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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A Texas doctor accused of inappropriately touching 17 female patients had then been told by a medical board to only treat men before being reported for assault by a male patient, an investigation by the Texas Observer found.

Why it matters: Medical boards that oversee doctors across the U.S. have used this loophole of curbing the types of patients predatory doctors are allowed to see rather than revoking their licenses, experts in the report said.

State of play: The male patient who called the police on the Austin-based neurologist in 2015, struggled for years to report the doctor's gropes and inappropriate advances, knowing he'd then be cut off from his prescriptions.

  • No charges were filed by the Travis County District Attorney's Office, however. The law at the time was that only penetration counted as sexual assault.

Context: Medical boards have made the case that removing a problem doctor from their practice is more difficult if there's no conviction. When charges were filed or police investigations were opened, the victims in these cases were not believed against their doctor's word.

  • Several women beginning in 2001 came forward with their accounts saying this doctor had made inappropriate sexual advances when conducting exams. Only one victim testified, however, where the defense ruined her credibility in various ways. The doctor was acquitted.
  • "Sexual assault cases against doctors are further weakened by the fact that medicine involves inspecting the body and helping it function," the Observer's Olga Khazan writes. "A doctor's appointment is one of the few times in adulthood when a stranger might see someone naked or touch their genitals."

The big picture: The Observer's investigation revealed that more than 40 medical providers were accused of coercing their patients for sex in exchange for opioid medication in the past five years.

  • A 2020 analysis by the Austin American-Statesman concluded that most of the 80 Texas doctors found to have engaged in sexual misconduct in the past five years have been allowed to keep their licenses.

Where it stands: In 2018, the Texas Medical Board did revoke the neurologist's medical license, citing both his overprescribing of opioids and his alleged sexual misconduct.

  • The doctor petitioned the board to reinstate his license but was unsuccessful. 

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

2 hours ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.