Monthly Archives: February 2014

Five more woman file charges against “fondling” psychiatrist

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors in southeastern Pennsylvania have filed additional charges against a psychiatrist already accused of inappropriately touching three women who came to his office for help.

The Bucks County district attorney’s office said five more women informed authorities that 42-year-old Dr. Basem Shlewiet fondled them in his Doylestown office.

He was arraigned Friday on 10 additional counts of indecent assault and released on $250,000 unsecured bond.

Doylestown police initially received reports from three separate young women from April to December 2013 alleging Shlewiet fondled them. After his arrest in January was publicized, prosecutors said five more patients came forward alleging similar misconduct.

Defense attorney Louis Busico said his client’s examination techniques may have been misunderstood.

Prosecutors said the eight alleged victims ranged in age from 14 to 33.

Source: “Pa. psychiatrist charged with fondling more women,” SFGate, February 21, 2014.

Florida therapist convicted of distributing child pornography

On February 12, 2014, Florida marriage & family therapist Jonathan Roberto Alvarez pleaded
guilty to distribution of child pornography.
 
According to a “Statement of Facts” signed by Alvarez, he used the screen name “herekiddykiddy” on an internet account to share and distribute images of children engaged in sexually explicit activity, including one involving a child as young as five years old.
 
Alvarez faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison, a lifetime
of supervised release and $250,000.00 in fines.
 
The Florida Department of Health as filed an administrative complaint against him,

alleging that he is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety to patients. The state Surgeon Geneneral previously suspended Alvarez’s license on an emergency basis in this matter

Las Vegas psych nurse aide accused of sexually victimizing five female patients

A former patient at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center told jurors on Tuesday that she tried to take pictures with her cellphone in 2008 while a certified nursing assistant sexually assaulted her.

“I’m scared. I’m just terrified,” the woman testified. “I didn’t know whether to scream or holler. I couldn’t reach the call button because it was behind me.”

The witness pointed to defendant Steven Farmer in court on Tuesday and identified him as the man who assaulted her.

“He’s telling me that he wants to relax me and that it’s procedure,” the woman testified.
Farmer
Farmer, 61, is accused of victimizing five female patients at the hospital in 2008. Two of the women reported that Farmer sexually assaulted them.

The former patient who testified Tuesday was 34 when she was taken to Centennial Hills Hospital after suffering a seizure on May 15, 2008.

She said she first encountered Farmer in the emergency room.

“He was great in the ER,” she said. “He was always there.”

At one point, she asked for Farmer’s personal information so she could write a letter of recommendation for him.

“It was a new hospital, and I was pretty impressed that every time I needed something that he was there,” the woman testified.

When she was formally admitted to the hospital, it was Farmer who moved her to her room. But his demeanor changed on the elevator ride, the witness said, and she recalled him telling her she should be tired because of the medication she was given.

“He just kept saying over and over that I should be sleeping,” the woman said.

In the elevator, Farmer began adjusting the blankets on her bed. Twice, she said, he rubbed her inner thigh.

She recalled trying to tuck a blanket under her leg, but Farmer discouraged her from doing so.

The woman said Farmer’s behavior was frightening her, and she was fighting to stay awake.

“His whole look changed, so I got really scared,” she said.

Once in the hospital room, the woman said, Farmer again began adjusting her blankets. She said he then reached under the blankets and sexually assaulted her with his fingers.

“He’s telling me that he wants to relax me and that it’s procedure,” the witness testified.

She said the assault was painful, and she “kept telling him to stop.”

The woman said Farmer then began squeezing her breasts under her hospital gown and telling her she was beautiful.

After that, she told the jury, he began performing oral sex on her. At that point, she started trying to take pictures with her phone.

“From my understanding, they didn’t come out,” the woman said.

She said she did not yell for help because she was afraid Farmer was going to kill her. After he left the room, she fell asleep.

When she woke up, she called her husband and asked him to come to the hospital.

“I told him something bad happened to me,” the woman testified.

She began to cry as she talked about the difficulty of making that call.

“He was my husband,” she said. “How do you tell your husband that another man touched you?”

When a female nurse entered her room, she testified, she asked to speak to the nurse’s supervisor. She said Farmer, who had returned to the room, “glared” at her before quickly leaving.

The witness said she told the supervisor what had happened.

“I felt like she didn’t take me seriously,” the former patient said.

She and her husband contacted police, and Farmer was arrested.

The woman later filed a lawsuit against the hospital, and the parties reached a confidential settlement in September.

During his opening statement to the jury on Friday, Deputy Public Defender Ryan Bashor said the case was about money and the media.

On cross-examination Tuesday, the woman was asked about several calls made from her cellphone to KLAS-TV, Channel 8, in the days after the assault. She denied calling news media and said, “It could have been my husband.”

The witness also was asked about the settlement and her previous financial difficulties.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth later asked the woman, “Did you make this up because you wanted money?”

“No,” the woman replied.

Another woman who accused Farmer of sexually assaulting her committed suicide last year. Prosecutors plan to play a videotape of her testimony to the jury.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal typically does not publish the names of sexual assault victims.

Source: Carri Geer Thevenot, “Former patient says hospital supervisor downplayed assault by nurse aide,” Las Vegas Review Journal, February 11, 2014.

Psychiatrist loses license for “using woman for sex”

A PSYCHIATRIST who confessed to a seven-year affair with a vulnerable patient after she was found dead has been struck off.

