Monthly Archives: December 2010

Alberta government seeking other sexual assault victims of psychiatrist Aubrey Levin

The Alberta government is quietly trying to find out if there may be more alleged victims of a Calgary psychiatrist already charged with sexually assaulting some patients.

CBC News has learned that Alberta Justice has recently sent out letters to defence lawyers, asking for help from their clients.

Dr. Aubrey Levin, who was used as a forensic psychiatrist by Alberta courts for years, was charged earlier this year with sexually assaulting 21 male patients.

One of the letters arrived at the office of Calgary lawyer Adriano Iovinelli.

“This is the first time in 16 years that we’ve ever seen [such a letter],” said Iovinelli. “This is unprecedented.”

‘Significant position of power’

The letter was sent to lawyers whose clients had been ordered by the court to see Levin “on many occasions.” It states: “If you have any concerns about Dr. Levin in his professional capacity, you may also wish to contact the Calgary Police Service.”

Alberta Justice said that so far, 59 such letters had been sent out.

“Our primary concern is to see that justice is done,” said David Dear, spokesman for the ministry. “Was there any chance that in these cases, from what we can find in the file, that there was anything inappropriate … that may have improperly influenced the outcome?”

Levin, 72, was employed by the courts on numerous occasions where those convicted were ordered to see him before a judge passed sentence.

“It’s a court-ordered report,” said Iovinelli. “So imagine being an accused and you are looking at a further period of incarceration, a significant period of incarceration, and the opinion of this particular doctor may determine that effect.

“It’s a very significant position of power.”

Twenty-one men have alleged they were sexually assaulted by Levin during court-ordered psychiatric assessments or counselling sessions, either in his office at the Peter Lougheed hospital in Calgary or in examination rooms.

Linked to apartheid electroshock therapy

Levin is not unfamiliar with controversy.

While a colonel in the South African military under apartheid in the 1970s, he was linked to the use of electroshock aversion therapy, now widely discredited, that was supposed to “cure” gays and lesbians of their homosexuality.

Levin’s activities were brought up during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but he was never prosecuted for them.

The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, which licensed him in the 1990s, said Levin remains under suspension until his criminal charges are dealt with.

Calgary police won’t say if more people have come forward as a result of the letters sent by Alberta Justice.

Nor will the government say how many more people will be contacted, only that Levin was employed by the courts for nearly 13 years.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Levin in June 2011.

Source: “Albert seeks patients of courtroom psychiatrist,” CBC News, December 22, 2010.

Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist under police and state investigations for child porn

On November 24, 2010 the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Mark B. Zweifach for “general unprofessional conduct.”

Zweifach agreed to the voluntary suspension of his license on September 16, 2008.  According to the Board’s Accusation, “In or about July, August and September 2007, [Zweifach], a physicians with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California, used his Kaiser Permanente assigned computer in his office in the Kaiser Permanente Bostonia Medical Office building, located in El Cajon, California, to access suspected child pornography websites on the internet. When confronted by Kaiser Permanente investigators, [Zweifach] admitted accessing the websites at work, and further admitted and addiction to internet pornography.”

According to the Board’s Stipulation for Voluntary Suspension of License, investigations are currently pending against Zweifach by both the Board and the San Diego Police Department.

Source: Stipulation for Voluntary Suspension of License and Accusation in the Matter of the Investigation Against Mark Zweifach, M.D., Physician and Surgeon’s Certificate No. G48626, Case No. 10-07-188130, Medical Board of California.

State fines psychologist Brent Roderick Smith; took “redemptive” approach with colleague who engaged in sex with patient

On August 19, 2010, the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professions (MDCH) imposed a $1,000 fine upon psychologist and professional counselor Brent Roderick Smith for violation of general duty/negligence.

According to the MDCH, in November 2008, Smith counseled a mother and her two children (a son and daughter), as well as supervised a licensed professional counselor named Brent Chilcote.

In late November of that year the daughter told the mother that she’d been involved in a sexual relationship with Chilcote when she was receiving counseling from him. Chilcote admitted the relationship when confronted about it by Smith in early December 2008.

Smith advised the mother he would not report Chilcote to the MDCH, but rather would take a “redemptive” approach to the situation.  Smith urged the mother to believe in redemption and forgiveness.

In Spring 2009, after becoming aware that Chilcote was slated to provide counseling services at a local school, the mother shared with Smith information she’d heard about the possibility that Chilcote may have committed indiscretions with other patients and her concern for the school children he would be in contact with.

Smith dismissed her concerns and advised he would stil not report Chilcote to the MDCH.  During and October 2009 meeting with an MDCH investigator, Smith advised that he did not believe he was required to report Chilcote’s conduct and advised that as his supervisor, he believed he appropriately dealt with the situation (the “redemptive” approach).

Source: Consent Order and Stipulation in the Matter of Brent Roderick Smith, Psy.D., License No. 63-01-008782, Complaint No. 63-09-119939, State of Michigan Department of Community Health.

“Dr. Bob” Weathers, Los Angeles “life coach” lost license to practice psychology

On February 24, 2010 the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Psychology accepted the surrender of Robert Stanley Weathers, Ph.D.’s license to practice psychology.

