Sexual Abuse Allegations Name Pediatric Endocrinologist

Miriam E. Tucker

October 23, 2018

New York City's Rockefeller University Hospital is taking belated steps to make amends for alleged sexual abuse by a pediatric endocrinologist who worked there from the 1940s through the 1980s. 

The physician, Reginald Archibald, MD, specialized in treating short stature. He worked at Rockefeller from 1941-1946 and then again from 1948-1982, and was a professor emeritus there until 1987. He died in 2007.

According to the New York Times, the allegations against Archibald include asking children — mostly young boys ages 6 to 17 years — to strip naked and pose for photos; touching them inappropriately, including masturbating them and asking them to masturbate in front of him; and measuring their penises both flaccid and erect. Much of the alleged abuse took place in the physician's office, but some occurred at his summer home in Canada.

A statement issued by Rockefeller on October 18, 2018 says that the university was informed of a report by a former patient in 2004 alleging Archibald's inappropriate behavior. At the time, the university notified the federal Office of Human Research Protections, the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct, and the Manhattan District Attorney, and it also retained legal counsel. Further policies to protect pediatric patients were added to existing ones.

A subsequent investigation unearthed complaints about Archibald's conduct dating back to the 1990s.

Earlier this year, another former patient of Archibald's who had not been identified in the 2004 investigation came forward with similar allegations, and the university again reported the matter to state and federal authorities and re-engaged the same legal firm to investigate further.

"The 2018 investigation benefited from additional information that was not available in 2004," the Rockefeller statement says. "We are appalled to hear those accounts of Archibald's reprehensible behavior. We deeply regret pain and suffering caused to any of Archibald's former patients."

Archibald's emeritus status has now been revoked and references to him on the institution's webpages have been removed. About a month ago, the university began reaching out to former patients with letters asking them to share experiences and concerns. The letter was sent to as many as 1000 individuals, according to the New York Times; its story was published last week.

Rockefeller, in conjunction with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, is establishing a fund to pay for counseling services for Archibald's former patients who request it.

But the October 18 Rockefeller statement says: "Due to the passage of time...the hospital has encountered difficulties in locating all of Archibald's former patients," adding that patients who wish to share information should contact the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

The New York Times notes that although the statute of limitations in New York state for victims to sue the hospital has long passed, a proposed change to the law would create a 1-year window during which victims of childhood sexual abuse could file charges. The change is opposed by some institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church.

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