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Former med school Dean accused of sex, drug scandal rocks USC

Carmen Puliafito, left, and Robert Evans attend the 2nd Annual Rebels with a Cause at Paramount Pictures Studios on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Annie I. Bang /Invision/AP)

From WN

The current dean of USC’s medical school announced that they were opening up a number of internal investigations into the conduct of the former dean after The Los Angeles Times reported that he had criminal associations with drug abusers who often did methamphetamine and other drugs with him.

“These allegations, if they are true, they are horrible and despicable,” Dr. Rohit Varma told the gathering of scores of medical scholars and graduate students who were summoned to a town-hall-type meeting to discuss The Times’ article about Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito.

Varma also said that Puliafito stepped down as dean last year and sought treatment in the past for alcoholism, but the allegations from the article about drug use “came as a complete shock to us.”

Some of the students on Keck campus said administrators should have known better about Puliafito since he often would seem drunk or intoxicated at campus events.

One woman said that it “seems shocking that no one has been able to figure anything out in the last 10 years. … People are now going to be questioning our professionalism.

The school announced on Monday after the investigation was published that showed the renowned ophthalmologist having a second life with meth and other drugs in a much younger social circle that Puliafito, 66, had been placed on medical leave and he was no longer seeing patients.

Puliafito resigned from his $1.1-million salary as dean in March 2016, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities even though it was the middle of spring term.

However, three works before that, a 21-year-old woman had overdosed in his presence inside of a hotel room in Pasadena, where she was later rushed to a hospital and recovered.

Police found methamphetamine in the hotel room, but made no arrests, according to a police report.

The newspaper found six people who went on record saying they partied and used drugs in Pasadena, Huntington Beach, and Las Vegas with Puliafito, ranging from late teens to mid-30s, though none were USC students.

Several members of the group had their exploits in videos and photos from smart phones taken between 2015-2016.

In one video, Puliafito is wearing a tuxedo and swallows an orange pill saying, “Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball.”

Another video shows Puliafito using a butane torch to heat a pipe used for methamphetamine use, exhaling a long plume of white smoke while a woman next to him appears to smoke heroin from a piece of heated foil.

Varma said that he had already reached out to Puliafito, “He called me yesterday and he apologized for what had happened and for putting me and the school and SC through what has happened, and he informed me that he’s going to go and get help.”

USC has not said when they first learned about Puliafito’s alleged misconduct or how they’ve responded, as Varma said that USC Provost Michael Quick said that Puliafito resigned since “he cannot continue his activities here anymore as dean.”

A witness said that they called the office of USC President C.L. Max Nikias and told two employees about Puliafito’s role in the overdose, which phone records confirm that a six-minute call to Nikias’ office was made 10 days after the overdose on March 14, 2016.

“If this is true, if it turns out that it is a cultural problem with the university, with President Nikias, will you fight for President Nikias to be let go, so we can bring in another president who wouldn’t let this happen?” an anonymous student asked.

The Medical Board of California said Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into Puliafito.

USC said that they have multiple investigations ongoing but “much of this situation is complicated by confidentiality.”

In a letter to USC faculty on Wednesday, Quick said that “all along we have taken this matter very seriously, that we made what we felt were the best decisions we could make, as swiftly as could be done in a prudent and thoughtful manner, and given the information we had at any given time.”

“I know it can be frustrating, especially given the extent of the allegations in the present case, to not be given all the information you may want to have in order to know that the university is living up to its core values,” he wrote., Maureen Foody

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