Laws Needed to Prosecute Psychiatrist/Psychologist Patient Sexual Abuse as Felony

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  • Studies indicate an average of 6-10% of psychiatrists or psychologists sexually abuse their patients.
  • “…sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community,” according to a U.S. law firm.[1]
  • Psychiatrists are four times as likely as other doctors to be sanctioned for sexual misconduct. - 2012 Canadian study.[2]
  • 1 of 20 clients sexually abused by a therapist was a minor, with girls as young as 3 and boys as young as 7, according to a U.S. national survey of therapist-client sex involving minors.[3]  A Canadian task force on sexual abuse of patients found those younger than 14 years accounted for 8.7% of reports of therapist sexual abuse.[4]
  • The damage and emotional repercussions from such sexual abuse includes: feelings of no self-worth, denial, crying spells, helplessness, loneliness, shame, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, numbness, fear of relationships or intimacy and more.[5]
  • The patient may be persuaded that it was a necessary and integral part of the therapy itself, which is called “therapeutic deception.”[6]
  • About 50% of therapists encounter at least one patient who has been sexually abused by a previous therapist. – Therapist-Patient Sex as Sex Abuse.[7] Therapists who report having sex with patients are often repeat offenders. - Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law.[8]
  • Psychiatrist-psychologist patient sexual abuse is not “boundary crossing” or “professional misconduct.” It should always constitute sexual assault or rape.
  • Thirty-two states in the U.S. have some provision for patients to file criminal complaints against therapist sexual abuse, but a 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found multiple gaps in laws can leave patients vulnerable to abusive physicians.[9]

Therefore, each state or country should implement a “Psychiatric & Behavioral Therapist Sexual Abuse of Patient” law or amendment to its Criminal Code, specifying:

  • Any act of sexual contact, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual misconduct or sexual relations by a therapist (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist or other behavioral therapist) with a patient or former patient, especially when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact, is deemed a felony.[10]
  • “Therapeutic Deception” means that the therapist made the patient think the sexual activity was part of their treatment. Use of “Therapeutic Deception” should carry higher penalties.
  • Consent of the victim shall not be a defense in any prosecution.

CCHR encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist, or whose family member has been, to report this to CCHR by filling out this form (information is kept in strictest confidence).

Citizens Commission on Human Rights International started this petition to state legislators to ensure protections are provided to patients sexually assaulted in the name of “mental health therapy.” It has helped enact more than 180 laws worldwide to protect individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices.


[1] “Doctor Sexual Assault Cases: Capable Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Fight for Justice,”
[2] “Psychiatrists four times as likely as other Canadian doctors to be disciplined for sexual misconduct: study,” The National Post, 6 Dec. 2012.
[4] “Statistics & Laws Regarding Sexual Abuse by a Doctor or a Health Care Provider,” Averly Law Firm, 18 Mar. 2012,
[5] Op. cit, “Doctor Sexual Assault Cases.”
[6] Clifton Perry, Joan Wallman Kuruc, “Psychotherapists' Sexual Relationships with Their Patients,” Annals of Health Law, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 1993,
[8] Gary C. Hankins et al, "Patient-Therapist Sexual Involvement: A Review of Clinical and Research Data," Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law, Vol. 22, No.1, 1994,
[9] “50-state review uncovers how patients are vulnerable to abusive physicians,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 17 Nov. 2016,
[10] 2016 Florida Statutes, “Sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist; penalties,”