More than six months after media reports and the divorce papers of Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., alleged he had sexual relationships with two female patients while he was a practicing doctor, the socially conservative congressman has been fined $500 by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners for the charges.
But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a legal watchdog group that filed two complaints against DesJarlais, said the penalty was far too weak.
"This is the exploitation of women. A traffic ticket is more expensive. It's pretty offensive," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan tells Whispers.
The improprieties were first reported by the Huffington Post, which obtained a phone call transcript appearing to show the pro-life congressman had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to terminate a pregnancy. DesJarlais did not deny the contents of the transcript at the time.
The Chattanooga Times Free press later reported DesJarlais also had a sexual relationship with a second patient, a report his office described as "personal smear campaigns."
Divorce records for DesJarlais and his then-wife Susan, released later, showed similar improprieties.
The Knoxville News-Sentinal reports DesJarlais said the small penalty shows he has been mostly absolved of the charges.