By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to a bill that makes it a crime for a doctor or other medical professional to commit sexual contact with a patient even when the doctor claims the contact is necessary for a legitimate medical purpose.

Under current law, sexual contact by medical professionals represented to the patient as necessary for a legitimate medical purpose cannot be prosecuted, as the patient may be viewed as consenting to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Two courts have ruled that if a person consents to sexual intercourse, even under false pretenses, it is still consent.

“The lack of a legal remedy in this area is particularly egregious given that a patient or client may be especially vulnerable,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow). “A person in need of treatment, and without medical knowledge, will of necessity rely on the representations made by a professional who is entrusted with caring for them and treating them. If passed, this legislation will enable authorities to prosecute a medical professional who sexually assaults their patient and tries to pass it off as being necessary for medical reasons.”

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