Monthly Archives: November 2010

Counselor Thomas Perez Jewell held in lieu of bail of kiddie porn charge

On November 18, 2010, California licensed marriage and family therapist intern Thomas Perez Jewell was arrested after investigators found a “large amount” of child pornography at his home, according to a new story published in the Contra Costa Times.

Jewell, who has been employed for several years by mental health division of Contra Costa County Health Services, was assigned as a counselor at the County Juvenile Hall.

He is being held in county jail on a charge of suspicion of possessing child pornography, in lieu of $1 million bail.

Source: Robert Salonga, “Contra Costa Juveniile Hall counselor arrested in child pornography case,” Contra Costa Times, 18 November 2010.

 

Florida revokes psychologist Jeffrey L. Benoit’s license

On November 10, 2010, the state of Florida revoked the license of psychologist Jeffrey Lynn Benoit after he violated multiple laws while employed at Florida State Psychiatric Hospital at Chattahoochee.

On July 7, 2010, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) issued an Administrative Complaint against Benoit, accusing him of having sexual relations with a patient, then marrying her while he was still married to his first wife.

The DOH’s complaint states that the patient was committed to Chatahoochee in February 2008 following the commission of two incidents of arson (which the woman stated were suicide attempts) and that by May, Benoit began having sexual relations with the woman in his office at the hospital.

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.

Benoit’s unit supervisor asked him to stop treating the patient because “he seemed to be losing objectivity” with regard to her. She was transferred to the care of another psychologist.

Despite not being her doctor and against orders, he advocated for the woman’s release, resulting the hospital removing him from all resident contact and responsibilities the next day.

The day the woman was released, a hospital employee reported seeing Benoit at the woman’s home. Before long, Benoit and the woman were living together. Benoit came under hospital internal investigation and resigned shortly thereafter.

DOH’s complaint states that a warranty deed shows Benoit and the woman bought a home together in February 2009 and a certificate of marriage from Houston County, Ala., shows they were married in March 2009 – while Benoit was still legally married to his first wife.

The former patient gave birth to a son in March 2010, the birth certificate naming Benoit as the father.

They were both arrested a month later on domestic violence charges, according to the Department of Health complaint.

Benoit is currently wanted in Jackson County, Florida for failure to appear to answer to a battery charges.  A warrant for his arrest was issued September 10, 2010.

Source: Administrative Complaint, Florida Department of Health v. Jeffrey Lynn Benoit, Ph.D., Case No. 2008-22227 and Morgan Carlson and Deborah Buckhalter, “Psychiatrist’s license revoked,” Jackson County Floridian, 21 November 2010.

Arizona revokes license of mental health counselor James Gorton for sex with client

On May 7, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners revoked the license of professional counselor James Gorton.

According to the Board’s report, Gorton counseled a husband and wife from December 2007 through August 2008.  Soon after terminating treatment with the wife, he began engaging in social activities with her.

The Board’s report indicates that he engaged in sexual conduct with the wife before she was divorced from the husband.

Approximately six months later, he began a romantic relationship with her that included “holding hands, hugging and kissing, and spending the night at each other’s houses.

The Board’s report indicates that he engaged in sexual conduct with the wife before she was divorced from the husband.

Gorton failed to obtain written, informed consent from the husband or wife and did not maintain progress notes for 63 sessions with the husband and/or wife, among other record keeping failures.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form 2010, dated 21 September 2010.

 

South Carolina psychiatrist Catherine L. Munson reprimanded, fined for engaging in sex with female patient

On August 6, 2010, the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners issued a Final Order, reprimanding and suspending psychiatrist Cathering L.  Munson.

The Board’s “Findings of Fact” states that between June 24 and August 3, 2009, Munson began a sexual relationship with a patient (“R.W.”). R.W. had been a patient of Munson’s at her previous place of employment (Catawba Mental Health in Rock Hill, S.C.).

The Order states that Munson “engaged in sexual relations with R.W. in various venues, wherein she became the subject of written, audio, and video recordings, with dissemination of the same by R.W.’s domestic partner.”

Further, the document states that Munson became the subject of a purported blackmail scheme by R.W. and her domestic partner (a person Munson was familiar with, who was herself one of R.W.’s former therapists).

Munson did not seek police assistance with regard to the blackmail but instead attempted to cease communication with the patient and her partner, resulting in an escalation of circumstances in which the partner appeared at Munson’s residence and assaulted her.  The suspension of Munson’s license will be stayed upon payment of the Board’s costs of $2,705.

Final Order in the Matter of Catherine L. Munson, M.D., License No. MMD 16094, Case 2009-218, South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Before the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners.

State declines to license mental health counselor John Del Signore for sex with client in other state

On September 2, 2010, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) denied John H. Del Signore’s application for a credential to practice as a mental health counselor associate.

According to the DOH’s Order, Del Signore surrendered his license to practice as a professional counselor to the state of Colorado on October 28, 2009, based on his sexual contact with a client, maintaining an inappropriate relationship with a client and with providing services which fell below generally accepted standards.

On December 15, 2009, Del Signore applied for a mental health counselor credential with Washington’s Department of Health Counselor Programs (Program).  The application required him to answer questions regarding previous denials, revocations and/or suspensions of health care license, to which he answered “yes.”  The Program issued a denial on April 9, 2010.

Del Signore filed a request for Adjudicate Proceeding on April 14, 2010.  The Presiding Officer of that Proceeding found that Del Signore is not qualified to practice as a mental health counselor in the state of Washington.

Source: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Order in the Matter of John Henry Del Signore, Application No. MHCA. MC. 60133243, Master Case No. M2010-353, State of Washington Department of Health Adjudicative Service Unit.