Allegations of employee mistreatment roil renowned Brookline trauma center

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk founded the Trauma Center in Brookline 35 years ago. –Globe file photo/ Pat Greenhouse

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a best-selling author on trauma whose research has attracted a world-wide following, has been fired from his job over allegations that he bullied and denigrated employees at his renowned Trauma Center.

Van der Kolk was removed as medical director of the Brookline center in January, according to several accounts, although his photo and job description remained prominently on its website until early this week, when the Globe requested information. His firing capped a tumultuous three months at the center that van der Kolk founded 35 years ago.

Executive director Joseph Spinazzola, like van der Kolk a longtime advocate for abuse victims, was removed in November over his alleged mistreatment of female employees, executives said. Staff then received a flurry of conflicting emails from executives about the reasons for the upheaval, according to copies of the emails provided to the Globe.