You may be surprised where sex offenders can - and cannot - work

Credit: Lois Norder

Credit: Lois Norder

Registered sex offenders are barred from working as teachers or daycare providers in many states. Other job restrictions may surprise you:

Registered sex offenders can't drive ice cream trucks in Massachusetts.

In Virginia, they can't work as tow truck drivers.

In Georgia, they can't get approval to appraise real estate.

In New York, they can't join volunteer fire departments.

But in those states and 34 others, registered sex offenders aren't barred from being licensed as medical doctors. Medical regulators can decide to grant them licenses - and some do.

In reviewing disciplinary cases against thousands of physicians accused of sexual misconduct, the AJC found that even some physicians with felony convictions for sexual violations were able to go back to practicing medicine. When we reviewed laws in every state, we found out that's perfectly legal in most.

So, as the AJC recently reported, New Jersey licensed a doctor convicted of sexual offenses with four patients. Kansas licensed a doctor while he was still in prison for a sexual offense involving a child, though he later lost his license for making anonymous obscene phone calls to patients. Utah licensed a doctor who didn't contest charges that he intentionally touched the genitals of patients, staff members and others.

The AJC also found cases in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Tennessee and the District of Columbia, to name some states, where doctors with criminal convictions for sexual offenses were allowed to practice.  And a number of states - including Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia - have licensed physicians convicted of child pornography.

We also found states where doctors arrested on charges of rape or other sexual violations kept practicing as their cases wound their way through court systems.

Credit: Lois Norder

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Credit: Lois Norder

In Montana, after Dr. Donald Eugene Russell was arrested in 2003 and accused of molesting three children, a judge let him keep practicing as long as he had supervision while treating minors. Then, the medical board said he  had sex with an 84-year-old patient likely suffering from dementia; another patient in her 80s; and two other women, though investigators didn't know if they were patients. The board revoked his license. He went to prison, and now he is a registered sex offender - though not back in practice. You can hear what he had to say about the convictions here:

Want to know how your state handles doctor sex abuse cases? You'll find the information at this link: