CREW Renews TN Department of Health Complaint Against Rep. Scott DesJarlais
Washington, D.C. — Today, following the revelation that Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) engaged in a sexual relationship with a second patient, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reiterated its request for an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Health.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Tennessee law is crystal clear: doctors are prohibited from any sexual contact with their patients, no exceptions. Will Tennessee authorities look the other way because Rep. DesJarlais is now a member of Congress?”
CREW first filed a complaint against Rep. DesJarlais earlier this month after the release of a transcript of a conversation between Rep. DesJarlais and a woman with whom he had been sexually involved. The transcript revealed the two had an affair while Rep. DesJarlais, a practicing physician, was treating the woman. Afraid his mistress/patient might have become pregnant, the married, pro-life doctor had encouraged her to have an abortion.
According to the Tennessee State Board of Medical Examiners’ Sexual Misconduct Statement and Policy, “sexual contact with a patient is misconduct and is considered to be a violation of T.C.A. Section 63-6-214(b)(1),” which prohibits unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct. The policy makes clear that whether the patient consented to or initiated the sexual contact is immaterial; the physician is strictly liable. Possible penalties for violations include restrictions on a physician’s practice as well as the suspension or even revocation of his medical license.
Sloan continued, “While Rep. DesJarlais has played down the first affair as a mistake during a difficult divorce — as if that makes it okay — this second relationship demonstrates a pattern. Who knows how many more women are out there, wary of coming forward for fear of embarrassment? What other excuses will Rep. DesJarlais offer for his reprehensible conduct?”
Sloan also stated, “If Tennessee expects its doctors to follow the ban on sexual misconduct, the Board of Medical Examiners must take swift action. Failing to do so will undermine public confidence in the Board’s authority and leave patients vulnerable to predatory physicians.”