Sexual Abuse by Medical Professionals

NC Lawyers for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Medical Professionals and Service Providers

You may wonder if it is risky for you to see a doctor or counselor or healthcare professional, or if it is risky to send your child to see one of these professionals.  Maybe you are asking, can I trust my child to be alone with his speech therapist or his tutor? You go to these people for treatment and help, and it shouldn’t be dangerous.

As sex abuse lawyers, we know that there are some therapists, doctors, and other health care professionals who take advantage of their patients’ trust in order to sexually gratify themselves.  Sexual abuse by doctors on patients does occur sometimes.  When children or adults go to see these professionals, seeking their help, they are often at their most vulnerable.

Healthcare professionals are governed by rules of professional conduct that require them to observe boundaries between themselves and their patients.  When followed, these boundaries can help to prevent physician sexual misconduct. For example, there are different rules for doctors, psychologists, massage therapists, and chiropractors.

Questions to ask when seeing a counselor, or sending your child to be cared for by strangers:

  • How much did you research this individual? Don’t just use the recommendation of a friend!   Use Google and social media to search in general. For complaints, the organizations that regulate the person’s profession should be searched. Check online reviews for anything suspicious.
  • Are you comfortable with this person? There is nothing wrong with checking your gut, and in fact, studies show this is a reliable way to sense danger.   There is no reason for you to be seen by someone who gives you a feeling that something is wrong. Exit yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
  • Is this person asking you to do something that you don’t feel right about? Like taking your clothes off when that doesn’t seem necessary? Telling you that you are “too uptight” and need to let go of your inhibitions?
  • Is your child comfortable with this person? Children don’t want to hurt other people and are often afraid to tell even their parents that something inappropriate has happened. But if your child is resisting going for his lessons, therapy, etc., dig deeper and explore what is going on.  A good resource for helping children to protect themselves is The Well-Armored Child, by Joelle Castix.

Potential legal claims

The way our North Carolina law is written, in a sex abuse claim involving a healthcare professional, the lawyer often has to bring a claim of medical negligence.  This requires you to get an opinion from a practitioner in the same field, who can give the attorney an opinion that the healthcare professional violated the standard of care.  This is a complicated process that should be started early!

Other claims against healthcare professionals can include assault and battery, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring and supervision. We are experienced sex abuse lawyers, and we can answer your questions about physician sexual misconduct and what rights you have as a victim of a crime.  Talking with one of our experienced sex abuse lawyers is normally free of charge.

Our Clients’ Experiences

Our lawyers have brought claims and handled cases for clients with experiences like these:

  • Three women were assaulted by the same massage therapist.  It turned out there were many other women who said that this massage therapist had touched them inappropriately. When the women complained, he told them they were too uptight and needed his massage methods in order to relax.
  • A woman alleged that she was assaulted by her chiropractor.   He put her in a position with her hand outstretched, and it started there.
  • A woman alleged she was assaulted by her chiropractor, who said he needed to work on her psoas muscle, that runs near the groin area.
  • A marriage counselor had started an affair with a woman’s husband and then convinced him to leave his wife for her, the counselor.
  • A female patient was in a drug rehabilitation program. Her therapist began texting her with inappropriate personal messages, and also began driving by her house.
  • A young woman was a resident in a facility for adults with disabilities. She was there in part to learn how to regulate her behavior with men. Her counselor talked her into having a “relationship,” which led to a disastrous setback in her condition.

What to look for when hiring a lawyer to make a claim against a health care professional

We hope you never need to make one of these claims for sexual abuse. But if you do, of course you want the best sex abuse lawyer for your case. We suggest you take your time and make sure you have the right attorney for you and your family. Talk with several lawyers. Find one who believes you and helps you feel empowered to be a survivor, not a victim.

Leto Copeley has handled many sexual abuse claims and serves on the Advisory Board for the National Crime Victim Bar Association. She will be glad to take your call, answer your questions, and talk with you about what steps to take next.

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