Former Neurology Professor Sentenced to House Arrest for Sexual Assault

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THE LAW | Dr. Tracy McIntosh, former professor of neurosurgery and former director of the Head Injury Research Center at Penn, was sentenced in March to house arrest for 111/2 to 23 months by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman and possessing an illegal substance. He was also given 12 additional years of probation; fined $20,000; ordered to pay $20,000 for the victim’s psychological treatment and to perform 1,000 hours of community service; and prohibited from supervising women in the future.

In addition, the woman has filed a civil suit against McIntosh and against the University, alleging that Penn “took part in a conspiracy to cover up both what they knew about McIntosh’s history and to keep information from the district attorney.” A Penn spokeswoman called those allegations “absolutely baseless and outrageous.”

The 52-year-old McIntosh, who came to Penn in 1992 but was on administrative leave since April 2003—when he turned himself in to Philadelphia police—pleaded no contest this past December to the assault and substance-possession charges. He was asked to resign from the University by Dr. Arthur Rubenstein, dean of the School of Medicine, and did so.

According to news accounts, the incident took place in September 2002 when the woman, a Brown University alumna who had moved to Philadelphia and planned to enter the School of Veterinary Medicine, called McIntosh on the advice of her uncle, a friend of McIntosh’s. In the course of discussing a part-time job offer, they had drinks at several bars and restaurants near campus. At one of them, the woman testified, she began to feel ill, her vision blurred, and she vomited several times. On the way back to McIntosh’s Hayden Hall office, he offered her marijuana, telling her it would make her stomach feel better. She smoked it, and then, at his office, he began having sex with her; the woman testified that she felt physically immobilized and unable to resist. The civil suit alleges that McIntosh secretly drugged her with Nembutal, which can be used as an animal sedative. McIntosh has denied that charge.

In addition to McIntosh and Penn, the civil suit names as defendants the School of Medicine; Dr. Arthur Asbury, an emeritus professor in the School of Medicine who conducted an internal investigation; and Robin Armstrong, a laboratory manager in the Department of Neurosurgery. It alleges that the defendants “conspired and agreed to obstruct justice and hinder the criminal investigation and prosecution of [McIntosh] by withholding material evidence,” which included a “history of acts of sexual harassment” and “sexual advances to women workers, students, and colleagues.” Armstrong and two other female employees privately confronted McIntosh about his overall behavior in November 2002, before they knew about the sexual assault. That meeting prompted an internal investigation by Asbury that found no wrongdoing by McIntosh. After McIntosh was charged with rape, another internal investigation was conducted by Victoria Mulhern, director of faculty affairs for the medical school. In that investigation, several women revealed that McIntosh had made “unwanted sexual advances,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“There was no cover-up or conspiracy to protect Dr. McIntosh,” said Penn spokeswoman Lori Doyle. “In fact, Penn at no time had any reliable information of sexual misconduct relating to Dr. McIntosh that it failed to act upon.” She added that Penn “has a strong sexual-harassment policy which was not deviated from in this case.”

After McIntosh was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Rayford Means, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham announced that she would appeal the sentence, saying that Means had been “inordinately lenient and gave too much attention to the kind of work he [McIntosh] does.” Means declined to change the sentence. —S.H.

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