The United States Code, Chapter 109a, Title 18, Section 2242, Sexual Abuse, states, “Whoever…knowingly…engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is…incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct…shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
There is a long-standing consensus in the medical profession that sexual contact or sexual relations between physicians and patients is unethical. The prohibition against such was incorporated into the Hippocratic Oath: “I will come to the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons….”
In no other area of medicine is the patient in such a state of emotional vulnerability as when they visit a psychiatrist or psychologist. It is a relationship in which the patient can be most easily exploited and manipulated.
But psychiatrists and psychologists rarely consider that raping a patient is rape. Instead, it is euphemistically called “sexual contact,” a “sexual relationship” or “crossing the boundaries” when one of its members sexually forces themself on a patient, often with the help of drugs or electroshock treatment.
Yet, the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics states: “[T]he inherent inequality in the doctor-patient relationship may lead to exploitation of the patient. Sexual activity with a current or former patient is unethical.”
Similarly, the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct states: “Psychologists do not exploit persons over whom they have supervisory, evaluative, or other authority such as clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, and employees. Psychologists do not engage in sexual intimacies with current therapy clients/patients.”
Unfortunately, too many of them do not heed their profession’s codes. This is well understood by government and law enforcement: as of 2004, there have been more than 25 statutes enacted to address the increasing number of sex crimes against patients by psychiatrists and psychologists in the United States, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Israel.
Psychiatric Rape Statistics
A review of more than 800 convictions of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists between 1998 and 2005 revealed that more than 30% were for sex crimes.
Studies in numerous countries reveal that between 10% and 25% of psychiatrists and psychologists admit to sexually abusing their patients.
A 1997 Canadian study of psychiatrists revealed that 10% admitted to sexually abusing their patients; 80% of those were repeat offenders.
In a 1999 British study of therapist-patient sexual contact among psychologists, 25% reported having treated a patient who had been sexually involved with another therapist.
As reported in 2001, a U.S. study of therapist-client sex, reported that 1 out of 20 clients who had been sexually abused by their therapist was a minor. The female victims’ ages ranged from 3 to 17, and from 7 to 16 for the males. The average age was 7 for girls and 12 for boys.
Medical & Licensing Boards
While psychiatric rape is punishable by the justice system, in most of the cases professional registration boards deal with psychiatrists and psychologists’ rape merely as “professional misconduct.”
These boards decide what discipline should be imposed. Following this logic, if a plumber raped a customer, his fate should be decided by a society of plumbers. That, of course, will not happen and in the same way, neither should professional registration boards be allowed to operate as law. Especially when they have proven they cannot be trusted.
The so-called ethics system used by psychiatrists has been universally attacked as soft and inadequate. In 1996, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) claimed that “Ethical behavior is based on the psychiatrist’s individual sense of responsibility towards the patient and their judgment in determining what is correct and appropriate conduct. External standards and influences such as professional codes of conduct, the study of ethics, or the rule or law by themselves will not guarantee the ethical practice of medicine.”
Psychiatric and psychological professional societies do not police their memberships. State licensing agencies’ disciplinary actions frequently fail to meet the severity and lasting damage of the practitioner’s violations. Rape is rape and sexual abuse is sexual abuse, whether it occurs in an alley at knifepoint or on the couch in a professional office. It should be treated as a crime under existing sexual abuse statutes or legislation should be created and enacted that specifically targets sexual exploitation by psychotherapists.
Additionally, any law enforcement agency investigating such a sexual assault complaint should determine if insurance was involved and, if so, should suspect and investigate for potential insurance fraud (billing private, state or federal insurance programs for “treatment” that was actually sex).
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights exposes the criminal convictions of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health personnel for sexual assault, rape and other crimes. These are posted our online database, accessible on this site.
Psychiatric Sex Crimes Exposed in Florida
The January 28, 2005 Tampa Tribune reported the Florida Health Department’s failure to refer more than 100 cases of psychotherapist sexual activity with a patient to the State’s Attorney for prosecution. Florida law presumes that patients being treated for mental or emotional troubles are vulnerable and specifically forbids psychotherapists from engaging in sexual activity with them. Doing so is a felony, with a first offense punishable by up to five years in prison, and a second by up to 15 years. Another Florida law, passed in 1992, says that any allegation that might be criminal—such as those that might be discovered by agencies of the Health Department in a state administrative action—must be referred to prosecutors.
Common sense, decency and conscience require that when one suspects a crime has been committed that he/she report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. For states such as Florida, who have laws requiring it, it is of course a gross oversight to have failed to do so, especially when so many other state licensing and regulatory agencies do it regularly, in the absence of laws requiring it.
