Patients put their absolute trust in the professionalism of physicians and other medical professionals. However, this trust can be breached by the actions of medical professionals. One of the actions that constitute a breach of contract and trust between patients and medical professionals is sexual abuse.

Patients have the right to expect that medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, physicians, and health providers, will do no harm to them, however, in the face of sexual abuse, affected patients need to know what to do and how best to handle such situations.

Medical Professionals Can Commit the Crime of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that is punishable by up to life in prison in Oklahoma. Over the years, victims in Oklahoma have filed sexual abuse charges against a variety of medical professionals outside of the family doctors and physicians at medical practices and hospitals.

Some of the common perpetrators of Sexual Abuse by Medical Professionals, include:  

– Chiropractors
– Anesthesiologists
– Pediatricians
– Home health aids
– Cosmetic surgeons
– Obstetricians and Gynecologists
– Dentists
– Nursing home staff
– Nurses
– Psychologists and therapists
– Psychiatrists  

In general, any health care professional can be named responsible for the crime of sexual abuse regardless of whether such a person is a technician or a specialist.

How Medical Professionals Engage in Sexual Assault

A great way to better understand if you have been assaulted by your physician or any medical professional is to understand the way these crimes are committed. Over the years, patients have leveled several accusations against medical professionals including the most serious allegations of rape and sexual penetration.

However, you should know any unwanted or non-consensual sexual act including touching, kissing, touching of sex organs, and others are regarded as criminal conduct.

Some of the common ways by which medical professionals carry out sexual abuse on patients include:

– The use of chemical or physical restraints to keep patients from moving
– Committing sexual abuse on a patient while they are under anesthesia
– Engaging in acts of self-pleasure or self-gratification in the presence of their patients
– Conducting unwarranted vaginal examinations
– Taking photos or videos of the patient’s genital area during examination
– Exposing themselves in a sexual or sexually suggestive manner to patients

Additionally, medical professionals can also be accused of sexual abuse when they make sexual or lewd remarks that make the patient feel uncomfortable when they attempt to seduce the patient, or forcefully engage in a sexual relationship with patients.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Patients who have been abused by medical professionals often exhibit one or more of the following signs:

– Feeling of hopelessness, depression, anger, and/or anxiety
– Physical harm leading to scarring or bleeding
– Fear of visiting the doctor or being treated by one
– Insomnia
– Inability to maintain normal intimate relations
– Drug or alcohol abuse
– And others.

Taking Legal Steps

Victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by medical professionals can seek justice by hiring a competent and experienced sexual abuse lawyer. Sexual abuse lawyers understand the delicate nature of such cases as this and will take steps to ensure that the rights and interests of the victim are protected.

Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse

A lawsuit alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual assault by a doctor is a type of personal injury claim. The claim may be filed against the doctor, physician, and/or the office or employer of the perpetrator of sexual abuse by a medical professional. These charges often accompany criminal charges against the doctor; however, that is not always the case. A civil personal injury lawsuit, alleging sexual abuse by a medical professional, seeks compensation for the victim. Compensation for sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual assault by a medical professional can include some or all of the following types of damages:

  • Medical bills, including counseling and therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Other expenses associated with suffering sexual assault
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium, loss of relationship with your spouse
  • Punitive damages

How are Sexual Abuse Lawsuits different from Criminal Charges?

Civil lawsuits for sexual abuse by a doctor or medical professional are different from criminal charges that are brought against the medical professional. The perpetrator of sexual abuse by a medical professional may criminal charges, a civil lawsuit, as well as licensing hearings at the same time. The differences between criminal charges and a civil lawsuit for sexual assault are explained by the answers to the following questions:

1. Who is the Plaintiff in the Case?

Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit against Doctor: the victim of sexual abuse or a party acting on behalf of the victim of sexual abuse pursues the case and is the plaintiff. 

Criminal Sexual Assault Charges against Doctor: law enforcement investigates sexual abuse by the doctor and presents the investigation to a prosecutor that pursues the case and acts on behalf of the State, which is the plaintiff.

Why a Different Plaintiff?

In criminal prosecution for sexual assault be a medical professional, the prosecutor is seeking justice for the entire community and the victim of sexual assault, which means more considerations go into decisions than simply what the sexual assault victim wants. In civil litigation for sexual abuse by a medical professional, the plaintiff is the victim and/or the victim’s representative. The victim and their personal injury attorney are focused solely on achieving the best possible outcome for the victim, maximum compensation.

2.What is the Burden of Proof?

Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit against Doctor: the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence, which is the burden in the majority of civil cases, which must be met by the plaintiff in order to succeed at trial.

Criminal Sexual Assault Charges against Doctor: the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must prove the doctor’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction; the burden in criminal cases.

Why a lower Burden of Proof?

Civil plaintiffs are held to a lower standard of proof in order to succeed in their case, because in a criminal case, it is said, a more important interest than money is at issue; freedom. The plaintiff of sexual abuse by a medical provider must prove the case by a preponderance, more likely than not, that the doctor committed the alleged sexual assault. It is often said the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is 51% or a fraction more than a flip of the coin.

3. What is the Goal for the Plaintiff?

Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit against Doctor: compensation for the victim of sexual abuse by a doctor. The focus in civil litigation is to obtain damages to compensate a victim for the harm they have suffered as a result of being sexually assaulted or abused by a medical professional. 

Criminal Sexual Assault Charges against Doctor: punishment for the perpetrator of sexual abuse by a doctor. 

Why is the Goal Compensation?

In civil cases the goal is compensation for the harm suffered by the plaintiff at the hands of the defendant or defendants. Successful plaintiffs of sexual abuse will receive compensation from the doctor that perpetrated sexual abuse. Alternatively, the outcome of successful prosecution of a medical professional for sexual abuse is prison and sex offender registration. Criminal charges do not lead to meaningful compensation for the victims of sexual abuse by a medical professional. 

4. What happens, if the Doctor loses the Case?

Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit against Doctor: the victim of sexual abuse by a medical professional is awarded compensation in the form of damages for economic loss as well as non-economic damages for the harm suffered by the plaintiff. 

Criminal Sexual Assault Charges against Doctor: the doctor will be sentenced to prison and pay fines and costs in the case. Additionally, the doctor will become a registered sex offender.

Do Criminal Charges impact Civil Sexual Abuse Litigation?

Yes, criminal charges against a medical provider can impact the civil case concerning the same sexual abuse. Proving and researching your civil lawsuit for sexual abuse by a medical professional are easier, if the doctor is convicted of sexual abuse. The evidence gathered by prosecutors and investigators in the criminal case may be used to support your sexual abuse lawsuit. 

What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Lawsuit against a Doctor for Sexual Assault?

Oklahoma distinguishes the statute of limitations, deadline, to file a sexual abuse by a medical professional lawsuit between adult victims and child victims. In sexual abuse by a medical provider and other personal injury claims, child victims are afforded more time to identify and make their claim. 

Adults that have been the victim of sexual assault by a medical provider are typically limited to two (2) years to file a civil lawsuit after the date of the last instance of sexual assault. 

Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for Sexual Abuse Victims

Filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse can be the first step to recovery. Criminal charges may result in the doctor being held accountable for their actions; however, you will not be compensation for the damages you have suffered by participating in the criminal prosecution alone. 
Sexual abuse cases require experience. Here at Cannon & Associates, our attorneys have all it takes to fiercely represent you and your interest. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and our entire team of Fierce Advocates are dedicated to seeking justice for victims of sexual assault. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at (405) 906-4051 for a free confidential case evaluation.