The New York Times published an article on October 18, 2018, revealing that Dr. Reginald Archibald, a former endocrinologist specializing in children’s growth and maturation at Rockefeller University Hospital in New York City, may have sexually abused many of his child patients.
Dr. Archibald, who died in 2007, worked as a doctor, researcher, and professor at the Rockefeller University Hospital from 1941 to 1946 and again from 1948 to 1980. He continued his affiliation with the hospital as an emeritus until 1987. He treated and studied children who were considered too small for their age. Parents brought their children to Dr. Archibald out of concern they might be teased and bullied if they experienced puberty later than their peers.
The Times spoke with 17 former patients of Dr. Archibald and reports, “The men all described similar experiences with Dr. Archibald, who would tell them to disrobe when they were alone in his examination room. He would masturbate them or ask them to masturbate, sometimes to ejaculation. The doctor took pictures of them, while they were naked, with a Polaroid camera, and measured their penises both flaccid and erect, the men said.”
The hospital says it was aware of credible allegations against Dr. Archibald in 2004. In an online statement published on October 5, 2018, the hospital said it hired the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to investigate the allegations in 2004. The investigation turned up two previous reports of alleged abuse from the 1990s.
In early 2018, another former patient of Dr. Archibald’s made similar allegations of abuse to the hospital. The hospital notified authorities and hired Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct another investigation. As with the 2004 investigation, the law firm concluded that some of Dr. Archibald’s behaviors towards his patients were inappropriate.
According to the Times article, Dr. Archibald kept records on 9,000 patients who visited him or other doctors at the hospital. The hospital sent out letters to more than 1,000 people they were able to locate. In an October 18th updated statement, the hospital said in the two weeks after sending out the letters they had heard from many former patients alleging abuse.
As many as 150 potential victims have reached out to law firms expressing interest in filing civil claims.
A proposed change to the New York statute of limitations would lengthen the time permitted for filing criminal charges and civil suits in child sexual abuse cases and would also create a one-year window in which victims of past abuse could sue. According to the Times, this legislation has stalled in the State Legislature. The legislation is strongly opposed by institutions, such as the Catholic Church, which has long argued that changes to the law would expose them to significant financial liability.
The hospital did not respond to questions from media about why they didn’t notify former patients earlier of the concerns about sexual misconduct by Dr. Archibald, since reports were made sometime in the 1990s and again in 2004.
Crew Janci, LLP has represented victims in cases involving child sexual abuse by adults in positions of trust, including representing 21 victims of abuse at the Pingry School among others. If you or someone you care about was sexually abused and need advice about your legal rights, contact Crew Janci, LLP today
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post relied on erroneous media accounts and incorrectly identified a photo of another individual with that of Dr. Archibald. We corrected this error immediately when we were notified and apologize to the individual previously misidentified.