USC settles sexual misconduct lawsuit behind closed doors
USC agreed to settle claims of alleged sexual misconduct for 80 patients — primarily LGBTQ+ men — of Dr. Dennis Kelly, a former doctor of men’s sexual health who practiced at Engemann Student Health Center since 1997, after a three-year litigation battle behind closed doors. In a joint statement to the Daily Trojan Friday, the University and plaintiffs’ lawyers announced that “all parties have mutually agreed that the details of the settlement will remain confidential,” and that “the parties hope that this amicable resolution will bring closure to the plaintiffs.”
Former patients have accused Kelly of asking inappropriate and uncomfortable questions during examinations, subjecting them to needlessly invasive procedures and failing to provide “standard medical covering, drapery or robe for privacy” as reported previously by the Daily Trojan. These questions typically came after patients disclosed sexual relations with other men.
The plaintiffs acknowledged filing claims of negligence directly with the University, but no further resulting action was taken.
Of the 80 plaintiffs in the suit, 76 identify as LGBTQ+. Kelly identifies as gay and claims his motives were solely professional.
USC and Kelly deny all wrongdoing. Kelly was fired by the University in 2018 when six former students publicly filed complaints against Kelly for sexual battery and harassment. Kelly surrendered his license to practice in 2020.
The settlement comes on the heels of last year’s highly publicized Dr. George Tyndall settlement, which concluded in a payout of $852 million for victims. Tyndall, charged with 35 accounts of misconduct, faces upward of 64 years in prison.
“USC’s highest commitment is to the safety and health of all members of the Trojan community,” the University wrote in a statement to the Daily Trojan Friday. “Settling the cases provides closure for all involved and avoids several more years of litigation.”
Since Kelly’s firing, USC revised many of its medical policies, including reworked “sensitive exam policy, protocol and training,” required participation in “updates about LGBTQ+ health needs” and new easily accessible methods for filing misconduct.
This article will be updated with comments from the plaintiffs’ attorneys.