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What is Calvin “Cal” Hirsch Trying to Hide?

In 1974, when I was an undergraduate at Yale, I was strangled and raped by a fellow student named Calvin Hirsch.

Dr. Ann Olivarius
Photo of Ann Olivarius studying as a Rhodes Scholar.
Dr. Ann Olivarius during her student years at Yale.

In November 2021, I publicly named the man who strangled and raped me as a student at Yale. That man was Cal Hirch, professionally known as Dr. Calvin H. Hirsch, then Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at UC Davis Health. In publishing my story, I hoped to raise awareness about women’s experiences of rape. I also wanted to let Cal Hirsch know that he hadn’t been able to get away with it.

Before telling my story, I wrote Hirsch to ask him to apologize for what he did. Had he done so, I would have left the matter there. Instead, Dr. Calvin Hirsch diagnosed me with a mental illness although I have never been his patient. So, I told my story.

Since publishing the original story in 2021, Ann and the firm have received testimonials from others relating directly to Hirsch’s unprofessional conduct. We hope our pages continue to encourage others to speak about their personal experience of violence and abuse, and to find support.

Telling the world that Hirsch was a rapist liberated me from almost fifty years of pain. It made me realize that when people feel empowered to talk about rape – and to name those responsible for it – the perpetrators lose much of their power, and survivors can take back control over their lives. I told the world of what he had done, and I moved on with life — until a few weeks ago, when I received an email from a former colleague. She told me Calvin Hirsch was now an active presence on social media. Looking through the links, I saw that Hirsch was promoting his “brand” across an unusually large number of platforms.

Looking more closely into the various posts, I noticed that Hirsch had taken to blogging just weeks after I named him as my rapist. His first venture was to launch a profile on Creative Mornings, “the world’s largest face-to-face creative community.” I couldn’t see any evidence of his involvement with the creative community prior to my story being published. Shortly after, Hirsch began releasing a flurry of press releases on AccessWire, a pay-for-promo PR newswire service.

Cal Hirsch’s Creative Mornings profile.
Cal Hirsch’s Creative Mornings profile

In early 2022, Hirsch launched a personal site, that in addition to praising him at length, offers Toradol for sale from an out of state rehabilitation hospital. It has an odd feel, including the blog post dated April 28, 2022 post that opens: “In addition to Dr. Calvin Hirsch [sic], a number of highly anticipated new television programs are set to premiere in 2022, in case you missed it.”  This is typical of the awkward prose generated when reputation management companies try to drown out unwanted search results with other content.

I doubt that Cal Hirsch wrote that item, or others attributed to him.  It seems unlikely that a former UC Davis Emeritus Professor of Medicine could write the following: “Restful sleep improves mental function, so avoid eating or drinking alcohol or caffeine just before bedtime. Also, quit smoking or consuming other forms of nicotine before bedtime.”  Or: “Dr. Calvin Hirsch Carries the Mental for Geriatrics Education in the Department.”  It is odd to find him in The Cowboy Channel (“Calvin Hirsch Discusses the Importance of Geriatrics Education”) or Wall Street Call, where news of his achievements have appeared alongside pieces titled “Multifunctional Knife Market is in Huge Demand” and “Crocodile Leather Market to Witness Superb Growth.” Other outlets, like the seemingly now defunct Irshl Videos, seemed to have been set up solely to publish Dr. Calvin Hirsch’s thoughts.

Hirsch also took out profiles on professional listings and networking sites well outside his field of expertise, from Muck Rack, a database of PR and media contacts (on which his profile reads: “There are many people at U.C. Davis who know Calvin Hirsch, the doctor who runs the lab,”) to Crunchbase, an investment and funding information platform aimed at startups and their investors.

There is no record of Calvin Hirsch featuring in any such “news stories” before he was outed as a rapist.  If I had to guess, I’d say he paid an online reputation management company to “bury bad news” through SEO manipulation. How else to explain the steady stream of bogus coverage, the constant back-linking to bogus profiles, the spread of new profiles?

Since publishing my story, I have received emails and letters from men and women around the world who said it helped them deal with their own experiences of being raped.  I would like to harness that kind of energy, present among millions of survivors, to create a better system for dealing with rape, which the criminal and civil law both have not figured out how to handle properly.  A central place for survivors to tell their stories and name their victims?  A better network of trauma-informed therapists?  A political campaign to push for tougher laws and better sex/consent education?  All these ideas have promise; I would like to hear others.

Not everyone has to go public as I finally chose to, but sunlight remains a powerful disinfectant.  If every rapist knew he would be outed, there would be a lot fewer of them. 

And for those who still rape, I recommend apology rather than (clunky) “reputation management.”

We hear you and believe you, and so will others.

McAllister Olivarius is firmly pro-survivor. The firm represents survivors of sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, whether it happened yesterday or 40 years ago, and often finds creative ways to bring lawsuits against tough odds. If you have a potential case you would like to discuss, please get in touch with our team.