UNM settles multimillion dollar rape case after final testimony

The University of New Mexico has settled a likely multimillion-dollar case brought by a former anesthesiology resident who said her hospital supervisors retaliated and fired her after she reported being raped by a colleague.

Cynthia Herald’s story went before a civil jury twice since she filed her case in 2011. In 2013, she lost the case but successfully appealed. The case went before a jury again for the past two weeks, culminating Thursday in final testimony.

But late Thursday, UNM placed a call to Herald’s attorney team offering to settle the case.

Herald, and her attorneys Lisa Curtis and Randi McGinn, said Friday morning that they are pleased with the settlement, details of which will remain confidential for six months. Her civil lawsuit sought about $4 million in lost wages in addition to compensation for damages.

“Maybe I can go back to being my normal self,” Herald said following the Friday morning hearing dismissing jurors and resolving the case in front of District Judge Shannon Bacon.

UNM’s attorneys on the case, Lorna Wiggins and Patricia Williams, declined to comment after the hearing. UNM in a statement later said the university and Herald have mutually agreed to settle her lawsuit.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients is a critical priority,” Paul B. Roth, chancellor for Health Sciences, said in the emailed statement. “Cases like this demonstrate the need for us also to renew our commitment to timely and appropriately addressing allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

UNM had claimed Herald made the accusations to cover for her failure in the residency program caused by her alleged drug addiction. Herald was terminated from the residency program in June 2010. The man she accused of raping her graduated from the program and was recommended by his UNM supervisors for a pain specialty fellowship.

He was never charged.

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