Belgian psychiatrist admits on TV show to sex with patients

October 13, 2012

A Belgian pyschiatrist specialising in eating disorders triggered a national furore Wednesday after confessing on a TV show to "inappropriate" sex with several patients.

Walter Vandereycken, a 63-year-old professor at Leuven university and author of works on eating disorders, confessed to malpractice on a popular prime-time show on the Flemish VRT channel on Tuesday evening.

"It started 20 years ago when I fell in love with a patient in a private clinc. I stopped her therapy and had a short relationship with her. It happened again and I again fell in love with other patients," said Vandereycken, who is also a sexologist. He was suspended immediately by the university and fired by the hospital where he worked.

On Wednesday, Belgian Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx filed a judicial complaint against him and urged the country's medical board to take action for malpractice.

Vandereycken confessed to having "gone too far" but said he had "never raped anyone" and that all the women "consented".

One of the women confirmed but said she had felt afraid of him.

Belgian commentators said the case, which headlined the media, smacked of a child sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church that surfaced in 2010. Belgium was rocked in April that year with revelations that the then bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, had abused a nephew for 13 years. The case opened a floodgate, with a Church-backed report subsequently revealing almost 500 cases of alleged abuse of boys, girls and adults in Catholic institutions since the 1950s, including 13 known suicides by victims.

Source: "Furore in Belium over psychiatrist's TV sex confession," Medical X Press, October 10, 2012.


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