Sources: Sexual harassment at SLU med school going on for years

Several women spoke to NBC 5 News about the sexual harassment they witnessed at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, claiming the behavior has been going on for years.

One former SLU physician professor told the television station she was "shocked [the harassment] was tolerated" during her time at the institution.

"The residents were propositioned and harassed about female anatomy all the time. Comments were made and laughed at," the physician said, adding that women at the school felt powerless to change the culture and that some women were afraid of jeopardizing their careers by speaking out.

The university's office of institutional equity and diversity completed a report in April regarding sexual harassment against four physicians at the university. As part of the probe, an SLU investigator interviewed 40 physicians, faculty members and residents, many of whom referred to the medical school program as a "hostile work environment," according to the report obtained by NBC 5 News.

The internal report also revealed some of the men on the medical school's hiring committee made sexual comments about female applicants' appearances and defended those comments as a "joke." The investigation concluded the four physicians did not violate the school's harassment policies.

NBC News 5 also obtained a copy of a discrimination claim filed against the school with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The complaint alleges SLU demoted and eventually laid off one of the accusers, whose complaints prompted the internal investigation.

In a statement to NBC 5 News, SLU Public Relations Director Nancy Solomon said the university is "committed to fostering a workplace and learning environment that is free from any form of harassment," and that "SLU takes any allegations of harassment, including sexual harassment, very seriously and responds immediately to any complaint."

The statement continues: "In 2017, the university received a complaint of sexual harassment and discrimination involving four physicians in a medical department. In response, the university conducted a thorough investigation, which included interviews with 40 medical residents and physicians.Changes were made in this medical department, including new leadership. In addition, physicians in the department have completed mandatory off-site sensitivity training. SLU also established new venues for students and residents to raise concerns, along with procedures to act upon them to improve the school.

"It's important to note that some of the allegations being made to KSDK-TV have not been reported to the University."

To read SLU's full statement, click here.

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