Monthly Archives: March 2014

Indiana prison social worker Elizabeth Covington loses license after criminal conviction

On February 18, 2014, the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board indefinitely suspended the license of clinical social worker Elizabeth Covington, whose license the Board summarily suspended in July 2012 following an investigation which found that Covington had engaged in sexual intercourse with an inmate of the correctional facility where she was employed and had also trafficked in contraband. On or about May 2, 2013, Covington pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and sentenced to probation.

Jury deliberates in retrial of Calgary psychiatrist Aubrey Levin

The legal fate of former forensic psychiatrist Aubrey Levin, accused of sexually molesting two male patients under his care at his office in Peter Lougheed Centre, is now in the hands of a jury.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Beth Hughes sent the jury out to deliberate at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on two sexual-assault charges against the 74-year-old doctor.

The jury deliberated for six hours before being excused for the night. The jurors will return to their deliberations tomorrow morning.

Both charges had first gone to trial in 2012, but were among four counts that ended up with a hung jury. He was convicted of three similar charges and acquitted of two others in the first trial.

Two of the four counts subject to the jury deadlock were stayed by the Crown and the other two were set for the second trial.

Levin appealed the first three convictions last October, but the Alberta Court of Appeal has yet to release a decision.

Crown prosecutor Shane Parker argued Tuesday that Levin should be found guilty of both charges, saying he had no authority to conduct any examination of his patients’ genitals,

“If you say this was not a proper exam, then there’s only one other reason: it was done for a sexual purpose,” Parker told the jury of six men and six women.

“A psychiatrist should not be doing these types of exams. When you fondle a person’s genitals, it is a continuous sexual assault. These men had their sexual integrity violated … it was fraud, it was medical make-believe. The fairy tale is over.”

Parker also stressed that Levin made no notes or any other type of documentation of the visits, presumably so he would not get in trouble.

Defence lawyer Chris Archer outright discredited one complainant, J.M., who testified Levin fondled him for some 30 seconds during an exam to check for sexually transmitted disease on Dec. 15, 2009.

He said Levin was checking the other patient, K.S., for potential melanoma, a type of skin cancer on his genitals, on Nov. 5, 2008, and during a followup on Feb. 3, 2010. Archer said Levin wanted to see if the mole was still there and if it had grown. Both alleged assaults took a few minutes of the total appointments.

“The examination of K.S. was a valid medical examination for melanoma,” said Archer. “It was proper medical exam for cancer screening. If the mole is melanoma, it’s potentially deadly.

“These were complete medical exams, nothing more, nothing less. They were done in a doctor’s office by a doctor.”

Parker said Levin did not wear rubber gloves, for protection of both himself and the patients, he did no actual tests for melanoma, no referral to an oncologist or other specialist, and he made no followups.

Source: Daryl Slade, “Jury considers fate of former psychiatrist,” Calgary Herald, March 19, 2014.

Former students file sex abuse lawsuit against school psychiatrist

Robert Browne was a well-known Honolulu psychiatrist who took part in the civil rights marches of the 1960s.

But a new lawsuit alleges that Browne was a sexual predator who preyed on Kamehameha Schools students during the 1970s.

“He masturbated them. His hands were on them all the time,” said attorney Michael Green.

“I think there’s probably hundreds.”

Green represents eight former students, all men who are now in their 50s. Each tells the same story: that Browne fondled them after they were sent to him for counseling.

“It started with the magazines under the couch … and there was rubbing and the touching. And eventually, the masturbating, which happened all of the time,” Green said.

Kamehameha Schools called the allegations serious but declined comment, saying it has not seen the complaint.

That suit alleges that Browne served as a dorm sponsor at the Kapalama Heights campus. He also was chief of psychiatry at the Saint Francis Medical Center.

Like the Catholic priest abuse scandal, the alleged molestations remained out of the limelight for decades. Then in 1991, one of the victims spoke out about his experience during a church service on the Big Island.

A sister of another victim happened to be in the audience that day and she got her brother in touch with the man. After speaking to each other, one of Green’s clients decided to contact Browne.

“(He) confronted him with not only what you did to me but what did you do to so and so. Dr. Browne that day killed himself,” Green said.

Green said the timing of the suit was partly due to the statue of limitations, which runs out next month. But many of the victims say they just want to see justice done, even if it’s delayed by decades.

Source: Suit: Rick Daysog, “Psychiatrist sexually abused Kamehameha students,” Hawaii News Now, March 11, 2014.

Las Vegas psych nurse assistant guilty of sexual assaults

Certified nursing assistant Steven Farmer, a Santa Claus look-alike who had a reputation for being an attentive caretaker, was convicted Friday of sexual assault and other charges for victimizing five female patients in 1998 at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who sat in court while the jury’s decision was announced, called the outcome “an overwhelming victory” for his office and for the state of Nevada.

“This was a significant verdict for this community,” Wolfson said.

Jurors, who began deliberating Monday afternoon, found Farmer guilty of sexually assaulting two women who sought treatment after suffering seizures in May 2008. The panel also found him guilty of indecent exposure and multiple counts of open or gross lewdness for his behavior with three other patients.

Multiple witnesses said they remembered Farmer as the nursing aide with white hair and a white beard who liked to talk about his resemblance to Santa Claus. Several said Farmer, who has been in custody since May 2008, now looks older and thinner.

Farmer, 61, stood stone-faced as a court clerk read 13 guilty verdicts and two not guilty verdicts.

Jeff Maningo and Ryan Bashor, the two deputy public defenders who represented Farmer, both expressed dis­appointment after hearing the verdicts.

“We’re not angry or anything,” Maningo said. “We think everyone did a fine job and did what they were supposed to do. We were just hoping for a different resolution.”

When asked if Farmer would appeal, Maningo said, “That’s automatic.”

District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth, who presided over the four-week trial, is scheduled to sentence Farmer on May 28.

Jurors found Farmer guilty of four counts of sexual assault, a felony. Each count carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years to life.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth said she applauds jurors “for how seriously they took this job.”

The prosecutor said she planned to call each of the victims to tell them the news.

“It’s going to be nice to make those phone calls,” she said.

One of the sexual assault victims committed suicide last year at the age of 56, but jurors heard her videotaped testimony during the three-week trial.

The woman said the lingering effects of a seizure prevented her from speaking or moving while Farmer used his fingers to sexually assault her at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

“I felt pain,” she testified. “I felt a multitude of feeling — one feeling being that there was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn’t ring the bell. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t — I just had to lay there. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I was shocked that I’m in a hospital being taken care of, and I’m having things like this done to me, and at that point in time, I can’t tell anybody.”

The other sexual assault victim, who is now 40, told jurors she tried to take pictures with her cellphone while Farmer performed oral sex on her, but the pictures did not turn out. She said Farmer also assaulted her with his fingers.

“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.”

Jury foreman Jim Robbins said two holdouts caused deliberations to drag on several days.

“They couldn’t come to the conclusion that he possibly did that, and they were feeling sorry for him,” the foreman said. “And I didn’t feel that way.”

Defense attorneys suggested money may have motivated the two sexual assault victims to fabricate their stories.

Both women sued the hospital. One case resulted in a confidential settlement in September.

Attorney Robert Murdock continues to pursue a civil case on behalf of the dead victim’s estate.

Farmer also is charged with open or gross lewdness in a separate case involving a former patient at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.

Source: Carri Geer Thevenot, “Jury finds nursing aide guilty of assaulting patients,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 28, 2014.