Monthly Archives: June 2013

Psychiatrist charged with soliciting sex from teen has history of lewd behavior

Charged in Monroe County with soliciting sex from what he believed to be a 13-year-old boy, a former psychiatrist has had his license revoked in three states including Pennsylvania, and served jail time in New Jersey for lewdness, according to the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine.

Michael Kessler, 43, of Cresco, has been deemed by another psychiatrist as having a sexual disorder, and lied on previous job applications about not having been charged with a crime, according to a 2012 Board of Medicine license revocation ruling.

He has never had any misconduct complaints from patients.

Monroe County District Attorney’s Office detectives arrested Kessler at his home Friday.

This resulted from an investigation detectives began in May, after a woman told state police a suspicious adult had been contacting her 13-year-old son on Facebook.

Authorities said this adult, identified as Kessler and using a fake name online, contacted a detective posing as the boy and began a sexual conversation.

Authorities said Kessler, thinking he was still talking to a minor, sent links to pornographic videos, along with a photo of a nude male he identified as himself, and told the detective he wanted to perform oral and other sex.

Kessler’s license to practice psychiatry in Pennsylvania had been revoked in July 2012 by the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine, said Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Ronald Ruman.

Kessler’s license revocation was the latest development in a troubled history that began in 2001.

Lewdness charges

The Board of Medicine’s license revocation ruling reveals the following details:

A graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Central Connecticut State University, Kessler was first licensed in 1999 in New York, where in June 2001 he completed a four-year internship/residency at what was then Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Hillside Hospital.

Kessler later was licensed in Massachusetts.

On July 1, 2001, he began a residency in a child/adolescent psychiatry program at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts.

On July 8, Kessler was charged with “open and gross lewdness” and disorderly conduct, after two men told police he had exposed himself to them and masturbated in his car in a doughnut shop parking lot in Walpole, Mass.

This prompted Cambridge Health Alliance to fire him from its child/adolescent psychiatry program Aug. 1.

In November 2001, with the earlier criminal case still pending, Kessler again was charged with open and gross lewdness and indecent exposure.

Two boys, ages 10 and 12, told police they saw him nude and masturbating in the front window of his mother’s Falmouth, Mass., home.

With two criminal cases now pending against him, and unable to find work since his termination from Cambridge Health Alliance, Kessler returned to New York.

Because he did not renew his Massachusetts license when it came due in December 2001, the license was labeled “revoked,” though not due to any disciplinary action at that time.

Onto New York

Kessler applied at Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville, N.Y., and Holliswood Hospital in Queens, N.Y.

He omitted his Massachusetts employment on both applications, and put “no” when asked on Brunswick Hospital Center’s group malpractice insurance policy application if he’d ever been charged with a felony.

On Dec. 1, 2001, Kessler started working full time at Brunswick.

On June 2, 2002, Kessler was convicted of open and gross lewdness in the second criminal case in Massachusetts.

He began the long process of appealing the verdict, but there is no mention of whether he served any jail time, according to state papers.

On June 3, he pleaded not guilty to open and gross lewdness in the first criminal case, while the disorderly conduct charge in that case had been dismissed, but the matter would be continued for another year.

In October 2002, Kessler admitted on his New York license renewal application to having been charged with a crime and disciplined by a hospital.

Based on this, the New York Board for Professional Medical Conduct charged him in December 2002 with lying on his hospital job applications about never having faced any criminal charges.

Being treated

Psychiatrist Frederick Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore, testified at the January 2003 board hearing on the charges.

Berlin said Kessler has “a sexual disorder characterized by exhibitionism and an urge to be seen masturbating by young males,” but that Kessler at the time was being adequately treated for the disorder.

Psychiatrist Marc Reubins testified Kessler has “a systemic disorder characterized by anxiety and depression,” while psychiatrist Seymour Block agreed with the anxiety assessment.

Deeming Berlin’s testimony the most convincing, the board in February 2003 found Kessler’s actions constituted “fraudulent practice” and “moral unfitness to practice medicine,” and revoked his New York license.

Kessler then became a licensed life, accident and health insurance broker in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. He went to work for a New Jersey firm specializing in minimizing health insurance cost increases related to disease management.

He also gave monthly free seminars in New York for high school students and parents on maximizing college financial aid, and prepared state and federal income tax returns for people and businesses.

Meanwhile, the first criminal case against him was finally dismissed in June 2003.

