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Gerson and allies deny allegations

Dr. Gordon Gerson yesterday labeled as “far-fetched” allegations that he harassed and committed sexual misconduct against four women in the cardiology department of Aspen Valley Hospital.

Gerson released a brief statement yesterday that said he couldn’t discuss the “wide-ranging” allegations in detail. He declined to elaborate.

But a source familiar with Gerson’s side of the story attacked each specific complaint, and a second source questioned the motives of two of the women who made allegations.

“The allegations could easily be reversed,” said one of the sources, who asked to remain anonymous. He said he witnessed two women employed by Gerson acting in a provocative manner during a social situation attended by department members and other medical professionals.

Gerson didn’t react to their flirting, according to the source. “I never witnessed Dr. Gerson acting inappropriately,” the source said.

Those same women, according to the source, initially supported Gerson against claims of sexual misconduct involving a third woman in the cardiology department. They later turned against him and made their own complaints.

Gerson is facing a variety of complaints, which makes the issue complicated.

The first complaint of sexual misconduct was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Gerson in July 2003. It sparked an internal investigation by the hospital.

Two women employed in the cardiology department made statements in support of the doctor. “They backed Dr. Gerson. They felt this action against Dr. Gerson was inappropriate,” said the source. That was verified by a second source, who also asked to remain anonymous.

That case was settled out of court. AVH won’t discuss the details but sources said it included a financial settlement.

After that case was resolved, the two women who supported Gerson during the first investigation filed their own complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Their complaints covered a variety of topics. In one case, one of the women claimed it was inappropriate for Gerson to call her while she was on vacation and wish her happy birthday, according to one of the sources allied with Gerson.

A fourth woman in the cardiology department filed a complaint with the EEOC against Gerson alleging age discrimination. She claimed she was fired due to her age.

Gerson is also facing general allegations contending that he recruited young, attractive women to the department, in part by offering $5,000 bonuses.

But one of the sources who supports Gerson said the doctor doesn’t control hiring and firing in the department. Gerson is an independent contractor with AVH. The personnel decisions for the cardiology department are handled through standard AVH procedures.

The woman who was released from the cardiology staff was replaced by a man – not an attractive, younger woman as has been alleged, the source said.

Two of the three women who filed complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment were hired by Gerson’s wife, Elaine, who worked in the cardiology department until she was elected to the AVH board of directors almost two years ago, according to one of the two anonymous sources interviewed by The Aspen Times. Elaine Gerson no longer works in the department because of her position on the board.

The source that was familiar with the hiring procedures contended that the fact that Gerson’s wife made hiring decisions exonerates him from charges he hand-picked attractive, young women.

The Gersons teamed to create a policy a few years ago to try to retain good employees. They paid employees a $5,000 bonus on the annual anniversary of their employment in the department, according to the source. Elaine Gerson signed some, if not all, of the checks, the source said.

The Gersons paid the bonuses out of their own pocket, not out of public coffers. Nevertheless, a source said, AVH officials ordered an end to the Gersons’ bonus program last fall.

One of the Gerson allies acknowledged it was difficult to explain complaints from four women.

“I don’t think the numbers tell the story,” the source said. “There’s just no merit to the allegations.”

In his statement, Gerson lamented that the issue was playing out in the newspapers.

“I find it unfortunate in this day and age that issues such as this have to be played out in public without consideration for the personnel involved, their families or the general public good,” Gerson’s statement said.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

n see Gerson on page 6

n continued from page 1

The woman who was released from the cardiology staff was replaced by a man – not an attractive, younger woman as has been alleged, the source said.


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