UNM Doctor Blames Alleged Rape Victim for Lack of Bonuses

The head of anesthesiology at the University of New Mexico says the department had to “reallocate” bonuses to pay for a settlement with a former resident.

UNM Doctor Blames Alleged Rape Victim for Lack of Bonuses

A lawyer for the former resident says she plans to sue the school for defamation.

The head of anesthesiology at the University of New Mexico sent an email to his department indicating they would not receive bonuses due to a lawsuit settlement with a former resident who says she was raped and wrongfully fired.

In a 2011 lawsuit, resident Cynthia Herald says she was raped in June 2009 by a post-doctoral fellow and anesthesiologist at UNM. Herald claims officials “discouraged” her from reporting the alleged rape to law enforcement to uphold the school’s reputation, according to The Miami Herald.

The lawsuit also says the university failed to conduct an investigation into the alleged assault and unlawfully terminated Herald for reporting it.

The case was thrown out in 2013 but was reinstated on appeal in 2015 where the New Mexico Supreme Court sided with Herald. UNM and Herald settled for an undisclosed amount in November of this year.

In a November 17 email, anesthesiology department chair Hugh Martin wrote an email to employees saying that “given the current high profile Harvey Weinstein social environment and the threat of forced reinstatement of a known problem resident back into our department, we thought the wisest move was to settle and move on.”

A follow-up email from Martin on November 30 stated, “I regret to inform the faculty that due to the recent legal settlement with the former dismissed problem resident, Cyndi Herald, that the Department had to reallocate the monies I had planned to use for a retention bonus to pay the settlement legal costs to Ms. Herald/Attorney Lisa Curtis.”

UNM spokeswoman Alex Sanchez says the settlement directly impacted the department, explaining the bonuses Martin referred to in his email were part of an “incentive pay” program at the medical school.

“A portion of a faculty member’s pay is held at risk and only given if they meet specific performance-based metrics, spanning research, clinical, and instructional activities. Each Department in the School of Medicine manages its incentive compensation program differently,” the school wrote in an email to KRQE.

Herald’s attorney Lisa Curtis says Martin’s email was an “attack” on her client and she plans to sue the university for defamation. She also says it was a breach of the confidential settlement and an attempt to further silence Herald.

“Who would report that they’ve been raped to the university when their innocent colleagues’ bonuses are going to be removed if they report? “When will UNM start to believe the victims of sexual violence instead of punishing?” said Curtis.

Curtis says Herald’s alleged attacker was never investigated and is now an anesthesiologist in Austin, Texas.

About the Author


Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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