Tenured Columbia Professor Sentenced for Sexual Abuse of Former Patient

Joel Lavine, a suspended professor at Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, was accused of abusing the survivor in early 2019.

The name of Columbia University engraved on the upper part of the main facade of Low Memorial Library

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The name of Columbia University engraved on the upper part of the main facade of Low Memorial Library

Joel Lavine, a suspended professor at Columbia University, managed to dodge jail time in his years-old sexual misconduct case.

According to CBS News, the tenured professor was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge for sexually abusing a former patient whom he had known since she was a teen. Survivor alleged the abuse took place in early 2019, about eight months before Lavine was arrested. 

“In hindsight I see how you groomed me for years since I was a minor in your care,” the survivor told Lavine during his sentencing hearing Friday. “I have significant problems I need addressing but I would still rather be sick than ever again go to a doctor like you.”

Three months after his arrest, Lavine was found guilty in of two counts of misdemeanor sexual abuse in the third degree. Though he was facing a maximum sentence of three months in jail, a New York City prosecutor said the survivor didn’t want the professor behind bars. Instead, Lavine was ordered to attend three months of weekly counseling sessions and was barred from contacting the victim for two months. The woman also asked Lavine for an apology, but he declined to address her in court.

“I’ve made no attempt in the last three years (to contact her) and I won’t in the next, forever,” the professor said when he was informed about the protective order.

Columbia, which has since banned Lavine from campus, claimed they were not aware of his arrest until December 2019. Once they learned about the case, officials suspended him from clinical and research activities.

“The abhorrent conduct that the victim experienced and spoke about today in court goes against everything we believe in at Columbia,” a university spokesperson told CBS News. “We are committed to working with the relevant oversight authorities to ensure that Lavine never practices medicine again.”

Lavine’s legal team said the professor intends to appeal the conviction.

“the consequences of these allegations have been devastating for Dr. Lavine,” his attorney said. 

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