Psych Crime Reporter

April 14, 2011

Catholic League outraged about “debased psychiatrists”

Dr. Steve Taylor, a Louisiana psychiatrist who has worked with the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), has been sentenced to two years in prison for possession of child pornography. The news drew the following response from Catholic League president Bill Donohue:

How many more morally debased psychiatrists are working with SNAP? Did SNAP leaders know about the leisure-time activities of Dr. Taylor? When did they know and what did they do about it? It’s time we learned the truth.

What we know already is nauseating. In 2008, Dr. Taylor’s computer was seized by the authorities after they learned that he was downloading child pornography. He was jailed on 107 counts at the time, and in September of last year a grand jury indicted him. The court accepted a plea bargain from him this week.

Dr. Taylor got off easy, at least according to his own standards. In 2003, speaking for SNAP clients, he argued that the confidentiality of the confessional seal should not be respected by the law. In a contemptuous statement against the Catholic Church, he voiced his objections to a unanimous decision by the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice protecting the confidential communication of priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy members. He said at the time that the seal has to be broken because “We have faces now.”

Well, SNAP, we now have the faces of the children your colleague downloaded to feed his sick habits.

If breaking the priest-penitent privilege is something you support, will you now support turning over the patient records of Dr. Taylor? Will you support a probe of this matter? What if there is more evidence against him? What if there are more victims? You’re always looking for new victims, aren’t you? Strike when the iron is hot—who cares about psychiatrist-patient privilege?

Jeff Field

Director of Communications

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

450 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10123


212-371-3394 (fax)


Medicare program terminates Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital

Filed under: mental health — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:11 am
Tags: , ,

Federal officials have notified Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital that it is being terminated from the Medicare program for failing to have adequate suicide precautions in place.

The action by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considered a last resort when medical facilities fail to meet critical standards. It means the Medicare and Medicaid programs will no longer pay the hospital at 5121 Raytown Road to care for patients.

Two Rivers’ chief executive officer, Kevin Young, said in a statement Tuesday that the hospital was preparing an appeal and legal challenges.

“Two Rivers Hospital remains open and fully operational and will continue to do so during the pendency of this matter,” Young said.

(Note from Two Rivers is among 100+ behavioral health facilities owned and operated by Universal Health Services (UHS).  There have been numerous patient abuses, deaths and at least one homicide in UHS facilities in recent years, which you can read about here.)

Medicare’s termination notice said the program would continue to pay the hospital for 30 days for patients who were receiving in-patient care but would not pay for new admissions or those being treated as out-patients.

Federal officials have asked for a list of names and the Medicare claim numbers of those patients being treated as in-patient at the hospital as of the close of business Monday.

The termination was triggered by the March 12 suicide of a 59-year-old woman. The hospital failed to adequately monitor her and then bungled attempts to resuscitate her after she strangled herself with a strap, according to federal records.

Source: Robert A. Cronkleton, “Officials act to drop Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital from Medicare,” The Kansas City Star, April 13, 2011.Uni

Louisiana psychiatrist Steve Taylor sentenced to two years prison for possession of child pornography

Filed under: child pornography,crime and fraud,mental health,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:08 am

A retired Covington (Louisiana) psychiatrist booked in 2008 with possessing more than 100 sexually explicit pictures of children on his computer has pleaded guilty to less severe charges.

Dr. Steve Taylor, 71, admitted to attempted possession of juvenile pornography during a hearing at the St. Tammany Parish courthouse in Covington on Tuesday, according to the District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his plea, state Judge Peter Garcia sentenced him to two years in prison.

Ralph Whalen, Taylor’s defense attorney, said his client will begin serving his sentence April 22. He declined to answer questions about the reasoning behind the plea.

Meanwhile, DA spokesman Rick Wood explained that prosecutors struck the deal because they had concerns about evidence in the case and were unsure that a trial verdict would be favorable.

“It was the right thing to do,” Wood said.

Taylor, prior to his arrest, had been honored for his work with health care organizations and had been affiliated with a group dedicated to counseling victims of sexual abuse.

Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating Taylor three years ago after receiving a tip that child pornography had been downloaded on his computer.

