 3, 2018, Rockefeller University sent unsigned letters on University Hospital letterhead notifying Dr. Archibald’s former child patients that “several former patients” had reported “Dr. Archibald’s interactions with them.” This letter did not include the University’s statement and it did not contain any specific information about the “interactions” or other concerns. Dr. Archibald’s former patients were instructed to contact a large New York City law firm which was “assisting” with the “outreach.”
No further details were provided in the letter, and it does not give any hint that Dr. Archibald, over the approximately four decades of his practice at Rockefeller University, may have molested hundreds of patients, not just the letter recipient. The letter says nothing about providing any recourse, counseling, or reparations to his patients.
In response to the University’s letter, more than 100 people who allege they were sexually abused by Dr. Archibald have contacted two law firms who are working together to represent sexual abuse survivors. An attorney with one of those law firms, Jennifer Freeman of The Marsh Law Firm, observed that people are searching for answers: “The letters came out of the blue and people are trying to process what happened. We have received a flood of calls and emails from people looking for more information. The letter raises a lot of questions, but we are starting to piece together a more complete story based on what people are sharing with us.”
According to Freeman, some of their clients have already cast doubt on the University’s claim that it did not receive a complaint about Dr. Archibald until the 1990s: “We have multiple clients who say they or their parents complained to hospital staff about what Dr. Archibald did to them, but nothing was done. These complaints were long before the 1990s, so it is unclear what Rockefeller University did to account for these types of complaints during its investigation.”
Freeman has sent a letter to the lawyers for Rockefeller University Hospital demanding that it release the investigative reports and complaints identified in the University’s letter: “We receive a daily deluge of patients expressing pain and outrage and seeking answers. These reports and complaints must not remain secret any longer.”
Freeman suspects many more people will come forward: “It is unclear what process Rockefeller University used to decide how to send letters to Dr. Archibald’s patients. Most of our clients were children at the time and were living with their parents, so many have moved and some have changed their names. But there does not seem to be a common reason why some people did not receive the letter. For example, we have been in touch with multiple people who received the letter but said their siblings did not, even though they were all his patients.”
Michael T. Pfau, a Seattle sexual abuse attorney who is working with Freeman and her law firm to represent abuse survivors in New York, believes Dr. Archibald may have abused more children than Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics: “Nassar was alleged to have abused more than 250 kids, but it took years for all of those people to come forward. It took a week for us to be contacted by more than 100 people who were abused by Dr. Archibald. The numbers are staggering.”
Pfau has represented hundreds of abuse survivors across the country, including many cases against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and Mormon Church. Based on his experience, he believes the number of Dr. Archibald victims could exceed 1,000: “Dr. Archibald used his position as a doctor at a prestigious hospital to target vulnerable kids. Many were referred to him by their family doctors who were concerned about their growth. These are kids who were already embarrassed because they thought something was wrong with them. They had no idea what he did to them as part of their ‘treatment’ wasn’t normal. We are hearing this same story over and over. When the dust settles, I would be surprised if the number of children he abused does not exceed 1,000.”
Freeman has worked at the forefront of groundbreaking legal developments to protect children from sex abuse, child pornography, and victimization. She has obtained countless restitution awards for child sex abuse survivors, and secured reparations for victims of abuse by teachers, family members, Big Brothers, camp personnel, clerics and others. She has advanced statutory change for child sex abuse survivors by lobbying for the Amy Vicky & Andy Act in Congress and for New York’s Child Victims Act in the state legislature.
She believes the full story will eventually be told: “We are piecing the story together. It already appears the University received complaints earlier than it acknowledges in its letter. Our clients want to know how this happened and we’re going to do our best to get them answers to that question. If people have information that may be helpful, please contact us so we can help ensure the full story is told.”