Monthly Archives: September 2012

Psychiatric aide charged with sexual assaults

Visalia (California) Police have arrested a health worker for allegedly sexually assaulting two of his patients.

Investigators say 29-year old caretaker, Timothy Pohl, committed the crimes while working at the Kaweah Delta Mental Health Facility.  It is a secure facility, meaning patients do not have in and out privileges.  Investigators believe that helped the suspect take advantage of women.

“It concerns us because there is a lot of trust placed in these caretakers,” said Sgt. Amy Watkins of the Visalia Police Dept.

Police say on Monday and Tuesday of this week, a 42-year old woman and a 32-year old woman filed reports against Pohl.  They say he sexually assaulted them during treatment sessions.

“We’re looking at oral copulation, digital penetration and other charges related to him being the caretaker of these patients,” said Sgt. Watkins.

Officers arrested Pohl Tuesday evening at his home in the city of Tulare.  He had been working at the facility since April.

Kaweah Delta Mental Health responded with this statement:

“We’ve taken this allegation very seriously and have terminated the employee involved. We will continue to cooperate fully with the Visalia Police Department on this matter.”

This is the second sexual assault case we’ve had in the valley this month with tied to mental health.  In Fresno County, investigators arrested 52-year old, Pao Vue Vang.  He worked as a behavioral health clinician and is accused of raping a 27-year old woman while she was in his office for an appointment.

“To be a victim of this type of crime is unfortunate and we’d like to help them through it if we could,” said Sgt. Watkins.

Visalia Police have reason to believe Pohl has a third victim out there and possibly more.  If you have any information that can help in this case, call the department at (559) 713-4727.

Source: “Caretaker arrested for sexual assaults, CBS47 TV, August 29, 2012.

Court reinstates sex charges against psychologist Burton Hollenbeck

Keene, New Hampshire psychologist Burton Hollenbeck is was indicted in April 2010 for engaging in sex with a former patient–a married woman. The state of New Hampshire is among 20 or so states that have a law that makes it a crime for a psychotherapist to engage in sexual contact with patient or formal patient. Hollenbeck moved to dismiss the indictments, arguing the state violated both his state and federal rights to substantive due process because it “criminalizes the private sexual conduct of consenting adults.” However, the law makes it clear that psychotherapy patients, by reason of their vulnerable position, are not capable of consent. The law makes it a criminal act for the therapist to engage the patient for up to a year after the termination of the doctor-patient relationship. Hollenbeck violated this but argued that the law is arbitrary. The Superior Court judge agreed with Hollenbeck’s argument and dismissed the charges against him in December 2010.

The prosecution then appealed.

In its 3-1 decision Wednesday (September 5), the New Hampshire Supreme Court said the state has a legitimate interest in protecting people whose ability to consent to sexual contact may be compromised by the inherent nature of the treatment relationship, and in maintaining the integrity of mental health professionals. The court reinstated 30 charges against Hollenbeck.

 

The case of a psychologist with a practice in Keene who was accused of having sex with a former patient is headed back to court.

Burton G. Hollenbeck Jr., 58, of Richmond faced 30 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault before a Cheshire County Superior Court judge dismissed the charges.

Prosecutors appealed to the N.H. Supreme Court, which reversed the decision in a ruling released Wednesday.

Hollenbeck was accused of engaging in sexual conduct with the woman less than a year after her therapy with him ended, which violates state law, according to court documents.

A Cheshire County grand jury indicted Hollenbeck in April 2010 on 30 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault between Feb. 1, 2008, and Dec. 9, 2008.

He agreed to turn in his license to practice mental health therapy in 2010, after the charges were filed.

Hollenbeck moved to dismiss the indictments in December 2010, arguing the state violated both his state and federal rights to substantive due process because it “criminalizes the private sexual conduct of consenting adults,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

A Cheshire County Superior Court judge agreed with Hollenbeck’s argument and dismissed all 30 charges in December 2010. The state then appealed.

In its 3-1 decision Wednesday, the N.H. Supreme Court said the state has a legitimate interest in protecting people whose ability to consent to sexual contact may be compromised by the inherent nature of the treatment relationship, and in maintaining the integrity of mental health professionals.

A one-year post treatment limit is imposed to protect patients’ ability to consent to sexual contact with their therapist, the N.H. Supreme Court said.

Hollenbeck argued that the one-year limitation is arbitrary.

The Supreme Court decided Hollenbeck did not meet his burden of proof and he has “no constitutionally protected right at stake.”

The Supreme Court then reversed the Superior Court decision, thereby reinstating all 30 charges.

Justice Gary Hicks disagreed with the majority decision made by Justice James Bassett and retired Justices Richard Galway and Edward Fitzgerald.

