My surreal experience reporting staff sexual molestation to my college administration
When I was a young naive college freshman, I caught a bad cold and visited my college infirmary. The physician was an extremely handsome man who touched me inappropriately at the end of his listening to my chest. As I remember it now, over twenty years later, in the context of a physical medical exam, the doctor touched first my breast and then my buttocks in a very intimate and suggestive manner.
I went back to my dorm room -- and the more I thought about what had happened, the more upset I became. How dare that physician take advantage of a very sick 17 year old girl living away from home?!
I called my mom and asked her what I should do. One of us had the idea that I should write a letter to my college President explaining what had happened. My goal was for the college administration to talk to the doctor and inform him that a complaint had been filed and that the college was going to carefully monitor his behavior with young college patients.
My college President was a revered Catholic priest who had a wonderful manner about him. Everyone who met him loved this man, and he called me to his office where he spoke to me soothingly to assure me that he was going to personally take care of this matter by referring my issue to the college Dean of Students to investigate.
When the Dean of Students called me to his office to discuss the matter, I was absolutely blindsided because the Dean of Students acted in an aggressive, hostile, and angry manner with me. The Dean of Students picked up his desk phone as if to hand it to me and angrily asked me if I were willing to call the police right then and there to press charges against the physician. I replied that I really just wanted the college administration to make it clear to the doctor that the college administration cared if the doctor were taking advantage of young college patients.
With his body literally shaking with rage directed at me, the Dean of Students told me that the physician was a good family man with a beautiful wife and two children and that the Dean of Students refused to ruin the physician's reputation over my charges. The Dean of Students stated that, if I were unwilling to press charges against the doctor, then the Dean of Students was going to file my complaint in The Circular File.
As a completely innocent 17 year old college freshman, I was totally confused about what the Dean of Students meant by The Circular File. So, while angrily repeating the phrase 'The Circular File' several times, the Dean of Students stood up, reached behind his desk, grabbed his round trash can, crumpled up my initial letter to my college President, and threw it in the round trash can right before my eyes!
As far as the college was concerned, my case was closed after I met with the Dean of Students. I went back to my dormitory and related the whole surreal story to my hall mates in utter shock and disbelief.
I am grateful that one of the other students revealed to me that the same type of suspect behavior had been experienced by the young women athletes who were required to undergo regular sports physicals conducted by the college physician. At least I knew that my instincts to protect other young college students had been correct!
Of course, I told the girl that the women athletes should report the doctor, too. She demurred. Clearly, that would never happen. It seems that everyone had too much to lose.
I had many occasions to socialize with the college President after my experience, but he never followed up with me. After all, he had taken care of his problem.
To this day, I forget the name of the offending physician, but I still remember the name of the Dean of Students -- and I still wonder if anything really bad happened at my college that was put in The Circular File.
L.L. Lewis is a regular commenter at Gates of Vienna (http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com).