A settlement has been reached in a wide-ranging sexual harassment lawsuit filed by six female doctors at Yale University against the Ivy League school and Yale Dr. Manuel Lopes FontesBy DAVE COLLINS Associated PressJuly 15, 2021, 10:08 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHARTFORD, Conn. — A settlement has been reached in a wide-ranging sexual harassment lawsuit filed by six women who were doctors at Yale University last year when they accused a male physician at the Ivy League school of repeated incidents of forced and unwanted kissing, groping and retaliation.Details of the agreement ending the lawsuit against Dr. Manuel Lopes Fontes, Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital were not disclosed. U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven revealed there was a settlement in a court document filed June 30.Fontes, a now-former anesthesiologist and professor at Yale, and lawyers for the school denied the lawsuit’s allegations. In a court document filed in April, Fontes said he was removed from his positions at Yale because of the allegations.“This lawsuit and Plaintiffs’ allegations against me have caused severe and irreparable damage to my reputation, career, health and wellness,” Fontes said in the document.A message seeking comment was sent Thursday to an email address listed for Fontes. A Yale spokesperson declined to comment on the settlement.A lawyer for the six women, Tanvir Rahman, also declined to comment.“This lawsuit is intended to finally give a voice to those women whose stories of harrowing sexual misconduct at Yale University have been stifled for far too long, and to bring about justice against both the powerful men that have targeted them, and those at the University who have protected and supported these men,” the lawsuit said.Several of the female doctors alleged Fontes grabbed them and kissed them against their will on several occasions in 2019, as well as repeatedly touched them without their consent, mostly during social events.They also alleged Fontes groped an intoxicated female resident at a party and made inappropriate contact with her body with his private parts.They also claimed Fontes would make inappropriate comments about their bodies and retaliate against them for standing up to his behavior, including making false claims to superiors about their job performance being poor.The Associated Press does not typically name potential victims of sexual abuse unless they have given permission or spoken publicly.The lawsuit accused officials at Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital of refusing to discipline Fontes despite their complaints. They alleged Yale has a history of not acting on sexual harassment complaints against male doctors.The plaintiffs’ lawyers also have said Yale officials, despite knowing of the complaints against Fontes, promoted him to lead the Anesthesiology Department’s diversity and inclusion efforts.The lawsuit further alleged Yale hired Fontes in 2015 after he had left both Cornell and Duke universities amid allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.In a statement last year, Yale spokesperson Karen Peart said school officials took appropriate action in 2019 when three of the plaintiffs came forward. She said they were offered resources under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools receiving federal funding, as well as guidance on how to file a complaint with the university.A former lawyer for Fontes, Robert Mitchell, denied all the allegations in a statement he provided to The Associated Press last year.“Dr. Fontes has been vilified without a fair opportunity to defend himself against what has been a vindictive backroom campaign of scandalous and vicious falsehood, rumor, and innuendo,” Mitchell said. “Dr. Fontes will respond and the truth will shame them as well as those who have prejudged him without affording him even a hint of due process.”Fontes has not been criminally charged. Asked whether there have been criminal investigations, Yale — which has its own police force — declined to comment and a New Haven police spokesman had no immediate comment.Fontes, in the court document filed in April, said he had not worked since December 2019 because of a degenerative lumbar disc disease in his back. He said he became disabled after a fourth back surgery in March 2020 and was on long-term disability status.
