Jury finds pychiatrist ruined marriage

By Steve Porter
The Coloradoan

A Larimer District Court jury decided Tuesday that a Fort Collins psychiatrist must pay $217,373 for damages associated with the breakup of the client’s marriage.

Dr. Christian Hageseth III was sued by Paul Burson, who claimed Hageseth counseled his wife, Laurel, to leave him and that Hageseth developed a sexual relationship with his wife.

A four-man, two-woman jury deliberated about seven hours before bringing in a decision in favor of Paul Burson.

The jury awarded Burson $117,373 in real damages and another $100,000 in punitive damages. The jury decided Burson – who attended several sessions with his wife – was a patient of Hageseth and that the psychiatrist engaged in negligent and outrageous conduct toward Paul Burson.

Hageseth said after the jury’s verdict that he was sorry for the situation.

“I respect the legal process and the jury who heard my case,” he said. “I apologize to those members of the community who have held me in high esteem. Matters of the human heart are not always subject to our highest values.”

Hageseth said he plans to appeal.

“As to legal matters, my attorney plans appeals since it is his opinion of the law that this case should never have come to court,” he said.

Laurel Burson said after the verdict she plans to continue her relationship with Hageseth.

“A goal of therapy is to become whole and well,” she said. “My therapy with Dr. Hageseth ended July 21, 1995. We did not become intimate until almost one year later. He has always been a perfect gentleman and a warm, humorous companion.”

Burson said she disagreed “immensely” with the trial verdict.

“Shouldn’t any woman have the right to choose who to love and who to spend her life with, even if at one time he was her healer?” she said.

Paul Burson was not available for comment after the verdict.

Laurel Burson began her therapy with Hageseth in 1988, court documents indicate. Laurel Burson said divorce proceedings in her six-year marriage to Paul Burson are expected to become final in May.

American Psychiatric Association expels Hageseth

Psychiatric group expels local doctor

by Sonja Bisbee Wulff
Dec. 30, 1998

The American Psychiatric Association on Tuesday announced the expulsion of long-time Fort Collins psychiatrist Dr. Christian Hageseth III.

As local medical leaders rallied in his defense, the national voluntary organization charged Hageseth with “unethical conduct involving a sexual and romantic relationship with a patient.”

Despite the national ruling, Hageseth’s local peers say he followed state guidelines before getting involved with – and last month, marrying – former patient Laurel Burson.

These guidelines, aimed at protecting patients in vulnerable states, say psychiatrists must end a patient relationship and wait six months before entering a romantic relationship with that patient.

Though Burson’s then-husband maintains Hageseth broke up their marriage, the psychiatrist said he ended his patient relationship with Burson as soon as he realized he had feelings for her. The two “waited nearly a year before becoming intimate,” he said.

That was 2 years ago.

Now, though the APA ruling does not affect Hageseth’s Colorado medical license, his local peers fear action pending form the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners.

Such action would be a “blow,” “a catastrophe,” and “appalling” to a community already short on psychiatrists, they said.

Stan Anthony, acting administrator for the state agency, said he couldn’t comment on the situation, other than to say “there have been no disciplinary actions taken.”

“Hageseth’s Colorado medical license is active as of today,” Anthony said.

The Fort Collins Individual Practice Association, which represents a majority of local physicians, looked into the issue earlier this year when Hageseth came up for routine re-credentialing.

“He met the spirit and letter of the Colorado Medical Society guidelines,” said IPA president Dr. Jim Bush.

The IPA’s credentialing committee and board of directors voted to re-credential Hageseth and wrote a letter on his behalf to the state medical examiners board.

“I would do anything to protect the patients,” Bush said, “but I really don’t see a danger.”

Hageseth loses negligence suit

Former psychiatrist loses another lawsuit

by Jenn Farrell
The Coloradoan
July 7, 2000

Former Fort Collins psychiatrist Christian Hageseth III, who lost his license to practice medicine in December, last week lost a negligence suit brought by a patient.

A local jury ruled June 27 that Ray Smith suffered $146,548.10 in damages while under Hageseth’s care, including past and future medical bills and noneconomic loss for pain and suffering.

But the six-member jury also found that Smith was 5 percent responsible for those damages, bringing the amount owed by his former psychiatrist down to $139,220.69.

Smith was Hageseth’s patient from October 1996 to July 1997. The lawsuit, field in June 1999, claimed that while he was Hageseth’s patient he experienced symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. He also had a history of depression.

Hageseth prescribed medications that Smith claimed exacerbated his disturbances.

Smith’s claim was based on Hageseth’s behavior from June to July 1997. Hageseth became unavailable to his patients in June, Smith said, and in early July terminated his treatment.

Smith said Hageseth knew he was ill and that the abandonment was unprofessional.

Smith declined comment about the jury’s decision.

When contacted by the Coloradoan on Thursday for comment, Hageseth said “I just wish you’d let it alone.”

He said four psychiatrists testified in his favor during the trial.

“I’ve done so much for this community for so many years,” he said.

Hageseth treated patients in Fort Collins for 21 years before the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners forced him to close his practice.

For a year prior, the state regulatory board investigated a complaint filed against Hageseth by the ex-husband of former patient Laurel Burson, who now is Hageseth’s wife.

Paul Burson, Laurel Burson’s ex-husband, won a civil suit against Hageseth in Larimer District Court in April 1998 and was awarded $217,373 in damages.

Hageseth was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for “unethical conduct.”

Hageseth denied Burson’s claim that he counseled his wife to leave him.

Decision Confirmed by Colorado Appeals Court

Court reinstates Hageseth’s license

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan

Court reinstates Hageseth’s license

It took more than a year, but earlier this month, the state Court of Appeals reversed a 1999 Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners decision and reinstated Hageseth’s medical license.

In its reversal, the Court of Appeals found that the evidence did not support the board’s decision. The board failed to specify or identify a statute Hageseth had violated or to explain how it concluded he was not safe to practice medicine.

“There is no basis in this record for the board’s conclusion,” the court’s ruling states.

The board could still appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, but the couple said that is unlikely.

Also the Fort Collins IPA, or Independent Practitioners Association, the administrative group to which Hageseth belonged, conducted its own investigation and decided Hageseth could continue to practice, said Dr. Jim Bush, president of the Fort Collins IPA.

However, the judge concluded Hageseth had failed to meet generally accepted standards of medical treatment of Laurel.

The judge ruled he had improperly engaged in a sexual act with Laurel within six months of the termination of his professional relationship with her.

The judge recommended that the medical board place Hageseth on indefinite probation and allow him to continue to practice provided he continue to receive treatment for depression. While on probation, other doctors would be allowed to monitor and evaluate his practice.

Despite the judge’s recommendations, the medical board revoked Hageseth’s license.

Fort Collins psychiatrist loses license

Dec. 1, 1999

The Coloradoan

Christian HagesethDr Christian Hageseth III has closed his longtime practice under order from the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners.

For more than a year, the state regulatory board has been investigating a formal complaint filed by the ex-husband of former patient Laurel Burson, who is now Hageseth’s wife.

Last week, the board permanently revoked his medical license, effective immediately.

“They’ve taken away my ability to care for people,” said Hageseth, who’s practiced in Fort Collins for 21 years. “It’s immensely painful.”

Paul Burson, who won a civil suit against Hageseth in Larimer District Court, Claims the psychiatrist counseled his wife to leave him and then developed a sexual relationship with her.

