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Gene Therapy Pioneer Arrested for Molesting Girl

A Southern California scientist known as the "Father of Gene Therapy" for his pioneering work in that field was arrested on Friday and accused of molesting a young girl over a four-year period.

W. French Anderson was taken into custody at his home in the exclusive Los Angeles suburb of San Marino on Friday morning as sheriffs deputies served him with a search warrant for the premises.

Deputies also searched his offices at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and removed computers. Authorities declined to say what evidence, if any, was seized in those raids.

Anderson is accused of molesting the girl, a family friend who is now 17, over a four-year period starting in 1997 while he coached her in Karate, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.   Gibbons said the girl was 12 years old in 1997.

Anderson, the director of the USC's Gene Therapy Laboratories and a professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and pediatrics, was charged with one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14, and five counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14.

The 67-year-old scientist, who could be sentenced to 56 years in prison if convicted, was being held on $6 million bail pending an arraignment on Tuesday. He is married and has no children.

A USC spokesman said Anderson had been placed on administrative leave from the university. Anderson's home telephone was answered by a recording asking callers to leave a message.

According to Anderson's 10-page curriculum vitae and a biography on his personal Web site, which describes him as the "Father of Gene Therapy," he has pioneered that field.

The Oklahoma native published 375 research articles on the subject, won a long list of awards and was runner-up for Time magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1995, according to the Web site. He has been profiled in the New York Times, Washington Post and many other publications.

The page also describes Anderson as a 5th degree black belt in the martial art of Tae Kwan Do who was the U.S. Olympic Team physician at the 1988 Olympic games.

Source : Reuters

 
 

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