A doctor who won fame with his viral TikTok videos showing him dancing in his scrubs at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic is now facing sexual assault allegations in a lawsuit worth $45m.
Jason Campbell, a 32-year-old anaesthesia resident, amassed hundreds of thousands of followers under the moniker of “The Tik Tok Doc”, appearing in glowing interviews on national US TV programmes such as Good Morning America to discuss his videos.
But as his star was rising, his former colleague at Portland’s Veteran Affairs Medical Center was allegedly grappling with the fallout from his unsolicited advances, reporting him to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for alleged sexual harassment in early April.
According to federal lawsuit filed on Friday and reported by The Oregonian, Campbell harassed his colleague in the first three months of 2020, sending pornographic photos and sexually charged messages.
It also alleges that on 12 March, Campbell left her “terrified” by sneaking up behind her in her office area and pressing his erect penis against her.
A text message included in the lawsuit says, “Don’t EVER surprise me by getting in my physical space”, to which Campbell appears to respond: “I should’ve asked. I’m sorry.”
The lawsuit alleges that his actions caused “severe, substantial, enduring emotional distress, discomfort, and interference with [her] usual life activities” – but that Campbell sent more messages the next day saying, “I’m feeling lucky about another hug today from my fave ED star,” and “Are you home or still here? I’ll get my hug anywhere,” and “I just want to hug you from behind without you yelling at me.”
Campbell’s accuser went to her supervisors with the allegations and screenshots of the messages on 9 April, and Campbell was informed of the misconduct complaint against him on the same day, the lawsuit says.
According to The Oregonian, which first reported the lawsuit, an OHSU investigation concluded in August that Campbell had violated its harassment policy and code of conduct. While investigators reportedly recommended “appropriate” discipline, they did not identify what that would be.
The lawsuit alleges that OHSU “buried” the allegations and, despite saying in November that Campbell was no longer an employee, continued to “glorify” him – in part by “[accepting] the showering of media praise and attention for its resident” as he attended Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021.
The plaintiff has chosen to remain anonymous as a result of “retaliation and vandalism” following her decision to report Campbell, the lawsuit says, adding that Campbell – who appears to have made his social media profiles private – is now a Florida resident.
“OHSU does not condone behaviour as described in the lawsuit,” a spokesperson told The Oregonian. “We are continuously working to evolve our culture, policies and practices to provide an environment where all learners, employees, patients and visitors feel safe and welcome.
“We take our role seriously in being part of the change that needs to happen across our country to end discrimination and power dynamics that allow for harassment,” she said. “We remain committed to these ideals and will continue to prioritise them as a public leader in health care, education and research.”