NEW YORK — A 40-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against New York and Presbyterian Hospital Thursday, seeking to hold the medical center accountable for weekly rapes she said she was subjected to at age 11, when she was admitted there by a prominent pediatric expert on anorexia nervosa.
Susan Kryhoski, who grew up in New Jersey, said the late Dr. Joseph Silverman used his admitting privileges back in 1992 to place her in an isolated back room in the Babies Hospital, located at West 168th Street, between Broadway and Riverside Drive.
Dr. Silverman would always come in on the weekends, Kryhoski said. He told her he was performing a medical procedure that would ensure she could have kids later on in life.
“It was rape,” Kryhoski said. “Complete and utter violation.”
Kryhoski, at age 11, was 86 pounds when she was admitted and considered underweight for her height.
“I didn’t understand anything about reproduction and sexuality,” she said.
Kryhoski said her room had a metal door with a small window and a curtain that could block the view inside.
She said she wasn’t allowed to interact with other children on the 10th floor ward and calls to her parents were monitored. Kryhoski claimed she was the only child there being treated for anorexia.
Silverman’s 2012 obituary noted he was a “renowned international eating disorder expert” and “exemplary human being” who raised four children and spent his entire, 40-year career as a pediatric clinical professor with Columbia University and attending pediatrician at the Babies Hospital.
Sitting on a park bench on West 165th Street and Riverside Drive, in the shadow of the massive medical center, Kryhoski called Dr. Silverman a classic predator.
“He had the clout and the protection of a very large hospital,” Kryhoski said.
She and the Gibbs Law Group have filed the lawsuit under New York’s Child Victims Act, which allows men and women who allege childhood sexual assaults to file decades-old complaints, before the window closes on Aug. 14.
“Nobody questioned him, even when red flags were coming up,” attorney Karen Barth Menzies said of Dr. Silverman.
The lawyer described it as a “culture of silence.”
“Don’t question, don’t wonder why, don’t say anything, when a doctor is in the room with an 11- year-old girl, by himself, with the door closed,” the attorney said.
The lawsuit also files notice against John Does 1 – 20, a reference to the unnamed doctors and nurses who allegedly allowed Dr. Silverman solitary access to Kryhoski — with no other medical personnel in attendance.
Kryhoski recalled she transformed from a “shy, timid” child to “angry and obstinate” during her two months in the hospital room.
“I started drawing pictures of him as a monster with horns and hung them on my walls,” Kryhoski said. “He never saw them, because the nurses came through, took them down, and reprimanded me.”
She said the nurses threatened to tell the doctor about the pictures. The pediatrician had already threatened her, she said.
“He told me that if I told anyone, I would never see my parents again, ever again,” Kryhoski told PIX11. “He would keep me in the hospital and never release me.”
At one point, Kryhoski said she tried to escape when she was taken out of her room for a medical test, running through the “bridge” that connected Babies Hospital to the Milstein Pavilion. She was captured and returned to her room.
She was only released from the hospital when her parents showed up one day to sign her out, allegedly upset that Dr. Silverman had stopped updating them on their daughter’s condition. Kryhoski was released “against medical advice.”
Kryhoski said the experience set her on “a path of self harm, of suicide attempts.”
She remembered frequently switching schools.
“I truly didn’t feel like a sixth grader anymore; I didn’t feel like an 11-year-old,” Kryhoski said.
She said her teen years and young adult life were marked by “an inability to complete things, disassociation.”
She said she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder that she believes were “trauma based.”
Kryhoski married at age 28 and credits her husband for his understanding and support. The couple moved to North Carolina, where Kryhoski said she was helped enormously by a doctor who specializes in trauma.
She is the mother of twins — a boy and a girl — who will turn 11 years old next month.
At one point, she said her anxiety was triggered by worries she wouldn’t be able to protect them.
Kryhoski said she decided to go public with her story, as her own daughter is turning 11, the same age she was when the alleged rape happened.
“I’m not a survivor anymore; I’m a warrior now,” Kryhoski said.
“Raise your voice,” she advised others who may be suffering. “Predators thrive in the darkness.”
PIX11 has reached out to the hospital for comment.