ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — T he end of a long-fought lawsuit against the University of New Mexico came suddenly in the night for Cynthia Herald.
For eight days of testimony in an Albuquerque courtroom and eight years of legal battles before that, we had heard Herald’s story spool out like a bad dream – how she as a second-year anesthesiology resident at the UNM Health Sciences Center was raped by a senior anesthesiology resident in June 2009 and how she, and not he, was later expelled from the program.
Herald sued UNM and its entities in 2011, lost at trial in 2013 but successfully appealed a previous ruling by state District Judge Shannon Bacon, got a second trial and a new round of having her life scrutinized in open court.
UNM officials had argued that they had good reason to fire Herald. She had a substance abuse problem, they said. She was not cooperating, they said. She was a danger to patients, they said. They said they had tried to help Herald in her hour of need, that they had offered her counseling and support and remedial medical training and mentoring, but she had refused nearly all of it.
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