The University of Southern California is taking steps to cut ties with its former medical school dean after a Los Angeles Times investigation documented not only his alleged heavy drug use, but also his alleged enabling of other addicts with whom he socialized.
In a lengthy investigation published July 17, the Times reported Carmen Puliafito’s alleged behavior based on interviews with addicts he socialized with, drawing on videos of their activities as well. Puliafito resigned from his post as medical school dean in March, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities, but he was still associated with USC and had been making public appearances on the university's behalf.
After the Times reported its findings, USC announced that Puliafito had been placed on leave from his positions as a faculty member and eye surgeon. As of Friday, according to the Times, USC had hired a former federal prosecutor to further investigate the initial reports and had begun the process to strip Puliafito of his tenure and fire him. The Times made repeated inquiries about Puliafito over the course of 15 months, which USC officials never responded to before the July 17 story broke.
When USC made the move to fire Puliafito four days after the Times’s first story, Provost Michael Quick said it was "the first time we saw such information firsthand," according to another Times story published Sunday documenting USC's repeated silence in the face of reporters' more-than-a-year-long string of inquiries, which included giving USC officials 911 tapes related to Puliafito's misconduct. Officials have not said when they first learned of Puliafito's drug issues.