Monthly Archives: August 2013

Israeli psych nurse indicted for raping patient

The Northern District Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment with the Nazareth District Court against a male nurse for the rape and indecent assault of a 57-year-old female patient, who was hospitalized at a psychiatric ward.

According to the indictment, the 44-year-old nurse claimed the patient needed to be seen by the institution’s psychiatrist and took her outside the ward against regulations. He then led her to the institution’s yard, smoked with her and took her to one of the treatment rooms where he raped her and committed indecent acts.

Source: Ahiya Raved, “Indictment: Nurse raped psychiatric ward patient,” Israel News, August 25, 2013.

Child molester psychiatrist William Ayres sentenced to 8 years prison

REDWOOD CITY — As one victim after another testified, calling William Ayres a monster and a serial child-abuser who robbed them of their innocence, the once-renowned child psychiatrist sat stoically Monday as a judge sentenced him to eight years in prison for molesting his former patients.

Because of his age and health problems, it is likely a life sentence for the 81-year-old ex-doctor who pleaded no contest to eight felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

For decades, patients were referred to Ayres through the county juvenile justice system, schools and other doctors. Authorities know of at least 50 victims, but many of those cases were so old they fell outside the statute of limitations.

During a day of angry, sad and triumphant testimony in San Mateo County Superior Court, the men he molested during therapy sessions when they were his patients as boys from the 1960s to the 1990s, spoke out against him.

One of the first victims to speak grew up to become a psychotherapist helping teens.

“You are the monster they talk about,” said the man, identified as Thomas C. in court. “I was the perfect candidate for you to perform your perversions on. I told my parents, and they didn’t believe me.”

Ayres used his work with boys having trouble at school, at home or with the law as a setting to abuse them, the victims said. His position of authority allowed him to deflect suspicions about his sexual interest in boys and keep parents from believing their sons’ complaints, victims said.

Between 1987 and 2002, officials received at least three sexual abuse complaints about Ayres. Yet he was honored in 2002 by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors with an award recognizing his “tireless effort to improve the lives of children.”

“He’s a destroyer of boys,” said Irene, whose son was a victim. “I encourage you to give him the maximum sentence.”

Because the charges are considered a serious felony, Ayres must serve 85 percent of the sentence. He also has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life once he’s paroled.

Clad in red jail clothes and seated in a wheelchair, Ayres mostly stared at the table in front of him, as more than a dozen victims and their family members testified. The sentencing comes just more than three months after Ayres pleaded no contest to the charges as his trial was beginning. The counts carried a maximum of 22 years in prison.

The onetime head of the prestigious American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has always professed his innocence. He claimed the only touching came in the form of physical exams that were part of the boys’ treatment. Ayres didn’t speak at Monday’s sentencing, but his wife and two children, in rare public statements, spoke against his “persecution.”

“There was nothing to suggest he could be guilty of the unspeakable crimes of which he is accused,” said wife Solveig Ayres. “Memories can be manipulated. I think they have.”

Her son and daughter went on to say the case was the result of a frenzy of emotion, misdirected anger and the personal “crusade” of victims’ advocate Victoria Balfour. A chance revelation of abuse by one of the victims led Balfour to call San Mateo police in 2002. She became part of the subsequent and winding investigation, which ended with felony molestation charges against Ayres in 2007.

“A mob of pitchfork and torch-wielding (accusers) has won,” said son Robert Ayres.

Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall said the family will pursue an appeal. He and the family said Ayres pleaded no contest only because his mind is so damaged by Alzheimer’s-related dementia that he wouldn’t have been able to defend himself at trial. McDougall said the decision had nothing to do with the family’s ability to pay legal bills.

Prosecutors’ first effort to convict Ayres ended in mistrial after jurors deadlocked in 2009. They decided to try him again, but the case slowed to a crawl and almost died due to Ayres’ alleged Alzheimer’s-related dementia. In the fall of 2011, both prosecution and defense agreed the disease had left him mentally incompetent for trial, and he was sent to a Napa State Hospital.

But on the eve of Ayres possibly being sent home, a forensic psychiatrist at Napa dropped a bombshell report, saying Ayres had been exaggerating, if not outright faking, his mental problems. In the fall of 2012, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Ayres had used his mental health experience and expertise to fool tests meant to catch fakers.

For Karl F., another victim of Ayres’ abuse, the molestation has cast a shadow over his life as he nears 50 years old. He’s afraid to be intimate with his wife, he’s plagued by feelings of filth and guilt, and he can’t even enjoy simple activities like building a model with his son.

Ayres gave models as rewards to his patients, and Karl once built one of Star Wars character R2-D2 with the former doctor.

“It crushes (my son) that I won’t sit down and build a stupid model with him,” Karl said.

Source: Joshua Melvin, “Peninsula child psychiatrist William Ayres sentenced to eight years for molesting patients,” San Jose Mercury News, August 26, 2013.

