Thomas Jefferson University to Pay $15 Million to Male Surgeon for Gender-Biased Rape Investigation

The surgeon and associate professor said a medical resident forced herself on him and that the school ignored his side of the story.

Thomas Jefferson University to Pay $15 Million to Male Surgeon for Gender-Biased Rape Investigation

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A federal jury found Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) conducted a gender-biased investigation into allegations that former Rothman Orthopaedic Institute surgeon and TJU associate professor John Abraham raped a medical resident.

After a four-day civil trial, the jury determined Thursday that the school violated Title IX by treating Abraham unfairly because he is male, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The jury also determined the school’s discriminatory practices caused him to lose his financial contract with Rothman, where he had been a partner with a faculty appointment at the university.

The jury awarded Abraham $11 million for financial losses and $4 million in punitive damages. Rothman did not renew Abraham’s contract last year because he allegedly failed to meet a requirement as a partner to bring in $1.3 million in annual revenue. He resigned from TJU in Dec. 2018.

The lawsuit against TJU originated following a June 2018 pool party at Abraham’s house. Jessica Phillips, a medical resident, told the residency program director for Jefferson and Rothman that she woke up in Abraham’s bed the morning after the party and was naked and covered in bruises with no memory of the night. TJU launched a Title IX investigation into Abraham, who then alleged it was Phillips who forced herself on him.

Abraham said he reported the incident to several TJU officials but that none of them reported his allegations. His lawyers argued they ignored his allegations because they had already formed an opinion, doubting that a female student could sexually assault a male professor. Abraham also testified that unless he took a leave of absence, the hospital threatened to report him to a national database that tracks doctor misconduct.

“I had no choice. There was no option,” Abraham said at trial, noting that being reported to the database would mean the end of his career.

TJU closed its investigation into Abraham after he agreed to resign from his faculty position and abandon his clinical privileges at the school’s hospitals. A year after Phillips reported the incident, Abraham sued her for defamation and libel. She countersued for assault and battery but the case was settled without either side receiving monetary damages, according to Daily Wire.

TJU spokesperson Deana Gamble said the school is considering its options to appeal.

“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict and continue to believe Jefferson treated both parties fairly and equitably in this matter between a faculty member and a resident physician learner,” she wrote in a statement to The Inquirer.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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