A sampling of Florida cases that escaped criminal investigation and prosecution:
According to Health Department files, psychiatrist Jose Anibal Cruz flirted with a female patient upon her first visit. In subsequent meetings, he hugged her, then requested photos of her in a bathing suit or nude. Shortly, they began having an affair. Cruz managed to conceal the relationship for eight years, continuing it even when he had the woman hospitalized (which he did five times). Before seeing her on rounds, he would call ahead and ask her to be in the shower when he arrived. The state revoked his license.
Mental health counselor Marvin Kassed was accused administratively in 2000 of having a sexual relationship with a patient. Kassed took a plea deal under which he neither admitted nor denied the allegations but agreed to two years probation, $4,900 in fines and investigative fees, and a weekly review by a Health Department psychotherapist of his cases involving female patients. (Kassed was accused in a similar case six years earlier. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to attend an ethics course.)
Tampa family counselor Richard Bernstein was accused administratively in 1998 of using so-called family therapy sessions to engage the mother of a patient into a sexual relationship. Bernstein admitted the allegation. He was fined $1,000, was put on license probation for five years and was banned from treating female patients for one year.
Jacksonville psychologist William C. Devereux was charged with having a sexual relationship with a patient. On June 12, 2000 he signed an agreement with the licensing board in which he neither admitted nor denied the allegations. He was fined and his practice was restricted.
In 2000, Jacksonville psychiatrist Ernest C. Miller was accused of five counts of misconduct, including a sexual relationship with a female patient. He signed an agreement with the licensing board in which he neither admitted nor denied the charges. He received a fine and reprimand.
Some of Psychiatry’s & Psychology’s Recently Convicted Sex Criminals
Illinois psychiatrist Gary Almy was sentenced June 8, 2005 to seven years in prison after admitting he molested three boys ages 13-14 while they were attending a counseling center for troubled youths that he ran out of his home. Almy pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse in the three cases, which occurred between October 2000 and October 2003. (Almy was also the chief of staff at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in North Chicago until 1991, when he resigned after an investigation into patient deaths revealed they’d received substandard care.)
Connecticut school psychologist James Sullivan, Jr. was sentenced February 7, 2005 to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a handicapped woman. Police said Sullivan (who was also a part-time counselor to the mentally handicapped) assaulted a 45-year-old woman while on duty at a group home on July 20, 2001. Sullivan threatened to transfer the woman to another facility if she reported him. A DNA test of semen found on the woman’s sheets positively identified it as Sullivan’s.
On July 26, 2005, Vermont psychiatrist Peter McKenna admitted in District Court to violating the law by having sexual relations with a female patient. The patient testified as to how McKenna demanded sex from her during therapy sessions, knowing how vulnerable and alone she was: “He knew I’d succumb to any wish or sick desire, no matter how disgusting or perverted it was….He abused his credentials, and his license….” McKenna was sentenced to 60 days in a work camp followed by indefinite probation and had to return all treatment fees ($6,000) to the patient.
Connecticut psychologist and marriage and family therapist Robert G. Ryder surrendered to police May 19, 2003 after learning that they had issued a warrant for his arrest, charging him with sexual assault against one of his patients. Ryder, 68, was charged under a section of the state’s sexual assault laws that specifically addresses sexual exploitation of a patient by a therapist. He was found guilty and was sentenced on October 1, 2004 to one year in jail, suspended, and three years probation.
On July 21, 2005, psychiatrist Larry Anderson of British Columbia, was found guilty of sexual or indecent assault of three former female patients. At the opening of the trial, prosecuting attorney Brent Bagnall said none of the women were physically forced to have sex with Anderson, but suggested there could be more subtle forms of sexual assault. Anderson admitted to engaging in sex with the women inside his office, after the rest of the staff had gone home.
Illinois mental health counselor William E. Partridge was sentenced March 9, 2005 to 60 days in county jail and four years probation for sexually abusing one of his former clients. Partridge admitted he had sexually abused a then 17-year-old girl while she was attending freshman orientation at a university in June 2004. He also had sex with her several times before and shortly after she was discharged from a mental health facility that she had been admitted to in January 2004 due to distress following a friend’s suicide. Partridge was a counselor at the facility. “He used her as a sex toy,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Kirk Schoenbein. “He knew what buttons to push and what strings to pull.”
Former Stanford University psychologist Ian Edward Wickram was sentenced in October 2002 to a 90-day jail term and five years probation for sexual exploitation of two female patients. “Dr. Wickram seized on their vulnerabilities and exploited them for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutor Jeff Rosen said. In January 2003, the state revoked his license for incorporating sex into treatment regimens.
