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Professional Sexual Misconduct

Professional sexual misconduct (sometimes called professional exploitation, institutional rape, or sexual exploitation by a helping professional) occurs when a person in a professional relationship or position of authority with another is involved in illegal or unethical sexual activity with that person. Many professional associations have rules strictly prohibiting their members from engaging in sexual misconduct with clients; failure to follow those rules may be considered malpractice. Sexual assault, solicitation, sexual advances, or harassment by a professional against a patient or client are forms of misconduct.


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Professional Exploitation

professionalmisconductHelping professionals are in a position of trust with their clients or patients. Most professionals carry out their duties with the utmost professionalism, but some take advantage of that position of trust, exploiting vulnerable patients. Among the activities that could be considered professional exploitation are sexual assault and sexual harassment. Even if the client is considered a consenting participant in the activity, the power imbalance between the helping professional and the victim indicates professional exploitation.

Among those considered "helping professionals" are
  • Doctors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Attorneys
  • Teachers
  • Social Workers
  • Clergy

Sexual Exploitation

Even if clients or patients consent to the activity, it may still be considered malpractice. This is because the patient may have been convinced the sexual activity has therapeutic benefit, or because the client felt pressured to say yes by the power imbalance. Further, the helping professional is expected to maintain professional boundaries and protect the interests of the client or patient.

Some states make it illegal for certain helping professionals to engage in a sexual relationship with former patients within a certain timeframe. For example, in California therapists are prohibited from sexual contact with former patients within two years of the termination of therapy.

Professional Exploitation Lawsuits

In cases of professional exploitation, victims can file lawsuits against the accused. Lawsuits can also be filed against the accused's employers if they knowingly or negligently allowed the professional to carry out his or her professional exploitation.

In 2016, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $1.5 million to a female patient who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a physical therapy assistant during a physical therapy session at a hospital. The jury found the hospital was liable for the physical therapy assistant's conduct. In a different case, a lawsuit was filed against a surgeon accused of sexually assaulting patients while the patients were under anesthesia. The accused faces 26 felony counts involving eight patients, according to NBC Los Angeles (4/4/16).

Professional Sexual Misconduct Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
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Bob Dylan Accused of Sexual Abuse
Bob Dylan Accused of Sexual Abuse
September 24, 2021
New York, NY A woman identified as JC  filed a civil sexual abuse lawsuit last month with the New York Supreme Court accusing Bob Dylan of sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress over a period of six weeks back in 1965. The 68-year-old plaintiff says she is “emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged to this day”.

Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Agreement
Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Agreement
August 23, 2021
Irving, TX A tentative agreement has been reached with the Boy Scouts of America and some 70,000 sexual abuse victims, but there is opposition to the $850 million settlement, including sponsoring churches and insurance companies.

“More and More Women Coming Forward,” says Attorney for USC Sex Abuse Plaintiffs
“More and More Women Coming Forward,” says Attorney for USC Sex Abuse Plaintiffs
July 2, 2018
Los Angeles, CA: “We have filed a sexual abuse lawsuit on behalf of several women who were examined by Dr. George Tyndall, the former gynecologist at the University of Southern California,” says attorney Susan Owen, with the law firm of Owen, Patterson and Owen, LLP. “They were young women when they saw this sexual predator for their first gynecological exam, and they had no idea of what to expect,” says Owen. ”USC was on notice of Dr. Tyndall’s misconduct long before these women came forward, yet the University chose to do nothing.”


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