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OHSU hires former US Attorney General Eric Holder for harassment and discrimination investigation

Former Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks at a ceremony to unveil the new Gwen Ifill Black Heritage Commemorative Forever Stamp at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Washington.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks at a ceremony to unveil the new Gwen Ifill Black Heritage Commemorative Forever Stamp at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Washington.

Oregon Health & Science University announced Tuesday that it is launching an outside investigation led by a former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to look into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and racism. The announcement comes about a month after an employee filed a federal lawsuit against a doctor at OHSU for sexual assault.

In the lawsuit the female plaintiff, who uses a pseudonym, states she was harassed and assaulted by Dr. Jason Campbell, an anesthesiology resident at OHSU who was also known as “TikTok Doc” for posting dance videos in his scrubs that went viral on the social media platform.

The lawsuit states that multiple employees violated mandatory reporting rules by not properly filing complaints about the allegations against Campbell.

“OHSU’s environment is one in which sexual misconduct is permitted,” the lawsuit reads. “OHSU’s leaders, who are mandatory reporters, do not report sexual misconduct. Rather, they negligently and actively allow and tolerate it.”

The plaintiff also said she had faced retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct.

OHSU denied the lawsuit’s allegations in a court filing earlier this month. According to court documents, the university said it conducted an investigation into Campbell, concluded he had violated OHSU’s sexual harassment policy and code of conduct and referred him for dismissal — though he instead resigned.

In a statement sent out to the OHSU community Tuesday, the institution’s president and chairman said they share concerns over reports of discrimination and harassment incidents, and that the university and hospital has retained Holder to investigate.

The investigation will be co-led by Nancy Kestenbaum, a former federal prosecutor.

The OHSU board of directors’ human resources committee will be working with the investigative team to establish both the scope of the investigation and its timeline.

“The intent of this investigation is to identify any potential shortcomings, and to solicit and consider actionable recommendations that ensure our institution is aligned with the highest demands and expectations,” OHSU President Danny Jacobs and Chairman Wayne Monfries wrote.

Jacobs and Monfries said members of the OHSU community will get a chance to engage with investigators, and that more information would be provided about the investigation in the coming weeks.

The institution could potentially face consequences from the accreditor of many of its programs — the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or ACGME.

The Lund Report revealed earlier this week that OHSU was facing an investigation from ACGME.

The accreditation organization told OPB it cannot comment on any current or planned accreditation activities.

The ACGME said it has multiple tools at its disposal to investigate and enforce its requirements, including site visits and assessments “which can result in citations for violations of requirements, as well as changes to accreditation status, including probation, or withdrawal of accreditation in the most egregious violations.”

According to ACGME’s website, there is no information on any upcoming site visits for OHSU’s anesthesiology program, where Campbell worked.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting