Rain Expected, Clergy Abuse, UCSD HIV Data Breach
KPBS Midday Edition / May 15, 2019
Rain is expected in San Diego County Thursday as an atmospheric river approaches. The San Diego Catholic Diocese has created a clergy abuse compensation program for victims and UC San Diego has not told women with HIV about a breach of their confidential information despite researchers' pleas.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Forecasters say San Diego is in for another spring storm tomorrow and what's turning out to be an unusually rainy may and northern California is already getting rain. The first of three storms forecast through the beginning of next week. California's May rain is being set in motion by yet another atmospheric river. Moving in across the Pacific rain is generally a good thing for the state, but we don't really have the ability to prepare for it or use it. I Uc San Diego research project is trying to change that journey. Me as Dr Marty Ralph, research meteorologist at scripts and director of the center for Western weather and water extremes and Dr Ralph, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: 00:40 Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:41 Now could you start by reminding our listeners what and atmospheric river is and why it happens?
Speaker 2: 00:48 Yeah, that must be river is essentially a river in the sky, but it's water vapor being blown along by the wind rather than liquid. You don't want a river on land. They tend to be a a couple hundred miles wide and a couple thousand miles long and they can transport massive amounts of water vapor horizontally. Something like 25 Mississippi. If Water in this vapor
Speaker 1: 01:10 now we've felt some atmospheric rivers already this winter. Can you remind us what they were and what they did to California?
Speaker 2: 01:18 Oh yeah. We had a very active winter of a atmospheric river, a storm sit in California. Uh, some were actually a very, very strong and we've developed a scale for them now and those from one to five and we had a couple of 10 glory for storms this winter, which are the ones that can really produce hazards, some plots in the light.
Speaker 1: 01:41 So what can we expect this time?
Speaker 2: 01:43 This one is unclear yet the forecast is still, I was variable, but it could be as much as a category to a r n central and northern California. Yesterday's forecasts had it coming into even San Diego's category too. But today's forecast has got it. Stay in Fargo north.
Speaker 1: 02:02 You noticed that meteorologists in California haven't had an adequate way to describe the intensity of these atmospheric rivers storms. Tell us about that.
Speaker 2: 02:12 Yeah. Covered over the last 15 years or so. Uh, how important is that in the free quivers our to our water supply and to flood the first thing we really come down with the big crowd for the West Coast or from atmospheric rivers and that became the type of uh, finding that became well known in the public and you on meteorologist on TV and the like. So when we started seeing atmospheric rivers coming in the forecast that was the natural yaks and that was this good. This is going to make a big flood, but the reality is the weaker they are are not really likely to produce major flooding, but they can produce very beneficial water supply.
Speaker 1: 02:48 And so what does your new scale indicate?
Speaker 2: 02:51 We have a scale that goes from one to five and a category one and two a ours. Those are mostly beneficial. Okay. It hits right at the end of the big storm. It's already caused flooding is going to have some problems, but most of them are going to be largely providing additional water supply, which most people know we need when we're getting up to category four or five, which we refer to as the major Ar. Those are largely associated with hazards. So some of the major flooding we have in California this year was associated with [inaudible] for ars and uh, some of the big historical flooding on the west coast. No category four category five ours.
Speaker 1: 03:31 How long has California Been Affected by atmospheric rivers? I mean, is this a new phenomenon?
Speaker 2: 03:37 The phenomena has been around forever. It's a natural part of how the atmosphere works. If you go to anywhere in the mid Atlantic, the globe atmospheric rivers account for, you know, something like 90% of the horizontal water. They pretend support for the curves. So they're really where the water vapor is moving along horizontally and you're feeding into storms and they've been around forever,
Speaker 1: 03:59 so they've been around forever. But are, are there, they increasing in frequency here in California
Speaker 2: 04:06 there are changes anticipated time when it was warmer it can hold more water vapor and this was when the water vapor in the air, it can produce more per foot. The patient
Speaker 1: 04:17 is this phenomenon unusual to have in May?
Speaker 2: 04:20 They're not uncommon. They don't happen every year. If I look back over the last 10 years or so, about every other year on average will have any ar two
Speaker 1: 04:30 now, Doctor Ralph, your center studies, Western weather and water extremes. What other kinds of extremes are you studying?
Speaker 2: 04:39 Well, we're working on the summer months to him as well. Uh, you know the summer rains would come to Arizona and southern California Yukon in the light and heavy winter. Smos are also a key topic of our interests and those often come know him. Atmospheric rivers, storms, which produced about 40% of the average snow pack this year, each year. Those are the main types of storms are working on the ones who really impact our water.
Speaker 1: 05:06 A couple of meteorologists working with the San Diego gas and electric. Um, a couple of years ago came up with a scale rating Santa Ana wind events. I wonder what is the purpose of these scales? What, what do they tell us? What should they be telling us when we rate wind events or when we rate atmospheric rivers?
Speaker 2: 05:28 These skills really help in terms of raising situational awareness. Situational awareness is something, uh, individual fab. When you're looking ahead in time, like a day or a week, if you have a sense that there's a potentially potent storm coming a few days out or actions that you might be able to take to prepare for that you going, the forecast isn't perfect. So for example, in emergency management and emergency response, if they have or where there's a risk of living against storm a few days out, they may start pre positioning equipment and people, you know, to deal with the flooding that might occur and that prepositioning helps reduce response times and improve, you know, outcomes for, uh, emergency, uh, response. This situational awareness, uh, aspect is very important in many areas. And for the west coast, we really haven't had, uh, a way to distinguish the storms that are really going to be potentially potent from those that are less. So, uh, we've had detailed forecasts, have you precept in one spot or wasn't there, whatever. But it's all encapsulated now in this atmospheric river concept. Much like when it comes to hurricanes, there's flooding or storm surge, there's tornadoes, there's high winds when there's a hurricane warning. All of those details are sort of, people are alerted to the fact that those things to happen.
Speaker 1: 06:52 Yeah. Atmospheric River that's headed our way though this week. Looks like it's going to be beneficial so far.
Speaker 2: 06:57 Absolutely. It was probably a year to have the rainy season extended, uh, helps shorten the fire weather season and, uh, you know, helps keep the vegetation feel fresh.
Speaker 1: 07:08 I've been speaking with Dr Marty Ralph Research meteorologist at scripts, director of the center for Western weather and water extremes. And thank you so much. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 07:19 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 As attorney general. Javier Bissera investigates whether Church officials followed the law and reported allegations of sex abuse to law enforcement. Six of California's Catholic diocese including San Diego, have started a compensation program for victims. The program is an alternative to suing the church, particularly since the statute of limitations has run out on many cases. Joining me via Skype is Camille Biros. She's with the Feinberg law firm and one of the administrators who will be overseeing this program. Camille, thanks for joining us.
Speaker 2: 00:31 Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: 00:32 And you are with the law firm that is best known for settling victims claims after nine 11 and I understand this compensation program is similar to one established in New York and other states for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Um, tell me how it will work.
Speaker 2: 00:48 So yes, you're correct. We designed an implementer, our first program for the archdiocese in the city of New York. And so the way it works is basically we are totally independent. The program is completely and totally voluntary. The victims may choose to come into the program. If they desire, they can go all the way through the whole process and they can see what the offer the settlement offer would be and then they can choose to either accept or they can choose to say no thank you. I think I will either file a lawsuit or not do anything at this time, but that's totally at their option. We start off with outreach to the known victims, um, uh, of the diocese and then we, uh, on a parallel track allow of victims who never before reporting to the diocese a case of child abuse or sexual tile, child abuse to register through the website so that we can look at new claims as well.
Speaker 1: 01:47 Do they need an attorney for this?
Speaker 2: 01:49 They do not need an attorney, although we, I would say we're probably about 50% of the claims that we have in of the 14 of 1500 that we have. And for the two states at the moment, about 50% are represented, but it is an application process. They need to fill out the application and provide us whatever supporting documentation they may have, whether it's in the form of, you know, therapy or counseling records or notes or any correspondence or communication they may have had where they told someone about the abuse or a relative or friend or law enforcement, whatever they have, they can provide to us for corroboration of their client. Sometimes, um, you know, we need to go back and work with the claimant, um, and have them provide us additional information or they haven't quite completed the form or whatever. But if, if it's fully completed, we can probably turn it around in about 90 days.
Speaker 1: 02:46 San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert Mcelroy was not available for an interview, but in a statement he said this quote, no amount of money can make up for the evil done to victims of priestly sex abuse, but we can and finish the job of compensating victims and survivors for the wrong that was done to them whenever it took place. And quote, now, people who accept compensation would forfeit their ability to go to court. Is that correct?
Speaker 2: 03:10 It makes such as the compensation for my program. Yes, you're correct. They must sign a release and that would preclude a lot then from filing a lawsuit in court. But let me just make a comment about the bishops comment. I completely agree with the Bishop and we hear, and as I mentioned, we've now looked at about 1400 cases. What we hear most often from the victims is that it's not about the money. It is just not about the money. It's the acknowledgement. Um, and the validation of, of the victims of reports that this happened to them when they were a child. That's what they are grateful for. That these two independent people believe what they're, what they're saying to be true.
Speaker 1: 03:50 Earlier today we spoke with Irwin's Alkin and attorney who has represented sexual abuse victims by clergy. Here's what he had to say about his concerns about this. Compensation Fund.
Speaker 3: 04:00 Victims need to be very cautious about, uh, involving themselves in this type of fund. This is all about damage control. This is not about reconciliation with victims. If they wanted to reconcile with victims, why didn't they do this? And why didn't they create these kinds of funds before they were facing a change in the statute of limitations.
Speaker 1: 04:24 And what he's talking about there is a state bill by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that's working its way through the legislature and would extend the statute of limitations on reporting sexual assaults and allow them to sue. So, uh, what about the timing of the compensation program? Why is this happening now?
Speaker 2: 04:43 Let's just talk about that for a moment because what I see is that the victim will now have a choice. The victim can either, once the window opens on the statute, they can go to court and brewer case that they wouldn't otherwise have been able to do. So because it had votes, it was beyond the statute of limitations. They can certainly do that. Or they can come into our program. They can also come into our program and as I mentioned earlier, see what the determination is going to bed and then say, no, thank you very much. I'm going to continue to pursue my, my case in court. And as far as I'm concerned, it gives the victim of choice. As I said, we can turn around a claim if it's fully documented in 90 days. That's not so true in, in a lawsuit situation. A lawsuit as you well know, we'll take a year or two maybe more, maybe longer. Yeah.
Speaker 1: 05:33 How do you respond to that type of, um, of criticism and other concerns that this is a closed process that could potentially keep the public in the dark?
Speaker 2: 05:41 So I'm not quite sure what, what you mean by a closed process. We are, the claimant is free to speak, um, publicly to, to whomever he or she wishes about the process, the amount of money that was offered to them, whatever they want to speak about, they are certainly entitled to do so. We, on the other hand, will not speak about any specific claim that we will never mention a claimant's name of victim saying, but we can certainly and have done so provides statistics on how the program is running. You know, the number of victims who filed claims, the number that we resolved, the number that I'm rejected, uh, the, the author, we are certainly open and have done some reporting on those statistics.
Speaker 1: 06:25 What the identity of the accused priest be made public?
Speaker 2: 06:28 Well, um, you know, I don't know what, what the, the diocese in California we'll do or have done, but certainly in New York they, eh, they have just posted all the New York diocese have just recently posted the list of uh, abuses including abusers that, uh, were first a known because they came through our program.
Speaker 1: 06:47 And how soon do you expect victims to be able to file a claim?
Speaker 2: 06:51 We're hoping to launch the program in California in the early fall. In the meantime, there's a lot of work that we need to do on the front end here, and we need to, you know, not only get the contact information for the, for the, the known victims, but we need to get whatever existing files at the diocese have or these individuals so that we can start organizing program materials and just so that we're ready to go once these programs are launched, and as soon as you're launched these programs within a week's time, you get your first clients in the door. So we want to be completely prepared for when that happens.
Speaker 1: 07:26 Yeah, I've been speaking with Camille Biros. She is with the Feinberg law from Camille. Thank you so much for talking to us today. Thank you very much.
Speaker 4: 07:36 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 24 women with HIV had their personal information exposed in an October data breach in a Uc San Diego research study. More than seven months later, the women's still haven't been told that it happened. I knew source investigative reporter Jill Castillano has the story.
Speaker 2: 00:18 In 2016 Uc San Diego researcher, Jamila stockmen had an idea she wanted to encourage HIV positive women to get treatment, so she proposed a study where they'd have regular support sessions to confront their experiences with trauma, domestic violence, and mental illness. Then she figured they may be more prepared to confront HIV.
Speaker 1: 00:39 I developed this interest way beyond my undergraduate training.
Speaker 2: 00:44 Here she is speaking in 2013 okay,
Speaker 1: 00:46 and I've been fortunate and blessed to be able to continue to develop a research agenda surrounding these issues among vulnerable populations.
Speaker 2: 00:55 Stockman partnered with the San Diego nonprofit called Christie's place to enroll two dozen women into the study. Along the way, all their data was put on the wrong computer server at the nonprofit. The breach meant anyone at Christie's place could view their names, survey responses, and taped conversations. How big a deal is that? Here's a ucs SD privacy officer talking about patient data in a campus podcast that is still
Speaker 1: 01:22 somebody's data. So if you do have personal information about someone, think about what would happen if that data were to be compromised in some way or to be misused in some way. That's not something you want to see on the front page of a newspaper,
Speaker 2: 01:38 Stockman and her research staff at ucs Dee told the university officials about what happened in October. They were told to draft a letter notifying the women that their personal information was exposed seven months later. That letter still has not been sent,
Speaker 3: 01:54 but the problem appears to be tailored. Follow through. Um, um, what, uh, what was an upper, I think inappropriate plan.
Speaker 2: 02:02 Michael [inaudible] is a former associate director at the U S Office for human research protections.
Speaker 3: 02:07 The reasons for the delay just are completely unclear and almost certainly not acceptable.
Speaker 2: 02:13 Emails obtained by I knew source show the director of UCS, Ds Human Research Protection Program. Kip Cantaloupe told Stockman and her colleagues not to mention the data breach in the letter to participants. The university worried that telling the women what really happened could expose the school to more liability.
Speaker 3: 02:32 Pulling up that document.
Speaker 2: 02:34 C K Gonzales is the director of the National Center for professional and research ethics. She looked through all the records I knew source has about the data breach
Speaker 3: 02:43 from the documents I reviewed. I don't understand how the responsibilities to these vulnerable subjects are being fulfilled and it appears that the subjects are coming last in the considerations and I don't understand that
Speaker 2: 02:56 in a statement you see s d said the month delay and telling the participants what happened was mostly due to a single administrator who failed to fully examine all the facts. You CSD wouldn't say who that was, but said the administrator is now on leave. The statement also said the university is planning to talk to the women affected by the breach in face to face meetings, which will begin in about one to three weeks. You've CSDS statement too. I knew source, read quote, the privacy and protection of study participants were and continue to be a paramount journey. Me Is I knew source investigative reporter Joe Castillano. Jill, welcome. Thank you. So is this breach of security UC San Diego's error or only Christie's place since they apparently put the information in the wrong place? This was Christie's places doing and whether or not it was an error or intentional is actually a discussion.
Speaker 2: 03:52 So the University of San Diego documents say this was intentional by Christie's place managers. They knew that the data was supposed to be password protected and confidential, but that the data was actually put on a different server that was supposed to store information about clinical patients at the nonprofit. And by doing so they could report these participants as patients when they send information to the county to bill for extra services. So the allegation is that they were trying to inflate their units of service to the county and receive more funding. Can you elaborate on what kind of information was available because of this breach? Yes. Pretty much every piece of information that's a part of this study was made available on a server where it wasn't supposed to be giving lots of people access who weren't supposed to have it. So that includes names, addresses, survey responses, audio taped focus group conversations, whether the participants were getting a control group or a treatment, um, all the informations about the ongoing sessions that they were having to talk about their trauma and their experiences with mental illness and things of that nature.
Speaker 2: 05:05 Besides the allegation that this was used to increase billing to the county, is there any indication that this information has been accessed or used inappropriately? We can't really know. So it appears according to UCFD that Christie's place has not been cooperating. They've asked Christie's place to remove the data and have not gotten an answer from Christie's place. Whether that's happened or not, according to the security experts we've talked to, the situation is kind of like once, once the cat's out of the bag and the information is out there, it's very hard to know whether anyone has taken it off of that server, provided it to other people. It's might, we might never know. Now when the UC San Diego Human Research Protection Program director apparently told researchers not to alert the women involved, have you been able to find out what he intended to do instead? In other words, was he advising the data breach just be covered up?
Speaker 2: 06:03 He was advising them to send a letter to participants, but all the letter was going to say is we're not working with Christie's place anymore and we're transferring all your data over to ucs d and it specifically was not supposed to include any other information in in it, including the fact that there was a data breach and that their confidential information was exposed. So it was kind of a halfhearted notification. It's a sad irony that privacy was supposed to be a big part of these support sessions. So my question is, have the sessions stopped? Has the research shutdown? The sessions have stopped immediately. As soon as the lead researcher, Jamila Stockman found out that there was a breach. She suspended the study and tried to work with Christie's place to resolve it. She couldn't and she reported the bridge to Ucfd and took all the proper measures.
Speaker 2: 06:56 So as of this point there are, there's no ongoing treatment for these women and we'll see whether they want to start this study again. Once all of these issues are taken care of. Also the school is about to start one on one sessions to inform these women that their information was not secure. Do the women have the option to sue? Well, I'm not a lawyer so it's hard for me to say, but it will be interesting to see the language in the description that the university gives to these women. I'd be curious to know are they going to explain why it's taken seven months and are they going to tell, tell them what their legal options are? I'm not really sure. This feature is part of a series of reports. I knew sources doing on ways that institutions failed to protect the people who enroll in research studies.
Speaker 2: 07:41 Was there any federal agency that was supposed to be watching over what happened at ucs after the breach occurred? Well, this is a really interesting case study because most studies research studies are federally funded or many of them are and when they're federally funded through an agency like the national institutes of health, that means that there are some sort of bureau or department that can make sure that you're doing the right thing as a university when issues occur, oftentimes that's the office of human research protections. A federal agency that is supposed to protect women like the women in this study, they're usually notified when breaches occur and they're supposed to make sure that they're handled appropriately. Here's the thing. In this case, this was a study that was funded internally by the UC system itself. They gave the UC researchers of grant to do this study, which means there wasn't federal oversight from this agency, but it sounds like you're going to be continuing to watch this story. We definitely will be. I've been speaking with, I knew source investigative reporter, Jill Castellano. Jill, thank you. Thank you. To read more about the university's response to the data breach, go to, I knew source.org/risky research. I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS
Speaker 4: 08:57 [inaudible].