The Boston Globe
October 4, 1994, Tuesday, City Edition
Psychiatrists and sex abuse;
State regulation marked by delay, confusion, loopholes;
Sex abuse bills in limbo;
SPOTLIGHT Third of four parts The series was prepared by the Spotlight Team: Editor Gerard O’Neill, reporters Dick Lehr, Brian C. Mooney, Bruce Butterfield and Dolores Kong, photographer John Tlumacki and researcher Karen Douglass. Today’s story was written by Lehr. THIS STORY HAS BEEN ENTERED INTO THE DATABASE IN TWO PARTS. THIS IS PART TWO.
BYLINE: By Dick Lehr, Globe Staff
SECTION: METRO/REGION; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 1051 words
Four years after a reform package that includes a bill to criminalize sexual misconduct by doctors was introduced, the legislation remains in limbo on Beacon Hill.
Most vexing to supporters has been the impasse on the so-called injunctive relief bill, the measure to stop psychiatrists who have lost their licenses from practicing as therapists. The bill met little opposition, but, until this year, has been tabled.
“It’s embarrassing that there isn’t some mechanism to shut these guys down, and also dangerous for the unsuspecting public,” says Rep. Barbara Gardner (D-Holliston), the package’s chief sponsor. “That bill is a no-brainer.”
But this year, says Gardner, there is hope. The House approved the bill and it is now in the Senate, awaiting action.
Following is a brief summary of the reform bills.
HOUSE 5228: This bill would empower the state attorney general to seek injunction against psychiatrists, practicing as therapists, who have lost their medical license for the sexual abuse of patients. The bill is pending in the Senate.
HOUSE 856: This bill would criminalize sexual relations between a therapist and a patient. Penalties range from prison terms of five to 20 years, depending on the number of victims. The bill is in committee, with no action by either chamber.
HOUSE 936: This bill would require health professionals to report to medical authorities any sexual abuse by other professionals that is disclosed to them by patients. The bill is still in committee, with no action by either chamber.
2 Two doctors give views about sex with clients Lionel A. Schwartz
Dr. Schwartz admitted to having sex with three patients during the 1960s and 1970s, including two students at Wellesley College, where he worked as a staff psychiatrist at the time. Schwartz, who in recent years settled two lawsuits for $ 1.5 million, is now 72 and lives near Los Angeles.
The following is excerpted from a deposition taken in 1989 during one of the sexual malpractice lawsuits against Schwartz. The patient’s attorney, Clyde Bergstresser, questions Schwartz.
Q: Did you actually formulate a conclusion that it would be in (her) best interests to have sexual contact with her? A: I thought so at the time. Q: And can you explain for me how you thought that engaging in sexual contact with her would assist her. . .? A: Physical affection would make her feel more accepted. Q: Was it more often than not that you would have some form of sexual contact during a psychotherapy session? A: More often than not. Q: Now, did you have oral sex with (her)? A: Yes. Q: Did that include both fellatio and cunnilingus? A: Yes. Q: In what way did you consider that having oral sex with (her) would assist in her psychotherapy? A: It’s a form of lovemaking which she found very exciting. Q: Any rationale beyond that? A: No.. . .That was the primary motivation, but . . . Q: Were there secondary motivatons? A: Yes. Q: What were they? A: It was pleasurable. Q: Pleasurable for you? A: Yes.
Harold L. Goldberg
Dr. Goldberg, who settled four sex abuse cases for an estimated $ 4.5 million and has relocated to Hawaii where he is licensed to practice, conducted simultaneous affairs with patients during the ’70s and ’80s. Here are excerpts from a 1988 deposition in which Bergstresser asks Goldberg about sex he had with a North Shore woman who became his patient when she was 19.
Q: At any time during the ensuing ten years that the conduct was occurring, did you ever consider the ethical aspects of it? A: Not really. I was very.. . .Not really. Q: How much time was devoted to sexual relations and how much time was devoted to psychotherapy when you were having sexual realtions with her in the office? A: Fifty minutes to psychotherapy, five to seven minutes or so to sexual relations. Q: Did you consider that you were engaging in conduct which was posing a risk of causing her harm? A: No. Q: Having a secret sexual relationship with you, wasn’t that likely to make her feel cheap and used, doctor? A: I don’t have an opinion on that. Q: So, you considered.. . . the sexual relationship that you were having with her to be assisting in her treatment? A:.. . .I think she benefitted from it, as I said earlier. Q: Did she ever lie to you that you’re aware of? A: Yes. Q: And when? A: She told me she’d never sue me for malpractice.
Art as ‘healing’ therapy
Several years ago, while her sexual malpractice lawsuit was pending against Dr. Harold Williams, artist Elise S. Wylde began a book of paintings called “McLean Hospital 1980.” That was the year Wylde was hospitalized at McLean, during which she began therapy with Williams, a relationship that eventually included sex. The paintings, she says today, are intended to reveal “the extraordinary vulnerability of patients.”
“Basically, this picture is showing the sort of abject dependency and helplessness of the patient,” says Wylde of her self-portrait in Williams’ office at McLean Hospital.
“…The powerlessness is the thing that really comes to mind. . .the person with the cigar is the all-powerful doctor. . .To me, the smoke permeating the room – there was no air for me to breathe. . .Besides all the sexual connotations of the cigar, it shows he owns the space and that the power differential is horrific.
“. . .And the naked image above, you know, is this powerful projection, of the patient imagining all of the things she would like to have done with the doctor to guarantee attention, to gain this person’s love and approval at any cost.”
Last year, Williams, admitting to sexual misconduct, was suspended by the state medical board; Williams also settled the malpractice lawsuit Wylde had filed against him.
Wylde now lives in Atlanta. “More than anything, doing those paintings is what helped heal me,” she says. “McLean Hospital 1980” served as her master’s thesis in art and has been displayed at various shows.