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.

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