Hicks’s dissenting opinion was based on his belief that the Legislature went too far in enacting the law. He called the government intrusion into Hollenbeck’s private life “severe.”

Hollenbeck’s attorney, Cathy J. Green, said in a statement, “We are disappointed with the court’s majority opinion and agree with the strong dissent. We are confident that ultimately our client will be exonerated.”

According to two separate civil lawsuits filed against Hollenbeck in 2009 in Cheshire County Superior Court by the alleged victim and her husband, Hollenbeck provided therapy to both.

In June 2001 the alleged victim’s husband sought Hollenbeck for counseling, according to the husband’s lawsuit.

When Hollenbeck determined the husband didn’t need treatment, he terminated therapy.

In December 2004, the alleged victim and her husband began seeing Hollenbeck for marriage counseling.

Hollenbeck asked the alleged victim to have one-on-one therapy sessions with him after he learned that she had issues stemming from her past, according to both lawsuits.

Shortly after the wife started her private sessions with Hollenbeck, the doctor bought her golf equipment, gold and pearl earrings, paid her auto insurance, gave her $200 toward a trip to Europe and paid $50 for her monthly phone bill between March and November 2008, according to the husband’s lawsuit.

The wife and Hollenbeck became involved in a romantic relationship in February 2008, the husband’s lawsuit said.

In October of that year, Hollenbeck’s office manager blew the whistle on the alleged affair, but the wife and Hollenbeck denied the allegations, according to the lawsuit.

In December 2008, the wife came forward and admitted she was having an affair with Hollenbeck, according to the husband’s lawsuit. She then ended the relationship, according to her lawsuit.

When the wife told Hollenbeck to leave her alone, he then proceeded to contact her with harassing phone calls and texts, and stalked her, according to her lawsuit.

The alleged victim then sought an emergency order of protection against Hollenbeck in December 2008, according to the husband’s lawsuit.

Both the alleged victim and her husband are seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for emotional distress, mental anguish, therapy, lost wages, legal fees and other damages, losses or expenses they say they suffered as a result of the alleged affair and Hollenbeck’s “wanton, malicious and oppressive” actions, according to both lawsuits.

The lawsuits have been suspended until Hollenbeck’s criminal case concludes.

Hollenbeck’s case will resume in Cheshire County Superior Court.

“We will pick up the case where we left off,” said Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis C. Hogan.

The N.H. Attorney General’s Office appointed the Hillsborough County Attorney to prosecute the case because of Hollenbeck’s contacts in Cheshire County, Hogan said.

Source: Danielle Rivard, “Local therapist’s sex charges reinstated,” New Hampshire Sentinel Source, September 6, 2012.

State issues charge against psychiatrist Richard J. Pines for sexual contact with foster children

The Idaho State Board of Medicine has filed a complaint against a Boise child and adolescent psychiatrist alleging he had improper sexual contact with four former patients or foster children and had a three-year affair with a patient to whom he was prescribing painkillers.

The complaint against Dr. Richard J. Pines alleges abuses dating back to June 2001. He has denied the allegations in his response to the board.

The board’s complaint alleges that in two cases Pines said he needed to perform naked massages to maintain his medical license, in one case he took naked pictures of a 14-year-old patient at his cabin and told a former foster child that he needed a “test patient” on which to practice hernia exams.

The board seeks a hearing on whether Pines’ license should be revoked.

Source: “Medical board files complaint against Boise doctor,” The Associated Press, August 27, 2012.

Accused psychologist pimp stops seeing patients

An Exeter psychologist charged with running a prostitution operation out of his Portsmouth apartment has agreed to stop seeing patients.

Alexander Marino had his psychology license suspended by the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health after his arrest earlier this month.

During a recent hearing in front of the state Board of Mental Health about the suspension, Marino agreed to stop seeing patients, the Associated Press reported.

Marino, 38, of 565 Sagamore Ave., Portsmouth, is currently free on bail.

According to Portsmouth Police, Marino was using his apartment to run a prostitution operation with links to Manchester and Portland, Maine since October. Police said men would arrive at Sagamore Court, hang out a the pool and enter Marino’s apartment with an assortment of scantilly-clad women to receive services. Marino was also charged with marijuana possession.

Marino, Brooke Parent, 21, of Manchester, and Jim Parra, 22, of Kittery, Maine, were all charged with prostitution following a police investigation on Aug. 4. Marino turned himself into Portsmouth Police on Aug. 7 after an arrest warrant was issued. Marino, Parent and Parra are scheduled to be arraigned in Portsmouth Circuit Court on Oct. 1. and Marino remains free after posting $1,000 cash bail and $15,000 personal recognizance.

Source: Jason Claffey, “Accused Psychologist/Pimp Stops Practice,” Exeter Patch, August 29, 2012.