Lacked moral character

In September of that year, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine moved to take disciplinary action against Kessler’s Massachusetts license based on the conviction in the remaining criminal case and his New York license revocation.

In November 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the criminal conviction.

Despite this, the Board of Registration in Medicine in July 2006 revoked Kessler’s right to renew his Massachusetts license.

The board found he had “undermined public confidence in the integrity of the medical profession, lacked good moral character and had been disciplined by another state for the capacity to deceive and defraud.”

Got another chance in Pa.

After moving to Pennsylvania, Kessler in November 2006 applied to practice medicine in this state.

The Board of Medicine in January 2007 denied his application based on the New York and Massachusetts license revocations.

Kessler and Reubins, the psychiatrist who had testified on his behalf before the New York board, appeared at an October 2007 appeal hearing.

Reubins told the Board of Medicine that Kessler had been in no further trouble since 2001, was getting treatment for his anxiety and wanted to get back into medical practice.

Agreeing with Reubins that Kessler should have another chance to practice medicine, the board in December 2007 granted Kessler a five-year probationary license with terms and conditions, including the successful completion of a board-approved clinical skills evaluation/remediation program.

In trouble again

From October 2008 to June 2009, Kessler worked at ISL Psychiatric Services in Stroudsburg, and then as associate medical director for a school-based partial hospitalization program in Monroe and Northampton counties from July 2009 to May 2011.

He traveled among area schools, treating children with various mental illnesses.

From 2010 until March 2011, Kessler covered for the staff psychiatrist at Shawnee Academy in Shawnee-on-Delaware, a residential treatment facility for children with severe mental illnesses.

He was then at Pocono Psychiatric Associates in Smithfield Township.

But trouble again surfaced in November 2010, when Kessler for the third time was charged with lewdness.

Three juvenile males allegedly saw him masturbating in a vehicle at the Sutton Park Mall in Flanders, N.J.

Kessler in March 2011 pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in county jail and fined $1,000. This led to his Pennsylvania license eventually being revoked in July 2012.

It’s unknown how or if Kessler was employed when charged Friday in the current criminal case.

He was placed in Monroe County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail and will appear in district court at a future date.

Source: Andrew Scott, “Ex-psychiatrist in Cresco sex case has long history of lewd behavior,” Pocono Record Writer, June 26, 2013.

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State revokes psychologist Kristina Lyhus’ license for alcohol, sex with patient

On June 24, 2013, the Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists revoked the license of Kristina Lyhus. According to the Board’s document, Lyhus appeared at work after being on leave, smelling of alcohol and with an open container of beer; that she invited three patients to her apartment and had one of them purchase a bottle of vodka, which they then drank in her apartment; and engaging in sexual relations with and becoming engaged to one of the patients.

Pennsylvania psychiatrist charged with attempted sexual contact with 13-year-old boy

A Barrett Township psychiatrist has been charged with attempting sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy.

The charges against Michael Nathaniel Kessler, 43, a psychiatrist who previously had a practice on Route 447 in Smithfield Township, stem from an investigation that began in early May when an alert mother noticed some suspicious activity on her 13-year-old son’s Facebook account.

After investigating further, she became concerned that someone was contacting her son through Facebook using what appeared to be a fake profile that contained images and information pertaining to young boys in various states of undress.

She contacted police, who referred her to Detective Brian Webbe of the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney, a member of the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Webbe, who specializes in computer crimes, assumed control of the child’s Facebook account and began posing as the child.

Kessler, who was using this fake Facebook profile to impersonate a 14- year-old boy, sent Detective Webbe pornographic photographs and videos through Facebook, email, and his cell phone; then solicited Detective Webbe for sex.

Kessler also repeatedly asked for a picture of the 13-year-old boy’s penis.

Through investigation, Webbe was able to positively identify Kessler as the person behind this fake Facebook profile.

Detectives from the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney, along with officers from the Barrett Township Police Department and deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, served a search warrant on Kessler’s home on Spruce Cabin Road, seizing several computers and cell phones.

Kessler was arrested and charged with unlawful contact with a minor, obscene and other sexual materials and performances, solicitation and attempt to possess child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility; as well as a misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors.

He was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge John D. Whitesell of Mountainhome, and taken to the Monroe County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 27.

He will appear in front of Judge Whitesell on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 10:45 A.M. for a preliminary hearing.

