Category Archives: sexual exploitation

Psychologist James Medina Loses License for Sexual Misconduct

On September 14, 2017, the California Board of Psychology revoked James Medina’s license.

The Board’s Order of Decision states that Medina treated a female patient from July 2008 until summer 2014. The patient was 27 years old at the start and had disclosed to the Medina that she was an adult survivor of child sexual abuse.

The Board concluded that Medina had engaged in gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, unprofessional conduct, and sexual misconduct in his treatment of the patient. Further, he kept inadequate and inaccurate records for the patient, among other violations.

The document describes Medina’s sexualized behavior toward the patient, including personal emails, texts, and social media comments relative to her appearance, sex-related advice, expressions of sexual desire, and unwanted physical contact, such as hugs and rubbing of the back, waist and sides of breasts, and angry expletive-laced texts.  Medina also engaged in social activities with the patient and her friend, gave the patient money on a few occasions, purchased the patient’s television, among numerous other treatment and record-keeping violations.

Source: Order of Decision In the Matter of the First Amended Accusation Against James Medina, Ph.D., California Board of Psychology, October 9, 2017.

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NY State Refuses to Reinstate Psychiatrist Richard Karpf

On January 4, 2018, the Commission of the New York State Education Department Office of Professional Discipline denied psychiatrist Richard Karpf’s petition to have his medical license restored.

On July 1, 2004, Karpf entered into an agreement with the State Board for Professional Medical Conduct (“Board”) to surrender his license. This surrender was coincident with Karpf’s July 1st guilty plea for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree—an armed felony.

He gave up his license in a plea agreement to avoid going to jail; he faced 25 years.

The Board’s Statement of Charges states that Karpf “inappropriately involved a patient of his psychiatric practice in the procurement of a weapon.” According to later news reports, Karpf told the patient that he needed the gun to kill some of his patients. The patient notified the police, and agreed to cooperate with a sting operation.  The patient, wearing a hidden recording device, recorded his next meetings with Karpf, in which the psychiatrist discussed his plan to kill the people, and how he would dispose of their bodies, by dismembering them, placing body parts in heavy-duty plastic bags, renting a boat and dumping the bags into the shark-infested areas of the Atlantic Ocean. Karpf was arrested upon purchasing a handgun and silencer from an undercover police officer, to whom he’d confided that he wanted to shoot his victims at point blank range in the heart and the head.

Even before his February 2003 grand jury indictment on weapons charges and conspiracy to commit murder, news stories appeared in the New York Post and elsewhere which indicated that one of the patients Karpf allegedly wanted to murder was a female with whom he’d carried on a sexual relationship and that he’d been driven to “a murderous rage when [the] affair went sour.”

Attorney Ruth Bernstein, representing an unnamed female client (and former Karpf patient), stated in a Post story that Karpf “engaged in improper sexual contact with a sick patient who came to him for help.” She stated that her client “was manipulated and abused by him…. He led her to believe that this [sexual contact] was going to be therapeutic.”

Source: “Predator Shrink,” New York Post, Jan. 11, 2003; “Great Neck Psychiatrist Indicted on Conspiracy Charges,” Newsday.com, Feb. 20, 2003, “In the Matter of Richard James Karpf, M.D.” Surrender Order, New Yok State Board for Professional Medical Conduct,” Jul 16, 2004 and “Re: Application for Restoration” [denial of reinstatement], State Education Dept./University of New York Office of Professional Discipline, Feb. 16, 2018.

E. Texas psychiatrist charged with trafficking Indian women for sex, forced labor

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – An East Texas psychiatrist has been arrested and charged in connection with what’s being described as a ‘forced labor conspiracy’ in New York.

Riyaz Mazcuri, was arrested Thursday by the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and booked in the jail on a federal warrant.

According to documents from the federal court in the Southern District of New York, Mazcuri, known as ‘The Doctor,’ was indicted along with three other men accused of organizing a human trafficking organization.

Mazcuri is a psychiatrist who has practiced in Texas for several years in Houston and most recently at a facility in Kilgore.

Federal court documents state the men would hire female dancers in India under the assumption they would perform cultural programs in the United States. Prosecutors allege when they would get to the U.S., the women would be forced to dance in nightclubs in front of men for twelve to fourteen hours per night, seven nights a week. Some of the performers were reportedly engaged in prostitution. The men would reportedly force the women to perform by confiscating their passports and by threatening them with physical violence.

The group reportedly operated in New York and in other locations from 2008 to 2010.