Hageseth, 58, denies the charges, saying he didn’t “become intimate” with Burson until a year after her therapy ended.

A local jury awarded Paul Burson $217,373 in damages in April 1998. Last fall, the American Psychiatric Association expelled Hageseth from its roster for “unethical conduct.”

Hageseth married Laurel Burson on Oct. 30, 1998, and continued his local practice – until last week when he lost his license. Hageseth said he feels “bad that people got hurt,” but he called the board’s decision “irregular and highly unfair.”

“I have had four experts evaluate me,” he said. “All four say I’m safe to practice, and there’s no danger.”

Hageseth said he’s seen other psychiatrists get romantically involved with patients yet receive only a slap on the wrist from the medical board.

Hageseth, who’s already spent $50,000 in legal fees plans to plead his case to Gov. Bill Owens.

“All I did was love this sweet woman,” he said.

Loss another crisis for those who need help
The Coloradoan

The Fort Collins mental health community is reeling from the abrupt loss of psychiatrist Dr. Christian Hageseth.

In a community already short on psychiatrists, Hageseth has maintained a full practice, including a large number of indigent patients, for the past 21 years. Recently he has handled almost a third of patients hospitalized at Mountain Crest.

But now when these patients call his office, they get a recording directing them to the Yellow Pages.

The Colorado Board of Medical Examiners, has revoked Hageseth’s license, his patients are learning this week through the mail.

“We felt it immediately,” said Dr. John Nagel, medical director at Mountain Crest, who has been deluged with calls from panicked Hageseth patients, some in urgent need of medication.

Nagel criticized the state medical board for not giving Hageseth the two or three months needed to transition psychiatric patients smoothly to new physicians.

“It puts a lot of people and a lot of lives at risk,” he said.

The most vulnerable patients are those among the low-income population, said Joan Cmar, a therapist with Poudre Health Services District’s Mental Health Connections.

With the shortage of local psychiatrists, people with health insurance have trouble accessing care, said Cmar, who’s also received numerous calls from Hageseth’s patients. For people who can’t pay, it’s next to impossible, she said.

“(Hageseth) connected to the indigent population more readily than any other psychiatrist in town, Cmar said. “It’s going to be a huge loss for the community.”

The other major concern is for psychiatric patients who require hospitalization.

Only four psychiatrists � including Dr. Cliff Zeller, who was recruited this fall � remain on staff at Mountain Crest.

“We have been in something of a scramble to cover all the bases,” Nagel said.

The result will be more instability, Cmar said.

Untreated mental illness can lead to family difficulties, unemployment, violence, suicide and a host of other problems, she said.

Mountain Crest is actively recruiting psychiatrists, with a couple of possibilities in the works. However, since the candidates are not from Colorado, they would have to go through a lengthy licensing process.

“It’s probably months off,” Nagel said.

Dr. Cameron’s Casualties

Television: DR. CAMERON’S CASUALTIES: A series revisits Canada’s 1950s brainwashing scandal
Diane Turbide; 04-21-1997

One of the actors in The Sleep Room confesses that she has had more than a few disquieting moments while filming the CBC TV mini-series in Montreal. The woman, who prefers to remain unidentified, has a husband who is taking experimental drugs for his recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. It is part of a study that is being conducted at a local psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, the actor spends her days shooting a docudrama that chronicles how, in the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. Ewen Cameron, a world-renowned psychiatrist at a respected Montreal hospital, used experimental treatments-including massive doses of electroshock, and injections of LSD and the muscle relaxant curare- on unsuspecting psychiatric patients. In most cases, the patients were permanently brain-damaged or psychologically shattered. “It’s not a direct parallel-this is voluntary, and my husband is not suffering what those poor people did,” the actor, who is playing one of Cameron’ s patients, tells Maclean’s while waiting inside a cramped trailer on Hutchison Street, the site of the day’s shooting. “But still, it does bring everything home quite strongly.”

She is referring, of course, to how much trust patients and their families place in the medical profession and its institutions. The Sleep Room, directed by Vancouver-based Anne Wheeler and produced by Bernie Zukerman, explores that issue in a four-hour production blending real and composite characters in the bizarre story. Based on Anne Collins’s 1988 book, In The Sleep Room, it also dramatizes the protracted legal battle that nine Canadian victims waged against the CIA, which partly funded Cameron’s treatments in its own efforts to develop brainwashing techniques. The $10-million production, to be aired this fall, is being shot in and around Montreal, with a cast including stage and television veteran Eric Peterson, who plays a patient composite, and Quebec superstar Marina Orsini, as fictional lawyer Jane Conroy.

The mini-series, an independent project co-produced by Toronto-based Zukerman and Montreal’s CINAR Films Inc., resurrects a shameful event in Canada’s past. But Zukerman, 50, has carved out a niche in TV land by recreating unsavory events for the small screen in all their moral and human complexity. His previous award-winning movies have dramatized the case of Colin Thatcher, the prominent Saskatchewan politician convicted of murdering his wife (Love and Hate, 1990), the rape and murder of native Helen Betty Osborne in The Pas, Man. (Conspiracy of Silence, 1991), and another case of a charismatic doctor using questionable techniques, the Dionne quintuplets saga (Million Dollar Babies, 1994). “People keep asking me when I’m going to make a comedy, ” says Zukerman, who began developing The Sleep Room six years ago, working with a series of script writers until finding what he wanted with Montrealer Bruce M. Smith’s version. “But I’m really drawn to these kinds of stories-I think most Canadians have a tremendous thirst for their own stories. They want to know the full details behind events that happened right here.” He also believes that people have short memories. “It’s astonishing how little people remember about this whole thing,” says Zukerman. “Usually, it comes down to four words: LSD, experiments, CIA and brainwashing. They forget that once the story became public, it took another 10 years for the victims to get any sort of justice.”

In one sense, the victory was Pyrrhic. One of the nine plaintiffs died before an out-of court settlement-roughly $100,000 each-was reached with the CIA in 1988, eight years after the launch of the lawsuit. Seventy-six others who had been treated with Cameron’s methods later received $100,000 each from the Canadian government, which had also funded Cameron’s work (and which had done almost nothing to help the nine citizens in their suit until a 1984 episode of CBC’s the fifth estate stirred up public outrage). Neither the CIA nor the Canadian government ever admitted any culpability in the matter. But the settlement confirmed that something terrible indeed had been inflicted on patients behind the grey limestone walls of Ravenscrag, the mansion that had once belonged to shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allan and had become the Allan Memorial Institute.

And what happened was mind-boggling, in every sense of the word. Cameron believed he had found an overall cure for mental instability in the technique he described as “psychic driving.” Patients’ troubled minds could be wiped clean of their neuroses and psychoses, or “depatterned, ” he claimed, and new, healthier attitudes instilled with the use of endlessly repeated messages on tape recorders. It was an idea that caught the attention of the CIA, which had been scrambling to catch up in the global race to develop mind-control methods for use in the Cold War. Through a front called the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, the spy agency channelled funds to Cameron from 1957 to 1960.