Source: “Barrett psychiatrist charged with attempting sexual contact with boy, 13,” Pocono Record, June 21, 2013.

Sexual assault rife in psychiatric wards

Almost half of all women admitted to psychiatric wards in Victoria are sexually assaulted, a survey of patients has found.

The survey also found that two-thirds had been sexually harassed and most of them felt unsafe.

To make female patients feel safe, a hospital in Melbourne’s west will introduce electronic swipe cards to separate them from male patients, the Wyndham Weekly reports.

Mental Health Minister Marry Wooldridge announced on Wednesday that the Mercy Hospital in Werribee would receive $259,000 to install a nurse-call system, bedroom locks in the inpatient areas, and create areas specifically for women.
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The money follows the release of a new report revealing almost half the women in Victorian hospitals’ psychiatric units have been sexually assaulted.

The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) report states that in the past 20 years many women have been abused, assaulted and harassed by male patients and staff in the state’s mental health centres.

A survey of 50 women who had been admitted to psychiatric units for treatment found that 85 per cent of them felt unsafe, while 67 per cent reported being sexually harassed. Forty-five per cent said they had been sexually assaulted.

When Merinda Epstein suffered a manic episode last year, she was taken to a high-dependency unit.

“I was the only woman in there,” Ms Epstein said. “And that was so dumb.”

She said the unit had seven other patients at the time and they were the ones with the greatest mental health needs. Most were furious that they were in there.

“It was like a washing machine of distress,” the Altona Meadows resident said.

It wasn’t long before Ms Epstein, 56, who suffers bipolar disorder, found her fears about being the only woman weren’t unfounded.

She said that one morning, a male patient came into her room as she was getting dressed and cornered her.

“He scared me. He pulled down his pants, with all his genitalia showing, he came over to me, pinned me against a wall,” she said.

Ms Epstein managed to get past the man and into a common area.

Two days later, the man returned to her room. This time, he came into her shower and began urinating in her direction.

“I can still smell him,” she said.

Ms Epstein has lodged a formal complaint with the hospital involved and the Department of Human Services.

Mercy Health chief executive Stephen Cornelissen said there had been as many as 11 allegations of sexual assault reported to the Werribee Mercy Hospital in the past three years, and that was too many.

“Over the past three years Mercy Health has improved the way it assesses and manages risk in its mental health unit and introduced specific practices to improve safety for women in our care,” he said.

“New state government funding of $259,000 will improve the current unit to include tailored swipe card access allowing clients to lock their bedrooms, a client nurse-call system and gender-specific courtyards.”

Mr Cornelissen said psychiatric units had been designed for both sexes, which limited the ability of staff to restrict access to bedrooms.

He said a new state government-funded mental health unit, opening at the hospital in 2016, would address the problems by including areas only accessible to women and staff.

VMIAC director Isabell Collins said that while women-only areas and swipe cards were a step in the right direction, there needed to be many changes to the way mental health centres operated. Many women who completed the survey said their reports of abuse and harassment had been ignored by staff.

“There is an attitude that women with mental illnesses don’t matter,” Ms Collins said. “When these women aren’t taken seriously, it is soul-destroying. It is bad enough that you have been raped or sexually assaulted, but to have someone undermine that is devastating.”

Ms Collins said mental health units needed to ensure all patients were assessed on admission to determine their vulnerability to being abused or abusing others. The survey found that assessments were often skipped because nurses had too much other paperwork.

Mr Cornelissen said patients at Werribee were always assessed on admission.

Source: Laura Little and Nick Toscano, “Sexual assault rife in psychiatric wards,” Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 2013.

Psychiatrist Abdullahi Abdulkarim Mohamed loses license following sex assault conviction

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has immediately suspended the medical license of Abdullahi Abdulkarim Mohamed, M.D., of Monroe, Michigan, based on three misdemeanor convictions.

In March, Mohamed — a psychiatrist — was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. As a result, Mohamed was sentenced to 365 days in jail (with credit for three days) followed by 60 months of probation with terms, and ordered to pay fines and costs.

On May 13, LARA issued an order summarily suspending Mohamed’s license pursuant to the Public Health Code which provides for the mandatory summary suspension of a health professional upon the conviction of a felony, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a maximum term of two years, or a controlled substance-related conviction.

Source: Halston Herrera, “Monroe doctor loses medical license over sex crime convictions, ClickOnDetroit.com, May 23, 2013.