The New Sex Abuse Scandal: Doctors and Their Unsuspecting Patients

patientWhen it comes to child sex abuse scandals, much of the public’s attention has focused on sexual abuse by priests, teachers, and Boy Scout volunteers.  Sexual abuse by doctors hasn’t been widely discussed. That is about to change.

Investigative journalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just published a disturbing series of articles revealing that sexual abuse of children and adults may be rampant in the medical profession. The reporting team surveyed records from all 50 states that reveal a nationwide problem that could be similar in scope to the problem involving Catholic priests.

The series reports that more than 3,100 U.S. doctors have been officially sanctioned for sexual infractions since 1999, 2,400 of them for violations that clearly involved their patients. However, state medical boards, which oversee physicians, allowed more than half the sanctioned doctors to keep their licenses even after the accusations of sexual abuse were determined to be true.

“We found a culture of secrecy,” said Carrie Teegardin, a reporter on the paper’s investigative team for the project.

“It’s treated with a sort of secrecy that we don’t see in other arenas when we’re talking about allegations this serious,” she told ABC News. “It’s still swept under the rug in so many cases.”

Sexual abuse thrives in an atmosphere of secrecy, institutional complicity, and misuse of authority. Like the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team’s sexual abuse investigation of the Catholic Church, the AJC investigation has revealed only the tip of the iceberg. These initial findings are disturbing enough to suggest that the size of the problem may be enormous.

Unless abusers within the medical community are held accountable by their victims, their profession, and law enforcement, the problem will continue to loom beneath the surface, damaging all those who encounter it.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

newspaper templates - theme rewards