On July 4, 2002, London psychiatrist Kolathur Unni was jailed for 18 months for indecent assaults on female patients. One victim, who was in treatment with Unni for depression following the death of a loved one, testified that the psychiatrist groped her after insisting on checking a rash on her arm to ensure that it had not spread to her chest or “down below.” When she protested, he assured her no one would believe her as she was a mental patient. Unni had a history of sexual assaults on women patients and had previously been struck off the medical register in New Zealand for similar incidents dating back to the mid-1980s.
Michigan psychologist Bradley A. Kraushaar was sentenced May 29, 2003 to 90 days jail plus two years probation for fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. Kraushaar treated a 31-year-old married female for depression and marital issues. She had been referred to him following an overdose of an anti-anxiety drug. After several months, he engaged her in sexual topics and then sex.
Georgia professional counselor John C. Evans was convicted in March 2005 of one count of enticement of a child for immoral purposes, three counts of statutory rape, two counts of child molestation, one count of sexual assault of a person in custody and two counts of aggravated child molestation. Evans started molesting the victim when she was 14, while he was treating her family, and had intercourse with her when she 19. Other victims testified, including a former stepdaughter who said he’d engaged her in sexual intercourse at age ten, to congratulate her on becoming a woman. He was sentenced to 12 years prison and eight years probation.
Psychiatrists Who Must Register as Sex Offenders
In addition to their sentences, the following psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health “professionals” were ordered to register as sex offenders:
Nicholas Hill, UK psychiatrist, downloaded child pornography from the Internet and made an indecent film of two young girls, sentenced to three years probation October 11, 2000. He was jailed for two years on May 16, 2005 on a separate child pornography conviction.
Darren Holdsworth, UK psychiatrist, indecently assaulted a teenage girl, jailed for three years on November 21, 2002 and was again jailed for six weeks on May 13, 2004 for indecently assaulting a woman in a bar.
James Edward Jones, Florida counselor, convicted of sexual assault with teenage patients, sentenced to 10 years in state prison on April 17, 2000.
Frank Maietta, New Jersey psychologist, sexually molested young girls, sentenced to four years in a facility for sex offenders on July 16, 1999.
Julian Morrell, UK child psychiatrist, convicted of meeting a child following sexual grooming and two counts of sexual activity with a child, sentenced to four years prison on April 1, 2005.
Marjorie Mullenix, Texas counselor, sexually assaulted a child, sentenced to six years deferred adjudication and six years probation on July 31, 2003.
Basil Proctor, Florida counselor, had sex with a teenage patient, sentenced to eight months jail and two years house arrest in April 2000.
James Anton Provan, Australia psychologist, possession of child pornography, received a two-year community-based order (probation) on December 16, 2004.
Param Shukla, Massachusetts psychiatrist, convicted of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14, received two years probation in January 2004.
Louis Templeman, Florida counselor with Department of Families and Children, convicted of sexual battery on a minor, sentenced to ten years prison on March 8, 2002.
Stephen G. Viola, Michigan psychologist, convicted of sexual assault of a child, sentenced to six months jail on September 4, 1998.
James E. Wetzel, Pennsylvania child psychologist, sexually molested two boys, sentenced to 6 to 23 months jail and up to 18 years probation in June 1998.
Che White, Florida counselor, engaged in sex with a teenage girl, was sentenced to eight months jail, two years house arrest in April 2000.
John Bennett II, New Mexico psychiatrist, had sex with a former patient, sentenced on April 17, 2000 to a nine-year deferred prison term and five years probation.
Lee Bolt, Colorado psychotherapist, had sex with a patient who was seeing him for sexual abuse problems, was sentenced on June 5, 1998 to eight years probation.
Kenneth Ray Davis, California counselor, had sexual contact with and supplied drugs to minors, jailed for six years on November 3, 2001.
James D. Forfar, Michigan drug counselor, attempted 4th degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of marijuana, sentenced on April 5, 2002 to 60 days in jail.
Michael Haslam, UK psychiatrist, convicted of four counts of indecent assault, sentenced on May 13, 2004 to three years in jail.
Dennis Karamitros, Iowa therapist, convicted of sexual exploitation by a therapist, sentenced to five years prison (suspended) and five years probation on March 24, 2005.
William Kerr, UK psychiatrist, convicted of indecently assaulting a female patient in May 2003.
Anthony Millsopp, UK counselor, indecently assaulted a female patient, sentenced to nine months jail on September 23, 1999.
Robert Schauerhamer, Minnesota psychologist, convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving a 24-year-old mentally impaired man, was sentenced to 110 days jail August 16, 2001.
Article used with permission of Citizens Commission on Human Rights International.