Federal Jury Finds Thomas Jefferson University Guilty of Gender Bias in Investigation of Alleged Rape Case by Former Surgeon

PHILADELPHIA, PA – A federal jury has reached a decision in a civil trial involving Thomas Jefferson University and former surgeon John Abraham. The jury found that the university’s investigation into allegations of rape against Abraham was biased on the basis of gender. They ruled that Jefferson’s leadership had violated Abraham’s civil rights and interfered with his ability to work as a surgeon and partner at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

The case centered around Abraham’s claims that a second-year resident in Jefferson’s orthopedic program had pursued sex with him at a pool party in June 2018. Abraham alleged that the resident, Jessica Phillips, got him drunk to the point where he was unable to give consent. His lawyers argued that he tried to resist and withdrew his consent, and that this should have been enough under the university’s misconduct policy. They questioned why Phillips was allowed to continue her residency with leniency when a man would have faced different consequences.

Phillips, on the other hand, claimed that she woke up in Abraham’s bed the next morning after the party feeling disoriented, naked, and covered in bruises. She accused Abraham of sexual assault and filed a criminal complaint against him, but no charges were ultimately filed.

Abraham did not deny having sex with Phillips during the trial, but his legal case focused on the actions taken by Jefferson after the incident. Under Title IX, the university was required to investigate Abraham’s allegations. The jury determined that their investigation was biased and had interfered with Abraham’s career.

In the damages verdict that came in today, Abraham was awarded $15 million. The plaintiff was represented by lawyers Lane Jubb and Andrew Marth from The Beasley Firm, LLC.

This case highlights important issues surrounding sexual misconduct investigations and the potential gender bias that can be present in such cases. The jury’s decision sends a message about the importance of fair and unbiased investigations in these situations.