A shocking video from the recent American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) annual meeting is making the rounds on Twitter. In it, an audience member grabs the shirt of a panelist and slaps him.
“This [expletive] sexually assaulted my wife 7 years ago,” the audience member alleged right before slapping the panelist. “You know what you did. You touched my wife 7 years ago in New York.”
“This is for all men who sexually assault women,” he reportedly said in the 2-minute clip.
“My wife is suffering because you are a f***ing predator,” he added while walking towards the back of the room. Someone outside the video frame apparently laughed, so the audience member walked back up to the panelists’ table and yelled at the panelist again.
Several tweets identified the presenter who was slapped and accused of sexual assault as William Burke, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at Stony Brook University Cancer Center in Long Island, New York, who spoke at a Saturday afternoon ACOG panel, which took place from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m.
A representative from the Baltimore Police Department confirmed that officers came to the conference center on May 20 at approximately 4:33 p.m. to investigate a physical assault.
Toward the end of the video, you hear a woman walk past and say “not the place, not the time,” purportedly about the audience member. This comment is sparking its own response online.
“I’m sorry, when IS the right time?” tweeted Jennifer Lincoln, MD, an ob/gyn from Portland, Oregon.
“Woman heard saying ‘not the place, not the time.’ Bulls**t. Everywhere and all the time is an appropriate time to call out sexual predators,” tweeted Denise Dewald, MD, a sleep medicine physician from Cleveland.
A second video from outside the convention center room showed the audience member being escorted out by security, with someone telling him there is a better way to do this, to which he objected.
Early last week after the conference ended, ACOG sent out a statement to all members, a screenshot of which was posted to Twitter, and which ACOG also provided to MedPage Today.
“We want to provide information about a security incident between two individuals that occurred during a Saturday panel discussion. Security protocols were followed, and the situation was rapidly addressed by plainclothes security and eventually the Baltimore Police Department. We apologize to those who may have been affected by the incident or subsequent exchanges. ACOG does not condone violence in any form,” said the statement, attributed to Christopher Zahn, MD, the interim CEO of ACOG, and AnnaMarie Connolly, MD, ACOG’s chief of education and academic affairs.
“Your safety is our top priority. ACOG works hard to provide safe, secure environments at all our meetings. We will continue to enforce safety protocols at all our gatherings in order to ensure the safety of our members and attendees. We cannot provide additional details because of confidentiality obligations,” the statement added.
In an email to MedPage Today, Lindsey Eldridge, director of public affairs and community outreach for the Baltimore Police Department, wrote, “The assaulted individual stated that he did not want to file criminal charges or file a report against the individual who physically assaulted him and that he would prefer the individual be escorted off the premises. Officers escorted the individual off of the premises.”
All of the panelists either declined to comment or did not respond to MedPage Today‘s requests for comment. Burke deferred to Stony Brook’s media relations office, which declined to confirm that Burke was the accused panelist.
“We take this matter seriously,” wrote Stony Brook University officials, who added that they “are reviewing the circumstances and taking the necessary measures to address any issues resulting from this incident.”