Monthly Archives: December 2009

Florida psychologist Adam Feder gets six years prison in drug death of former patient-girlfriend

On December 22, Miami psychologist Adam Feder, 42, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2006 death of his former girlfriend. Feder failed to call 911 after the 20-year-old girl—a former patient—took a lethal dose of the painkiller Oxycodone from an illegal stash inside Feder’s home. Reports following Feder’s 2008 arrest indicate that he had broken off their romance but gave the distraught girl more than 100 times the safe dosage of the drug. After ingesting the dose, the girl lay writhing on Feder’s bed for 24 hours before Feder finally called 911 for help, according to prosecutors. Authorities believe he neglected to summon help sooner because he did not want his illegal drug stash to be discovered. The death, originally ruled a suicide was later reclassified a homicide. Feder was arrested in February 2008 regarding the girl’s death and again in June 2008 on charges of drug trafficking. Police stated that Feder, who cannot write prescriptions, used doctors’ prescription pads to obtain the drugs. “He just violated every imaginable moral, ethical and administrative rule that exists,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said. “She was 19 years old and she went to him to seek counseling. You had someone that was very vulnerable.” Feder was sentenced to six years in prison and four years probation and has forfeited his license to practice psychology. He is also being sued by the girl’s family.

Source: David Ovalle, “Psychologist pleads guilty in lover/ex-patient’s death,” Miami Herald, December 23, 2009 and David Ovalle, “Drug charges filed against psychologist,” Miami Herald, June 16, 2008.

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North Carolina revokes license of psychologist Kristel Rider for sex with former patient

On December 4, 2009, the North Carolina Psychological Board revoked the license of prison psychologist Kristel K. Rider for a violation of legal and ethical rules governing the conduct of psychologists. According to the Board’s order, Rider admitted to engaging in sex with a former patient, beginning April 3, 2008—the day he was released from Neuse Correctional Institution. Rider, who worked for the state Department of Corrections since 2004, lost her job after shooting the patient in the back on April 21, less than three weeks after his release. He survived the wound, from a .38 caliber slug, which passed through his chest inches from his heart. Rider can reapply for her license again after one year though reinstatement will be at the discretion of the Board’s panel. Rider was not charged with a crime in the shooting.

Source: Michael Biesecker, “Former prison therapist loses license after affair,” News-Observer, December 8, 2009.

Minnesota child psychiatrist Dexter Whittemore reprimanded by state for sexual conduct with patient

On November 14, 2009, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice reprimanded child-adolescent psychiatrist Dexter Whittemore for unprofessional and unethical conduct, improper management of
medical records and for “engaging in conduct that is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual.”

In September 2008, the Board received a complaint alleging that Whittemore failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with an adult female patient. The Board initiated an investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office which revealed that Whittemore engaged in conduct with the patient that is sexual or reasonably interpreted by the patient as sexual.

During 2008, over a two-month period of time, Whittemore conducted three treatment sessions with the patient outside of a clinical setting.

Whittemore made physical advances toward the patient and engaged in verbal and electronic communications with the patient of a personal and sexual nature. When the patient did not retum to Whittemore for further treatment, he did not: (1) formally sever his professional relationship with the patient, (2) generate a discharge summary for the patient’s medical record, or (3) ensure that the patient’s care was transferred to another provider.

On July 8, 2009, Whittemore appeared before the Complaint Review
Committee and admitted that he failed to maintain professional boundaries with the patient.

The Board conditioned and restricted Whittemore’s license as follows:
1. He is reprimanded.
2. He shall not engage in conduct that is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual.
3. He shall not provide treatment for patients or meet with patients outside of a hospital or clinical setting.
4. He shall practice in a pre-approved group setting.
5. He shall obtain a pre-approved supervising physician who shall submit quarterly reports to the Board.
6. He shall meet quarterly with a designated Board member.
7. He shall pay a $682 civil penalty.
8. This Order shall remain in effect for a minimum of two years.

Whittemore is also licensed in California and lllinois.

