By Silvia Casabianca
Former Dancing with the Stars contestant Maria Menounos recently revealed during an appearance in the Howard Stern Show, that she’d been a victim of sexual abuse by several physicians during physical examinations. In January this year, a Chicago gynecologist, Bruce Sylvester Smith, was found guilty of raping a pregnant woman while performing an exam in 2002. Another of his patients, Tameka Stokes, revealed in 2010 that Smith raped her during a pelvic exam 10 years before.
The Chicago Tribune published Stoke’s story as part of a series denouncing the state’s failures to apply discipline for sexual misconduct by doctors.
On February 20, former Texas mental health counselor Sheila Loven was sentenced to 10 years probation, guilty of sexually assaulting a male patient that first came to her for marriage therapy with his wife. After counseling them as a couple for a while, she started to see them separately, advising the wife to get a divorce while secretly dating the husband.
A couple of years ago, a renowned Boston pediatrician, Melvin D. Levine took his life. A lawsuit claimed that Levine performed unnecessary genital exams on 40 boys while at Children’s Hospital Boston from 1966 to 1985. It took more than 25 years for the doctor to be charged.
Technically, sexual abuse occurs when physicians become involved in personal relationships with their patients; when using their position of power, they represent sexual contact as part of care or treatment and also when they blatantly assault vulnerable people, as in the case of minors, disabled or unconscious patients.