Law & Ethics

Sexual Exploitation Professional Accountability, Law, and Ethics

• Historical Overview – Historical Background

Gary R. Schoener, Walk-In Counseling Center, Minneapolis, MN
• The Professional and Boundary Issues
Nancy Ellett Allison, Ph.D, Christian Ethics Today, February 1997
• Sexual Relationships with Former Patients:
Professional Standards in North America
Gary R. Schoener, Walk-In Counseling Center, Minneapolis, MN
• Boundary Violations in the Professional Relationship
Gary R. Schoener, Walk-In Counseling Center, Minneapolis, MN
• Boundaries in Professional Relationships
Gary R. Schoener, Walk-In Counseling Center, Minneapolis, MN

Professionals enter into a covenant with society. In this covenant, they make a vow to serve others, upholding a professional standard of conduct. With the role and professional title they are granted, they assume a position of power in society and receive special rights corresponding to the responsibilities they assume. In her book “At Personal Risk : Boundary Violations in Professional-Client Relationships“, Marilyn R. Peterson identifies the importance of this covenant and the faith we place in professionals:

p. 24-25 “From the client’s perspective, professionals’ authority and compliance with it are the means to achieving a common purpose. While the arrangement between professional and client can be viewed as a secular contract, this perspective is too simplistic and reductionistic. Such a view cancels out the essential, though less visible, element of faith. Yet, it is our faith in the professional’s abilities to respond to our needs that enables us to comply automatically and without hesitation.

Before we confer our faith, however, we have to believe that professionals will place our needs before their own. This inherent ethos of care has the force of a profound and, in effect, sacred moral authority. For us to follow their lead into unknown territory assumes and therefore requires a depth of care and commitment from professionals that raises the relationship to a sacred covenant of fidelity and obligation. Rooted in biblical and spiritual tradition, the covenant between us is currently expressed through professional codes and statements of purpose.

Law, therapy, medicine, teaching, and religion are professions that enshrine a meaningfulness to their calling, an avowal to a higher purpose. Professionals who enter these fields implicitly take a solemn vow of personal dedication to their social responsibility. They are granted the rights of power over other people’s lives. In return for this privilege, they promise to abide by and keep sacrosanct certain practices and ideals.”

All professions have clearly defined codes of ethics, establishing standards of behavior. Professional adherance to these standards, are reviewed and upheld by the various licensing agencies and organizations. Civil and criminal laws exist to further strongly deter professional misconduct or malpractice which causes harm to individuals. Someone who has been sexually exploited by a professional has many options to consider, among them including the filing of a complaint with the appropriate licensing board, or seeking a legal remedy through the filing of criminal charges or a civil law suit.

Codes of Ethics, Professional Standards

State Laws

Litigation Issues

*Note: Information provided here does not represent legal advice. If you face a specific legal situation, you should conduct independent inquiries with legal professionals to determine what your legal rights are in your state or country.

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