Culture

Doctor who replaced disgraced USC medical school dean is out

Carmen Puliafito was previous year edged out of the medical school deanship of the University of Southern California amid reports about boorish behavior - behavior that later turned out to allegedly include illegal drug use and association with criminals.

According to the Times story published on Thursday, in 2002, Varma was attending an ophthalmology conference with a young global researcher who was working for him when he informed the woman that he had booked a single room for the two of them and expected her to sleep in the same bed.

In 2003, USC disciplined Varma after allegations that he sexually harassed a female researcher under his supervision, according to the Times investigation, which included interviews and reviews of confidential personnel records.

USC's leadership had lost confidence in Varma's ability to lead the medical school based on "previously undisclosed information brought to the university in recent days", according to the statement. Our leaders must be held to the highest standards.

The Times reported that Varma told the woman that he had booked a single room for them to share. USC reached a $135,000 settlement with the woman, of which Varma paid $11,000. He had led the medical school for almost a decade. Then, in January of this year, Varma formally took over as dean. USC disciplined Dr. Varma by denying him a promotion, cutting his salary by $30,000 and ordering him to undergo counseling for sexual harrasment and avoid all contact with the researcher.

Despite the incident, Varma was soon promoted to full professor and continued to rise through the ranks to eventually become dean of the medical school.

The Times also reported receiving a statement from the University on October 4 defending Varma. "We carefully considered Dr. Varma's character and qualifications before rehiring and promoting him".

Varma replaced Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, who resigned past year. Varma began his tenure as dean in November 2016.

Puliafito did not mention that three weeks earlier, a 21-year-old woman had overdosed in his presence in a Pasadena, California, hotel room but recovered, according to the Times. "As of today, he is no longer dean of the Keck School of Medicine", USC Provost Michael Quick said in a statement Thursday, the Times reports. His resignation came after the Times reported that Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and people who used drugs and had been captured on video apparently smoking methamphetamine.

The Keck School is hosting an event Friday at noon in a location that had not been determined at time of publication.

A request for comment from Varma wasn't immediately returned.



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