Police arrested a counselor in Lemont and charged him with sexually assaulting a female patient during her therapy sessions at the Timberline Knolls residential treatment facility. 40-year-old Michael Jacksa was employed as a licensed therapist at the facility before he was arrested. According to the police, he sexually assaulted a patient multiple times earlier this year. He faces four felony counts of sexual assault and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Timberline Knolls is a private treatment facility for women with a variety of addiction problems, including substance abuse and eating disorders. Investigators believe Jacksa assaulted a 29-year-old female patient during two counseling sessions between May and late June 2018. Since the charges were publicly announced, Lemont police say several other former patients have contacted them with allegations that Jacksa also sexually assaulted or abused them.
Unfortunately, sexual assault and abuse by therapists and counselors is more prevalent than most of us would think. In a national survey of 1,320 psychologists, approximately half of the respondents reported assessing or treating at least one patient who had been sexually intimate with a therapist in the past. While not all of these cases involved sexual assault, any sexual contact between a therapist and patient is a breach of ethical standards. The survey also found that 80% of these cases involved harm to the patient.
Brian Kent is an experienced sexual assault victims lawyer and represents victims sexually assaulted by therapists. We’ve asked him how the civil court system can help survivors and this is what he had to say:
Sexual assault is a heinous crime regardless of the perpetrator. When the perpetrator is a trusted professional like a therapist or counselor, these crimes can leave survivors feeling like they can never trust these professionals again. Arresting and prosecuting these offenders is always a top priority. Along with letting the criminal justice system handle this process, survivors should also consider how filing a civil lawsuit can help them demand accountability from any negligent third parties who could have done more to stop the abuse. For example, sometimes employers fail to properly background-check employees or grossly mishandle reports of sexual misconduct.
If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, or any medical professional, we advise discussing your legal options with an experienced sexual assault victims lawyer.