The family of a woman who had a drug-fueled relationship with former USC medical school dean Carmen Puliafito received $1.5 million to head off a lawsuit. But they had to turn over all of their videos and photographs of Puliafito to the university.
The family had threatened to sue USC over Puliafito's relationship with Sarah Warren, who met him as a prostitute in 2015.
While Pulafito served as dean and USC professor, he "kept company with a circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them." This was according to photos shared in a bombshell Los Angeles Times report from 2017.
According to the newspaper, Warren had overdosed while taking drugs with Puliafito in a Pasadena hotel room on March 4, 2016; the article included a recording of a conversation between a 911 operator and Puliafito. The report said that police had found methamphetamine in the room. Three weeks later, on March 24, 2016, Puliafito resigned as dean of the Keck School of Medicine.
USC ordered Warren and her family to delete all photos and videos of Puliafito doing drugs as part of a settlement. The trove also included sexual footage.
USC Entered into a Secret Mediation Agreement with the Family
To comply with the agreement, the Warrens took their smartphones, computers and hard drives to a tech shop, where the devices were wiped clean of the videos and photos â some of which also showed him in sexual situations â along with any other material concerning Puliafito or USC, such as emails, text messages and letters, the sources said, according to The Times.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the $1.5 million settlement was finalized in January or February 2018, but the extraordinarily strict terms of the agreement could be in violation of California law, which makes it a misdemeanor to destroy or conceal material to prevent it from being used 'in evidence upon a trial, inquiry, or investigation, authorized by law.'
The USC settlement could be illegal if agencies investigating Puliafito didn't have the destroyed footage.
Social Media Reactions
Netizens lashed out at the USC and called it a "corrupt" institution. One internet user wrote, "USC is a disgusting institution. Secrecy and dishonesty are their core values." Another wrote, "Shame on the lawyers for agreeing to such a bogus demand. What kind of lawyer thinks that deal is good for your clients, the victims?"
One comment read, "University of Scandal." Another comment read, "USC the last bastion of liberal privilege."
One person shared, "Mommy, why is U.S.C. called the Trojans? Never mind dear."