Six gay and bisexual men have accused a former USC physician of sexual abuse during treatment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation, and alleged the university neglected their complaints, in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Dennis A. Kelly targeted the young men with unexplained demands for rectal examinations and demanding patients strip in front of him. The earliest complaints date back to 2007 and the most recent in the lawsuit was in 2014.
The 47-page filing details a pattern of alleged abusive and unprofessional behavior and mistreatment of half a dozen former students who identify themselves as John Does one through six.
"We allege that Dr. Kelly took advantage of their vulnerability and inexperience to discriminate against gay and bisexual men and/or to satisfy his own sexual interests," according to a statement from Kellogg & Van Aken LLP, the law firm representing the plaintiffs.
The students in the lawsuit no longer go to USC, and there may be more allegations to come.
One current student, Roy Pankey, who is a reporter for Annenberg Media said Tuesday, "I left my first appointment with Dr. Kelly in tears. I remember being confused and hurt about being slut-shamed. He made me feel incredibly guilty about my sexual practices."
According to the lawsuit, complaints were made to USC, but the school "actively and deliberately failed to investigate, discipline, or address" the issue.
The university did not directly respond to those allegations, but USC spokesperson Jenesse Miller provided Annenberg Media with a statement Tuesday.
"We are aware of the lawsuit and are concerned by its allegations. We're working to understand the facts of this matter. We care deeply about our entire Trojan family, including our LGBTQ+ community, and take this matter very seriously."
Attempts to reach Kelly by Annenberg Media, including a visit to an address believed to be his home, were unsuccessful Tuesday. Kelly told the Los Angeles Times "I know I did it all professionally and without any other motive."
The lawsuit alleges Kelly directed all of the men "to climb onto the medical examination table and get on their hands and knees while they were naked from the waist down without any standard medical covering," and using derogatory terms for sexual acts.
The lawsuit said that five of the men actively protested undergoing a rectal examination, but allege Kelly insisted without providing an explanation as to why the procedure was medically necessary. According to the lawsuit, Kelly insisted on the exam even in instances where the patient had never had anal sex.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends "urine, rectal, or pharyngeal testing for gonorrhea and Chlamydia."
Students were unable to seek treatment from another doctor because Kelly was the only doctor on staff for men's sexual health, according to the lawsuit. No damages were specified in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit follows another medical scandal on campus involving former USC gynecologist, George Tyndall. More than 51 current and former female students sued Tyndall for sexual misconduct in his practice last May. In October, USC agreed to pay out $215 million in damages to those plaintiffs in a settlement.
In December, Kelly was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about the Tyndall case, confirming that the two knew each other. Kelly told the newspaper Tyndall reached out to ask for help finding a new job after the scandal, but Kelly said he "wouldn't recommend him."
The lawyers allege that in August, a few months after the Tyndall scandal broke, Kelly resigned from his position at the student health center.
Student leaders are calling on the university for reassurance that Trojans can seek healthcare safely on campus.
"We are making calls for actions and demands that we hope will create the first steps to make USC an environment that is conducive for safe and effective health care services, " USG Director of Student Safety, Jose Gutierrez, told Annenberg Media Tuesday.
Melody Waintal and Albert Qian contributed to this report.
This story was corrected to add that Roy Pankey is a reporter for Annenberg Media.