Psychiatrist Thomas Radecki charged with trading drugs for sex

A Pennsylvania psychiatrist who operated four drug addiction treatment clinics has been charged with over-prescribing medications and trading treatments for sex, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

Dr. Thomas Radecki, 67, of Clarion, operated offices and clinics in Clarion, Venango, McKean and Clearfield counties.

Prosecutors with the state attorney general’s office said that in the first five months of 2012, before his clinics were closed, Radecki was the largest purchaser and distributor of Subutex – a drug used for the treatment of opiate addition – in the United States.

Authorities said that in 2011 and 2012, Radecki purchased and distributed Subutex, Adderall and Ritalin with an estimated street value of more than $5 million, and evidence before a grand jury revealed that many patients did not need the drugs, but allegedly resold them.

The grand jury additionally found that Radecki accepted only cash payments from patients, including those who had medical assistance and insurance, but submitted claims to private insurance companies.

Authorities said the investigation further revealed that Radecki had inappropriate physical contact and sexual relationships with several patients, and repeatedly invited female patients to move in with him.

Agents said that female patients who lived with Radecki worked at his clinics, had access to other patient files and were given money and drugs.

Radecki was charged with 13 counts of prescribing outside accepted treatment principles, four counts of provider prohibited acts, two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of dealing in unlawful proceeds, one count of theft by deception and one count of insurance fraud.

He was released on $25,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing set for September 3.

Source: Myles Snyder, “AG: Pa. psychiatrist traded drug treatments for sex,” WHTM (ABC-27), August 20, 2013.

Child porn found on devices of accused N. CA child molester psychologist

SANTA CRUZ — Investigators found more than 1,200 digital pictures of child pornography on a single thumb drive taken from the office of a Capitola child psychologist accused of molesting his patients, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing Thursday.

John William Visher, 66, faces 21 charges of child molestation and child pornography. If convicted, Visher faces life in prison.

Sgt. Joseph Heartsner, a computer forensics examiner with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, testified that investigators found child pornography photos and videos on the thumb drive, two DVDs and a laptop taken from Visher’s office.

“They were almost all pretty graphic child porn,” Heartsner said.

Investigators also found evidence on the laptop that indicated the user visited adult and child pornography websites.

When defense attorney Doug Fox asked if there was any evidence Visher took the photos or videos himself, Heartsner replied no.

When prosecutor Michael Gilman asked Heartsner to describe characteristics of a pedophile, he said pedophiles often collect and keep pictures for long periods of time and view them compulsively.

Several family members and friends were in court to support Visher, who exchanged friendly looks with them before court proceedings. They all declined to comment.

Visher’s attorney said he and his client were grateful to have support in the courtroom.

“I’m pleased to say he’s got the support of friends and family, loved ones who appreciate the fact that a person accused of a crime doesn’t make them guilty of a crime,” Fox said.

Visher was first arrested in Sept. 19 at his La Selva Beach home after complaints from a then 8-year-old girl who was his patient. Capitola police believe the incidents with the girl happened in 2009 at Visher’s former Bay Avenue office.

A civil lawsuit by the girl’s family has been suspended while the criminal case proceeds.

If Judge Sam Stevens, a retired Santa Cruz County Superior court judge who is filling in, rules there is enough evidence to hold Visher accountable to the charges, Visher’s case will go to trial.

Visher’s psychology license was suspended by the California Board of Psychology shortly after his arrest. Visher’s website, which has been taken down, stated he served at-risk youth and provided therapy for sexual problems, Capitola police said. Investigators believe he retired before his arrest.

After posting bail of $110,000 from his original arrest, he was rearrested in May after prosecutors charged him with several more counts stemming from other underaged victims.

Including the 8-year-old girl, prosecutors allege Visher abused four victims as far as back as 2001. In April, a fourth victim who is now 21, came forward and said he was abused in 2002 and 2003.

Visher remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail. Because of scheduling conflicts and technical difficulties with evidence on the defense’s end, the preliminary examination was continued to Aug. 21.

Prosecutors asked anyone with additional information to call the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office at 831-454-2516.

Source: Calvin Men, “Child porn found on devices of accused Capitola child molester,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 10, 2013.

New York psychiatrist Dham Gupta suspended; asked patients to help find women willing to accept money for sex

Two physicians have been suspended by state regulators following separate investigations involving negligence and failure to maintain proper records.

Dr. Dham Gupta, a psychiatrist in Hamburg, was slapped with a one-year suspension of his license, to be followed by a five-year probation.

The Office of Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline within the state Department of Health found Gupta guilty of gross negligence, negligence on more than one occasion, conduct showing moral unfitness and failing to maintain accurate patient records.

According to the determination order published on the DOH website, the charges included asking two patients treated in 2010 to help him find women willing to accept money for sex. Both patients had long psychiatric histories, including drug dependence and suicide attempts, demonstrating Gupta’s breach of trust with his patients.

