California Changes Statute Of Limitation Law To Protect Providers After Seven Years

By John Thomas, Associate Editor
May 1, 2000



San Jose, CA–All licensed health care providers in California, including psychologists, recently won statute of limitation protection against alleged misconduct charges.

Allegations of misconduct that occurred longer ago than seven years will no longer be investigated by the State Board of Psychology and other licensing and regulatory agencies.

Thomas O’Connor, executive director of the California Board of Psychology, said that another regulatory change mandates a three-year limit on the time allowed for investigation of misconduct charges. Complaints are dropped, he said, if no charges are filed within the three-year time limit.

O’Connor discussed the changes during the convention in late March of the California Psychological Assn.

Like other states, California had no law dealing with statute of limitations against state-issued license-holder before the recent changes.

Randolph Reeves, J.D., executive director of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, said he knew of no other state that grants a statute of limitations for misconduct by health care professionals.

Reeves said the New Hampshire Board of Psychology recently filed charges against a psychologist for sexual misconduct allegedly committed 18 years ago. He also noted that the same board did not file charges for the same offense committed by another psychologist 13 years ago.

The difference between the two cases, Reeves said, was that in the 18-year-old case the psychologist badgered the woman he allegedly had sex with for many years not to file a complaint with the board. In the 13-year-old case, the psychologist did not threaten or attempt to stop the woman from filing a complaint.

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