So when eminent Stanford med school professor John Borchers staggered onto his private plane and flew himself into the side of a mountain in 2008, Stanford could get away with saying nothing when reporters tried asking the school about the fact that the body of the busy teacher/clinician was loaded down with so many drugs it took like a page and a half to list them all. He’d been a known addict for ten years.

In addition to cocaine and Prozac, toxicology tests by the FAA turned up opiates, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs. One of the drugs, buprenorphine, was among those Borchers prescribed to patients suffering from heroin addiction, according to his own online business profile.

John Borchers didn’t know how to fly very well, and he was maybe finally close to losing his license to practice medicine, so this was arguably a carefully prepared (#1: swallow the medicine cabinet; #2: pilot your plane alone at night through mountains) suicide. Yet Stanford has never said a word about having maintained this dangerous wreck of a man in a responsible and visible position on its faculty, though given his long record of addiction and attempted detox Stanford must have known about him.

UD drags up this ancient history because if you put aside the difference that Carmen Puliafito is still alive (though from his total silence in response to all efforts to talk to him you wouldn’t know it), his is a similar story of pretty overt fuckedupness determinedly ignored by a university that already has quite the history of ignoring fucked up high-level people.

USC faculty members I’ve been in touch with are incensed that a doctor was allowed to take patients for more than a year after his drug-fueled behavior was reported to the university, and they’re not buying the administration’s claims of ignorance.

Puliafito engaged in behavior (partying with meth-head friends in his campus office) that seemed designed to dare the University of Southern California to do something about him. Even after the LA Times told USC’s president that Puliafito had spent an evening lying through his teeth to the police about his relationship to a young woman found overdosed beside him in a Pasadena hotel room littered with drug paraphernalia (if you enjoy this sort of thing, you can listen to the police interview), the president simply wouldn’t hear what he was being told. In effect, he still won’t.

What we have here is a cover-up. Systematic cover-ups, as Steve Lopez notes. And you know what? Cover-ups exist to cover up not just a specific triggering event (Puliafito/Pasadena/Police), but, one has to assume, related, and possibly worse, stuff. What is USC hiding?

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5 Responses to “Once they’re dead, you can stick with the “No Comment” business.”

  1. dmf Says:

    folks would be horrified if they knew how hard it is to lose a medical license, especially in matters relating to drug use, another area where law enforcers tend to look the other way.
    Reminds me of recent reporting into how federal investigators/prosecutors can’t see their fellow b-boy schoolers as criminals in finance matters.

  2. charlie Says:

    Look at James Comey’s work history, dmf. He worked for jet builders and banks. Pretty hard to go after b-school guys when your boss got a paycheck from those same guys….

  3. theprofessor Says:

    Administrators and trustees not hearing (or rather, pre-emptively blocking out or totally denying) negative information about their peeps is a long-standing part of the landscape here–and is probably true of most places. My guess is that part derives from a praiseworthy feeling of patronly protection to subordinates, part from the notion that ankle-biting faculty terriers like me are always unfairly looking for an opportunity to attack administrators, and part from the recognition that their own judgment is called into question when the people they hire mess up.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: That all sounds right to me. I’d add simply the complexities, oddities, deep structures, of well-established local cultures. Poor Baylor’s an example of a place that over decades and decades seems to have evolved into a twisted Christian Boys Town run by Big Men whose pack mentality and self-aggrandizing religious faith seem to have functioned to erode their instinct to question their own morality.

  5. learn the facts here now Says:

    check over here

    University Diaries

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