In total, Gupta was charged with 14 cases of professional misconduct related to the care of five patients at sites including the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, a Niagara County Department of Mental Health clinics and the St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Syracuse.

The hearing committee also gave serious consideration to revoking Gupta’s medical license, which would have been unanimously revoked had there been any sexual contact with this patients. The committee said he “callously manipulated” his patients while enlisting their help in obtaining sex partners, a gross deviation from the professional and ethical standards expected from a psychiatrist.

Gupta will also be required to undergo a thorough psychiatric evaluation of his own before he would be permitted to resume his medical practice.

Source: Tracey Drury, “Hamburg, N.F. doctors suspended for medical misconduct,” Buffalo Business First, August 15, 2013.

Scottish psych nurse loses license for sex with patient

A disciplinary body found Brendan Campbell, 49, “abused his power as a registered nurse” to develop an inappropriate relationship with the woman who had mental health issues.

After hearing evidence, the Nursing and Midwifery Council decided that striking Mr Campbell from the nursing register was the “only appropriate and proportionate sanction”.

It was alleged Mr Campbell developed an “inappropriate sexual relationship with female patient” while she was in the Struan Ward at MacKinnon House, which is part of Stobhill Hospital, in 2007.

Mr Campbell was the nurse in charge of night shifts in the 20-bed mixed low security psychiatric unit at the time.

NMC panel heard evidence that the relationship developed while the patient in the hospital and escalated after she was discharged.

An agent representing Mr Campbell said he maintains his innocence.

But the NMC panel, which published its judgment online, found the majority of allegations proven.

Mr Campbell was found to have given the patient gifts including a Valentine’s Card and T-shirt with a rude slogan which the patient told the panel made her feel “embarrassed”.

The panel concluded Mr Campbell had touched, put his arms around her and kissed her while she was in her hospital bed.

Allegations Mr Campbell kissed and inappropriately touched the patient and allowed her to touch him in an office at the ward, while patients were asleep, were also found proved.

Mr Campbell was also said to have met the patient outside the hospital on a number of occasions.

During these meetings, which took place in a park and at the patient’s home after she had been discharged, they had sex – the panel found.

The panel also found Mr Campbell had given his mobile number to the patient and exchanged text messages which were not clinical in nature.

Allegations the nurse had lay on the patient’s bed were found not proven along with allegations he kissed a patient he met while working at Woodilee Hospital.

In a statement, published on the NMC website, the patient is referred to as “Patient A” to protect her identity.

It says Mr Campbell’s actions “demonstrated a serious departure from the standards expected of a registered nurse” and adds that feelings of guilt over the relationship had caused “significant deterioration in the health of Patient A.”

The NMC judgement reads: “The panel has no doubt that this was a sustained, calculated and manipulative course of action by Mr Campbell’s involving an extremely vulnerable and unwell patient.”

Source: Linzi Watson, “Male nurse struck off over claims of sex with patient,” Glasgow Evening Times, August 12, 2013.

Psychotherapist Mark Bernardini arrested on sex charge second time in two months

WHITE PLAINS — A North Salem therapist indicted Tuesday on charges he sexually abused two patients said he may have exercised “bad judgment” by letting a 12-year-old boy masturbate during a session in his Bronxville office.

Mark Bernardini, 57, also said he may have accidentally touched the other victim, a 19-year-old woman, but only after her breast fell out of her blouse, according to court papers released in support of an indictment charging him with nine counts including felony criminal sexual act and misdemeanor forcible touching.

He was arraigned Tuesday in Westchester County Court and returned to the county jail.

Bernardini, a licensed clinical social worker who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, was accused of sodomizing the boy July 2.

He told investigators that a standard session turned into a discussion about sex and masturbation.

The boy masturbated himself on the couch, he said.

“Maybe I used bad judgment,” Bernardini told authorities, according to the court papers. He added that it was not inappropriate for the boy to masturbate in his office, that it was “perfectly normal” and “when I was a teenager a group of us boys would all go in a room and masturbate together.”

The boy told his parents about the incident after the session, and Bernardini was arrested later that night, authorities said.

It was his second arrest in a month. He was charged June 3 in North Salem, accused of fondling the young woman May 16 at his home office on Peach Lake Road. His excuse: “She was adjusting her blouse, and her breast fell out.”

He “did not say anything to her and continued with the session,” he purportedly told investigators. At one point, he “did sit next to her, and there could be a possibility that [he] may have inadvertently brushed [his] hand past her body, but would not have touched her on purpose.”

Bernardini, who is being held on bail of $75,000 cash or $150,000 bond, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison on the top charge.

He is due back in court Nov. 12.

Source: “North Salem therapist accused of abuse: I may have used ‘bad judgment’,” The Journal News, August 13, 2013.