NEW YORK — Dr. Kevin M. Cahill has been a New York establishment for many years. As an in depth pal and senior adviser to Gov. Hugh L. Carey within the Seventies, he helped form the state’s well being companies and was thought-about the administration’s most influential voice on well being coverage.
Celebrities like Leonard Bernstein visited Cahill’s personal observe on Fifth Avenue, as did Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Cahill and his household have for years run the American Irish Historic Society from an ornate mansion close by.
Then, two years in the past, a Colorado girl sued Cahill, 86, in federal court docket, alleging that he started pursuing a romantic relationship together with her 13 years in the past, when she was 19 and made an appointment to see him for a foul case of traveler’s diarrhea.
The affected person’s lawsuit claims that Cahill sexually assaulted her throughout medical exams, ripping open her paper robe, fondling her breasts, penetrating her anus together with his finger or an object, forcefully kissing her and telling her that he beloved her.
One other former affected person has come ahead with comparable allegations concerning the physician because the swimsuit was filed. The State Well being Division has begun an investigation, based on Leo F. McGinity Jr., the physician’s lawyer.
He mentioned that the allegations had been false and that Cahill had behaved professionally always. Cahill, who has not been charged with any crimes, didn’t reply to requests for an interview.
McGinity mentioned the girl who sued Cahill, whose observe has been closed because the starting of the pandemic, was exploiting a friendship for monetary acquire and had demanded compensation even earlier than she took authorized motion. “I don’t imagine there’s any reality in anyway to the suggestion that he pressured her for one thing greater than friendship,” he mentioned.
The case joins a litany of others not too long ago during which sufferers have alleged that they had been sexually abused by docs, members of a career that’s largely self-regulated and accustomed to deferential remedy from the general public.
The previous affected person who sued Cahill is Megan Wesko, 32, who’s figuring out herself publicly for the primary time on this article.
Due to statutes of limitations that had been in impact when her lawsuit was filed in 2020, Wesko’s lawsuit sought damages just for alleged occasions relationship again two years. However authorized specialists predict a flood of comparable litigation subsequent yr.
In Might, New York state handed the Grownup Survivors Act, giving sexual assault victims one yr, starting on the finish of 2022, to file lawsuits in opposition to their assailants — even when the assaults occurred many years in the past. The legislation permits for the growth of current lawsuits, like Wesko’s, to incorporate cases of abuse over longer durations of time.
The New York Instances has reviewed lots of of emails and dozens of handwritten playing cards and voice messages from Cahill to Wesko that seem to assist her rivalry that the doctor pursued a romantic relationship together with her for a decade after assembly her as a teenage affected person.
In interviews with the Instances, Wesko mentioned she made clear to Cahill that she valued his assist however was not eager about an intimate relationship with him.
“I care about you deeply, however in my coronary heart I do know I would really like nothing greater than a friendship,” she mentioned in a Feb. 5, 2011, electronic mail.
“Can a youthful lovely girl fall in love with an outdated widower?” he mused in a Feb. 6, 2011, electronic mail. “Possibly that won’t occur for us and love will vanish within the stars.”
Sexual contact between a doctor and a affected person is forbidden by the American Medical Affiliation and has been proscribed by codes of medical ethics crafted as early because the Hippocratic oath.
“Romantic relationships between physicians and sufferers are completely prohibited,” Dr. Joseph A. Carrese, a professor of drugs on the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, mentioned in an interview. “There is no such thing as a controversy about that. It’s completely forbidden.”
Wesko didn’t lower off communications with Cahill. That isn’t unusual, mentioned Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia College, as sufferers are sometimes unsure about whether or not exams are inappropriate and concern nobody will take their phrase.
“They fear, ‘I’ll finish his profession, and he was so good to me and has carried out so many good issues and helped so many individuals,’” Appelbaum added.
Wesko mentioned she first consulted Cahill, a tropical illness specialist, on Sept. 2, 2009, after a visit to Nepal. There was no chaperone within the room, and Cahill carried out an intrusive bodily examination, she mentioned, penetrating her anally together with his finger or an object. (She was undecided which.)
No such examination is important at a primary appointment like this, based on travel-medicine specialists and medical affiliation tips. Usually, docs prescribe an antibiotic.
After the examination, Cahill spoke to Wesko in his workplace, she recalled, asking about her travels, suggesting he might open doorways for her to the world of worldwide humanitarian work and reciting a poem by W.B. Yeats. “I believed, ‘Wow, this man is the neatest, most charming, well-read individual,’” Wesko mentioned. “I believed he can be a form of mentor.”
After the appointment, Cahill known as Wesko at her residence a number of occasions and mentioned she should come for a follow-up go to and attend a live performance that night on the American Irish Historic Society. He advised her she might keep in a single day in a room he had at Lenox Hill Hospital, she mentioned.
He repeated the intrusive examination on the follow-up go to, and when he confirmed Wesko to his workplace in Lenox Hill Hospital’s tropical illness middle after the live performance, he tried to kiss her, she mentioned.
She turned away, and he apologized, saying, as she recalled, “I’m sorry, I believed there was a connection.”
