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.