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Challenges of Doctor-Patient Sex Assault Cases

Dover Sexual Abuse Lawyers weigh in on the challenges of doctor-patient sexual assault cases. When you see a physician for a medical appointment, you expect to receive the highest standard of care, and you also expect that you will be treated ethically. After all, entrusting your health to another human being involves an enormous level of trust. But when that trust is broken, it can be devastating and terribly damaging. Even a consensual sexual encounter in a doctor’s office can be considered a breach of trust.

By now most people have heard about the case of Dr. Larry Nassar, who was recently sentenced to 60 years for a conviction of child pornography; and 40 to 175 years for sexual abuse charges. So far, 265 victims have come forward. Nassar operated under a cloak of secrecy for years. He used his privileged position to intimidate young girls, who were either too afraid to speak up, or did not trust their own judgment when they sensed the doctor’s actions were not appropriate.

While the above case made front-page news because it involved Olympic-caliber athletes, this kind of abuse could happen to anyone. In recent years, a doctor at a renowned Cleveland hospital was accused of raping a patient while she underwent a procedure. The hospital kept the doctor on staff while they reached a confidential settlement. The following year, the doctor attacked another woman, changing her life forever. Tragically, that second assault never would have happened if the first incident had been handled properly.

Doctor-Patient Sexual Assault Claims are Unique

Delaware sexual assault lawyer Raeann Warner of Jacobs & Crumplar recently contributed to an article published by the subscription-based online legal news service, Law360. The article addresses some of what makes doctor-patient sex abuses cases unique – and in many ways – challenging.

Sometimes doctors or hospitals reach confidential settlements out of court, as in the case mentioned above. But settlements of this nature can be problematic when it comes to health care. A confidentiality clause can compromise a patient’s health and safety; and they may be unethical because of the vulnerability of future patients.

When a sexual assault by a medical caregiver occurs, there are certain steps that must be taken for victims seeking justice. They include:

  • Meet the Statute of Limitations – There is a limited time frame in which to file a claim against a doctor who is accused of sexual assault. This varies by state. Many victims do not want to face the terrible experience they have been through and thus put off talking about it. But immediate action is essential to holding that person accountable.
  • Gather Evidence – This may be done initially with a rape kit, and/or through a physical examination immediately following an assault. This is also a time to give an account of what happened while the facts are still fresh in the victim’s mind.
  • File the Appropriate Claim – A sexual assault by a physician could fall under the category of personal injury, but it might also fall under medical malpractice. The best route would be determined by a competent attorney, based on the state where the assault occurred.

While these steps are important, it is most important for a victim to seek treatment right away. There may be physical healing and treatment necessary, and there will most certainly be emotional healing that needs to be done.

Delaware Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Provide Powerful Advocacy for Abuse Victims

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, we understand the fears and emotions you are dealing with, and we can offer personal, compassionate assistance for your case. If you are seeking an advocate who will stand up for your rights, please call a Delaware sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today at 302-656-5445 to schedule a confidential consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we represent clients throughout the state, including those in Dover, Delaware.

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Since our founding, Jacobs & Crumplar has represented those injured physically, mentally, and emotionally by companies and the government. We are deeply troubled by the senseless killing of George Floyd and the injustice shown to countless others over the years. Consistent with our tradition, Jacobs & Crumplar stands in solidarity with all those working to eliminate systemic racism and with those who have been victimized by prejudice. Building a better society requires us all to play an active role.