The author examines the legal and professional sanctions against sex
between therapist and patient. The relevant literature of criminal law
suggests that charges of rape or related sexual offenses against
psychotherapists who exploit their patients are a remote possibility.
Although sexual activity between therapist and patient may form the basis
of a malpractice claim, the existing case law is complicated, and the legal
distinctions are not always consistent with good psychiatric practice.
Professional associations lack the legal expertise and indemnification to
act in these situations, but medical boards in some states have the power
to revoke licenses. In the end, patients must depend on the decent moral
character of their therapists.