Rockefeller University Hospital, formerly the Research Institute, in New York has admitted that former child growth specialist Reginald Archibald most likely sexually abused more than 1,000 victims over what could have been 40 years.
Attorneys representing the abused patients confirmed the number of victims could make this the largest case of sexual abuse by one person in the U.S., reports CBS News.
Patients and relatives of those treated by the praised doctor are questioning why the hospital stayed quiet about the alleged assaults, especially when the doctor died over a decade ago.
They are also looking for Polaroids the doctor would take during examinations, according to Newsweek, however, the photos have not been found in medical records.
“He was revered like a god,” said Matt Harris, a former patient of Archibald. The doctor was known for his work with children who were not developing like their peers.
Officials from Rockefeller University investigated complaints about Archibald’s “inappropriate conduct” back in 2004 and reported it to authorities. However, they found complaints going back to the 1990s.
Victims did not hear anything from the hospital until October of this year when they sent out a letter to over 1,000 patients requesting information about their experience with Archibald.
Attorney Jennifer Freeman says her firm has received hundreds of calls from victims since the letters were sent and believes “there are a tremendous number of victims out there.”
“I got the letter and all of a sudden I felt like I was flashing back 50 years ago,” says Robert Granato. “It burned in my brain, what he did to me.”
Granato was eight years old when he was allegedly abused by Archibald.
Victims of sexual assault can experience long-term health consequences including higher blood pressure, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Gail Coleman, who was 11 when she began seeing the doctor, remembers being told to stand without clothing as he would take Polaroid photos.
“Those pictures are what has haunted me through the years,” Coleman said. “Every single day I don’t know anything about these pictures and where they are – I am being re-victimized.”
In 2003, she contacted Rockefeller University in hopes of finding answers about her time at the facility. When she got her medical records back, there were no pictures, leading her to believe they were not for medical purposes.
Hospital officials say they are investigating the matter further and “deeply regret [any] pain and suffering caused.”
Many of the victims feel the hospital has been covering up the abuse for years and feel it should take more responsibility. Victims have requested the NY Attorney General investigate the matter as well.
“When something like this happens to you, you’re kind of robbed from hope,” said Harris. “Robbed of trusting people, trusting institutions, trusting humanity.
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