A New York City hospital has released a letter admitting that one of its most noted pediatricians had abused children for decades. Rockefeller University Hospital said that Dr. Reginald Archibald, who worked there from 1941-1946 and 1948-1982, was accused of abuse earlier this year. According to the hospital, Archibald "engaged in certain inappropriate conduct during patient examinations" and administrators are now stripping him of emeritus status and any references of him from their websites. Archibald died in 2007.
The NY Times spoke to men who said that they had been abused by Archibald and described that "certain inappropriate conduct," as the hospital put it: "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."
"I remember being examined by him, I remember him measuring me and it says it in my medical records, the size of my penis," one victim told WABC 7.
In a statement (PDF), Rockefeller University Hospital said that they had also investigated "credible" accusations of sexual abuse in 2004, "Following its review of then-available information, including from interviews with former patients, faculty, administrators, and staff, and two prior reports made in the 1990s that were located, Debevoise found certain allegations credible and determined that it was likely that some of Dr. Archibald’s behavior towards this patient was inappropriate. A policy relating to the further protection of pediatric patients was added to the Hospital’s then-existing safeguards and processes designed to protect patients."
Archibald's speciality was childhood growth and maturation, "focusing on children of short stature," according to the hospital. The Times points out, "[The victims'] stories paint a picture of an esteemed doctor who wielded great authority with parents desperate to help their children and patients too young to know the difference between legitimate medical practice and molestation. The alleged abuse would have occurred in an era in which few safeguards existed for those patients."
The hospital mailed letters to former patients about the allegations earlier this month, and more victims came forward, according to the hospital: "In the two weeks following the mailing of the letters, we heard from many of Dr. Archibald’s former patients, including a number who told us that they had been subjected to sexual misconduct. We are appalled to hear those accounts of Dr. Archibald’s reprehensible behavior. We deeply regret pain and suffering caused to any of Dr. Archibald’s former patients. We are extremely grateful to patients for sharing their experiences with us."
"A 58-year-old Brooklyn man said he believed Dr. Archibald raped him on a trip to the doctor’s Canadian summer home," the Times reports. "The former patient, who asked to be identified only by his first name, John, because of the nature of the alleged assault, said Dr. Archibald watched him masturbate during examinations at the hospital. But one summer, when he was about 13, the doctor convinced his parents to let John accompany him to the house... John said Dr. Archibald tried to shower with him at a motel on the two-day trip to the house but he ran out of the bathroom. Once they arrived, John said, he believed Dr. Archibald drugged and raped him. He angrily insisted on being taken home, he said."
Rockefeller University Hospital said it was "reaching out individually to Dr. Archibald’s former patients, so they can share their experiences or any concerns," and added, "Due to the passage of time, though, the Hospital has encountered difficulties in locating all of Dr. Archibald’s former patients. Patients with information they would like to share regarding their interactions with Dr. Archibald should contact Helen Cantwell, of Debevoise
at: (212) 909-6312 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
Further, the hospital is starting a fund (PDF) to pay for counseling and other services victims might need.