Children’s Hospital_ Predator Psychiatrist_Sexual Assault girl, 13
The Boston Herald reports: “A young patient who was sexually assaulted by a predatory psychiatrist has reached a “substantial” settlement with him and other doctors who she says let her be victimized when she was a vulnerable, suicidal teen.”
The case, like so many others that do not reach public notice, underscores one of the unacknowledged dirty secrets of psychiatric institutions: patients, especially young females, are at risk of being sexually molested by staff.
Maria Fallon, now 20, says supervisors at Boston Children’s Hospital knew Dr. Param Shukla already had been accused of assaulting a young girl in 1999 when they assigned him to her case in April 2000. Fallon was in the psychiatric unit at Children’s because her mother was dying of brain cancer and Fallon, then 13, had just tried to kill herself.
Typical of how institutions shield sexual predators, the Herald reports that even though the hospital moved the psychiatrist a to a research job in 1999 “while they investigated a 12-year-old girl’s complaint that he had fondled her, [sic] the charges were never filed in that case, and after Shukla underwent a psychiatric assessment, he was allowed to see female patients again.”
Shukla, a married 38-year-old dad at the time, lost his medical license in 2000, and was sentenced to probation in 2004 for indecent assault and battery on a child for fondling Fallon during the five days she was on suicide watch.
This is not an isolated case. A long-established culture at psychiatric institutions shields professional staff who prey on vulnerable patients.