Florida medical board issues emergency suspension of psychologist John W. Hutcheson, Jr. for sexual exploitation of patient

On August 3, 2011, the Florida Department of Health issued an Order of Emergency Suspension of License on psychologist John Williams Hutcheson, Jr.

The Department’s Order states that Hutcheson provided psychology services at the Anchor Clinic in Destin, Florida and that from September 15, 2009 to about October 25, 2010, he provided such services to patient “J.B.,” a then-53-year-old married female who relayed to Hutcheson a history of severe depression which commenced following the death of her child in 1980 and for which she had received treatment with psychotherapy, psychiatric drugs and electroconvulsive therapy.

The Order states that in or about April 2010, during a weekly therapy session, Hutcheson stood up from his chair and sat down next to J.B. and began kissing her then proceeded to fondle her under her clothing and to digitally penetrate her. Later that evening, when J.B. called him on his personal cell phone to discuss the incident, he diminished it and reassured J.B. that that it was normal behavior between healthy adults.

At the time of this encounter, J.B. felt isolated and dependent on Hutcheson and did not feel she could leave the relationship and so continued to see him. She attended approximately 20 more weekly sessions during which he would engage in the same sexual activity.  “Then,” the Order states, “he would unbuckle his belt, pull down his undergarment and put his hands on J.B.’s head, guiding it toward his exposed penis. Each time J.B. acquiesced and performed oral sex on Hutcheson…during approximately 20 therapy sessions….”

After Hutcheson began engaging in sex with J.B., he ceased providing any therapeutic services but continued to charge J.B. her co-payment and submitted claims to the Tricare program (federally funded health program for armed forces and their families) for the 20 sessions, for which he was paid $2,000.

The Board acknowledges the “unequal distribution of power inherent in the psychologist-patient relationship” which made J.B. “vulnerable to sexual contact as a result of (Hutcheson’s) exploitation of trust, knowledge, influence or emotions derived from the professional relationship.

The Board cites Hutcheson’s conduct as “particularly egregious because of the period of time over which the conduct occurred, the number of occasions…and the fact that Hutcheson profited monetarily” from it.

A proceeding seeking formal suspension or other discipline is forthcoming.

Source: Order of Emergency Suspension of License, in re: Emergency Suspension of the License of John Williams Hutcheson, Jr., Psy.D., License No. PY 3551, Case No. 2010-22442, State of Florida Department of Health.

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