For the tape technique to be effective, it was first necessary to break down patients’ psyches. Men and women-suffering everything from postpartum depression to schizophrenia to leg pains diagnosed as psychosomatic- were subjected to a barrage of LSD injections and drug cocktails that left them terrified and disoriented. Many received electroshock therapy that grossly exceeded the normal voltage and frequency. They were forced to wear football helmets that were wired to tape recorders which repeated a phrase or sentence for hours on end. Later, Cameron used insulin, barbiturates and other drugs to induce coma-like states for up to 10 days at a time, and played the taped messages while patients slept. Staging such scenes, while gruelling for most of the actors, meant walking a thin line, says director Wheeler (Bye Bye Blues, The Diviners). “When you have a bizarre scene with a roomful of people in pajamas and football helmets, it could easily have drifted into black comedy,” notes the 50-year-old film-maker. “We had to be careful not to make a mockery of it.” At the same time, she says, “it was very important not to present the patients as one-dimensional victims.”

Nonetheless, all the actors know that in real life, it was a particularly brutal form of torture: many patients were left mentally scarred and incontinent, and many suffered total amnesia. One, Vancouverite Linda MacDonald, lost all recollection of her first 26 years, including the birth of her five children. Another, successful Montreal businessman Louis Weinstein, who had been admitted for what would now be called panic attacks, emerged a broken man, with devastating economic and emotional after effects for his family.
Their experiences, and those of other patients, have been used to create composite characters in The Sleep Room. Eric Peterson, best known for his role as Leon in the CBC series Street Legal, plays Sal, one of the ex-patients who is haunted by the destruction of a young woman, Nathalie (Quebec star Macha Grenon), whom he met in the hospital 25 years earlier. “Sal is going to use whatever lucidity he has left to atone for Nathalie’s death,” says Peterson. On set in a courtroom scene, Peterson, dressed in grey fedora and overcoat, shuffles slowly, his measured movements and bent posture conveying both defeat and dignity in spite of almost no dialogue.

What is most astonishing in retrospect is not that the events happened, but that they were allowed to happened. The film-makers, and Collins’ s book, offer a host of explanations: that there was insufficient regulation of psychiatric practices then, particularly regarding patients’ right to “informed consent” for any treatment; that Cold War paranoia about Russia and China meant a public fascination with mind-control techniques; that the stigma attached to mental illness, still a factor today, made it easier to accept the use of extreme methods; that postwar optimism about curing disease, brought about by the success of antibiotics and the Salk vaccine for polio, could extend to an easy cure for mental affliction. Not least was the character of the Scottish-born Cameron himself, who was director of the Allan Memorial from 1943 to 1964 (and died in 1967). An esteemed psychiatrist, he was one of the doctors sent to determine whether Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess was mentally competent to stand trial, and had been a noted reformer of asylums at a time when mental illness was still considered in some quarters as the work of the devil. Leon Pownall, 53, who portrays Cameron, says he strived to present the man not as a Mengele-like monster but as a charismatic leader whose ambition and single-minded pursuit of his theory led him on a disastrous path. “Obviously, the audience comes to a point where they’ll ask, `Why didn’t somebody stop him?’ ” says Pownall. “So I really had to show him as an engaging person, a professional with a good bedside manner, someone who made others believe in what he was doing. After all, he didn’t have any barbwire around his hospital.” Pownall adds that he also tries to convey the heights and depths that Cameron must have experienced. “This character is like a mini-King Lear. It touches on every human condition. It has all the basics of a good Shakespearean role.”

Vancouver-based actor Nicola Cavendish, 45, who plays fictionalized ex-patient Ruth, is concerned that she represent her character in as full a light as possible. Ruth is perpetually anxious, confused and often mutters to herself, yet is the most lovable of the characters. “You have to convey the idea that there’s more to these people than a sackful of bad memories, that they add up to more than their case histories at the hospital,” Cavendish says.

The drama closes with a courtroom scene in which the patients learn they have won a settlement and are joyfully hugging each other. During the first take, Cavendish, as Ruth, spontaneously hugged the defeated CIA lawyers making an angry exit. It was a gesture that cracked up everyone on the set. But when they reshot the scene, director Wheeler told her to do it again. Cavendish, asked about it later, says she thought it was exactly what a woman like Ruth would have done. “She is someone who will probably never get better. But I think the hope in this story lies in the fact that these people, despite their difficulties, pursued their dignity and won. It’s a black mark in our history, but I’m glad the story is being told.”

Diane Turbide, Television: DR. CAMERON’S CASUALTIES: A series revisits Canada’s 1950s brainwashing scandal. , Maclean’s, 04-21-1997, pp 60.

Abrams and Thymatron

The following is an actual advertisement for the ThymatronTM, an ECT device from Somatics, Inc. The company is owned by Dr. Richard Abrams, author of Electroconvulsive Therapy, considered to be the definitive ECT text.

Is it a conflict of interest for one of the top “experts” on ECT to write the definitive text, setting standards of practice in ECT, while making money on the machine that fits his perfect criteria? The publisher of his book, Oxford University Press, was shocked to hear that he owned Somatics. He says he didn’t tell them because he didn’t think of it. He says it’s no big deal.

In the text of the ad below you will find links to additional information on that terminology. The information comes from the 1992 edition of Abrams’ book.


The ThymatronTM: Description and Specifications

* A single dial sets the treatment stimulus: you can just set it to your patient’s age to automatically deliver the recommended dose of electricity.

* A light-emitting impedance meter instantly tells you if the treatment electrodes are properly and safely applied at any time, even when the patient is awake.

* The patented Audible EEGTM monitors the seizure without the need for EEG expertise or paper. Demonstrated to be highly reliable and valid, the Audible EEGTM is built in to every ThymatronTM.

* You can treat as quickly as you need to with the ThymatronTM. There are never any annoying waits for warmup or stimulus override.

* An optional plug-in EEG recorder provides a permanent paper record of the seizure. This instrument can also record the EKG, with full limb and chest lead capability.

* A remote treatment foot switch is available to enable the single operator to administer unilateral ECT safely and conveniently.

* Readily portable, the ThymatronTM in its optional fitted case weighs only 15 lbs.

* The brief pulse square wave stimulus delivers all voltage over the seizure threshold, producing significantly less memory loss and EEG disturbance than the obsolete sine wave stimulus, without any loss of therapeutic benefit.

* Four seconds of pulsed stimulation can be given with the ThymatronTM, providing the extra energy required to treat the difficult cases.

* The ThymatronTM safeguards against accidental electrical discharge with a hinged flip-up cover over the treatment button, and audible and visible stumulus (sic) indicators.

* The Underwriters Laboratories listed construction protects against excessive electrical current, isolating the patient from the electrical line through relays, fuses and a power-limiting transformer.

* The pulsewidth is preset at 1 millisecond, the optimal for ECT.

* Stimulus settings are precision fine-tuned by equal click stop increments; the constant current ensures that each setting corresponds to a specific electrical charge.

* In an illustrated treatment manual, Drs. Richard Abrams and Conrad Swartz take you step by step through a fully documented description of how to give ECT with the Thymatron TM. A full discussion includes indications, precautions, contraindications, and the management of side-effects and complications.

* In an inservice demonstration color videotape, Dr. Richard Abrams illustrates exactly how to use the ThymatronTM and its accessories.

* An illustrated service manual is included which explicitly guides your maintenance department through all the recommended testing procedures.


