A California doctor, whose medical license has now been revoked, has just been sentenced to a period of 5 years of probation for having sexually exploited at least 4 of his male patients. The doctor maintained his position that most of the sexual activity that occurred between him and these 4 patients was consensual, but agreed that his conduct might have been unethical. With arguments reminiscent of Dan White’s infamous ‘Twinkie Defense,’ this UC Berkeley doc’s attorneys blamed his ingestion of medicine used to treat restless leg syndrome was at fault for his inappropriate behavior. An Alameda County Superior Court Judge agreed.
Doctors who practice in the state of California are subject to certain professional regulations. In fact, many hospitals and doctor’s offices where health care professionals work hold employees to strict codes of ethical conduct. California law, however, dictates that they also abide by the “Business and Professions Code.” Sections 725-733 of this code address sexual misconduct in the workplace and violation of this code can mean harsh consequences.
Beyond the potential for disciplinary action from within the workplace and the revocation of one’s license, physicians who sexually exploit patients will be subject to felony prosecution. Under Business and Professions Code 729(a), physicians who participate in this behavior could be subject, if there are multiple violations (meaning 2 or more separate victims) will be subject to up to 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. These aforementioned penalties apply only in situations in which the alleged offender has no pre-existing criminal record of sexual exploitation.