Dr Andrew McBride started a sexual relationship with the woman while treating her for drug and alcohol abuse at the Rectory Centre in Oxford in 2003.

In a string of diary entries read out at a disciplinary tribunal, the woman described how she felt McBride was “using her for sex”.

The affair continued until her untimely death in December 2010 despite two Oxfordshire NHS investigations into the relationship.

McBride was able to persuade bosses he was the victim of unfounded allegations when his lover revealed details of the affair while under the influence of alcohol in 2004 and 2008.

But the psychiatrist finally owned up after his mistress, referred to as patient A, was found dead in her flat in 2010, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard.

McBride is thought to be the last person to see her alive and confessed to the true nature of their relationship in the subsequent investigation.

He stopped treating her professionally at the start of 2005, but continued to prescribe large doses of the sedative diazepam right up until her death.

McBride was not present or represented at the Manchester hearing where a fitness to practise panel ordered he should be struck off.

Panel chairwoman Joy Hamilton said: “The panel considers that Dr McBride’s sexual misconduct seriously undermines public trust in the profession and was behaviour unbefitting a registered medical practitioner.

“Dr McBride has demonstrated no insight into the inappropriateness of this relationship.”

The panel also found McBride guilty of clinical errors relating to his treatment of another three patients between 2004 and 2011.

Source: “Psychiatrist struck off for ‘using woman for sex’,” Oxford Mail, February 4, 2014.

Austin psychiatrist charged with involvement in narcotics ring

An Austin doctor who police say wrote more than 400 prescriptions for narcotic pain medications in exchange for methamphetamine and cash is one of at least a dozen people charged in connection with an illegal drug distribution organization.

Richard Edward Sofinowski, 47, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 21 on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas. He was also indicted on two substantive drug distribution counts, the office said.

Sofinowski surrendered to federal authorities Monday and was released on a personal recognizance bond that day, the attorney’s office said.

Arza Demi, who authorities say helped Sofinowski give the prescriptions in exchange for meth and money, was indicted on the same charges, according to the attorney’s office. The 42-year-old remained in federal custody as of earlier this week.

“Prescription drug abuse has become increasingly prevalent in the community, and it is especially serious when a licensed medical professional violates his professional duties as well as federal law in illegally dispensing controlled substances,” U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement. “If Dr. Sofinowski is found guilty of writing prescriptions for narcotics by the grand jury, he will face serious consequences for enabling others’ dependence on drugs.”

Police said Sofinowski was a “key member of a narcotics distribution organization” and wrote prescriptions to 24 people on a rotating basis. Those people would then fill prescriptions for painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication at pharmacies across the city and then return the medication to the organization in exchange for keeping some of the drugs.

Sofinowski admitted to police that none of the people were his patients and that he distributed the prescriptions through leaders in the organization, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police issued warrants on a charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud for Wayne Johnson, 39, Bonita Hawthorne, 50, Woodrow Matthews, 32, Amanda Isbell, 34, Richard Graham, 36, Ruth Thompson, 35, Jessica Falscroft, 39, Kimberly Holmes, 36, Erin Feltmeyer, 31, and Michael Sullivan, 34, court records show.

Hawthorne, Graham, Sullivan, Falscroft and Holmes had been arrested by Thursday.

As of Friday evening, none of the other suspects was in custody in Travis County, according to jail records.

Sofinowski was earlier arrested and charged with possession on Nov. 13 after authorities searched his home and discovered 11.5 grams of methamphetamine and several hundred tablets of controlled substances. He was booked at the Williamson County Jail and released the next day after posting bail, which was set at $20,000.

According to the Texas Medical Board, Sofinowski has been licensed as a doctor in Texas since 1992, with a primary practice of psychiatry.

Sofinowski has not been investigated by the board before, according to the organization’s website, nor has he been disciplined or had his licensed restricted.

In 2002, he received an employee excellence award from the Austin Travis County Integral Care, according to the board’s website, which lists him as having been a supervisor of the Austin State Hospital residency program since 2001.

On Tuesday, an Integral Care spokesman told the American-Statesman that the organization can’t verify that Sofinowski received the award because there is no record of it.

Source: Julie Chang and Ciara O’Rourke, “Police: Austin psychiatrist wrote prescriptions in exchange for meth and cash,” Austin American Statesman, February 4, 2014.

Psychiatrist gets “popped” for kissing vulnerable female patient

According to records acquired by the Tampa chapter of Citizens Commission on Human Rights, psychiatrist Ioan Pop was criminally convicted and and may lose his license next month due to an act of sexual misconduct with a vulnerable female patient who had been involuntarily committed to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.
The records state that on April 27, 2013, Pop, who was in the patient’s room at Mount Sinai, kissed the patient on the mouth while holding her face and asked her sex-related questions. Pop also called the patient several times after she was released.
The DoH records state that the patient stated that thought she attempted to resist him, she was fearful of rejecting Pop because he was the only physician who could authorize her release.
Following her May 1, 2013 release, the patient went to the police as Pop was repeatedly calling her. She allowed a police officer to listen in on one of Pop’s calls where he stated to her “not to discuss the incident at the hospitalwith anyone” and that he “liked her anatomy and her liked her tongue very much”
On July 25, 2013, based on findings of sexual misconduct, the Florida Department of Health restricted Pop on an emergency basis from treating female patients.
On September 18, 2013, Pop was found guilty of battery and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to stay away from the former patient.
The entry on Dr. Pop on the website of the Florida Department of Health states that Pop will be surrendering his license.