910 Sherwood Drive Unit 18
Lake Bluff, IL 60044
Interstate toll-free 800-642-6761


Physicians Disciplined for Sex-Related Offenses

Physicians Disciplined for Sex-Related Offenses

Public Citizen Health Research Group
Executive Summary
June 1997

By betraying and exploiting their patients’ faith, confidence, and vulnerability for their own gratification, physicians who engage in sexual contact with their patients inflict immense damage on their victims. In fact, this behavior is similar in many ways to incest, as physicians are trusted caretakers. When physicians put their needs ahead of the physical and psychological needs of their patients, they are abandoning their role of a protector of the patients’ interests, just as a parent who sexually abuses his child can no longer be considered a trusted guardian.

The dangers of physician-patient sexual contact were recognized in the Hippocratic Oath in the 4th or 5th century B.C., but over 2,300 years later this awareness is not always acted upon by the medical profession or the legal and disciplinary structures that regulate physicians. Indeed, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that professional medical associations clearly stated that sexual activity between physicians and patients was unethical. Similarly, the disciplinary and legal systems have increased their attention to this issue in the last two decades. Over this time period, state medical boards have increasingly issued policies on sexual misconduct, and their trade organization, the Federation of State Medical Boards, adopted a report in 1996 to further aid in discussion of this issue. The first state law criminalizing sexual contact between a psychotherapist and a patient was passed in 1983 in Wisconsin, and at least 12 more states have passed such laws since that time.

Although the recently accelerated attention to and concern about physicians who sexually exploit their patients is commendable, it must be accompanied by action, in the form of holding offending physicians accountable, if it is to have any meaning. Since most of the agencies responsible for disciplining physicians are deficient in their policing of all kinds of offenses, it is probable that the majority of physicians committing sexual offenses are never apprehended, and that those who are caught are inadequately penalized. If this is the case, the fact that sexual misconduct in the abstract has been increasingly condemned is inadequate, for individuals guilty of these offenses are protected by the insufficient oversight of the medical profession.

Purpose and Methodology of the Report

In order to determine to what extent physicians who are guilty of sex-related offenses are held accountable for their actions by the agencies that regulate the medical profession, this report uses Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s national database of disciplinary orders against physicians to analyze the frequency and severity of disciplinary actions taken for sex-related offenses. In this analysis we include all orders which are sex-related, whether or not they explicitly involved a patient, as a physician who commits sexual misconduct of any type violates the social trust necessary to the physician-patient relationship. The characteristics of the physicians against whom these orders were taken are also analyzed in order to gain an improved understanding of who commits sex-related offenses.

Frequency and Severity of Discipline

In the years 1989 through 1994, the number of disciplinary orders per year we identified as being for sex-related offenses increased from 47 to 162, a 3.4-fold increase. In these same years the percent of all disciplinary orders that were sex-related increased from 2.1% to 5.2%, a statistically significant 2.5-fold increase (p
The severity of discipline has not changed significantly from 1989 through 1994. The percent of orders by state medical boards that included a revocation or surrender of licensure decreased from 47.2% of all sex-related orders to 36.2% in this time period, while the percent of orders in which the most serious action was suspension or emergency suspension, restriction or probation, or other, non-serious, actions, increased. None of these changes is statistically significant. The percentage of disciplinary orders containing a revocation, surrender, and/or suspension was significantly higher for sex-related offenses than for non-sex-related offenses (71.9% vs. 42.8%, p
While 44.4% of physicians who were disciplined for sex-related offenses lost their licensure through revocation or surrender, the most serious action taken against 26.3% of these physicians was suspension or emergency suspension, while another 19.6% had their license restricted or put on probation, and 9.6% had other, non-serious, actions taken against them. In addition, a substantial number of disciplined physicians had multiple actions taken against them, and some had more than one serious action imposed.

Of the physicians who were disciplined for sex-related offenses, 39.9% are currently licensed to practice in one or more of the jurisdictions which originally disciplined them. In addition, another 9.2% have one or more of their licenses in suspended status, indicating they could eventually practice.

The number of orders taken by individual state boards per 1,000 MDs for sex-related offenses from 1989 through 1994 varies from 3.3 to 0, and the number of MDs disciplined for sex-related offenses in those years also ranges from 3.3 to 0.

Characteristics of Physicians Disciplined for Sex-Related Offenses

Physician specialties (analyzed for MDs only) overrepresented among physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses were psychiatry (27.9% of those disciplined compared to 6.3% of all MDs), child psychiatry (2.5% compared to 0.8%), obstetrics/gynecology (12.6% compared to 6.1%), and family/general practice (20.3% compared to 12.4%) (all p
The age distribution of physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses at the time of the first sex-related disciplinary action was significantly older than that of the physician population as a whole. The distribution for disciplined physicians peaks in the 45-54 age category, with 32.6% of physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses belonging in this category, whereas the overall age distribution reaches its highest point in the 35-44 age category, with 32.7% of physicians. Physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses are significantly more likely (p
Analysis of the proportion of physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses who were board certified, as well as the proportion of these physicians who practiced in metropolitan areas, revealed that these physicians are not statistically different from the physician population as a whole in these characteristics.


Although the rate of discipline for sex-related offenses appears to be increasing, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of all discipline, not enough discipline is being done. The incidence of discipline, with at most 0.023% of physicians being disciplined for sex-related offenses a year, would result in only 1.2% of physicians being disciplined in their lifetime (assuming a 50 year career). This rate is inadequate given the prevalence of physicians guilty of sexual misconduct, which has been estimated conservatively at 3.5% to 13% of all physicians. Further, the severity of discipline is not only inadequate, with less than a half of the physicians in our database having an action of revocation or surrender taken against them, and almost 40% of disciplined physicians continuing to be licensed to practice in one or more of the jurisdictions which originally disciplined them, but also stagnant, with no significant changes in the severity of discipline occurring from 1989 to 1994.

Although physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses are significantly more likely to practice in certain specialties, to be involved in direct patient care, and to be older, they are not otherwise significantly different from the physician population. Thus, there is no identified profile of sex- abusing physicians which can be used to identify these unethical practitioners.

What Can Be Done?

The disciplinary system must better protect patients from physicians guilty of sex-related offenses by aggressively identifying and sanctioning physicians who have violated the public’s trust in this manner. In order to accomplish the necessary improvement, regulatory agencies must correct general deficiencies in their structures and policies, through such mechanisms as being more aggressive in searching out guilty physicians and immediately sanctioning physicians disciplined in other jurisdictions. Changes specific to sex-related offenses must also be implemented, such as having clear and well publicized sexual misconduct policies, and protecting a victim’s identity during the investigation and hearing.

In order to ensure that physicians identified as having committed a sex-related offense are adequately disciplined, disciplinary agencies must apply the only sanction guaranteed to protect patients–removal of the physician’s right to practice. Rehabilitation, monitoring, and license restrictions are all insufficient to protect the public from physicians who may continue to commit sex-related offenses. If the use of these penalties for physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses is to be curtailed, more consumer representation on medical boards is required to counteract the overly lenient perspectives of many physicians when judging their colleagues.

The legal system, medical profession, medical education system, and the public also all have a role in protecting patients from physicians who commit sex-related offenses. For example, all states should have criminal laws similar to that recently passed in Idaho, which defines any act of sexual contact between a patient and a medical care provider as “sexual exploitation by a medical care provider.” A comprehensive movement, which incorporates all these facets of society in concert with the disciplinary system, has the potential to protect patients by decreasing inappropriate behavior through education and accountability and by ensuring that those physicians who do engage in this behavior are identified and disciplined.

