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California Doctors Should Face Punishment for Sexual Assault

When Stanford University student Brock Turner received a six-month sentence for raping an unconscious woman, the public was outraged. However, college athletes aren’t the only ones who often escape serious punishment for sexual assault.

As highlighted in a recent San Diego Tribune editorial, doctors also often get away with sexual misconduct. The article cites a San Diego County doctor who was sentenced to just one year of house arrest after pleading guilty to 12 felony counts, including eight counts of sexual penetration on an unconscious person, three counts of sexual battery, and child pornography.

As patients, we are often in vulnerable positions, and we trust our doctors to act in our best interests. That’s what makes sexual assaults by medical professional so egregious. Unfortunately, sexual assaults occur more often than most patients are aware.

As the editorial states, the Medical Board of California (MBC) has disciplined more than 450 doctors for sexual misconduct in the past 20 years, with approximately three dozen of the offenders practicing in San Diego County. Many were repeat offenders. For instance, the MBC suspended the license of a Victorville doctor in 2003 after a judge found he had “committed acts of sexual misconduct during his care and treatment” of four patients, including a minor.”

Punishment for medical doctors who sexually assault patients can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and loss of their medical license. However, many doctors only receive a slap on the wrist. As Marian Hollingsworth writes:

In case after case, physicians appear to receive preferential treatment, especially if the victim goes to the Medical Board before the criminal justice system. The Medical Board of California is not required to notify police when it receives complaints of sexual misconduct. A doctor can remain in practice while being investigated, and then be discreetly put on probation if the complaint is substantiated. These investigations can take more than two years.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, doctors subject to disciplinary action for sexual assault are not required to disclose their status to patients. Earlier this year, California lawmakers failed to pass a measure that would have required physicians placed on probation to notify patients.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to the wrongful conduct of a medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.