Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that an Oregon couple operating an unlicensed medical school based out of the West Indies, with some classes being taught in Klamath Falls and Eugene, is out-of-business in Oregon.
Named in a temporary restraining order and a lawsuit filed late Friday in Lane County Circuit Court are Daniel and Barbara Harrington of Eugene and their company Interactive Technology Group, Inc. (ITG) that did business as St. John's University School of Medicine of Montserrat, West Indies. ITG also operated an online business selling "pay as you learn" multi-media educational software by monthly subscription. Some of the courses offered include Neuro Anatomy, Lung Pathology, Cat Lab and Lab Animal Science trainer.
Pending a show-cause hearing scheduled July 31 in Eugene, the defendants are prohibited from soliciting students for any educational programs by telephone, by e-mail, by web site or in person. Defendants are restrained from removing any business assets out-of-state, including funds held in Oregon bank accounts.
"Students hoping to obtain a medical degree have been duped by this supposed medical school," Myers said. "The Harringtons have been operating an unlicensed "school of medicine" since 1999 and it appears credits earned by students are worthless."
The lawsuit alleges that the Harringtons misrepresented the school's legal status with the Montserrat government and described the school's "medical curriculum" as designed to meet the most stringent standards required for medical licensure within the United States. Neither statement was true.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of $25,000 per violation; restitution to students and attorneys fees and investigative costs; and to permanently prohibit the Harringtons from conducting any further business in Oregon.
Department of Justice investigators were informed of possible problems with the West Indies school by a student from Michigan, who paid $13,600 for a summer term of classes to be held in Montserrat only to discover that the school was not accredited. The student had earlier attended the school's winter and spring "distance learning" sessions in Klamath Falls and Eugene.
The defendants told students questioning the school's credentials that their St. John's transcripts would be accredited through St. Christopher's College of Medicine with campuses in both Cambridge, England and Dakar, Senegal and an "office of registrar" in Florida. Students were encouraged to view the St. Christopher's web site, which features campus photos of Cambridge University, not St. Christopher's College of Medicine. The actual school is in an upstairs location in a nearby neighborhood.
According to the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization (ODA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), St. John's University School of Medicine is not currently licensed by government agencies in Montserrat or Oregon and St. Christopher's College of Medicine does not appear to be licensed or accredited by anyone. In Britain and Senegal, medical students are required to take classes for five to eight years in order to obtain a degree. St. Christopher's web site offers a four-year program in both of those countries.
Students contemplating undergraduate or graduate programs should thoroughly research all schools. Prospective students should ask for written materials and look for information online. Check on credentials by calling the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization at (541) 687-7452 or online at www.osac.state.or.us. Students also may check for complaints by calling the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Consumer protection information also is available online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org