March 17, 2018
Trauma Center Reportedly Fires Medical Dir. for Alleged Bullying

March 9, 2018 — The Trauma Center in Brookline, a program of the Justice Resource Institute, a Needham-based nonprofit that provides behavioral, foster, housing, and other services to underserved individuals and communities, has reportedly fired its medical director in connection with allegations of bullying and denigrating employees.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, who founded the Trauma Center 35 years ago to provide clinical services to traumatized children and adults and their families, was removed from his position in January, according to a report Wednesday in The Boston Globe.

Joseph Spinazzola, executive director of the Trauma Center, "was removed in November over his alleged mistreatment of female employees," according to The Globe.

Margaret Blaustein, a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of complex childhood trauma, is serving as director of the center.

"Van der Kolk, in a phone interview, denied that he had mistreated employees and said he was not aware of any specific allegations. He filed a wide-ranging lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court last week against the Justice Resource Institute, the parent organization of the Trauma Center, accusing executives there of violating his employment contract," The Globe reported.

Andy Pond, president of the Justice Resource Institute, according to the paper, said that since Spinazzola left the organization it "had improved its sexual harassment policy by encouraging reporting to a wider range of people."

With regard to Van der Kolk, who is a best-selling author and renown advocate for abuse victims, Pond was quoted, "No one is denying the impact that Bessel has had on the world. But a professional workplace has rules, and no amount of talent or skill excuses violations of those rules.’’

The upheaval at the Trauma Center follows a number of incidents at Massachusetts nonprofits in recent months relating to alleged bullying behavior on the part of key employees:
  • Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point for 16 years, a nationally syndicated talk show produced at WBUR, a public radio station based at Boston University (BU), was dismissed last month following an investigation of complaints lodged by current and former station employees filed complaints of bullying and sexual misconduct that spanned the past 10 years.

    BU said investigators found that Ashbrook's conduct "created an abusive work environment" but determined that his conduct, while unwelcome, "was not sexual in nature and did not constitute sexual harassment under the school's Sexual Misconduct/Title IX policy."

  • Fenway Health, a community health center located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston highly regarded for its leading edge care and advocacy for LGBT patients, announced in December that Robert Hale has resigned as board chair, as well as from the board.

    Hale's resignation came one day after Stephen L. Boswell, the organization's chief executive officer, quit two days after The Boston Globe published an extensive report on allegations by current and former employees of harassment and bullying against Dr. Harvey Makadon, a researcher at The Fenway Institute, which focuses on national and international health issues, especially related to LGBT communities.

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