Specific Recommendations:

* 1. All states should adopt statutes that include sexual offenses as a specific cause of action for discipline by medical boards.

* 2. Regulatory agencies must adopt policies which prohibit any sexual contact between a physician and current patients, as well as any contact with former patients which relies in any way on the power imbalance established in the physician-patient interaction. Sexual contact between psychiatrists and any current or former patients should be forbidden.

* 3. State medical boards need to be more severe in their penalties against physicians who commit sex-related offenses. The vast majority of these offenders should have their licenses surrendered or revoked and never be allowed to practice medicine again. A small minority, whose relatively milder offenses warrant separate consideration, may eventually be returned to practice, provided the state boards implement specific and rigorous plans for reintegration and surveillance.

* 4. At least 50% of the members of each disciplinary board should be well-informed and well-trained public members, who have no ties to health care providers, selected based on a history of advocacy for patients.

* 5. Regulatory agencies should ensure that victims’ identities are protected at all times, including during the complaint process, the investigation, and the hearing.

* 6. All members of state boards should undergo training in the issues involved in sexual misconduct by physicians and how to be sensitive to the victim’s needs. The first contact a victim has with the disciplinary system should be with a person who has been specifically trained in conducting these interviews.

* 7. Civil and criminal legislation, including that providing for mandatory reporting, should be passed in all states. These statutes should model themselves after the Idaho statute in defining sexual exploitative relationships as including all sexual contact between any health care provider and their patients.

* 8. Educational programs in medical schools, residency programs and in continuing medical education should emphasize the vulnerability of the patient-physician relationship, and the responsibility of physicians to protect patients from sexual abuse, both in their own practice and by reporting offending colleagues. These programs should especially target those specialties which are believed to have a higher rate of offense, such as psychiatry, obstetrics & gynecology, and family practice.

* 9. Sexual exploitation by physicians must continue to be brought into the public eye by the media, the profession, and the victims in order to raise public consciousness and continue the pressure for regulatory and legal reform, including the full public disclosure of disciplinary records.

Doctor reprimanded by college still practising

The Online Reporter, UWO Graduate School of Journalism

March 31, 1997

Doctor reprimanded by college still practising

By Helen Fallding

A London psychiatrist twice disciplined by his peers continues to see patients, despite facing further charges.

Dr. Stanley Dobrowolski, 50, is charged with misconduct of a sexual nature, failure to maintain the standard of practice of his profession, failure to maintain required records, incompetence and conduct that is disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional. A hearing scheduled for March 18 was cancelled and no new date has been set.

Dobrowolski was stripped of his licence for three months in 1995 and reprimanded in 1996 by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The rulings followed complaints by students Dobrowolski counselled when he worked at the University of Western Ontario’s Student Health Services in the late 80s and early 90s. The outstanding complaints also date back to that time.

Dobrowolski resigned from Student Health Services in 1994 and now works out of an office in the basement of the large Victoria Street home he shares with his wife, schoolteacher Margaret Bucci, and their children. The with his wife, schoolteacher Margaret Bucci, and their children. The psychiatrist confirmed that “of course” he is practising, but he did not want to be Photo by Helen Fallding interviewed. Dobrowolski sees patients at his Victoria Street home Two women whose complaints were to be heard in March say the hearing was cancelled because the college is considering a proposal for resolution from Dobrowolski’s lawyer.

If the college accepts the proposal, the women will not testify or give victim impact statements. “It cuts the witnesses out and he doesn’t have to deal with us; he doesn’t have to hear our stories,” said one complainant.

The college has the power to suspend a doctor’s licence pending a discipline hearing if the physician is considered likely to harm patients. The executive committee suspended Dobrowolski’s licence prior to his first hearing, but has not done so in anticipation of the upcoming hearing.

The complainants worry that Dobrowolski’s patients might not know his history. “I can’t imagine that people are going to be asking to see his record before they take him on as a therapist — unless they’ve been through something like this before,” said one woman.

Potential patients can get information about a doctor’s discipline record and pending hearings from a toll-free inquiry service run by the college. However, a woman staffing the line said few people call about doctors’ records.

Dobrowolski admitted having a sexual relationship in 1988 with a 22-year-old female student who saw him after a suicide attempt. He was found not guilty of sexual impropriety because the college’s discipline panel decided the relationship did not begin until after the young woman stopped being a patient. However, the panel ruled Dobrowolski’s behavior “disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional” and also found him guilty of failing to maintain the standard of practice of his profession and failing to maintain required records. Dobrowolski’s 12-month licence suspension was reduced to three months when he agreed to see a psychiatrist once a month and be supervised for the remainder of the year.

Under college guidelines adopted in 1992, psychiatrists are now prohibited from having sexual relationships even with former patients. Dobrowolski was disciplined under the previous policy, which did not define sexual abuse.

Last summer, Dobrowolski was reprimanded after being found guilty of professional misconduct for inappropriately demonstrating breast self-examination on a patient he counselled at the university. He was allowed to retain his licence with no restrictions.

Another young woman filed a formal sexual harassment complaint to the university in 1989, after Dobrowolski treated her for depression. The complaint was dropped when the woman refused to agree to the release of her medical records. She later filed a civil suit against both Dobrowolski and the university. The suit was settled out of court in 1995, for an undisclosed sum.

The college will not say how many complaints against Dobrowolski have yet to be resolved. The two women interviewed filed their complaints over two years ago and are frustrated with how long the college is taking to deal with them. Jill Hefley, manager of communications for the college, said that kind of delay is not unusual. There are no specific plans to speed up the process, but she said, “We’re doing our best to try and not refer things to discipline that can be resolved in other ways.”

One complainant, who cannot afford her own lawyer, has yet to see Dobrowolski’s proposal in writing. “The college doesn’t seem at all interested in my opinion. It’s very unsatisfying.”

The second complainant feels the college has been a bit more responsive since she hired her own lawyer a few months ago. She has read the proposal from Dobrowolski’s lawyer and submitted a written response to the college. “They made it clear that my opinion would not be the deciding factor.” The complainant does not want to reveal details of the proposal without consulting her lawyer.

Hefley says she cannot comment on the complainants’ concerns because the case is ongoing. Despite stricter rules on sexual abuse following a 1991 task force report, suggestions that the college protects its own are still common. Sharon Danley, who co- facilitates the Survivors of Medical Abuse group in Toronto, believes the college accepts plea bargains from doctors to save money — hearings cost over $17,000 a day — and to avoid publicity. “When they let complainants have their voice, the media get involved and they get bad press, which the college doesn’t need.”

Danley, who was sexually abused by a doctor herself, has been offered financial compensation by the college to pay for counselling. But she refuses to have anything to do with psychiatrists and is fighting for the right to do what she wants with the money. “They’re taking their money out of pocket A and putting it into pocket B without changing trousers.”

She’s equally unimpressed with the practice of sending abusive doctors to psychiatrists for treatment. “Send the offenders to a forum of survivors.”

Danley believes the current system of self-regulation for health professionals is not working and should be abandoned. She wants to see discipline handled by an independent body that includes survivors of abuse as well as representatives from all health professions.

Ontario’s Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council is about to begin an evaluation of the complaints process for sexual abuse at each professional college. Groups such as Danley’s will be consulted and the report should be ready by the end of 1998.

