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Sexual Exploitation

Help for Victims of Sexual Exploitation by Medical Professionals

The Texas Occupation Code, formerly the Texas Medical Practice Act, doesn't specifically mention sex between physicians and patients. It does, however, permit a state board to take disciplinary action, including revocation or suspension of a license against physicians who (1) are convicted of felonies or other crimes involving moral turpitude, (2) engage in unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive or defraud or injure the public, or (3) commit any act of state law if the act is connected with the physician's practice of medicine.

The Texas Occupation Code, formerly the Psychologists' Certification and Licensing Act, allows a state board to initiate revocation or suspension proceeding against a psychologist who (1) is convicted of a felony or other crimes involving moral turpitude, (2) is guilty of deceit or fraud in connection with his services, or (3) is guilty of violating section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code.

The Texas Occupation Code, formerly the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Act, provides for the license suspension or revocation of the licenses of licensees who (1) are convicted of a felony or other crimes involving moral turpitude, (2) are grossly negligent in performing professional duties, (3) practice in a manner that is detrimental to the public health or welfare, (4) violate section 22.011 of the Penal Code.

Criminal Charges

The Texas Penal Code defines various acts as criminal sexual assault. Under section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code various acts, if committed by a: clergyman; physician; chiropractor; nurse; physical therapist; physician assistant; or a mental health services provider is criminal.

Causes of Action

A patient who seeks or obtains mental health services from a: psychotherapist, licensed social worker, chemical dependency counselor, marriage and family counselor, psychologist, or member of clergy, may have a cause of action against the provider for sexual exploitation if the patient suffers a physical, mental or emotional injury resulting from sexual contact, sexual exploitation, or therapeutic deception between the patient and the mental health services provider. This statutory cause of action is more fully described in The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. (CPRC Section 81 [Sexual Exploitation By Mental Health Services Provider]).

It is not a defense to the above action that the sexual exploitation of the patient or former patient occurred with the consent of the patient or former patient or that the exploitation occurred outside of a therapy session or that the exploitation occurred off the premises.

The common law has recognized and the courts have been willing to hold therapists liable and have imposed malpractice liability based on the theory of transference. Courts almost uniformly treat mishandling of transference as malpractice.

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