HLD, v. 33, n. 10 (October 2005)
Ohio Appeals Court Holds Permanent Revocation
Proper Sanction For Sexual Abuse Of Psychiatric Patient
appeals court found that permanent revocation of a psychiatrist's license was a
proper sanction following allegations of sexual abuse of a patient. The appeals
court also found that the hearing afforded the doctor was fair and in
accordance with due process.
John Michael Schechter, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist,
was notified by the Ohio State Medical Board (Board) that it intended to revoke
his medical license based on allegations of improper sexual conduct with a
patient. Schechter requested a hearing, at which Schechter "acknowledged that
he had victimized [the patient], and that his treatment of [her] violated the
standard that a psychiatrist owes to his patients." Expert witnesses testified
that a patient with a history of sexual abuse, like the patient abused by
Schechter, would be more vulnerable and that sexual conduct is never within the
standard of care. The Board voted to permanently revoke Schechter's medical
license. Schechter appealed.
The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed,
concluding that the administrative hearing that led to Schechter's license
revocation comported with the requirements of fairness and due process.
In dismissing Schechter's argument that the Board's
findings were based on mischaracterizations of the evidence and were therefore
unreliable, the appeals court found "reliable, probative, and substantial
evidence in the record that substantiates all of the charges against appellant
and supports the penalty imposed by the board," even though some minor
mischaracterizations of certain evidence did occur.
The appeals court next found that the penalty imposed on
Schechter was not "grossly excessive" or disproportionate to the prohibited
acts committed by the doctor. Finding the evidence against Schechter
"overwhelming," the appeals court accordingly held the permanent revocation of
Schechter's license was not contrary to law.
Schechter v. Ohio State
Med. Bd., No. 04AP-1115 (Ohio Ct. App. Aug. 9, 2005). To read the case, go