A shocking new lawsuit accuses a prominent Manhattan physician—known for treating a pope and a president, and working alongside Mother Teresa—of sexually assaulting a patient in an exam room after pressing her for years for a romantic relationship.
The suit, filed in federal court last week by high-profile anti-harassment attorney Carrie Goldberg, accuses renowned infectious-disease doctor Kevin Cahill of groping, forcibly kissing, and anally penetrating a young woman under the guise of medical treatment.
“Dr. Cahill abused his position as a physician, took advantage of Ms. Doe’s vulnerability and desperation for medical care, and assaulted her by performing medically unnecessary, unwarranted, and/or non-indicated rectal and breast exams for no medically viable purpose,” the suit claims.
Cahill, 84, did not respond to emails and phone calls to his home and office, and family members also did not respond to requests for comment.
Court documents state the woman and Cahill were involved in “extensive” settlement negotiations before the filing of the complaint but were not able to reach an agreement. She is seeking damages “far exceed[ing]” $75,000.
For decades, Cahill has enjoyed rarefied status in New York’s medical and Irish-American cultural communities. A former Navy Medical Corps doctor, he served in leadership roles at both Lenox Hill Hospital and NYU Medical School, as well on the Health Research Council of New York State. He has consulted with the United Nations and the NYPD, taught more than 4,000 students at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and treated both Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, according to a profile in Irish America. A 1977 New York Times profile described Cahill as the “single most important policy‐maker in New York State” in the area of health care—if a somewhat controversial one.
The suit against him was filed by the equally formidable Goldberg, who has made a name for herself defending victims of revenge porn and other forms of cyber-harassment. (She recently helped secure a nearly $13 million settlement for the victims of the GirlsDoPorn scam.) Goldberg declined to comment on the Cahill suit, saying in an email that she would let the complaint speak for itself.
The 12-page document details the claims of a 30-year-old woman identified only as “Jane Doe,” who says she first met Cahill more than a decade ago, when he treated her for a parasitic infection she contracted while traveling in Nepal at age 19. The complaint alleges that Cahill, then in his seventies, developed a “romantic infatuation” with the patient, inundating her with emails, phone calls, and letters over the course of several years. According to the suit, Cahill repeatedly invited the Colorado resident to visit him in New York, even as she maintained that she was not interested in a romantic relationship.
In 2018, Doe says she began experiencing painful, severe symptoms around her menstrual cycle. After striking out with several other doctors, she reached out to Cahill for advice. The doctor allegedly referred her to a Denver-area specialist who diagnosed her with endometriosis—a painful disorder in which the uterine lining grows outside the womb.
In November of that year, struggling to pay for the proper treatment for her condition, the woman again reached out to Cahill for assistance, the suit says. At first, the suit claims, their communications were “friendly and constructive.” But the complaint says Cahill resumed his romantic overtures not long after, even as he helped her schedule a surgery with another doctor free of charge.
In January 2019, about a month before her scheduled surgery, Cahill asked the woman to come into his office for a physical examination, she claims. After running the expected blood and urine tests, Cahill allegedly announced he would need to perform a rectal exam to check for parasites. When the patient protested—she says she showed no symptoms of parasites and did not understand what it had to do with an endometriosis procedure—Cahill allegedly insisted on performing the exam before she could receive further treatment.
“The implication to Ms. Doe was clear,” the suit claims. “She needed to meet Dr. Cahill’s demand or else she would not be able to receive the surgery that he had arranged and that she desperately needed and could not afford on her own.”
After performing the examination—an “excruciatingly embarrassing and uncomfortable experience” that lasted about 30 seconds, according to the suit—Cahill allegedly proceeded to discuss his desire for her while she was still in the exam room. According to the suit, the doctor told her that nobody would ever love her the way he could, and insisted that she should come to his apartment to assess his “tastes.” She says she declined and left.
The plaintiff claims that in late February, days before her scheduled surgery, Cahill again reached out—this time to schedule a pre-operative appointment, which she says she assumed would be purely informational. But when she arrived, she claims, Cahill insisted that she submit to a preoperative exam despite the fact that she had already received one in Colorado.
During this second exam, Doe claims Cahill stuck his hands down the front of her hospital gown and began fondling her breasts, then ripped a hole in the garment and began feeling just above her pelvis. When she pulled away, he stopped, felt her neck as if to check her lymph nodes, then kissed her forcibly on the lips. When she told him to stop, he allegedly responded, “We’re not there yet but we are getting close.” Then he grabbed her by her forearms, told her he loved her, and tried to kiss her again. Doe says she pulled herself away from him and left quickly.
The harassment allegedly continued even after Doe’s surgery, when she awoke to incessant calls from Cahill that went on for weeks. “I called you 27 times yesterday and you never returned my call,” he said in one voicemail, according to the suit. Even after she wrote him a letter reiterating that she had no romantic interest in him, she claims, the calls persisted. It wasn’t until July 2019, when she cut off contact with Cahill entirely, that the harassment stopped, the suit says.
The suit, filed last Wednesday in Manhattan, accuses Cahill of battery, assault, and sexual assault, among other things. Doe says the experience caused her extreme distress, anxiety, and depression.