Sexual Abuse by Psychotherapists: The Call for a Uniform Criminal Statute
Borruso, Michael T.
American Journal of Law and Medicine. 1991; 17(3): 289-311.
Recent surveys show an alarming rate of sexual exploitation of patients by psychotherapists. As such conduct often falls outside the scope of rape, which allows a defense of consent, the psychotherapist is not prosecuted. Although all sexual contact between therapist and patient is prohibited by codes of professional ethics, the licensing boards that enforce these codes do not possess adequate power to deter this behavior. Further, professional review boards have absolutely no authority over unlicensed therapists who sexually abuse their patients. As a result, licensed therapists who have been censured in one state may practice as unlicensed therapists in another state and continue to sexually abuse patients. The only effective deterrent would be a uniform statute, adopted in all states, criminalizing this specific abuse of the unique therapist-patient relationship. Such a statute should include unlicensed therapists as potential offenders and consent to sexual contact should not be a defense. The statute also should provide for inhanced efforts to inform and protect victims. This Note first examines six of the nine criminal statutes that currently exist in order to show the full range of provisions presently in force to deter this conduct. This Note then proposes model provisions for a uniform statute.
Alternative Therapies; Codes of Ethics; Competence; Confidentiality; Consent; Ethics; Fraud; Government; Health; Health Personnel; Law; Legal Aspects; Legal Liability; Legislation; Liability; Misconduct; Model Legislation; Patients; Professional Competence; Professional Ethics; Professional Patient Relationship; Psychiatry; Psychology; Psychotherapy; Punishment; Power; Rape; Regulation; Review; Self Regulation; Sexuality; Statutes; Surveys; Torts;
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