Who is Dr Bandy Lee? Professor sues Yale for firing her over critical tweets on Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz
A former Yale-affiliated faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry in School of Medicine, is suing the university after she was allegedly fired for tweeting, in January 2020, about a 'shared psychosis' that she said 'just about all' of former president Donald Trump supporters suffered from.
Dr Bandy Lee, who has been a vocal critic of Trump over the years, filed a complaint against Yale on Monday claiming that she was unlawfully terminated "due to her exercise of free speech about the dangers of Donald Trump's presidency." She added that lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who is on Trump's legal team, had "wholly taken on Trump's symptoms by contagion."
Lee came into focus in 2019, after sending a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she claimed that President Trump is showing 'signs of delusion' amid his first impeachment inquiry.
Who is Dr. Bandy Lee?
Bandy Lee, who is of Korean descent, was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Her grandfather Geun-Young Lee was a South Korean physician, who, she said to the Times, inspired her with a belief that practicing medicine also involves social responsibility. As a teenager she volunteered in Harlem as a tutor for homeless African-American children. She began an undergraduate degree at Columbia studying physics and comparative literature. Lee holds not one but two masters from Yale. She received her M.D. from the Yale University School of Medicine in 1994, being the youngest in her class, and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Yale Divinity School in 1995. She went on to intern at the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York and served as chief resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
She studied the anthropology of violence in East Africa as a fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health and co-authored academic papers on Côte d'Ivoire, Tanzania, and Rwanda. She is a specialist in violence prevention programmes in prisons and in the community,and worked for several years in maximum security prisons across America, where she was instrumental in initiating reforms at New York's Rikers Island jail complex. Since then, Lee has consulted with five different U.S. states on prison reform. She has also published an array of mental health related books.
'The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump'
Since the 2016 US presidential elections that saw the reign of Donald Trump, Lee had spearheaded a movement to shed light on what she believed is the dangerous mental condition of the president, reported Yale Daily News. She organized a coalition of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts, and in October 2017, published 'The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump'. The book of essays attempts to assess the president’s mental aptitude. Although she characterizes her pre-2016 self as largely apolitical, Lee said that as a psychiatrist, she is “uniquely trained to address the problems of the presidency.”
In December 2019, as the presidential impeachment proceedings came to a head, Lee, along with two other mental health professionals sent a petition to Congress. The petition, which was signed by 350 other health professionals, claimed that the president’s mental fitness was rapidly declining, and that he had the “real potential to become ever more dangerous, a threat to the safety of our nation.” “I never really thought of speaking up about a president as something that would be my role,” Dr. Bandy Lee said in the report. “I was uninvolved in politics until politics invaded my area.”
A January 2020 tweet put the wheels in motion, when retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, who has been associated with Jeffrey Epstein, and as Insider reports, accused of rape by one Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein facilitated the crime, declared his sex life “perfect.” Dershowitz not only denies the rape, but has publicly and repeatedly attacked the character of his accuser, calling her a "serial liar". Lee had been responding to a tweet from University of Minnesota Law Professor and Yale Law School alumnus Richard Painter, in relation to Dershowitz's comment on his 'perfect' sex life, Hill Reporter reports. This led to Dershowitz sending a complaint to Yale administrators on January 11, calling for Lee to be disciplined and adding that post constituted 'a serious violation of the ethics of the American Psychiatric Association'.
The Yale Daily News reported that Dershowitz said that Lee 'publicly diagnosed [Dershowitz] as psychotic…without ever examining or even meeting' him. Following the letter, chair of the Psychiatry Department John Krystal emailed Lee, saying that the department 'would be compelled to 'terminate [her] teaching role' if she continued to make similar public statements, which did not deter Lee from continuing to post about Trump even after the warning. Lee would learn she was terminated on May 17, 2020, her numerous appeal attempts in the following months resulting in failure.
A letter Krystal sent to Lee stated that she had repeatedly violated the American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater Rule, which talks about how it is unethical for psychiatrists to comment on a public figure's mental faculties in an official capacity unless granted permission or after a medical examination. Lee, who has not been a member of the American Psychiatric Association since 2007, called the rule a 'gag order', according to the Daily Mail. The former professor is looking to be reinstated and is seeking compensation for damages, which include 'economic losses' and 'emotional distress.'