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Criminalization of psychotherapist-patient sex
Am J Psychiatry 1991;148:859-863.
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Abstract

Legislative enactment of criminal penalties for psychotherapists' sexual contact with their patients is pending in several states. The arguments in favor of criminalization are that it serves as a deterrent, offers retribution, provides redress when other avenues are blocked, deals with unlicensed psychotherapists, makes victims' assistance funds available, and provides due process protection against false accusations. In opposition to criminalization are the arguments that civil and administrative measures already exist to deal with the problem, it may have a chilling effect on the reporting of misconduct, it may void malpractice insurance, it makes guilty psychotherapists place themselves in jeopardy if they acknowledge their wrongdoing in attempting to make amends, it removes control of the legal process from the victim, it fails to offer rehabilitation, and it singles out psychotherapists from other fiduciaries for more stringent treatment. APA district branches inevitably will be called on to take positions with regard to legislation criminalizing sexual exploitation of patients. The current public outrage over patient victimization, however appropriate it may be, appears to make it difficult to publicly justify anything other than support for criminalization.

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