Recently exposed at the World Psychiatric Association conference in Melbourne were the findings presented by Australian psychiatrist Professor Carolyn Quadrio, that as many as ten percent of male therapists will have some sort of sexual contact with a female client and 1 to 3 percent of women therapists had also crossed the same sexual boundaries. This violates the Hippocratic Oath and seriously damages patients says the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Abusing patients sexually is not a new malady of the profession. Some recent examples include: in October 2006 psychiatrist John Honey was suspended for 12 months for having a sexual relationship with a vulnerable person. He also paid her $100,000, in part for her undertaking not to lodge a complaint with the Medical Practitioners Board.

Just prior to that, in August 2006, Psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks was ordered to pay $55,000 in damages for sexual abuse. He had previously used painful injections and electro shock to punish children in the 1970’s in New Zealand. He moved to Melbourne and set up practice and within a few years he sexually abused a patient who successfully sued in 2006.

And the list goes on – In January 2004 prominent Australian psychiatrist, Robert Towndrow was accused of sexual impropriety with two patients, one of whom he convinced that having sex with him would be therapeutic. The tribunal ordered his de-registration and that no application for a review of the order could me made for five years. Two weeks after his registration was suspended, he was formally struck off by the Medical Tribunal.

The Hippocratic Oath, which dates back to the 4th century BC states: “Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.”

“With up to 10% of Australian therapists transgressing the Hippocratic Oath and taking advantage of people seeking their guidance and assistance, more stringent policing must be done and tougher penalties enforced” says Shelley Wilkins, Executive Director of the National Office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Australian subsidiary. “These violations should be deemed as criminal acts on a par with rape and in fact should be dealt with even more severely as they have even worse consequences as these people have been entrusted to care for very vulnerable people in their charge and these acts are a blatant betrayal of that trust. Any psychiatrist found to be engaging in sexual relations with a patient should be jailed.”

From CCHR Australia

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