According to the Board’s Accusation and Stipulated Surrender of License and Order, Weathers engaged in a sexual relationship with a former patient who he later married and subsequently abandoned.

The Accusation states that between November 1, 2002 and December 10, 2002, “S.W.,” a female, was an in-patient at the Passages drug rehabilitation facility in Malibu, California, to receive treatment for her cocaine use.  Weathers was her primary therapist and met with her twice a week for therapy.  S.W. developed a crush on Weathers early in her therapy.  He became aware of this when another female patient told him that S.W. liked him.

After Weathers learned of S.W.’s attraction, their next therapy session was on the beach, where he told her he was aware of her attraction.  The document states that he told her they could not begin a romantic relationship for two years without risking disciplinary action (according to state law governing the conduct of certain professions).

He told her he had been romantically involved with a graduate student while he was a professor at Pepperdine University [and] lost his professorship and tenure as a result.

He told her he had been romantically involved with a graduate student while he was a professor at Pepperdine University.  He ended up leaving her and she reported their relationship to the Dean, who subsequently asked for Weather’s resignation.  Weathers lost his professorship and tenure as a result of the relationship.

S.W. completed her treatment at Passages and went home to New Hampshire.  Soon after, they began to correspond via e-mail.  Their friendly exchanges continued until February 2003, when the message became more intimate.  Soon after, she flew back to California where they visited.  Sexual intercourse ensued.  This was only two months after the conclusion of the patient-therapist relationship.  In December 2003, Weathers resigned from Passages and moved to New Hampshire and moved in with S.W. and her children.  They were engaged on February 14, 2005 and married February 14, 2006.  During the entire period, Weathers engaged in sexual intercourse with S.W.  In October 2006, Weathers flew to California to work at Passages for a week and had what S.W. described as a “meltdown,” after which he told S.W. he really wanted to move back to California.  Weathers left S.W. in January 2007.  Later that year, they talked about getting back together.  S.W. had arranged for them to attend some sort of marriage therapy in Seattle, Washington.  Weathers told her that he would attend the therapy but then backed out.

 

Source: Accusation and Stipulated Surrender of License and Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Robert Weathers, Ph.D., Case No. 1F-2008-190012, Before the Board of Psychology, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California.

State declines to reinstate license of psychologist Julian M. Gordon following 13-year prison sentence for sex with minor

On September 2, 2010, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) denied psychologist Julian M. Gordon, Ph.D. reinstatement of his license.

The MDCH summarily suspended Gordon’s license on February 3, 1999 and revoked it in December of that year, based on Gordon’s November 1997 criminal convictions for felony criminal sexual conduct on a child age 13-15 and two counts of misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct on a child age 13-16.

He was sentenced to a minimum of six years and maximum of 15 years prison.  He was released from prison February 11, 2010 and must register as a sex offender for life.

On April 15, 2010, Gordon filed an application with the Michigan Board of Psychology for reinstatement of his license to practice as a psychologist but the MDCH denied the application on the basis that Gordon failed to satisfy the Board’s requirements for reinstatement.

Source: Order Denying Reinstatement in the Matter of Julian M. Gordon, Ph.D., License Number 63-01-005530, File Number 63-10-116176, Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professions.

State suspends license of psychologist Steven A. Korn for sexual exploitation of female patient

On September 22, 2010, an Administrative Law Judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings, Medical Quality Hearing Panel, State of California, signed a Decision on Petition for Interim Order of Suspension on psychologist Steven Allan Korn.

According to the document, Korn engaged in sexual relations with, and sexual exploitation of a 26-year-old female patient who’d come to Korn in June 2008 for treatment of anxiety and depression.

After approximately three sessions, Korn allegedly told the patient he was physically attracted to her.  She declined to be referred to another psychologist and Korn “promised that he would behave” but at the next therapy session, as the patient was standing up to leave, Korn “hugged her, kissed her and ran his hands all over her body.  He then had sexual intercourse with her.”

Korn initiated sexual intercourse at the following therapy session as well.

The document contains transcriptions of several e-mail exchanges of an intimate nature, in which their relationship is mentioned.  It also contains transcripts of telephone calls the patient placed to Korn which were recorded by a Medical Board investigator, in which the patient brings up their sexual relationship—which Korn does not deny, though he attempts to try to get the patient to recant her complaint against him to the Board.

“Korn allegedly told the patient he was physically attracted to her [and] ‘promised that he would behave’ but at the next therapy session [he] had sexual intercourse with her.”

Lastly, the document indicates that a criminal case is pending against Korn in this matter (as sexual exploitation of a patient by a psychotherapist is a crime in California).

The Board notes that though suspension of his license would create a financial hardship for Korn’s family, “there are no circumstances under which a psychologist who has engaged in sexual relations with a patient can be considered safe to continue in practice.”

Source: Decision on Petition for Interim Order of Suspension, Robert I. Kahane, Executive Officer, Board of Psychology vs. Steven Allan Korn, Ph.D., License No. PSY 8836, Case No. 1F 2009 202019, OAH No. 2010080799, Medical Quality Hearing Panel, Office of Administrative Hearings, State of California.