The researchers will assess whether procedures established under a 1993 law have addressed concerns raised by the earlier task force. “Has it resulted in physicians and other health professionals who are sexually abusing being identified and removed from practice?” asks Christie Jefferson, council chair.

If the process needs to be improved, Jefferson says the council will make recommendations to the Minister of Health, possibly including proposed amendments to the law.

While she can’t anticipate the outcome of the evaluation, Jefferson believes it is necessary. “We certainly get lots of calls from members of the public who have concerns.”

Psychiatrist’s license suspended

Psychiatrist’s license suspended
State alleges unprofessional conduct; he’s angry, but admits sex with clients

December 21, 1997

Kim Barker/The Spokesman-Review

The state has suspended the license of a 53-year-old Spokane Valley psychiatrist who had sex with two women he was treating.

The Medical Quality Assurance Commission ordered the severe sanction against Dr. Arthur Leritz even before holding a hearing, scheduled for Tuesday. The commission felt Leritz posed a danger to the public.

Leritz moved in with one patient in September 1990, three months after his second wife asked for a divorce. The couple is now engaged, Leritz said in a written response to the medical panel.

He treated the second patient for 13 years before starting a sexual relationship with her last summer. She was in therapy for depression, stemming in part from incest, the woman said.

Leritz, who has been licensed in Washington since 1977, admitted to having sex with the women but says he didn’t deserve to have his license suspended Dec. 3.

“Any concept of `rehabilitation’ of my crimes, which basically amount to the fact I am a kind, caring, competent psychiatrist who fell in Love with two women, and they with me, has been sabotaged by your investigation,” Leritz wrote to the commission.

“I am not a bad doctor. I am an Officer and a Gentleman. I am also a Man of Honor …

“I have to respond in My way, for Myself, for my Fiancee and for my Patients. You have attacked all of us, and I have the right to defend myself and my loved ones.”

Leritz, whose office is at 12012 E. Mission, graduated in 1970 from Creighton University School of Medicine. He could not be reached for comment.

But in his response to the commission, Leritz said he was “aghast,” “acutely nauseous,” “doubly nauseous” and “damn mad” at the charges. He said he deserves an apology.

No other complaints have been filed against Leritz.

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Olympia. The panel could do anything from reinstating Leritz’s license to revoking it, although a decision most likely won’t be announced for weeks.

Leritz, who is representing himself, is accused of five counts of unprofessional conduct. That includes moral turpitude, incompetence, distributing legend drugs for illegitimate purposes, and interfering with an investigation.

Leritz, who is also being sued for malpractice by a Lincoln County couple, started treating the woman who became his fiancee in 1976. Medical records show Leritz continued treating her until at least January 1994, according to the state.

Leritz admits moving in with the woman. But he said he stopped treating her in June 1990.

During the investigation, Leritz wrote a letter to the Department of Health investigator stating, “I never had an intimate/sexual relationship with (the woman) while she was a patient of mine.”

After the panel charged him with interfering with an investigation, Leritz elaborated.

“I certainly have not `willfully misrepresented any fact,”’ he wrote. “I now agree I was prescribing medications for (the woman) after June 1990.”

The second woman first came to Leritz for help in 1984. In an interview, she said he helped her work through issues stemming from her divorce, and sexual abuse by her father and a high school teacher.

After she got a new computer in January, Leritz began sending her e-mail that became increasingly sexually suggestive, the commission said.

From June to August, Leritz had sex with the woman 12 times, either at the woman’s home or Leritz’s North Idaho cabin, according to the state.

The charges say Leritz had sex with the woman four times just hours after therapy sessions and twice after injecting the woman with a drug to relax her.

Leritz said he had sex with the woman only eight times. He denied having sex with the woman on the same day as therapy. He said he injected the woman with procaine hydrochloride only once — to help her neck pain. Leritz denied drugging the woman in order to have sex.

“It is patently FALSE and I am indignant my reputation, integrity, honesty, and worth as a human being has to be subjected to such a sick concept,” Leritz wrote the panel.

He said the two were in love, and hoped the woman would experience their relationship as a “corrective emotional experience.”

But the woman, who didn’t want her name used, said the relationship has caused her to have even more problems with men.

After years of therapy, Leritz was the one man she trusted. She said he ended their relationship in late August.

“He was really my lifeline,” the woman said. “He knew that, and he encouraged that. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with the rest of my life. My creativity is just at a standstill. I’m just in trauma.”

Psychologist ordered to pay patient $325,000

Thursday 18 June 1998
Psychologist ordered to pay patient $325,000
Behaviour ‘disgraceful,’ judge rules in sex lawsuit

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

A judge has ordered Ottawa psychologist Dr. Arthur Blank to pay more than $325,000 in damages to a female former patient he sexually abused during and after her therapy.

In a scathing judgment released this week, Justice Catherine Aitken wrote that Dr. Blank, who treated and had sex with the woman in the early 1990s, “took negligence to a standard of recklessness and audacity that shocks the court.

“His behaviour was disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional and has no place in a profession that prides itself as being one of the helping professions,” Judge Aitken wrote in her ruling.

The award is among the highest awarded in Canada in the 1990s for sexual abuse by a health practitioner.

The Ottawa woman, now in her mid-40s, first saw Dr. Blank in August 1990, complaining that she was a chronic worrier who slept poorly, lacked confidence, and was too often unhappy. As therapy progressed, Dr. Blank made increasingly forceful sexual advances, telling the woman she had a “hot little body” and hugging and kissing her.

By February 1992, he was having sex with the woman in his office and billing her. He soon stopped billing her, but continued having sex with her until December 1993, when the woman stumbled upon Dr. Blank with another woman.

The woman’s contact with Dr. Blank left her an emotional wreck near suicide. While she saw him, her health deteriorated and she became agitated, anxious and extremely depressed. She had idolized Dr. Blank, considered him a “lifeline and saviour,” and after he abandoned her, she had trouble eating and sleeping. She often got up in the night and drove her car for hours. She once thought of driving into a wall to end her agony.

The woman also contracted genital warts from Dr. Blank. “When she was diagnosed … he refused to assume any responsibility for having infected her and instead tried to foist the blame onto (her husband),” Judge Aitken wrote. “This behaviour can only be described as malicious.”

The woman said she had a good marriage, but it was all but destroyed. “Over the last few years, the (couple has) had little energy to do anything other than work, exist and talk about Dr. Blank and the impact he has had on their lives,” Judge Aitken wrote.

The woman’s husband, who was awarded $30,000 in damages, collapsed at work in 1995 from extreme stress. The couple went to one session of marriage counselling, and plan to consult the counsellor again when the litigation with Dr. Blank is behind them.

The judge heard expert witnesses who said that the vulnerable patient was not able to properly consent to sex with her psychologist. “Her participation in sexual activites with Dr. Blank was not based on any understanding on her part as to what was really happening,” Judge Aitken wrote.

“He kept her in a constant state of confusion as to whether his advances were part of her treatment, evidence of his love for her, or something else. This was coupled with her overwhelming dependency on him, which he let develop unchecked, so that she was rendered incapable of coming to her own assessments or conclusions.”

In addition to operating a private practice, Dr. Blank, now in his mid-50s, was the former chief of psychology at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa.

