Yesterday, a Westchester County jury's verdict of $950,000 in favor of a patient against her clinical psychologist was upheld by Supreme Court Justice Terry J. Ruderman. The patient claimed that she was at her psychologist's office during a therapy session when he suddenly and forcibly raped her. The psychologist countered that the patient had sexually assaulted him (though on a different date) and denied that he had raped her. The jury believed the patient, rejected the defense and awarded her $250,000 for past pain and suffering; $200,000 for future pain and suffering; and, $500,000 in punitive damages, none of which can be paid from a malpractice policy.
After the trial, the psychologist argued that the verdict should be set aside as grossly excessive and that there was insufficient proof of his guilt because: 1) the patient didn't seek medical attention for the rape; 2) the alleged rape was not promptly reported to the police, the victim's family or her treating psychiatrist; and, 3) the patient continued therapy sessions with him for months after the alleged rape. The Court rejected all these arguments noting that a delay in reporting rape is "a common characteristic of male and female rape victims". The Judge emphasized that the jury had wisely rejected the psychologist's implausible sexual assault claim that the patient forcibly restrained both his arms while she simultaneously: 1) opened his zipper and pants buttons; 2) removed his underwear and pants; and, 3) grabbed him inappropriately. Jane Doe v William Knack, 2017 WL 3045908