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Medicine professor fired for sexual misconduct apologizes, cites cultural differences for conduct

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Stanford Medical Center professor Jose Montoya, who was fired after a University investigation found that he had violated University code of conduct policies related to sexual harassment, misconduct and assault, said he “sincerely apologize[s]” to anyone who he “offended,” in a statement to The Daily sent by his lawyer David Nied.

Montoya, who formerly directed the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Initiative, added that the events that occurred since March — when a group of affected women first raised their concerns to Stanford — have been a “huge surprise.”

“It was even more shattering to learn, through the June 4 Stanford Daily article, that it was members of my Stanford ME/CFS team who experienced some of my behaviors as attempts at unsolicited sexual acts, harassment and misconduct,” he wrote.

He further denied having been involved in “any sexual or romantic relationships” with other employees at Stanford. Montoya pointed to a difference in “social norms” between the United States and his homeland of Colombia, writing that he has served patients with “with respect, professionalism and the affection proper of my Hispanic heritage.”

“I did not sufficiently appreciate that difference [in social norms],” Montoya wrote. “It is my responsibility to change and be both mindful and respectful of the boundaries of personal space – and I pledge to do just that.”

[Read Jose’s Montoya’s full statement here.]

In a joint statement, a group of individuals affected by his conduct wrote, “This past March, a large group of women who have worked under Dr. Montoya came forward with extensive allegations of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment,” they wrote. “The allegations included multiple instances of Dr. Montoya attempting unsolicited sexual acts with his female employees, among many other instances of harassment and misconduct, and were confirmed in an investigation.”

Montoya has the right to appeal the investigation’s decision. His legal representation declined to comment on whether he intends to pursue this route.

In the wake of Montoya’s firing, ME/CFS patients and advocates have expressed concern in online forums about the future of treatment and of the field at-large.

The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome support organization #MEAction is hosting a dial-in support call on Friday in response to Montoya’s dismissal for his former patients to discuss alternative options for care.  

Stanford Medicine spokesperson Stephanie Brusseze did not respond to questions about whether or when Stanford intends to hire a replacement for the now-vacant director role for Stanford’s ME/CFS Initiative.

“Along with SHC’s organizational and physician leadership, we are working diligently to address the needs of our ME/CFS patients following Dr. Jose Montoya’s departure,” Brusseze wrote in a statement to The Daily. “We extend our sincere apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience [that patients] may have experienced due to these unforeseen circumstances.”

Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu and Claire Wang at clwang32 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Editor’s note: See below for a statement on behalf of Stanford Health Care (SHC) from spokesperson Stephanie Brusseze regarding treatment options.

If you are a current patient, please contact us at (650) 736-5200, and we will work with you to accommodate your individual needs and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

If you prefer to seek care outside SHC, you may request that your SHC medical records be transferred to your new physician. The information required for this process is available on Stanford Health Care’s website (stanfordhealthcare.org) by clicking “Patients & Visitors” and then selecting “Medical Records.” You may also call Medical Records at (650) 723-5721.

Julia Ingram ’21 The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu.
Claire Wang is The Daily's Vol. 254 magazine editor, and previously served as Vol. 253's managing editor of news. She's a fan of anything with tomatoes in it, and her favorite poet is Ocean Vuong. When she's not biking, her second-favorite mode of transportation is by rollerblade. Contact Claire at clwang32 'at' stanford.edu.