Because of Dr. Blank’s experience, “it is inconceivable that he did not realize the extent to which his behaviour was unprofessional and unethical. It is also inconceivable that he did not realize the risks he was courting through that behaviour,” the judge wrote.

“Dr. Blank’s conduct went well beyond the merely negligent,” Judge Aitken wrote. “He knew that his actions could cause (the woman) irreparable harm. His behaviour was wilful, manipulative and exploitative.”

Last fall, the College of Psychologists of Ontario revoked Dr. Blank’s licence to practise after a professional hearing over allegations of sexual abuse against the woman.

The woman, now in her mid-40s, declined to comment on the judgment. Her lawyer, Cheryl Lean, said that the woman was greatly relieved, having waited six months for a decision since December’s civil trial.

Dr. Blank could not be reached for comments on the judgment. He did not testify at the civil trial, and his lawyer, Cam Godden of Toronto, called no witnesses. At trial, Mr. Godden had contended that the woman had exceeded a legal limitation period when she made her allegation of negligence.

The woman began her civil action on Dec. 19, 1995, and reported Dr. Blank to the College of Psychologists in March 1996.

The damages awarded to the woman include $100,000 in general damages, $25,000 in punitive damages, and more than $200,000 in special damages such as loss of past and future income, and past and future therapy.

Therapists who have seen the woman after her contact with Dr. Blank testified “his treatment of her was so negligent and so harmful that he may have rendered her inaccessible to any further psychiatric treatment,” Judge Aitken wrote.

Regarding punitive damages, Judge Aitken wrote: “Dr. Blank’s conduct … is offensive to the ordinary standards of decent conduct in our community. The court considers it reprehensible for a professional in a position of power, trust and privilege to have conducted himself in such a callous and irresponsible fashion.

“A strong message must be given that such conduct will not be tolerated.”

Judge Aitken has also ordered Dr. Blank to pay the woman’s legal costs and pre-judgment interest on the general and punitive damages. Ms. Lean said that in all, Dr. Blank has been ordered to pay more than $400,000.

No criminal charges were ever laid against Dr. Blank.

In 1996, Dr. Leo Pilo of Etobicoke was ordered to pay approximately $300,000 in damages to a woman known as DMM, for abusing her from the time she was 9 until she was 20.

Also in 1996, Dr. Alexander Alfred of Toronto was ordered to pay $30,000 to a former patient he sexually abused from the age of 17. Four years earlier, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered B.C. Dr. Morris Wynrib, who gave drugs to a chemically dependent female patient in exchange for sexual favours, to pay $30,000 in damages.

Psychologist jailed 2 years for sex with his patients;

Psychologist jailed 2 years for sex with his patients;
Therapist called ‘predator’ who ‘brainwashed’ his victims

by Gary Oakes


A once-prominent psychologist has been sentenced to two years in prison for “brainwashing” two of his former patients into having sex with him.

Both vulnerable victims “suffered substantial mental harm” at the hands of George Matheson, Mr. Justice George Ferguson said yesterday.

The former chief of psychology at Etobicoke General Hospital controlled, manipulated and mentally dominated the two women, the Ontario Court, general division judge said.

“I hope it sends a message to other doctors,” one of the victims said of the sentencing.

“I’m glad it’s over,” the second victim said of the ordeal of having to testify in open court.

Prosecutor James Ramsay called Matheson a sexual “predator” who had violated the special trust between a therapist and his patients.

The charges specified the two vioctims submitted to him sexually or did not resist him because of “the exerecise of (his) authority” as their therapist.

The judge quoted an expert witness in the case as saying that “when a psychologist has sex with a patient, therapy goes out the window.”

Ferguson said people such as Matheson occupy a privileged position in society and must exercise the enormous power and authority they have only for their patients’ benefit.

Matheson, who often helped various police forces by hypnotizing witnesses, has since lost his license to practise and now helps his girlfriend run a bed and breakfast house in Victoria,B.C.

The judge said that even though Matheson apologized for his conduct, he “continues to (wrongly) believe that he did not breach the (criminal) law” and is only guilty of professioonal misconduct.

Both victims testifed they had been sexually abused as children and were suffering from extreme depression when they became patients of Matheson.

One said her husband, in effect, paid Matheson approximately $5,000 – the fee for therapy – for Matheson to have sex with her, although he eventually returned the money.

The other testified Matheson told her he had fallen in love with her and he constantly phoned her, wrote her passionate letters and sent her gifts.

When he was out of town, he left her his cologne so she could smell him, and some of his clothes so she could hug them, the second victim told the court.

She said Matheson’s wife caught them in bed together.

Toronto ex-therapist jailed for sex assaults – Patients abused in ‘blatant’ breach of trust.



TORONTO- A once prominent Toronto psychologist who “brainwashed” two female patients and then sexually assaulted them was sentenced to two years in penitentiary yesterday.

In March, George Clifford Matheson, 48, was found guilty on two counts of sexual assault for a series of incidents involving two women over several years. Although they had consented to the encounters, the Crown took the position that they had submitted to sexual intercourse because of Dr. Matheson’s authority over them.

Yesterday, he was seated for the first time in the prisoner’s box, but earlier in the trial he was allowed to sit at the side of his lawyer, Alan Gold. He had asked Mr. Justice George Ferguson of the Ontario Court’s General Division for a suspended or conditional sentence, but Judge Ferguson made it clear from the outset that Dr. Matheson would be going to jail.

Dr. Matheson was released on bail, pending appeal.

Judge Ferguson described Dr. Matheson as a predator who practiced mind control over two extremely vulnerable women in what “amounts to brainwashing.”

He “continues to believe he did not breach the law” and shows no remorse for his criminal act although he voluntarily surrendered his professional certificate, acknowledging that he had violated the ethics of his profession.

He sentenced the psychologist to one year on each count, the sentences to be served consecutively.

If he had been sentenced to a day less, he would have gone to a provincial reformatory, but a two-year sentence must be served in a federal penitentiary, which generally houses the nation’s most hardened criminals.

One of his victims was assaulted over five months in 1992 and the other was assaulted over two years beginning in 1987. The relationships amounted to “blatant long-term breach of trust,” Judge Ferguson said. “He had the power to pressure and manipulate and he did so.”

The victims, now 39 and 56, desperately needed therapy when they went to Dr. Matheson and made themselves vulnerable by revealing intimate details concerning their personal problems. They did not want sex, they wanted therapy, Judge Ferguson said.

One victim testified that Dr. Matheson told her that she would not get better unless she got rid of her husband.

Dr. Matheson is well known in legal circles, having served as an expert witness in the field of hypnosis. He also has aided police investigations by enhancing the memories of potential Crown witnesses.

He has three failed marriages and has two sons. Before he was sentenced, he was living with a female psychologist in Victoria, where they ran a bed-and-breakfast business.

Former psychologist admits to sexual abuse

By Steve Bills

The Macon Telegraph

A former Macon psychologist pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal charges of having sex with a patient, a woman who was suffering from a multiple personality disorder.

Robert Douglas Smith, 62, received a three-year sentence on the felony charge, but he received probation under the terms of a plea agreement.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Walker P. Johnson, however, ordered a post-sentence investigation. Johnson indicated that he might invoke sex-offender probation rules on Smith.

Georgia law provides 20 such conditions, although the judge may choose which ones to impose. An offender can be required to register with the sheriff of the county where he lives, for instance, or to live up to a year in a “diversion center,” a kind of halfway house.

