Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sexual Abuse by Doctors: Echoes of the Catholic Church Scandal?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sexual Abuse by Doctors: Echoes of the Catholic Church Scandal?

Article excerpt

Patients are sexually abused by doctors with disturbing frequency, and a combination of weak oversight and minimal consequences have allowed known offenders to continue to practice. Details of this systemic problem were revealed in an series of stories published Wednesday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), which conducted a sweeping investigation analyzing 100,000 disciplinary orders against doctors filed since 1999.

Of the 3,100 doctors that the newspaper identified as having been sanctioned for sexual misconduct, 2,400 of them had a violation involving a patient and half still have active medical licenses. These figure represents only a fraction of the actual accusations of sexual abuse by doctors, the newspaper says, because these cases are often dealt with in secrecy or ambiguity by state regulations and hospital officials.

These cases that AJC identified range in severity from inappropriate comments, to rape, to doctors who had hundreds of victims over decades, making them some of the nation's worst alleged sexual predators.

As they sifted through the nationwide history of assaults and abuse with the help of a computer program, the Atlanta Journal- Constitution team also found that many cases were perpetuated by lenient medical boards, hospital officials who did not report complaints, or reduced charges from prosecutors.

One of ways that the abuse by doctors is perpetuated, the investigation found, parallels a pattern found by The Boston Globe in the Catholic Church abuses and the predation by private schools teachers: allowing sexual abusers to move on from their position in lieu of charges, enabling them to continue to work.

AJC used the case of Dr. William Almon to exemplify this. Throughout his 30 year career in Georgia, Dr. Almon sexually violated "extremely vulnerable female patients -- a suicidal soldier, jail inmates, a mentally ill woman and a child of 14 -- and every time was effectively given a pass," writes Danny Robbins, the reporter whose initial findings launched the investigation.

In each of Almon's jobs at an Army base, a prison, and a primary care center, his abuses came to light, but in each case he was allowed to move on. After he was accused of raping two women (at the primary care center where officials knew his background when he was hired) he was investigated and was able to file a plea and receive probation, not jail time. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.