LA Times questions USC's response to allegations of dean's drug use

Officials from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles ignored 15 months of repeated contact attempts by the Los Angeles Times throughout its investigation into Carmen Puliafito, MD, the former dean of USC's medical school, the newspaper alleges.

The Los Angeles Times reported it made repeated inquiries via phone, email and letter regarding Dr. Puliafito, his illicit drug use and his connection to the overdose of a young woman in a Pasadena, Calif., hotel room. One email to the university from the Times included an attachment with a recording of Dr. Puliafito talking to a 911 dispatcher the night of the overdose, according to the report. The Times did not receive any response from the university.

After the Times published its findings July 17 in an expose, Dr. Puliafito was placed on leave. USC Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael W. Quick, PhD, published a memo stating the first time the university saw information regarding Dr. Puliafito's substance abuse first-hand was July 21. "I know many people wanted us to act on allegations and hearsay, but we needed actual facts," the statement reads. "Today [July 21], we were provided access to information of egregious behavior on the part of the former dean concerning substance abuse activities with people who aren't affiliated with USC. This was the first time we saw such information first-hand." In this letter, Dr. Quick announced the official termination of Dr. Puliafito's employment at the university.

The Times began investigating Dr. Puliafito when an anonymous witness called in a tip about the overdose incident. The witness said he also called the office of USC President C.L. Max Nikias to report the overdose incident and spoke with two employees. Call logs show the person spoke with someone at the office for six minutes on March 14, 2016, according to the report.

USC has hired a lawyer to investigate the allegations against Dr. Puliafito and the administration's response, according to the report. Read the full story here.


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