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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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“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.”

Lawsuit Filed against City for Officer’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct
Lawsuit Filed against City for Officer’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct
June 21, 2016
Helena, MT: A woman who worked as a confidential informant for the Missouri River Drug Task Force has filed a lawsuit against the City of Helena alleging professional sexual misconduct on the part of one of the city’s police officers. The unnamed plaintiff alleges that she was sexually assaulted multiple times by a police officer from May 2012 to October 2012. The lawsuit further alleges that the same police officer sexually exploited other victims as well.

Dennis Hastert Sentenced to 15 Months in Case Linked to Sexual Misconduct
Dennis Hastert Sentenced to 15 Months in Case Linked to Sexual Misconduct
May 13, 2016
Washington, DC: Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for actions linked to sexual misconduct. Hastert was ordered to spend time in jail after pleading guilty to a banking violation, which occurred as he allegedly attempted to cover up allegations of sexual abuse. The former House Speaker reportedly pleaded guilty to the banking violation and admitted to sexually abusing teenage boys who were part of a wrestling team he coached from 1965 to 1981.


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