Report: Congressman Admitted To Sleeping With Patients

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 16 2012 10:54 AM

Six Affairs, Two Abortions and Another Term in Congress

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The US Capitol Building is pictured at dusk in Washington, DC, on July 29, 2011

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Tennessee Republican Rep. Scott Desjarlais was among the more than 350 members of Congress who won another two-year term this election, defeating his challenger by double-digits last Tuesday despite a late-breaking sex scandal that had given Democrats hope of an eleventh-hour upset.

About a month before last week's election, voters learned of a recorded phone conversation from more than a decade ago in which DesJarlais—a physician who opposes abortion rights—appeared to suggest to an alleged mistress (who was also one of his patients) that she travel out of state to get an abortion. Those voters learned a little more about the congressman's past yesterday via the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

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We'll let the Free Press hit the highlights for you:

A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.

The soon-to-be second-term congressman never responded directly to the pre-election reports about the recorded phone call, and likewise has remained mum on the latest developments. Given he just won re-election, the timing of the bombshell couldn't be better for him, politically speaking, given he now has two full years to hope voters either forgive or forget. Still, he could pay a more immediate penalty: Since doctors are prohibited from having sex with their patients, he could lose his medical license.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.