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US ME/CFS Researcher Fired For Sexual Misconduct Apologizes, Cites Cultural Differences For Conduct

Saturday 8 June 2019

 

From The Stanford Daily:

 

Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford University Medical Center
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
 

Medicine professor fired for sexual misconduct apologizes, cites cultural differences for conduct

By Julia Ingram and Claire Wang
June 6, 2019
© 2019 The Stanford Daily Publishing Corporation.

Stanford Medical Center professor Jose Montoya, who was fired after a University investigation found that he had violated University code of conduct policies related to sexual harassment, misconduct and assault, said he “sincerely apologize[s]” to anyone who he “offended,” in a statement to The Daily sent by his lawyer David Nied.

Montoya, who formerly directed the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Initiative, added that the events that occurred since March — when a group of affected women first raised their concerns to Stanford — have been a “huge surprise.”

“It was even more shattering to learn, through the June 4 Stanford Daily article, that it was members of my Stanford ME/CFS team who experienced some of my behaviors as attempts at unsolicited sexual acts, harassment and misconduct,” he wrote.

He further denied having been involved in “any sexual or romantic relationships” with other employees at Stanford. Montoya pointed to a difference in “social norms” between the United States and his homeland of Colombia, writing that he has served patients with “with respect, professionalism and the affection proper of my Hispanic heritage.”

“I did not sufficiently appreciate that difference [in social norms],” Montoya wrote. “It is my responsibility to change and be both mindful and respectful of the boundaries of personal space – and I pledge to do just that.”

[Read Jose’s Montoya’s full statement here.]

In a joint statement, a group of individuals affected by his conduct wrote, “This past March, a large group of women who have worked under Dr. Montoya came forward with extensive allegations of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment,” they wrote. “The allegations included multiple instances of Dr. Montoya attempting unsolicited sexual acts with his female employees, among many other instances of harassment and misconduct, and were confirmed in an investigation.”

Montoya has the right to appeal the investigation’s decision. His legal representation declined to comment on whether he intends to pursue this route.

In the wake of Montoya’s firing, ME/CFS patients and advocates have expressed concern in online forums about the future of treatment and of the field at-large.

The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome support organization #MEAction is hosting a dial-in support call on Friday in response to Montoya’s dismissal for his former patients to discuss alternative options for care.

 

Full article…

 

Dr Montoya's Statement (posted on LuminPDF):

 

Statement of Jose G. Montoya, M.D.

June 5, 2019

I sincerely apologize to anyone who, in any way, I offended. What has unfolded since March has been a huge surprise and devastating to me and my family. It was even more shattering to learn, through the June 4 Stanford Daily article, that it was members of my Stanford ME/CFS team who experienced some of my behaviors as attempts at unsolicited sexual acts, harassment, and misconduct.

It is extremely important that you know I have not been involved in any sexual or romantic relationships with employees, trainees, colleagues, or CFS team members.

In addition to the ME/CFS team at Stanford, I have mentored, supported, and facilitated the professional growth of both female and male team members in numerous other Stanford communities and the Toxoplasmosis laboratory for almost three decades. I have done this with respect, professionalism, and the affection proper of my Hispanic heritage – without any other expectation than that of an advisor who is proud to see their mentees advance and succeed.

The social norms in the U.S. are evolving and quite different than those from my culture and homeland. I did not sufficiently appreciate that difference. It is my responsibility to change and be both mindful and respectful of the boundaries of personal space – and I pledge to do just that.

To my ME/CFS patients and their family members, mentees, colleagues, and friends, I’m sorry I have let you down.

 


 

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