Members of Time’s Up Group Resign En Masse Over ‘TikTok Doc’ Harassment Scandal
Time’s Up Healthcare founding members are fleeing en masse from the anti-discrimination organization after the group has handled explosive allegations that a co-founder has denied employee sexual harassment complaints.
In the past 24 hours, at least five co-founders of the activist group that is part of the larger Time’s Up organization formed during the MeToo movement announced that they would be stepping down.
“Bravery has to be demonstrated at all times, even if it’s not popular,” tweeted Dr. Pringl Miller, a general surgeon, hospice and palliative care specialist who helped found the subsidiary in 2019, in bravery by standing with them. “
The resignation came after an article was published in The Oregonian about a sexual harassment lawsuit against former Oregon Health and Science University doctor Jason Campbell, best known for TikTok viral videos of him dancing in the hospital. The complaint alleges that Campbell sent suggestive messages and photos of his erection to the plaintiff, who worked at the neighboring Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, and later snuck up on her at work and shoved his erection up her bum. “I just want to hug you from behind without you yelling at me,” he allegedly texted her afterwards.
In the lawsuit, Dr. Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at OHSU and founding member of Time’s Up Healthcare, named as one of several hospital administrators who failed to respond adequately to plaintiff’s complaints. The plaintiff claims that Choo, whom the hospital touts as an expert on sexual misconduct, did not escalate her complaint through the correct channels and later posed with Campbell in pictures and tagged him in tweets of praise.
A spokesman for Choo told The Daily Beast that as the litigation progresses, “documentary evidence will be presented that paints a picture of Esther’s behavior that is very different from what has been reported in the press.”
“Throughout her life, Dr. Esther Choo has fought to protect and support the voices of survivors, and she has fought for these values in the health industry for many years,” said the spokeswoman. “When [the plaintiff]Esther, who was a friend at the time, approached her and acted 100 percent in accordance with these values. She offered to do whatever she could to support her friend while also respecting her friend’s own agency making decisions about what to do. “
OHSU said in a statement to local news broadcaster KGW that it had received a report of sexual harassment on April 17 and that Campbell was released from clinical duties soon after. An internal investigation found the doctor violated the hospital’s code of conduct and was discharged in October. Campbell did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
The lawsuit against OHSU was filed in February, but founding members of Time’s Up Healthcare said they didn’t find out about its existence until The Oregonian broke the story last week. In the days that followed, the founders participated in numerous controversial phone calls discussing how to advance the allegations against one of their most prominent members.
Several members, including Dr. Monica McLemore, drafted a proposed statement that would have excluded Choo from participating in Time’s Up-related activities until the litigation was resolved, promising that the organization would “commit to using this case as a learning opportunity to help Address future cases and incidents in our own ranks. “
Instead, the organization released a statement Thursday saying it stood with the survivor “in her decision to share her story,” but stressed that Choo was neither a defendant nor a party to the case and that it was inappropriate Issue an opinion on pending litigation.
The release of the statement was the final straw for McLemore, who announced their resignation that day.
“We can’t say we put survivors first while having a public conversation about what our people did and didn’t do,” she told The Daily Beast. “This is a distraction for survivors.”
“Why do we have principles that say we stand with survivors and we believe them if we don’t want to operationalize that?” She added.
Miller, the general surgeon, told The Daily Beast that she was frustrated with the organization after failing to provide resources to several coworkers who had faced harassment and discrimination. She also decided to step down because of the group’s handling of the lawsuit.
“I don’t think you can have your cake and eat it,” she told The Daily Beast. “I don’t think you can be an organization that says, ‘We stand by survivors and we abhor sexual harassment’ and then not make changes if someone in your organization is tied to a sexual harassment lawsuit.”
A number of other members appear to have agreed. In a statement posted on Twitter Thursday evening, founding member Dr. Andrea Lawson said she left the organization earlier that day and said she “disagreed[d] with the narrative that focusing the story on survivors makes no sense. “She was later joined by Dr. Lynn Fiellin and Dr. Arghavan Salles, a surgeon in Menlo Park, California.
“No social movement is perfect,” tweeted Salles. “And every organization is bigger than a person. I know this work will continue – and I will continue because I believe we all have a right to be safe at work. I’m just not going to do it anymore under the auspices of TIME’S UP Healthcare. “
Time’s Up has been criticized in the past few months for failing to support several high profile women who complained of sexual misconduct. As recently as this week, activists questioned the organization’s statement calling on the New York government, Andrew Cuomo, to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against him. Many indicated that it would be difficult for a government to examine itself.
After his discharge from OHSU, Campbell reportedly moved to Florida and accepted a position at the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he was recently taken on administrative leave. His TikTok has since been deleted.
A plaintiff’s attorney said last week that since the lawsuit was filed, several other women had come forward to say Campbell had also sexually molested them.
According to KGW, around 100 people gathered on the OHSU campus this week to demonstrate their support for the plaintiff.
“So that people can finally stand on their side, listen to her and believe her, it’s incredibly powerful,” said her lawyer.