A case of sexual abuse by one of the biggest personas of the Czech psychiatric community is now seeing its day in court. Dr. Jan Cimický, once a prominent psychiatrist who helped establish the field in the country (and also novelist, poet, translator, playwright and screenwriter), is currently on trial facing charges relating to 39 accounts of sexual assault and misconduct spanning decades.
At the beginning of the trial, the prosecutor read the text of the indictment for one whole hour.
Cimický made his career at the renowned Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital in Prague, where he worked as a department head from the 1980s until 1996. It was there that many of the alleged assaults are said to have occurred, targeting very vulnerable patients under his care. Despite complaints, no formal investigation was carried out for many years.
Cimický’s behavior was reportedly an “open secret” among his psychiatric peers as early as the 1980s. The former director of Bohnice, Zdeněk Bašný, has said he received numerous inquiries from concerned relatives of patients under Cimický’s care regarding inappropriate physical contact during therapy. When directly confronted, Cimický denied the allegations, but Bašný claims the accounts from multiple, unrelated individuals were deemed credible and ultimately led to Cimický’s dismissal from the hospital in 1996.
Even after leaving Bohnice, Cimický maintained his private practice and continued allegedly preying upon vulnerable clients. And additional accusations surfaced from his time at a private counseling center as well as from students he encountered during psychiatric demonstrations at a local nursing school.
When the then president announced in 2021 that Cimický was to receive a state award, the singer Jana Fabiánová gave her testimony. She posted on social media that Cimický had sexually assaulted her in the past and stated that with this statement she publicly protested against the awarding of the Medal of Merit to Cimický.
This public statement gave courage to other women who subsequently began to come forward with gut-wrenching testimony.
Quotations from the indictment:
“He took off her clothes and attempted to have sexual intercourse with the reasoning that virginity is only for girls who deserve it.
He failed to do so as she dodged him at various times while repeating that she did not want it. Finally he satisfied himself with his hand and smeared his semen on her lower abdomen. She left upset and never came to him again. For many years she did not confide the incident to anyone, among other things, she had completely lost faith in psychology and psychiatry, she tried to forget about it.”
According to the indictment, in many cases, Cimický tried to abuse the patients who had previously inserted needles into their bodies as part of acupuncture. The women described that this made it difficult for them to defend themselves.
“She was wearing only panties, and when she had the needles in her back and was lying on her stomach, he put his penis in her mouth, held her head with his hand and made movements against her head to achieve satisfaction. He then climaxed in her mouth, and since she had never had sperm in her mouth before and wasn’t expecting it, she held it in her mouth until she could get up – after longest 15 minutes, the accused returned. He pulled the needles out of her body and she was able to expel the semen into the sink. She didn’t share it with anyone and tried not to think about it. In hindsight, she doesn’t understand that she didn’t resist.”
The indictment states that Cimický gave some patients prescriptions for medications like Xanax. Patients reported feeling tamed due to the drug.
The youngest victim was 16 years old at the time. She was hospitalized for a failed suicide. After the sexual assault, she never came to the office again, but until she was 18, she was afraid the police would come for her and arrest her. For 20 years she avoided any psychiatric or psychological care. This experience made her fearful and apprehensive of doctors and she (like many other patients) did not seek treatment because of this.
In the statements of the attacked patients, it was said that Cimický had sexually assaulted them on a daily basis. One of the patients was allegedly threatened with electric shocks if she spoke about the attacks.
According to an expert report prepared for the court, “There is an obvious notion of self-importance, a fantasy of self-worth, and an association of Cimický’s person with high-ranking people. The use of interpersonal relationships to one’s own advantage. There is a noticeable lack of some empathy and ability to empathize with the feelings and needs of others.”
“He was found to have narcissistic personality disorders. This means that a person pursues his goals at the expense of others and has a certain reduced ability to empathize with other people,” said the forensic expert.
“The evidence is indisputable,” said the prosecutor. Cimický denies all guilt, saying that he was just always trying to help patients.
The case has spotlighted the systemic failures that allowed such extensive abuse of power to continue unchecked for decades, severely damaging public trust in the psychiatric profession in the process, and ruining tens of lives.
A ruling is expected later this year.