Monthly Archives: April 2010

Andrew Phillips, mental health counselor, charged with sex with teen client, license suspended pending hearing

On April 20, 2010, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) issued an immediate summary suspension on registered counselor Andrew Phillips.  He cannot practice until the outcome of a hearing.

According to the DoH’s document, between July and August 2009, Phillips provided drug and alcohol counseling to a 17-year-old female client.  Between approximately October 2009 and November 2009, the client was placed with Phillips and his wife in the course of a dependency action.

Between these latter dates, Phillips is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with the teenager, including but not limited to hugging and kissing the client, fondling client’s breasts, sexual intercourse and oral sex.

Source: Statement of Charges in the Matter of Andrew B. Phillips, Credential No. RC 60010154, Case No. M2010-314, State of Washington Department of Health, filed April 20, 2010.

Vincent Festa, former school psychologist, charged with sex offender registration violation

A retired school psychologist who is a registered sex offender was arrested on Thursday for failing to register Internet service providers and e-mail addresses, Suffolk County police said.

Vincent Festa, a Level 3 sex offender, was using e-mail addresses and Internet service providers that he failed to register as required by the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act, police said.

Computer Crimes Unit and Special Victims Section detectives executed a search warrant at Festa’s home where computers, hard drives and assorted storage media were seized on April 13.

Festa, 80, of Ronkonkoma, was charged with sex offender registration violation, a felony.

Festa, who was the psychologist at Herricks High School was  sentenced in July 1995 to 5 years’ probation after pleading guilty to sodomizing teenage boys.

Festa was indicted on 11 counts, including third-degree sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, after six teenage boys from the Ronkonkoma area came forward in 1993.  He was accused of enticing the boys to his home to do lawn work and then abusing them. None of the victims were Herricks students.

Festa originally pleaded innocent but later agreed to plead guilty to three counts of third-degree sodomy.

Source: Patrick Kelton “Sex Offender Charged With Failing to Register E-mail,” Long Island Press, April 22, 2010 and Deepti Hajela, “Ex-School Psychologist Sentenced in Sex Abuse,” Newsday, July 11, 1995.

Psychologist David A. Zoll suspended by state board for sex with former patient

On January 21, 2010, the Virginia Board of Psychology suspended the license of psychologist David A. Zoll for a period of no less than 18 months for a violations of state Regulations Govern the Practice of Psychology.

The Board’s document states that Zoll began a sexual relationship with a former patient in November 2007, following the termination of the therapeutic relationship with the patient, who had been his client for more than six years and who had a history of sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, stress and marital issues.

Zoll testified in his hearing that he chose to enter into the relationship with the former client despite having legal knowledge of the prohibition and the possible consequences.

Source: Order In Re: David A. Zoll, Ph.D., License No. 0810-001462, Case No. 123156, Before the Virginia Board of Psychology, filed January 21, 2010.

Judge orders psychologist Michael Degileo to trial on charges of sex crime against patient

A psychologist from Carbon County faced the woman Friday who said she was forced to preform a sex act on him.

A magisterial district judge decided there was enough evidence against Michael Degileo to face trial.

“It wasn’t a surprise. The burden at a preliminary hearing is lower than at trial but we got what we needed, was a look at the alleged victim and see how she testified and heard her testimony,” said defense attorney John Waldron.

The 40-year-old mother from Lehighton testified she suffered a nervous breakdown, was depressed and had suicidal thoughts when a mental hospital referred her to psychologist Degileo for treatment.

The woman testified during an office visit Degileo kissed her, told her he loved women and sex and forced her to preform a sex act on him.

“She was claiming these things happened and I took the position today, if they did happen she consented,” said Waldron. He added it’s not a question of whether or not Degileo crossed the professional line. He explained that is a different issue and it’s not criminal.

Prosecutors would not talk publicly about their case.

Michael Degileo’s next appearance will be in May at the Carbon County courthouse. He has surrendered his license to practice and a decision on whether he will ever be able to practice will be decided after the court case.

Source: Bob Reynolds, “Psychologist Ordered to Trial for Sex Crimes,” WNEP-TV 16 (Moosic, Pennsylvania), April 9, 2010.

Board suspends psychologist Michael Streppa on charge of “abusive” and “dangerous” sexual relationship with patient

Officials with the state psychology board have suspended a Morganton psychologist’s license.

He is accused of having a sexual relationship with a patient.

The North Carolina Psychology Board suspended Michael Streppa’s license on March 9, said Martha Storie, the board’s executive director, and he is not allowed to practice as a psychologist while his license is suspended.

The board received two complaints against Streppa, 45, that allege he “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient” over the course of about two years.

The patient is not named in the board’s order of summary suspension or in a letter it sent to Streppa.

The letter from Storie and the board, dated April 1, says Streppa started treating the patient in 2004 when she was 16 years old, but an intimate relationship didn’t begin until June 2008. By that time, the patient was 21 years old.

The letter says Streppa terminated the patient’s treatment on April 27, 2009. According to the order of summary suspension, the intimate relationship continued until the patient was hospitalized in February.

The letter states, “The sexually intimate relationship between you and patient X, which was abusive in nature, also included dangerous situations that you participated in with patient X, involving individuals that were not known by you or patient X, are all documented in electronic mail correspondence.”

The patient was hospitalized on Feb. 15, the letter says, and told hospital staff about the relationship with Streppa.

Staff psychologists and the state psychology board’s investigators met with Streppa on March 5, but he refused to be interviewed, according to the board’s letter.

It details the state statutes and ethical standards the board believes he violated, including a prohibition against engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient.

Based on the complaints and Streppa’s unwillingness to respond to the board’s investigation, “the board finds that the public health, safety and welfare require that the board take emergency action” to suspend Streppa’s license.

Streppa resigned on March 12 from Broughton Hospital, where he served as a senior psychologist 1, said Mark Van Sciver, a spokesman for the state. Streppa started at Broughton on Dec. 12, 1998. Van Sciver said Broughton has no complaints or investigations against Streppa.

Storie said the alleged relationship developed through Streppa’s private practice.

The state first licensed Streppa on April 30, 1997. Storie said Streppa has not been the object of any board actions in the past.

Streppa may answer the allegations against him during a hearing expected to occur during the state psychology board’s meeting May 5-7 in Greensboro. Streppa or the board has the right to request a postponement of the hearing, Storie said, but the suspension would remain in effect.

Streppa also could negotiate a consent order with the board before the hearing, Storie said. Both parties have to agree on a consent order. She said such an order could result in anything from dismissing the charges against Streppa to revoking his license.

After the hearing, the board will issue a final decision regarding the allegations, the board’s letter says.
Numerous efforts by The News Herald to reach Streppa for comment were unsuccessful.

Source: “Board suspends psychologist’s license,” The News Herald, April 9, 2010.