Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve come across a whole slew of excuses for rape and other sexual assault, made both by perpetrators themselves and their supporters. The stream is almost never-ending, and they’re usually pretty easy to recognize. There’s the “what did she expect dressed/acting like that?” defense, the “well, she didn’t say no” defense, the “oh, it was a joke!” defense — you get the picture.
But while not entirely unheard of, the “I was just providing medical treatment” defense is relatively new.
In an emotional statement, Anderson said he was sorry that the women he’s convicted of molesting didn’t realize he was simply providing treatment.
Anderson wept during his sentencing hearing before some of his victims and Judge Mock.
The prominent dentist, who once had a thriving practice and loyal patients, was convicted by a jury March 10 on a dozen counts of sexual battery for molesting female patients.
Anderson, 49, has been free on his own recognizance since his arrest in 2007.
In a courtroom packed with his victims, supporters and media in the historic Woodland courthouse, Anderson made his tearful statement to the judge. He insisted that what he had done was treatment for the women’s pain.
Anderson’s defense at trial was that he had touched the women’s chests as treatment for TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, a painful jaw condition.
“What I did was an honest attempt to help my patients,” he said today.
[. . .]
During testimony at Anderson’s trial, victims said that Anderson reached into their bras and made comments about their breasts. Candis Barajas, 30, said Anderson had violated her trust and used his patients’ vulnerability in the dental chair for his own sexual gratification.
Later on in the article, Anderson’s actions are described as “fondling.”
Now, admittedly, I’m no doctor. When trying to figure out what kind of treatment Anderson might have conceivably been trying to administer, I mostly came up with articles about, well, him. But I did find at least a few pieces of evidence that massaging an area that is experiencing pain due to TMJ may be helpful.
So, since I’m not a doctor, I’m just going to go ahead an assume for the moment that there is a reasonable chance that for someone with TMJ, massaging a painful area on the chest could help to relieve that pain. But, even if accepted, that still leaves us with quite a few problems:
1. I’m pretty sure that massaging the chest and massaging the breasts are two completely different things. With the exception of the very top of the breasts, I imagine that in most women, rubbing there isn’t really going to get down to where the pain is. There’s just generally going to be too much fat in the way.
2. I’m even more sure that even if I’m wrong and massaging the breasts was somehow useful, it would, like a breast exam, be remarkably different from what one might call “fondling.”
3. I’m absolutely positive that massaging a woman’s chest to relieve pain as medical treatment is radically different from making comments about her breasts.
4. Most importantly of all, I could not possibly be more sure that there is absolutely no excuse for this dentist, or anyone else, to reach into a woman’s bra and touch her damn breasts unless she is told why it might help her and has given her informed consent. Not for any fucking reason, and that includes medical treatment.
I also think that it’s important to note that the good dentist in this case claims his innocence while making quite a peculiar and telling additional defense (emphasis mine):
Anderson said his family had been through a horrible ordeal and he would have never have done anything to jeopardize his marriage of 28 years. He said he already has been punished by the loss of income.
Right. Because obviously the best reason to not assault women under your care is because it might jeopardize your marriage! Not because it’s wrong, or traumatizing to the women who you’re victimizing, or sexual assault or anything.
Anderson has been sentenced to 6 years in state prison. No word on whether or not he’ll be allowed to go back to practicing once he’s out. Let’s hope not.
Thanks to Renee for the link.
- Victims Partly To Blame For Nurse’s 20 Year Pattern Of Sexual Abuse? by Marcella Chester July 17, 2008
- Medical Rape and the Medicalization of Childbirth by Jill June 19, 2008
- Apparently, Texas Does NOT Charge Victims for Rape Kits by Cara May 16, 2009
- Female Heart Patients Experience More Emergency Room Delays by Cara February 2, 2009
- President Obama Officially Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month by Cara April 13, 2009