politics

Massachusetts lawmakers look to expand scope of certain sexual offenses

The proposal comes amid cases of doctors accused of sexual abuse and the ongoing clergy sexual abuse scandal

The Massachusetts State House
NBC10 Boston

A bill that would expand the scope of certain sexual offenses under Massachusetts law perpetrated by a health care provider or a member of the clergy is making its way through Beacon Hill.

The bill also would add rape of a patient or client by a health care provider, indecent assault and battery on vulnerable persons in law enforcement custody, and indecent assault and battery on a patient or client by a health care provider to definitions related to sexual offenders.

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The Massachusetts House approved the bill last week.

The proposal comes amid cases of doctors accused of sexual abuse and the ongoing clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The bill would establish that anybody who holds themselves out to be a health care provider or clergy member, and who commits an indecent assault and battery on a patient, client or individual during diagnosis, counseling, or treatment could be punished by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by imprisonment for not more than 2 1/2 years in a house of correction.

Anyone who presents themselves as a health care provider or clergy member and who knowingly induces a patient or client to engage in sexual intercourse during the course of diagnosis, counseling, or treatment shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 20 years, under the proposed legislation.

The bill also would establish that a patient or client would be deemed incapable of consenting to contact of a sexual nature when that consent was procured by a false claim that the act was for a legitimate medical or treatment purpose.

The bill is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is expected to be voted on by the Senate before making it to Gov. Maura Healey’s desk.

Copyright Associated Press
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