Jeffrey Lynn Benoit, a former Florida State Hospital psychologist, is accused of having sexual relations with a patient he was treating there, then marrying her while he was still married to someone else, reports the Jackson County Floridian in Marianna.
According to the Department of Health, the woman Benoit allegedly married was committed to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee in February 2008, after being arrested on two arson charges in Jackson County for allegedly setting a bed on fire in two different hotel rooms in October 2007. The woman was deemed incompetent for trial due to mental illness and was assigned to Benoit’s care shortly after being admitted to the hospital in Chattahoochee, reports the Floridan.
By May 2008, the department alleges Benoit began having sexual relations with the woman in his office at Florida State Hospital – while she was still his patient, according to the Floridan.
Eventually, in July 2008, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the arson cases and ordered committed, remaining in the Florida State Hospital, reports the Floridan.
Benoit’s unit supervisor asked him to stop treating the alleged victim because “he seemed to be losing objectivity” with regard to the patient. She was transferred to the care of another psychologist, according to the Floridan.
Even though Benoit was no longer her doctor, he advocated for the woman’s release, even though her new treatment team did not agree with his assessment. He was told not to testify on her behalf during a hearing concerning her suitability to be released, but he did so anyway, according to the Floridan.
After Benoit testified against orders, Florida State Hospital took disciplinary actions, removing him from all resident contact and responsibilities the next day, reports the Floridan.
The day the woman was released, a FSH employee reported seeing Benoit at the woman’s home. Before long, Benoit and the woman were living together, reports the Floridan.
The Department of Health complaint states that a warranty deed shows Benoit and the woman bought a home in Marianna for $377,000 in February 2009. And a certificate of marriage from Houston County, Ala., shows they were married in Dothan in March 2009 – while Benoit was still legally married to his first wife, reports the Floridan.
She gave birth to a son in March of this year, naming Benoit as the father on the birth certificate. They were both arrested a month later on domestic violence charges, according to the Department of Health complaint.
In asking the Board of Psychology for sanctions against Benoit, the Department of Health cited sexual misconduct, claiming the woman was incapable of giving “valid, informed, free consent to sexual activity” with Benoit, reports the Floridan.
Source: Barbara Hijek, “Weird, wacky, strange news from the Sunshine State: Psychologist accused of bigamy after marrying a patient,” Sun Sentinel, August 24, 2010.