South Africa health authority revokes psychologist Richard McMahon’s license for sex with teenage patient

July 1, 2007

In early July 2007, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) found psychologist Richard McMahon guilty of unprofessional conduct for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient 20 years ago and for failing to take into account the possible negative long-term effects of such a relationship.

HPCSA revoked his right to practice.

Dr. McMahon did not contest the allegations that he engaged in a sexual affair with the then 17-year-old girl (when he himself was 42) but only made statements in an effort to discredit his accuser, stating that the girl had “aggressively initiated the sexual relationship... It was a very short-lived sexual relationship…because of…my deep fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.”

The patient, who is now 37 and a clinical psychologist herself, blew the whistle on Dr. McMahon because she knew she was not the only patient he had had this type of relationship with.

Indeed, Dr. McMahon was found guilty of a similar charge in 1999 and given a suspended sentence.1

1 Suthentira Govender, “Psychologist struck from roll for sex with teen patient,” The Times, 8 July 2007.

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