While the criminal portion of Lynette’s Law, HB 60, passed the House unanimously 135-0, it has come under fire in the Senate by the boards who have become embarrassed at the abuse they’ve let slide by for years. The Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists has routinely submitted letters of opposition in regards to HB 60 and HB 56, but have waffled at the hearings, retracting statements and contradicting themselves to the point that at the HB 60 House Judiciary hearing a flustered Delegate Sam Arora asked: “I don’t know is a fine answer, but I’ve heard you say, ‘we like the amendments’ and it says here opposition. I think it’s just fair that we know where the board is coming from, and I think that’s been confusing. … Does the board have a position?” Board Executive Director Tracey DeShields, who also stated she thinks a heart doctor having sex with a patient is the same as therapy sex abuse, answered, “The board has no position.” The board has now come back in the Senate in opposition with Chair Carol Deel claiming she doesn’t want victims going through the ordeal of the court system. Senator Nancy Jacobs responded to that with, “We already do that with children,” and essentially called out Deel on the board trying to protect their own.
The Maryland Psychological Association suddenly came out in opposition to HB 60 because an amendment to the bill included psychologists. They claimed that they supported the bill in the House although they never actually submitted a letter of support or came out to testify in the house, but now oppose it because of the amendment. Lobbyist Julia Worcester stood up for the board and claimed before the Senate that the APA code was stringent enough and psychologists in matters of sexual exploitation were charged both civilly and criminally, but there are no laws in place for psychologists to be held criminally accountable. This is what Lynette’s Law is designed to do. Instead, the Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists can only pass civil sanctions against psychologists, suspending licenses and administering fines up to $10,000 that are paid to the board — and not the victims.
Lynette’s Law and HB 60 can use all the support it can get. Please contact the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee (here) and let them know that you support HB 60.