MA urged again to close loophole protecting doctors accused of sexual assault

BOSTON — For well over a decade, Massachusetts lawmakers have time and again failed to pass a law to close a loophole shielding medical professionals who sexually assault patients.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary Tuesday and said victims are being betrayed – first by their doctors, and then the legal system.

“It was never intended to be the law, it’s a gap in the statute,” Ryan said. “This is a common sense way to fill that gap to make these cases prosecutable.”

The loophole centers on the word “consent.”

Victim advocates say patients inadvertently give “consent” to inappropriate touching if they believed or were told it was part of the medical process.

DA Ryan told Investigative Reporter and Boston 25: “This is the medical hub of the world. You get the best treatment, and when people come here and put their faith in a medical professional - that should be validated.”

Since 2017, 25 Investigates has told you about criminal cases against doctors accused of sexual assault that weren’t moving forward.

And we’ve also told you about efforts on Beacon Hill to close the loophole.

Ryan said at least two dozen states have laws that address this gap in the law.

For example, California’s code concerning sexual exploitation by physicians says: “in no instance shall consent of the patient or client be a defense.”

Versions of this bill in Massachusetts have been filed since 2011.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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