SHE thought he was “sexy” and wanted to be with him forever. The only problem was she was his psychologist and he was a convicted murderer.
Bobbie Bergmeier met the inmate — who can be referred to only as Client A — after she began working as a psychologist at Junee Correctional Centre in the NSW Riverina region in April 2010.
At the time, Client A was serving the final years of his 21-year sentence for murder and malicious wounding.
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) alleges Ms Bergmeier began having intimate telephone conversations with him, declaring “she loved him and couldn’t wait to be with him” and “he was sexy and she wanted him forever”.
She resigned from the prison job in August 2011 but continued to stay in contact with him, visiting his family and friends, and applying to be his sponsor for weekend leave.
Client A was serving the final years of a 21 year sentence for murder and malicious wound
In a bid to cover up her relationship, Ms Bergmeier also used a colleague’s password to log into Client A’s case notes and change them to create “distance” between herself and him, the HCCC alleged.
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW found her guilty of professional misconduct, saying she “has been involved in a serious boundary violation and placed her client at risk”.
Although Client A was serving time for murder, the tribunal said he had been in jail all of his adult life with little opportunity to explore relationships.
He was “needy and dependent and psychologically vulnerable”, it heard.
Asked why she didn’t end the relationship when the stakes were so high, Ms Bergmeier told the tribunal her feelings were “so strong” that she didn’t think to.
The relationship started in prison but Client A and Ms Bergmeier are believed to still be
The relationship started in prison but Client A and Ms Bergmeier are believed to still be seeing each other. Picture:
Ms Bergmeier said she accepted responsibility for her actions and acknowledged that what she did was wrong.
She understood her conduct had breached her professional code of ethics.
The tribunal cancelled her registration, saying: “Her insight into the seriousness of her conduct and its impact on her client, her colleagues and the profession as a whole remains questionable.” Client A was released on parole in March.
Ms Bergmeier is now enrolled in a degree in primary school teaching at Charles Sturt University.
It is believed the pair are continuing to see each other.