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Thousands of Children Could Have Been Victims of Dr. Archibald

— October 29, 2018

Thousands of Children Could Have Been Victims of Dr. Archibald

For nearly thirty years Dr. Reginald Archibald practiced as an endocrinologist who specialized in helping thousands of children who were small for their age grow to be a normal height.  Most of his career was spent at The Rockefeller University Hospital in New York.  The doctor is deceased, but families of former patients are now learning he may have sexually abused many of them.

Rockefeller sent a letter last month to 1,000 former patients asking about their contact with Dr. Archibald.  Then, the hospital issued an online statement indicating it had evidence of the physician’s “inappropriate” behavior with some patients and that it had first learned of credible allegations against him in 2004.  Most of the alleged victims were boys. A few said they had filed complaints previously, but their allegations were never investigated.

“To know that they knew about this in 2004 and didn’t reach out to people, it’s absolutely outrageous,” said Matt Harris, now 58, a former patient of Dr. Archibald.

Thousands of Children Could Have Been Victims of Dr. Archibald
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The men all described similar experiences, saying the doctor would tell them to disrobe when they were alone in his examination room. He would then masturbate them or ask them to masturbate.  The doctor took pictures of them while they were naked with a Polaroid camera.  Some of the patients said they the doctor only once and others returned each year for many years as subjects in his studies.

“You are robbed of knowing what’s real and what’s not real. That’s the real cost of this thing,” said Harris.

The hospital has set up a fund to provide counseling for the victims. “We are appalled to hear those accounts of Dr. Archibald’s reprehensible behavior. We deeply regret pain and suffering caused to any of Dr. Archibald’s former patients,” its statement read.

Allegations made by former patients suggest a pattern of sexual abuse from the 1950s through the 1970s among patients six to 17, suggesting there could be thousands of cases.  Almost every victim remembered having to strip naked and stand against a wall while Dr. Archibald took photographs of them. A 58-year-old Brooklyn man said he believed Dr. Archibald drugged and raped him on a trip to the doctor’s Canadian summer home.

In 2004, Rockefeller received an allegation of “impropriety.”  The hospital informed the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a federal research agency. It also hired Debevoise & Plimpton, a law firm, to investigate. Two other allegations dating to the 1990s were discovered over the course of the investigation.

“Based on its investigation, the law firm concluded that some of Dr. Archibald’s behaviors involving these patients were inappropriate,” the statement read.

Dr. Archibald’s name had been removed from its website and his emeritus status was rescinded. It is unknown how many children were assaulted or made to be subjects of the doctor’s studies. Thousands had come to see him over the years.

Under current New York law, the statute of limitations for victims to sue the hospital has long passed.  However, a proposed change supported by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo would lengthen the statute of limitations for filing criminal charges and civil suits in child sexual abuse cases and allow them to pursue litigation should it pass.


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