Johnson will impose the final terms of the probation sometime in the new year.

Smith, a slight man with flowing white hair and a short white beard, spoke briefly at the hearing. He apologized to the victim, who also was in the courtroom, and he acknowledged, “My behavior was inexcusable. It was wrong for me to do. I feel a deep sense of shame and guilt over the emotional pain I have caused her and those around her.”

Then he added, “I think there is some good I can do. I had 20 good years helping people in this community, and I ruined it all through my mistake.”

The victim also spoke, reading from a prepared statement describing the “utter anguish, torment and suffering I endured as a result of his vile transgressions.”

The woman had gone to Smith to seek treatment for a multiple personality condition and anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder. Under the pretext of treating her condition through therapy, Smith fondled her sexually, caused her to turn away from her family and eventually seduced her, having intercourse with her repeatedly over the course of several months while she was his patient, said Graham Thorpe, the prosecutor in the case.

She relapsed into anorexia and was at the point of suicide before another psychologist intervened, Thorpe said.

“There is such an imbalance of power between therapist and patient that there can be no such thing as consent,” Thorpe told the judge. “She placed her trust in this man, and he abused her. He damaged her rather than helping.”

Defense attorney O. Hale Almand acknowledged the injury to the victim, but he said Smith also has suffered, surrendering his license to practice as a psychologist, losing his career and undergoing a divorce.

“More importantly than that, he lost his professional reputation,” Almand said. “There’s no way he’ll ever gain that back. He is now a pariah in the psychological-psychotherapy community.”

Indeed, Donald Meck was incredulous on hearing that Smith had received a sentence of probation. Meck, a Warner Robins psychologist who serves on the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, said, “I can’t believe he got off. The evidence we looked at, at the board, was awfully strong, and it is amazing to me that he is going to walk the street.”

While Tuesday’s plea hearing focused on the charges involving a single victim, the licensing board also had received complaints from two other women who alleged that Smith made improper sexual advances toward them.

Even after he relinquished his psychology license in 1995, Smith continued to see patients under a rule that allowed him to practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. As a result of the Smith case, the licensing board tightened its regulations to prevent that.

Copyright 1997 The Macon Telegraph

Jury says ex-doctor must pay patient

The patient of former psychiatrist James Dallman may not receive much of the $780,000 the jury awarded her.

Friday December 12, 1997

By Lynn Moore

Former Muskegon psychiatrist James Dallman was ordered Friday by a local jury to pay $780,000 to one of his former patients who alleges he raped her in his office.

However, it’s questionable how much of the money she’ll ever collect since a divorce settlement earlier this week gave most of Dallman’s assets to his ex-wife. He also lied on a malpractice insurance application, which a court decided made his insurance policy void.

The civil suit was the first of several lawsuits patients have brought against Dallman, who lost his medical license after numerous complaints.

He currently is serving a one-year jail term after pleading no contest in September to 11 felony counts of insurance fraud and exchanging drugs for sex.

The 14th Circuit Court jury sided with the plaintiff in the case, who alleges that Dallman engaged in escalating sexual abuse, including fondling and finally a rape that occurred in his office in 1995.

Criminal charges were never filed in the case. However, the plaintiff, whom The Chronicle is identifying only by her initials M.L. because of sexual abuse allegations, sued Dallman.

Dallman had admitted to committing medical malpractice by having M.L. sit on his lap and hugging her. He vehemently denied raping the woman, who has chronic mental illness, and that was not a question the jury had to answer.

After a day and a half of testimony, the jury found that Dallman had committed assault and battery on M.L., intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her and that his professional negligence had harmed her.

When the verdict was announced, courtroom observers said M.L. wept and said aloud “they believed me.”

“When the verdict was finally read it was just a flood of emotions,” said Matthew Halbower, M.L.’s attorney. “It was extremely healing for her and helpful to know that other people believed that it wasn’t her fault because of this extreme sense of shame and guilt she has.”

The damages are supposed to compensate the victim for her past and future suffering rather than punish Dallman. But his attorney, Vernon Kortering, said he believes the jury of three men and three women was punishing Dallman.

Kortering said he may seek a court order lowering the damage amount.

“(Dallman) doesn’t feel it’s fair,” he said.

Kortering said his client was left with “nothing” after the divorce settlement, which was finalized Wednesday, the day after the M.L. case began. That leaves questions as to his ability to pay the damages.

He was fined $16,500 in his criminal case and $25,000 by the state when his license was revoked.

Dallman’s ex-wife ended up with their home and Dallman’s commercial property where he operated his office at 1259 Peck.

While Halbower is suspicious that the divorce was simply a way for Dallman to protect his assets, Kortering said Dallman was only trying to “protect his family” including the couple’s three sons.

Nevertheless, Halbower said he is considering pursuing a “fraud against creditors” claim in relation to the divorce.

In addition, Dallman’s malpractice insurance carrier successfully petitioned federal court to have his policy rescinded because he had lied about several past troubles with his medical license.

Halbower said he also will try to get reimbursement from the insurance company for his client, whom he called “the bravest woman I know.”

The basis of M.L.’s case was a secret tape recording made by her aunt during a conversation the two women had with Dallman in his office.

The tape captured Dallman admitting to having sex with M.L. and threatening and coercing her to withdraw a complaint against him she had filed with the state. He also can be heard paying M.L. and her aunt each $100, which Halbower called a “bribe.”

Dallman testified that when he said “I’m sorry for having sex with you” during that meeting, he was not referring to sexual intercourse.

Rather, Dallman said, he was referring to the fact that the woman had sat on his lap and that he had hugged her.

That tape recording was the basis for a decision earlier this year by the state’s board of medicine to revoke Dallman’s license for at least three years.

Halbower said it was difficult for M.L. to face Dallman after the rape in order to make the tape recording, but she was determined to “get the truth out.”

“I firmly believe if it weren’t for my client and that tape recorder, Dr. Dallman would still have a license to practice medicine and he’d still be hurting women,” Halbower said. “I think my client is a heroine and has saved other potential victims.”

Dallman’s license had been sanctioned on three previous occasions, for such offenses as improperly distributing medications and kissing other patients.

Dallman also had previously been discharged from the U.S. Army after he was found guilty of illegally distributing drugs while working as an Army psychiatrist.

Copyright 1998 Michigan Live Inc.

Research on abusive therapists

The Online Reporter
UWO Graduate School of Journalism
March 31, 1997

Research on abusive therapists

Two Toronto therapists published a study of sex exploitation by therapists in 1991. Temi Firsten and Jeri Wine interviewed 27 women and one man sexually abused by therapists. Over half the offenders were physicians and 80 per cent were married or in common-law relationships. Only one of the offenders was a woman. Many of the clients had reason to believe their therapists also abused other clients.

Firsten and Wine grouped the offenders into two categories. The first, smaller group, included those who were poorly trained or isolated; these therapists often faced a life crisis at the time of the sexual involvement. Therapists in this group were not multiple offenders and had a good prognosis for treatment.

Over half the offenders in Firsten and Wine’s study fell into the second group, who relied on their caseloads to recruit sexual partners. The researchers wrote that “this category are the most dangerous to patients, the most difficult to expose and governing bodies need to be especially alert to them.”

Almost half the abused clients did not find their therapists in any way attractive. Some reported that the sexual activity focused exclusively on pleasing the therapist.