According to jail records, Mazcuri has a Houston address. He was ordered into the custody of the U.S. Marshals until a detention hearing, scheduled for July 29 in Tyler.

Mazcuri’s attorney, listed as Joel Androphy of Houston, was unable to be reached Friday for comment regarding on his client’s arrest.

Source: Cody Lillich, “E. Texas psychiatrist arrested, accused of trafficking Indian women for forced labor, prostitution,” KLTV-7 (www.kltv.com), July 25, 2014. 

Psychiatrist Curtis Steele loses license over teen nude photo allegations

A former psychiatrist who practised in Halifax and taught at Dalhousie University will never practise over allegations that he took nude photos of a teenage patient.

Curtis Steele agreed to give up his licence after an investigation by the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Steele practised in the province from his move to Nova Scotia in 1988 until 2013. In 2013, one of his former patients filed a complaint against him with the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The patient was 14 years old when she started seeing Steele in 2003. The decision from the college says one of the girl’s parents worked with Steele and considered him a friend.

A committee that investigated the complaint found a number of concerns about Steele’s behaviour, including Steele allegedly taking nude photographs of his 14-year-old patient, as well as prescribing the drug Paxil without a supporting diagnosis.

“Dr. Steele lacked the necessary insight expected of a psychiatrist in failing to immediately recognize the impropriety of taking the photographs,” the college ruling says.

“The allegations are serious and profoundly disturbing.” – Dr. Gus Grant, College of Physicians and Surgeons

Steele has agreed to the terms of the college’s settlement to stop practising medicine and never apply for a licence again.

He will also have to pay $5,000 to help cover the college’s costs of the investigation. Steele admitted to professional misconduct, but not necessarily the facts outlined in the agreement.

The college released its decision Wednesday morning.

“I can’t imagine complaints of a more serious nature,” said Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar and CEO of the college. “The allegations are serious and profoundly disturbing.”

Grant says the incident could lead to charges.

“The nature of the allegations that the college considered are serious and potentially will involve the criminal court system,” he said.
Two more complaints outstanding

Meanwhile, Steele still faces two complaints from former patients, including another case filed by the patient who was 14 years old when he treated her in 2003.

A second case, filed last year, alleges Steele made inappropriate sexual advances toward a male patient using a dildo.

Steele practised at the Community Mental Health Clinic at the Capital District Health Authority, as well as at a small private practice.

Steele was also a faculty member at Dalhousie University’s Department of Psychiatry, but retired in 2013. He hadn’t taught medical students in over a decade, says Dalhousie spokeswoman Allison Gerrard.

Source: “Curtis Steele loses psychiatry licence over nude photo allegations,” CBC News, July 16, 2014.

Prison psychologist engaged in affair with “sexy” convicted murderer

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.

Source: “Prison psychologist Bobbie Bergmeier guilty of misconduct over relationship with murderer inmate,” News.com.au, July 17, 2014.

Psychologist John Cicconi loses license for sexual and abusive relationship with patient

A long-time psychologist who had an intimate and physically abusive relationship with a mentally ill patient has been de-registered.

Vincent Cicconi, who practiced in Moonee Ponds, was reprimanded and found guilty of professional misconduct for the three-year relationship with a female patient 20 years his junior.

The patient, who cannot be named, first met Mr Cicconi in April 2008 for treatment for her depression, anxiety and personality disorder, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The patient abused alcohol, ecstasy and cannabis and Mr Cicconi described her to Centrelink as “basically homeless” and “unable to look for work, given her mental state”, the tribunal heard.

After the third consultation, the relationship between Mr Cicconi and his patient became “unorthodox” when he invited her to have lunch with him at a cafe. This was followed by repeated shared meals, him giving her lifts home after consultations, going to the cinema, restaurants and concerts together and him giving her money.

The professional relationship ended after about two months but the sexual relationship began a short time later.

The Australian Psychological Society’s code of ethics states that psychologists cannot have sex with a former patient for at least two years after the professional relationship has ended, and even then, it must be discussed with a senior psychologist. The patient is also encouraged to have independent counselling.

Mr Cicconi allowed his patient to stay overnight at his house and at the end of 2008, she moved into his home for about two months.

In their recently published judgment, VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick and members John Farhall and Marian Power said the relationship between Mr Cicconi and his patient was “erratic and tumultuous” and “characterised by conflict, recriminations, separations and reconciliations”.

In March 2010, during an argument at his house, Mr Cicconi punched the patient in the face. Police later successfully sought an intervention order on her behalf against Mr Cicconi.

