LOS ANGELES — A former vice dean of University of Southern California's medical school testified he feared the then-dean, Dr. Carmen Puliafito, "could be doing drugs" before Puliafito abruptly quit in 2016.
Dr. Henri Ford's testimony at a state Medical Board hearing marks the first suggestion that any USC administrator had suspicions about Puliafito's possible drug use, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Ford said he expressed concerns about Puliafito's general well-being to the university's provost.
Puliafito gave up his $1.1 million-a-year dean's post in the middle of the 2016 spring term, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities. He did not mention that three weeks earlier, 21-year-old Sarah Warren had overdosed in his presence in a hotel room but recovered, according to the newspaper.
Puliafito remained a faculty member until last year, when USC said it was firing him in the wake of a Times report that he kept company with a circle of criminals and people who used drugs and had been captured on video apparently smoking methamphetamine.
During his testimony Tuesday, Puliafito placed much of the blame for his meth use on Warren. He said Warren upended his life by introducing him to the drug. He testified that he subsequently used meth with her once a week.
The Medical Board hearing this week in Los Angeles will determine whether Puliafito is allowed to resume practicing medicine.
Puliafito denied that he provided drugs to Warren. She told the Times as well as the Medical Board that he gave her methamphetamine and other drugs. She invoked the 5th Amendment and was excused from testifying at the hearing.
The USC medical community has been rocked by scandal in recent years. Last week, the university announced that President C.L. Max Nikias was stepping down in the wake of a Times report that USC for years ignored complaints that a campus gynecologist had engaged in misconduct with students.