HARTFORD, Conn. — During a particularly violent week in Connecticut’s capital city, Andrew Woods was among a small number of anti-violence workers who rushed in to help victims’ families, offering condolences and referrals to services while trying to discourage retaliation.Three people were killed and about a dozen others injured in shootings in Hartford over the week that began in late May — a large number in a small city of about 120,000 people, which left local anti-violence groups reeling.The group that Woods leads, Hartford Communities That Care, has eight anti-violence workers. With more funding, he said he would quadruple that number to allow employees to work in shifts instead of being on call around the clock.“We’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of shootings and then the follow-up that is involved in that,” he said. “We’re on call 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s unsustainable to have people working these kinds of hours.”A rise in gun violence seen in cities across the U.S. is testing the limits of anti-violence groups that have been calling for more government funding for decades.President Joe Biden acknowledged earlier this year that community anti-violence programs have been woefully underfunded and proposed $5 billion in new aid for them in his massive infrastructure plan, along with hundreds of millions of dollars for them in other parts of the federal budget. In a statement in April, the White House said such programs have been shown to reduce homicides by up to 60% where they operate.“Cities across the country are experiencing a historic spike in homicides, violence that is greatest in racially segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods,” the statement said. “Black men make up 6% of the population but over 50% of gun homicide victims. Black women, Latinos, and Native Americans are also disproportionately impacted.”Historically, the bulk of government funding aimed at reducing gun violence has gone to law enforcement organizations.“It has to be well-rounded,” said Paul Carrillo, director of the Community Violence Initiative at the Giffords Law Center. “If you’re going to hire more police, OK, it should be something to the effect where … whatever your police budget is, X% should also be toward this violence intervention work.”In the first three months of 2021, there were 983 homicides in 24 U.S. cities monitored by researchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for reports prepared for the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice. The number was 193 higher than in the first quarter of last year and 324 higher than in the first quarter of 2019. Last year’s increase in homicides was likely due to the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest and other factors, according to a research report by criminal justice professor Richard Rosenfeld and graduate research assistant Ernesto Lopez Jr.Researchers said the average homicide rate of the cities rose sharply after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, which sparked nationwide protests. The rate dropped in the fall and the beginning of this year, but is still higher than it was before the summer of 2020.Among the groups responding to an uptick of gun violence in Chicago is BUILD, an organization that deploys intervention teams to canvas hot spots, a crisis response unit that supports survivors and families of victims, as well as therapists and case managers who support over 200 families.“An increase in funding would help us to increase capacity. To do that work it is very consuming, emotionally draining work. You need more people out there engaged,” said Bradly Johnson, a BUILD spokesperson.In Hartford, 55 people had been shot as of May 15, up from 45 during the same period last year, according to the latest data kept by city police. Eighteen people have died in homicides as of June 17, a number on track to surpass last year’s 25 homicides.Community leaders in Hartford and other cities have applauded Biden’s proposed new funding for anti-violence programs and are cautiously optimistic as the infrastructure plan is negotiated with Republicans on Capitol Hill.“We pray that the $5 billion will remain intact and is not diluted,” Woods said. “It would really be a shot in the arm for those of us who do this work across the nation.”Anti-violence groups around the country are reporting being overwhelmed during the spike in violence.Iesha Sekou, chief executive of Street Corner Resources in the Harlem section of New York City, has had to adjust the schedules of its eight anti-violence outreach workers, including having staff come in later and work split morning-evening shifts.“It’s become a little more challenging because we are responding more often to brutal beatings, stabbings and shootings and jumpings that come into the trauma unit of Harlem Hospital,” said Sekou, whose group receives annual funding from the city through reimbursements but has struggled to secure the up-front funds.In Connecticut, retired police officer Stacy Spell runs Project Longevity’s New Haven program, a partnership between community groups and police aimed at reducing violence. His office only has four paid staff. In 2017 he said he went seven months without being paid because of a monthslong impasse on the state budget.Like other anti-violence program leaders, Spell said he has had to lay off staff because of funding declines in previous years. Funding from government agencies and philanthropic groups has increased in recent years, but he said more is needed to adequately fight violence.“If we’re to move past addressing the violence that is happening not only in the city of New Haven, but happening in all the major cities of Connecticut as well as every urban city in the country … we need millions of dollars that go to grassroots organizations so they can play a more effective role,” he said.———Associated Press writer Michael Melia contributed.