In February 2011, the pair had a “physical conflict” which left her with a bloody hand. Mr Cicconi was granted a diversion on an assault charge in court, meaning no conviction was recorded.

Despite this, contact between Mr Cicconi and the patient continued, and in 2012, they met again and had sex.

Months earlier, Mr Cicconi lied to the Psychology Board of Australia when it asked him for contact details for the patient.

The tribunal, describing the patient as “extremely vulnerable”, said the violence, sexual relationship and living arrangements between Mr Cicconi and the patient were “reprehensible”.

“Mr Cicconi should have realised that his own objectivity and capacity to provide appropriate treatment and care would be impaired,” the tribunal said. “The psychologist and patient relationship should have been immediately terminated with appropriate arrangements put in place for (the patient’s) ongoing care. This did not occur.”

The tribunal said that although it accepted Mr Cicconi was not adequately qualified to deal with the patient’s complex needs, he should have referred her on to someone who was, and not pursued a relationship.

It added that it could not rationalise the patient’s vulnerability and the inherent power imbalance in the relationship and that the entire profession was brought into disrepute when practitioners exploited professional relationships for their own advantage.

Mr Cicconi was reprimanded and his registration was cancelled, effective mid-May. He is not allowed to reapply for registration for 15 months after the cancellation begins, and will need to show that the conduct will not be repeated.

Source: Adrian Lowe, “Sex with patient costs psychologist his job,” The Age, April 30, 2013.

Bill pending in Louisiana legislature would make psychotherapist sex with patients a crime

BATON ROUGE — A Lafourche Parish lawmaker has introduced legislation that he said would better define the sexual boundaries that should be applied to psychotherapists and their patients.

Rep. Dee Richard, no party affiliation, Thibodaux, said he attempted to take the issue in from several different angles when drafting House Bill 226.

The legislation is expected to be debated during the regular session that convenes Monday.

SIGN THE PETITION IN SUPPORT OF HOUSE BILL 226, TO MAKE THERAPIST SEXUAL CONTACT A CRIME IN LOUISIANA: http://chn.ge/10i7tXs

“When you are under a psychotherapist’s care, you are very vulnerable,” Richard said. “There are a lot of cases out there where sexual contact occurred and it did not end well. This is something we should do a better job of avoiding.”

Richard’s bill would create a new crime that prohibits “sexual contact by a psychotherapist.”

It would not only target psychotherapists but also any person who “fraudulently represents himself as or purports to be a psychotherapist.”

The proposed law would apply more specifically to psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, mental health counselors and “any other person who provides or purports to provide treatment, diagnosis, assessment, evaluation, or counseling of any mental, emotional, behavioral, or addictive illnesses, disorders, symptoms, or conditions.”

As the bill is drafted, none of these individuals would not be allowed to engage in sexual contact with a client or patient, current or former.

Richard’s bill goes into great detail as to what constitutes a sexual act and seeks to cover a wide array of sexual scenarios.

”Some people may have a problem with the bill, in terms of consensual sex, and I am trying to address that,” Richard said.

SIGN THE PETITION IN SUPPORT OF HOUSE BILL 226, TO MAKE THERAPIST SEXUAL CONTACT A CRIME IN LOUISIANA: http://chn.ge/10i7tXs

Under the bill, a psychotherapist would be allowed to have sexual contact with a former client as long as it occurs one year after their professional medical relationship ends.

There must also be a paper trail showing that the psychotherapist referred the former patient to an “independent and objective psychotherapist, recommended by a third-party psychotherapist, for treatment.”

According to the legislation, the consent of the patient alone “shall not be a defense.”

The penalties for breaking the proposed law would be imprisonment for no more than 10 years, a fine up to $10,000 or both.

If the sexual contact occurs by means of “therapeutic deception,” the bill calls for a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both.

Therapeutic deception, as defined in the bill, means a representation by a psychotherapist that sexual contact is “consistent” with part of their patient’s treatment.

Richard said a local constituent brought the idea for the legislation to him, and the person is expected to testify during the regular session although the person was not prepared to be interviewed this week.

The legislation has been assigned to the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

SIGN THE PETITION IN SUPPORT OF HOUSE BILL 226, TO MAKE THERAPIST SEXUAL CONTACT A CRIME IN LOUISIANA: http://chn.ge/10i7tXs

Source: Jeremy Alford, “Bill examines psychotherapists’ sexual relationships with patients,” HoumaToday.com, April 6, 2013.