GDS alumnus Jason Campbell ’07, also known as the TikTok Doc for his viral dance videos, has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by former medical co-workers. The allegations, initially reported in The Oregonian, are the basis of a $45 million lawsuit filed Friday, Feb. 26, in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon.
Campbell garnered national attention last year for joyful TikTok videos he made during the pandemic with colleagues at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland. He was working as an anesthesiology resident there but has since moved to Florida.
The new lawsuit claims that Campbell made unwanted sexual advances on the anonymous plaintiff and sent her pornographic messages between January and April of 2020, inflicting “severe, substantial, enduring emotional distress, discomfort, and interference with usual life activities.”
The Oregonion reported on Mar. 8 that two more unnamed nurses had come forward with accusations that Campbell had sexually harassed them at OHSU. Their declarations were filed in support of the original lawsuit.
According to KPTV Fox 12 Oregon, Campbell’s lawyer, John Kaempf, released a statement saying, “Dr. Campbell is innocent. We will litigate this case in court, not the media.”
When told of the allegations against Campbell, senior Ella Farr, the president of the Student Staff Council, said, “My reaction is to believe survivors.”
“That shouldn’t have happened to anyone in their place of work or place of school or any place that they deserve to feel safe,” Farr told the Bit on Mar. 1. “That shouldn’t happen to anyone ever.”
Campbell was a member of GDS’ Alumni Board prior to the lawsuit and previously worked as an assistant coach for the track and field team. The Oregonian reported that Campbell was placed on administrative leave at the University of Florida’s teaching hospital in Gainesville, where he was yet to start his official duties. Campbell could not be reached for comment.
In a statement released to the community on Mar. 3, GDS wrote that it “does not comment on legal cases that involve members of our community” but that Campbell had stepped down from his post on the Alumni Board.
GDS storyteller Danny Stock, who did a 15-minute interview with Campbell last April, declined to comment to the Bit. Director of Communications and Integrated Marketing Alison Grasheim and Director of Alumni Engagement Correy Hudson each declined requests for interviews.
Junior Ben Freedman said that alumni’s bad deeds after graduation can be seen in connection to GDS as much as their good deeds. He added that “at GDS, we take credit for the good things our alums do.”
Campbell’s content received two million likes on TikTok, leading to appearances on “Good Morning America” and in the virtual Parade Across America at President Biden’s inauguration. His account was deleted from TikTok soon after Campbell was sued.
In an interview with the Bit, junior Noah Shelton called the sexual misconduct allegations “surprising” and, considering Campbell’s GDS roots, “very disappointing.”
Sophomore Jaia Wilensky, an aspiring doctor, said she had respected Campbell for serving as “great representation for Black people in the medical field,” a profession in which Black Americans are underrepresented. “He was getting people excited. He was very much like a bright light in a hard time, and so now for this to come out is hard,” Wilensky said.
According to the plaintiff in the Oregon lawsuit, Campbell repeatedly harassed her “via text messages, pornographic photos, and sexually-charged social media messages.” Campbell is also accused of having violated the plaintiff’s personal space by pushing his “erection forcibly onto the plaintiff’s backside.”
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff, a social worker at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Portland, asserts that she informed him repeatedly that she wasn’t romantically interested and that his behavior wasn’t acceptable.
A second alleged victim accused Campbell of asking her to “jerk him off.” In addition, the lawsuit claims malpractice on the part of OHSU in its handling of the incident for failing to report allegations to the state medical board and to disclose Campbell’s confidential departure from the facility.
According to The Oregonian, one of the anonymous nurses who recently issued further allegations of harassment against Campbell wrote, “Once Jason Campbell became popular through social media, leaders at OHSU seemed protective of him.”
Like Farr, Wilensky said she believes Campbell’s accuser. “It’s so hard to come forward, especially against prominent figures. And so I think you have to believe people when they come forward,” she explained.
Wilensky said it is important for institutions to have “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment. “A lot of times, people want to say, ‘Oh, but he’s a good guy,’” she said. “But then that just conditions people to be okay with it and victims to keep their mouths shut.”
When asked how the allegations against Campbell reflect on GDS, which has promoted him on its website, Wilensky said, “I think it more matters how GDS responds.”
“We honor and support victims of sexual assault and harassment,” the school said in its statement announcing Campbell’s resignation from the Alumni Board. “We also acknowledge the troubling history of racism in our country in which Black men have been unjustly demonized and criminalized. We also acknowledge the importance of due process.”
This is a developing story. It has been updated since its initial publication.
Seth Riker ’22 and Ethan Wolin ’23