Investigators later seized Taylor’s home computer and uncovered images downloaded from websites showing non-local youths under the age of 17. On April 9, 2008, they searched Taylor’s home and office and jailed him on 107 counts of juvenile pornography possession, each of which was punishable with a $10,000 fine and two to 10 years in prison.

Authorities have declined to say where the tip originated.

A grand jury indicted him last September. The court scheduled his trial for this week, but he accepted a plea bargain rather than combat the charges before a jury.

Attempted possession of child pornography carries a maximum five-year sentence. Assistant District Attorney Joseph Oubre handled the prosecution.

Taylor was well-known as a psychiatrist on the north shore. He served on St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Ethics Board, counseled residents after Hurricane Katrina and ran a support group for survivors of suicide. Late in the month during which he was arrested, he was supposed to receive an “Angels Among Us” award from the Hospice Foundation of the South. But organizers canceled the event.

He also collaborated with the Louisiana chapter of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Taylor attended the first meeting of the organization in Metairie in 2003. He also accompanied members of the organization to Baton Rouge when they urged the Legislature to require clergy to report abuse suspicions.

At the time, he told The Times-Picayune the right of clergy to keep confessions private did not outweigh the importance of discovering potential abuse cases. “The privilege is not as important as helping the next child,” he said. “The cycle has to be broken.”

Source: Ramon Antonio Vargas, “Retired Covington psychiatrist pleads guilty to attempted possession of child pornography,” The Times-Picayune, April 13, 2011.

Italian psychiatrist Diego Chianese convicted of patient rape

Filed under: mental health,psychiatric rape,psychiatrist,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:07 am

On March 26, 2011, psychiatrist Diego Chianese of Merate, Italy, was given a 64-month conditional sentence for sexual violence (rape) with aggravating circumstances.

Chianese, who was employed at Mandic Hospital, was convicted of engaging in a sexual relationship with a vulnerable 35-year-old female patient who had come to him for treatment for depression.

Chianese never denied the relationship but argued that it was consensual and that the patient only filed the complaint against him when he refused to leave his wife for her.  However, the district attorney showed that the patient was in a condition of vulnerability which would have precluded her ability to give consent and would have enabled Chianese to exploit that psychological vulnerability for sex.

A conditional sentence does not include jail but provides for the condition that if he should commit a similar crime during the term of the sentence, he would have to serve the prison time for the first offense as well as any incarceration resulting from the second charge.

Chianese was additionally suspended for one year from private practice and banned for life from working in public hospitals and was also required to deposit 30,000 Euros ($40,000 USD) as a precautional deposit pending the outcome of a civil lawsuit against him.

Source: Laura Achler, “Five years sentence for the psychiatrist who abused his patient,” La Gazzetta di Lecco, March 26, 2011.

Indiana mental health counselor Heather Richardson loses license for sex with client

Filed under: mental health counselor,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:05 am

On December 17, 2010, the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board suspended indefinitely mental health counseling Heather L. Richardson for no less than two years for having engaged in a sexual relationship with a client.

According to the Board’s Order, in May 2009, Richardson, who then worked at the Center for Mental Health (“the Center”), disclosed to a co-worker that she was involved in a sexual relationship with one of her clients.

Her supervisor and human resources director at the Center were made aware of this and she admitted the same to them.

She was advised to not see or contact the client in the future because her behavior could be therapeutically damaging to the client.  She agreed that this would be better for the client.

She was then discharged from her employment at the Center.

Center employees contacted the client, who confirmed the sexual relationship and also his intention to continue seeing Richardson.

The document states that Richardson is currently engaged to be married to the client.

Source: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order, in the Matter of the License of Heather L. Richardson, M.H.C., License No. 39001802A, Before the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board, Cause Number 2010 BHSB 013.

Psychiatrist Javier P. Escalera incarcerated for probation violation following assault conviction; state revokes license

Filed under: crime and fraud,mental health,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:03 am

On March 29, 2011 the Medical Board of California issued a Notice of Out of State Suspension Order on psychiatrist Javier Ponce Escalera, based on violations and actions taken upon him in the state of Texas.  The Texas Medical Board revoked Escalera’s license on February 4, 2011 for the following reasons:

On October 22, 2009, Escalera pleaded guilty in Harris County, Texas to a felony charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.  He was placed on deferred adjudication, probation with conditions and a $300 fine.  (Deferred adjudication means that the charge would be removed from his record if he complied with the terms of probation.)