Margarita Oksenkrug, a spokeswoman for Lenox Hill Hospital, which is now a part of Northwell Well being, declined to remark. She mentioned Cahill had not labored for the hospital since 2020, the yr Wesko filed her lawsuit.
Wesko moved to the West and didn’t see Cahill once more for 10 years. However he emailed, wrote letters and known as, leaving scores of voice messages.
Cahill repeatedly invited her to go to, saying he needed to indicate his Manhattan condominium to her. He replied to an electronic mail saying she needed solely a friendship with a string of messages, demanding to understand how she may very well be so sure and accusing her of spurning his love as a result of she was immature and cowardly.
Wesko responded much less typically and extra tersely. However over the subsequent few years, she began experiencing extreme, unexplained ache, she mentioned, and was repeatedly taken to emergency rooms. She couldn’t find a physician capable of deal with her situation, she mentioned, and in desperation emailed Cahill in 2018 to ask if he knew of doctor in Colorado, the place she was residing.
She finally obtained a analysis of endometriosis that required a selected form of surgical procedure. Specialists had been situated in New York, at Lenox Hill Hospital, and Cahill organized for them to take her case. “He jumped in and took over every little thing,” she mentioned.
Her well being plan wouldn’t cowl procedures carried out out of state, so Cahill organized for each the hospital and the surgeons to waive their charges. However he insisted that Wesko come to him for 2 preoperative exams.
When Wesko objected to an examination Jan. 30, 2019, based on her lawsuit: “Dr. Cahill insisted that as her referring doctor he wanted to finish it. The implication was clear: She wanted to fulfill Dr. Cahill’s demand or else she wouldn’t be capable of obtain the surgical procedure that he had organized and that she desperately wanted.”
Throughout that examination and a subsequent one, Cahill once more penetrated her anally, and in the course of the second examination, Cahill fondled her breasts, ripped open her paper robe, touched her abdomen and pelvic space, and kissed her on the mouth, based on Wesko’s lawsuit.
There was no nurse or chaperone within the examination room, as is normal in most docs’ places of work, she mentioned.
Cahill once more advised Wesko he beloved her, later lamenting in a Feb. 7, 2019, voice message that he couldn’t tackle “the insurmountable boundaries you may have erected. I can’t make myself younger.”
A number of months after her surgical procedure, Wesko began speaking with a therapist about her expertise with Cahill. She got here to imagine he had preyed on her when she was weak and used his place as a physician to the touch her sexually.
“I used to be simply being groomed the entire time,” Wesko mentioned.
Enraged, she mentioned, she emailed him and demanded that he hand over the title to the Manhattan condominium that he had pressured her to go to, in an effort to make up for the trauma she felt he had inflicted.
She obtained a reply from McGinity, Cahill’s lawyer, saying that her electronic mail was an extortion try and that she might go to jail if Cahill pressed fees.
Even when Wesko prevails, she is unlikely to obtain a giant payout. Across the time that she filed her lawsuit, she declared chapter due to mounting medical payments, and a decide has dominated that any financial compensation within the case be capped on the quantity of her debt, about $30,000, and go to reimburse her collectors.
“If all I needed was his cash, I might have married him,” Wesko mentioned.
“Holding an abuser accountable is such a grueling course of that not many ladies do it, and abusers know they’ll depend on that,” she added. “However sure evils are too large to disregard.”
In an interview with the Instances, one other former affected person described the same examination.
Natalie Mauro, 35, mentioned Fordham College referred her to Cahill for photographs earlier than a visit to Guyana in 2006 sponsored by a worldwide outreach program. She was sick when she returned and was once more referred to Cahill.
Cahill gave Mauro a paper robe to vary into, she mentioned, nevertheless it was so small that it didn’t shut, so she put it on with the opening to the again. “He got here in — there was no nurse — and instantly walked up beside me and ripped the entrance of my robe open,” Mauro mentioned in an interview.
Although she was experiencing gastrointestinal issues, he examined her breasts after which had her lie on her facet and inserted one thing — she just isn’t positive what — into her anus, she mentioned. “I bear in mind gasping,” Mauro mentioned.
She recalled telling her boyfriend afterward, “I really feel like I simply obtained raped by a 70-year-old physician.”
Bob Howe, a spokesman for Fordham, mentioned that any referrals made by college representatives to Cahill had been “casual.” Cahill held quite a few positions on the college, however, Howe mentioned, they had been honorary. Fordham additionally severed ties with Cahill in 2020, he mentioned.
McGinity, his lawyer, mentioned that Cahill “categorically denies these allegations” however that he doesn’t deny conducting anal exams. “He’s a physician, and as a physician performs rectal exams,” McGinity mentioned.
The lawyer mentioned that there was nothing uncommon concerning the robes that Cahill offered to the younger girls and that they had been normal robes that ought to have match an grownup girl.
He didn’t deny that Cahill tore sufferers’ robes open however mentioned that the conduct was acceptable, including that Cahill solely ripped the robe “if the affected person put it on backwards.”
This text initially appeared in The New York Times.