A Washington, D.C.-based ethical watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
The complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington comes less than a week after revelations that the freshman congressman, who is also a doctor, had engaged in a sexual relationship with a former patient. As first reported by the Huffington Post, a transcript of a phone call between the two appeared to show DesJarlais pressuring the woman to get an abortion.
“The fact that Dr. DesJarlais engaged in a sexual relationship with a female patient he was treating for a medical condition — something he does not deny — merits an immediate investigation and sanctions,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said in a letter to the department. “That Dr. DesJarlais was married at the time of the relationship and urged this woman to have an abortion if pregnant simply adds to the outrageousness of his conduct and indicates serious disciplinary action is required to protect the public.”
In an open letter to his supporters on Facebook, DesJarlais claimed that he knew the woman wasn’t pregnant and that — by pressuring her to get an abortion — he was only using “strong rhetoric in hopes that it would lead to her admitting the truth — that there was no pregnancy.”
DesJarlais also claimed that he and his wife had an agreement allowing both of them to see other people while their divorce was being finalized.
In their complaint, CREW cites the Tennessee State Board of Medical Examiners’ Sexual Misconduct Statement and Policy, which states that, “It is the physician’s responsibility to maintain the boundaries of the professional relationship by avoiding and refraining from sexual contact with patients” and that “sexual contact with a patient is misconduct and is considered to be a violation” of state law.