Source: Stipulation and Order, In the Matter of the Medical License of Dexter D. Whittemore, M.D., License No.: 17,811, Before the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, November 14, 2009.

Washington mental health counselor Stephen Ruhl charged with sexual misconduct

On September 4, 2009, the Washington Department of Health (DoH) issued a Statement of Charges on mental health counselor Stephen Ruhl, for unprofessional conduct and sexual misconduct.

The DoH’s document states that Ruhl counseled a female client on and off in 2007 and the early part of 2008 at his own practice, which was located on his residential property. On or about January 14, 2008, Ruhl “invited the Client A into his private cabin and stayed there with Client A for approximately three (3) hours. At one point, Ruhl told Client A that he loved his wife but had fallen out of love with her, and that he had not touched her in years. Ruhl then told Client A that he thought she was delightful and that he’d like to be friends. When Client A told him that she had to leave, Ruhl then stated that his wife was out of town and that he’d like to take Client A to dinner. As Client A was leaving, Ruhl asked Client A if she would be home in the morning and offered to bring her some coffee on the way to work.”

It further states that Ruhl visited the client’s home approximately ten times in January and February 2008 and that the two also spoke over the phone during this period. During the calls and visits, Ruhl told the client that “he was not there for sex but for companionship and validation.”

On one occasion, Ruhl told Client A that he wanted to have “exotic, erotic sex” with her.

On two separate occasions, Ruhl told Client A that he had an erection.

Ruhl told the client that he thought she would be a great sexual partner and that he liked mature women who were comfortable with their sexuality.

During this time, the client asked Ruhl for a referral to another therapist. Ruhl told the client he could still counsel her. The client told Ruhl he could be her therapist but that the personal relationship could not continue. Ruhl replied that he would “still be trying to seduce her.”

The DoH’s document states that during the latter time, the Ruhl also engaged in physical contact with the client, including hugging, kissing and backrubs.

Source: Statement of Charges, in the Matter of Stephen Ruhl, credential no. MHC LC0006345, case M2008-118255, State of Washington Department of Health Secretary of Health, September 9, 2009.

Washington mental health counselor Mel Gaines’ license suspended for sex with client

On October 8, 2009, the Washington Department of Health (DoH) suspended registered counselor Mel Gaines for unprofessional conduct.

According to the state’s document, in December 2008, Gaines provided counseling services to a client with whom he entered into a sexual relationship. The client also had treatment with other counselors at the same facility where Gaines worked. Gaines continued to have a sexual relationship with the client after she discontinued treatment with him and after she left the facility.

In March 2009, Gaines was requested by a DoH to provide a written statement on the matter but failed to do so.

In August 2009, he was served by the DoH with a statement of charges and an opportunity to answer them. He failed to respond to the DoH’s communications.

He may not seek reinstatement of his license for five years.

Source: Default Order in the Matter of Mel S. Gaines, credential no. RC 00053460, case no. M2009-452, State of Washington Department of Health Secretary of Health, October 8, 2009.

Washington counselor David Weed charged by licensing board for sex with married client

On October 6, 2009, the Washington Department of Health (DoH) issued a Statement of Charges on mental health counselor David E. Weed, for unprofessional conduct and sexual misconduct.

According to the DoH’s document, in September 2006, Weed provided mental health therapy to Client A and Client B, a married couple, for family and marital difficulties. Soon after, each client began receiving individual counseling from Weed.

The husband remained in counseling until at least October 2008.

Weed also treated Client C, the couple’s teenage daughter, from Spring 2005 to summer 2007.

In April 2007, Client A terminated therapy with Weed by mutual consent and agreement. Client A disclosed at that time that she was attracted to him. Weed continued to provide therapy to Clients B and C.

Beginning in September 2007, Weed entered into a sexual relationship with client A and continued it for approximately a year during which time he told Client A that he had stopped providing services to Clients B and C, which was not true.

Source: Statement of Charges in the Matter of David E. Weed, credential no. MHC LC 00008760, case no. M2009-521, State of Washington Department of Health Secretary of Health, October 7, 2009.