On February 10, 2010, Escalera entered a plea of “true” to a charge that he had violated a condition of his probation, namely, by coming into “contact with injurious or vicious habits by using and coming into contact with an alcoholic beverage.”  His probation was thus revoked and the court issued a Judgment Adjudicating Guilt on the original charge, resulting in a conviction and two-year prison sentence.  He is projected to be incarcerated at the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice Smith Unit in LaMesa, Texas until January 7, 2012.

Escalera failed to notify the Texas Medical Board of any information related to the felony charge for which he is now incarcerated.

Escalera’s Texas medical license expired on August 31, 2009.  Though he renewed it on November 13, 2009, records show that he continued to engage in the practice of medicine while his license was delinquent, writing seven prescriptions for controlled substances.

Source: Agreed Order of Revocation in the Matter of the License of Javier P. Escalera, M.D., License No. M-7169, Before the Texas Medical Board and Notice of Out of State Suspension Order, issued to Javier Ponce Escalera, California License A-95344, Case Number 16-2011-213165, Medical Board of California.

Tennessee psychologist Lorne Semrau sentenced to 18 months prison for fraud

Filed under: crime and fraud,Medicaid-Medicare fraud,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:01 am

On March 21, 2011, Tennessee psychologist Lorne Allan Semrau was sentenced in federal court to 18 months in prison.

Semrau was convicted last June 17, 2010 of three counts of submitting false and fraudulent claims to the Tennessee and Mississippi Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Semrau is the former owner, president and CEO of businesses called Superior Life Care Services and Foundation Life Care Services.

The 2007 indictment against him states that he contacted with nursing homes in Mississippi and Tennessee to provide medication and mental health services and then contracted with psychiatrists to perform the services.  He implemented a billing scheme to defraud Medicaid, Medicare and others by submitting claims for $3 million in services that were not provided and claims he knew were false.

Terms of his sentence include restitution to Medicaid and Medicare of $254,435.

Source: “Psychologist convicted of false billings,” The Jackson Sun, June 29, 2010 and “United States District Court Sentences Psychologist for False Billings to Medicare/Medicaid,” press release of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Memphis, Tennessee, March 21, 2011.

April 7, 2011

Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Civil Police) need to check the shooter’s medicine cabinet

Twenty-three-year-old Wellington de Oliveira, a former student of the Tasso da Silveira primary school, in the town of Realengo, was at his former school earlier today on the apparent pretense of delivering a talk to a class when he opened fire on them mid-speech, killing 11 children and wounding 13 others.

If you ‘ve been following this story, you may have seen the news item in which one survivor/bystander remarked “Are we in the United States?”

As we have learned in the U.S. (as well as Finland and elsewhere), the people who commit these kinds of school murders and other mass shootings are often on a psychiatric drug or withdrawing from it–either condition has been known to make a person psychotic.

Some facts:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that antidepressants can cause suicidal ideation, mania and psychosis.
  • The manufacturer of one antidepressant, Effexor, has even warned that the drug can cause homicidal ideation.
  • In October 2006, a study came out in the Public Library of Science-Medicine journal, conducted by Dr. David Healy, director of Cardiff University’s North Wales department of psychological medicine, which found that the antidepressant Paxil raises the risk of violence.  Though the study focuses specifically on Paxil, Healy reasoned that other antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft, most likely pose the same risk of violence.  “We’ve got good evidence that the drugs can make people violent and you’d have to reason from that that there may be more episodes of violence,” Healy said.

Other commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs carry similar warnings and side effects.  These drugs include:

  • antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Risperdal, which can cause hostility, violence and suicidal thoughts);
  • tranquilizers such as Xanax and Ambien, which can cause aggressive behavior, hostility, psychosis and rage and
  • stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta, known to cause aggression, mental/mood changes, psychosis and violent behavior.

