The Associated Press reports (below) that William French Anderson, a
prominent geneticist who had been called the "father of gene therapy" was
sentenced to 14 years in prison for molesting a girl from the time she was
about 10 years old (1997-2001).
The judge was not persuaded by defense lawyers who argued that Anderson was
"a friendly mentor to the girl" or that he was being smeared by her mother,
who wanted to assume Anderson's position as director of the Gene Therapies
Laboratories at the University of Southern California's Keck School of
Neither was the judge persuaded by prominent supporters, including a Nobel
Prize winner, who wrote letters.
In sentencing Anderson, the judge said: "Because of intellectual arrogance,
he persisted and he got away with as much as he could."
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Feb 2, 2007
Geneticist Sentenced for Molesting Girl
By ROBERT JABLON
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A world-renowned geneticist was sentenced Friday to 14
years in prison for molesting an employee's daughter who took martial arts
classes at his home.
Many people, including a Nobel Prize winner, wrote letters in support of
William French Anderson, Time magazine's runner-up for Man of the Year in
1995. But Judge Michael E. Pastor said he caused "incalculable" emotional
damage to a victim he described as an insecure and trusting immigrant.
"Because of intellectual arrogance, he persisted and he got away with as
much as he could," the judge said.
Anderson, 70, was convicted in July child molestation. He could have gotten
22 years behind bars.
Anderson has been called the "father of gene therapy" for his work on a
promising but controversial experimental medical treatment that involves
injecting healthy genes into sick patients.
He claimed to be the first person to successfully treat a patient with the
therapy in 1990, though the claim has been disputed.
Prosecutors said Anderson molested the girl from 1997 to 2001, starting when
she was 10.
Anderson watched intently as his victim, now 19, read a statement before he
"Roughly three years ago, I wanted to kill myself," she said. "I couldn't
live with all the pain. … He maliciously destroyed my world to fulfill his
own sick pleasures."
The judge also ordered Anderson to pay her family about $52,000 in
restitution for past therapy and cover the cost of any future treatment. He
also imposed fines and fees of about $16,000.
Defense attorneys argued that Anderson was a friendly mentor to the girl and
was being smeared by her mother, who wanted to assume Anderson's position as
director of the Gene Therapies Laboratories at the University of Southern
California's Keck School of Medicine.
In e-mails and a tape-recorded conversation played for jurors during the
trial, the girl angrily confronted Anderson, who told the girl, "I just did
it, just something in me was just evil."
In court, Anderson said he thought the confrontation was about the emotional
abuse he had inflicted on her as he pressured her to do well in school.
"If you cause somebody to crash, flunk out, that's just evil," he said.
Anderson resigned from USC in September.
C 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Former Geneticist Sentenced for Molesting Colleague's San Marino Daughter
LOS ANGELES, CA (CNS) — A prominent geneticist convicted last year of
molesting a girl he mentored and to whom he taught karate in his San Marino
home was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
William French Anderson, 70, who has been hailed as ''the father of gene
therapy,'' was convicted July 19 of one count of continuous sexual abuse
with a child under 14 and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a
Anderson sexually abused the victim, now an adult who testified during the
monthlong trial, over several years, beginning when she was about 9 or 10.
They met after the girl's family moved to South Pasadena from China and her
mother began working for Anderson at his lab, USC Gene Therapy Laboratories.
Anderson resigned from USC in September.
According to the victim, the abuse began when Anderson inappropriately
touched her private parts as she was hanging from a punching bag. He later
performed ''medical exams'' on the girl when she was naked, and he would
thrust on top of her as she lay down, reading a comic book.
''It was not just a mentor/mentee relationship, not just a father/daughter
relationship…there was the secret dirty side to that relationship,'' said
Deputy District Attorney Cathryn Brougham during opening statements in
Anderson's trial in June.
The attorney defending Anderson claimed the girl's mother was trying to
extort Anderson by alleging he abused her when, in fact, Anderson was guilty
only of pressuring the child to do well in school.
''They are going to claim this not about a lawsuit. What did she need to
hire a giant international law firm for?'' attorney Barry Tarlow asked
during his opening statements.
In e-mails and a tape-recorded conversation outside the South Pasadena
Public Library played for jurors, the girl angrily confronts Anderson about
the sexual abuse.
In the encounter outside the library, Anderson tells the girl, ''I just did
it, just something in me was just evil.''
Asked about his response in court, Anderson said he thought she was
referring to the emotional abuse he'd inflicted on her.
''Pressuring her, causing her to crash, ruining her life, that was evil,''
he said. ''If you cause somebody to crash, flunk out, that's just evil. When
I realized she was falsely accusing me of sexual abuse, then I said whatever
I had to say to get out of there.''
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor ordered Anderson, who has
been in custody since his July 19 conviction, to undergo a 90-day diagnostic
evaluation prior to sentencing.
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