Since 2004, antidepressants in the same class as Paxil, Prozac, etc. (known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have carried an FDA “black box” warning—the agency’s strongest—stating that the drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers.  The FDA later broadened the warning of a potential increased risk of suicidal behavior to include adults.  The warning calls for the monitoring of patients on antidepressants, especially when the dosage has been changed.

Additionally, eleven of the last “school shooters” were either taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs when they opened fire, resulting in 54 dead and 105 wounded.

These drugs have been linked to many, many other such mass murders and senseless acts of violence.

Hundreds of such cases dating back to the 1980s can be found on the web site “SSRI Stories” (

President Dilma Rousseff, Governor Sergio Cabral, Minister of Education Fernando Haddad, Rio Police and others need to mount a concerted and coordinated effort to find out what drug an/or what kind of psychiatric treatment de Oliveira was on.

They need to ensure that full-range toxicology testing is done which detects not only alcohol and street drugs, but any prescription substance.

They then need to make the results known to a grieving public.

April 6, 2011

Human rights advocates say Gitmo psychologist John Leso should lose his license

A New York City judge says she’s not sure human rights advocates can force a state investigation into an Army psychologist they say developed abusive interrogation techniques for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Civil Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla didn’t immediately rule after a hearing Wednesday.  She told the rights groups she shared their “sensibility” but wasn’t sure the law was on their side.

The groups say psychologist John F. Leso committed professional misconduct by recommending measures such as exposing detainees to severe cold and depriving them of sleep.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability want him stripped of his New York license.

The state says Leso’s Army work is outside its purview.

No working telephone number could be found for him.

Source: “NY judge queries sides in Gitmo psychologist case,” Associated Press, April 6, 2011.

April 5, 2011

Psychiatrist Richard T. Adamson suspended for sex with two female patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:14 pm

On March 30, 2011, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) suspended psychiatrist Richard T. Adamson’s license to practice, citing charges that he engaged in sex with two female patients.  According to the DOH’s document:

Adamson provided medication management and psychotherapy for “Patient A” from July 2004 to November 2008.  Early in therapy, “A” revealed that she had been sexually abused by her father.
Adamson violated doctor-patient boundaries by providing business consultation services to “A,” herself a family practice physician, from September 2006 until October 2008.
In mid-November 2008, Adamson and “A” attended a four-day conference in
Colorado during which Adamson violated professional boundaries by dining with “A” and sharing personal information with her about his wife’s suicide and by kissing her in his office on their return from the conference.
On November 21, 2008, Adamson and “A” met at his office for a final psychotherapy session during which he encouraged “A” to seek treatment with someone else, then engaged in sexual intercourse with “A.”
From December 2008 to June 2009, “A” frequently met Adamson at his office and they would have sex.  “A” left her husband and moved into an apartment, where Adamson also engaged in sex with “A.”
The sexual relationship between Adamson and “A” ended sometime in June 2009 after Adamson told “A” that during their relationship he had been obsessed with another younger married woman and had engaged in “phone sex” and “instant messaging sex” with her.
Adamson treated “Patient B” on and off between September 1989 and January 2010.  The DOH’s document alleges:
In April or May 2009, Adamson disclosed to “A” that “B,” who had been the appointment before hers, had been talking about her in therapy, had a crush on her and wanted to ask her out.
In April or May 2009, “B” met “A” in the waiting room of Adamson’s office.  “B” developed a friendship with “A” and they saw one another socially until approximately November 2009.  In September 2009, “B” told Adamson that “A” had indicated she did not want to pursue a dating relationship with him.  “A” also told “B” that she had romantic feelings for another man whom she described as unrequited love interest.
Adamson violated doctor-patient boundaries when he (1) communicated to “B” that “A” was his patient and that he had a romantic relationship with her, (2) shared aspects of his personal life with “B” and (3) communicated to “A” information about the contents of his session with “B.”

Source: Statement of Charges in the Matter of the License to Practice as a Physician and Surgeon of Richard T. Adamson, M.D., License No. MD00019594, Case No. M2010-287, State of Washington Department of Health and “Seattle psychiatrist’s license immediately suspended,” press release of Washington State Department of Health, March 30, 2011.

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