Psych Crime Reporter

February 23, 2012

Massachusetts psychiatrist Christopher Palacios arrested for rape

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:47 pm

A local man was arraigned in Lynn District Court this afternoon on charges of domestic assault and battery and rape.

Christopher Palaicos, 39, of 9 Dartmouth Road, Marblehead, was arrested by local officers at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the victim came to the station to request a restraining order against Palaicos and told officers that he attacked her and sexually assaulted her around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Palaicos, who is a psychiatrist at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, was ordered held without bail until a follow-up hearing could be held Thursday afternoon.

Source: Owen Boss, “Local Psychiatrist Charged With Rape,” Marblehead Patch, February 22, 2012.

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February 21, 2012

Teen tied down and shocked for 7 hours at Massachusetts psych facility

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:42 pm

(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – Video of a disabled teen tied down and given painful electric shocks for seven hours should be made public, the youth’s mother said, so everyone can see what she describes as the “torture” her son went through at the controversial school, the only one in Massachusetts that uses pain to treat its clients.

“This is worse than a nightmare,” Cheryl McCollins said about her disabled son, Andre. “It is horrific. And poor Andre, who had to suffer through this, and not know why.”

The ordeal began after Andre hit a staff member. Inside a classroom, as a camera was recording, he was tied to a restraint board, face down, a helmet over his head.

He stayed like that for seven hours without a break, no food, no water, or trips to the bathroom. Each time he screamed or tensed up, he was shocked, 31 times in all. His mother called the next day to check on him.

“I said, ‘Andre.’ I said, ‘Hello.’ And so he said, ‘Help me,'” McCollins said.

After spending three days in a comatose state, not eating or drinking, Andre was taken to Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with “acute stress response” caused by the shocks.

“The doctors took all the shackles and all those things off of him. Andre’s not talking to me. I’m just holding him and telling him how much I love him, and asking him please to talk to me, just tell me what happened,” McCollins said.

What happened that morning in October 2002 became clear after the Rotenberg Center showed her the video of Andre’s ordeal, recorded by the classroom camera.

“When I viewed the tape, I saw Andre walking into a room, someone asking him to take off his coat. Andre said no, they shocked him, he went underneath the table trying to get away from them. They pulled him out, tied him up and they continued to shock him,” McCollins said.

“When you look at that videotape, what was the purpose of all those shocks?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

“I have no idea,” McCollins replied.

“Did you get an apology?” Beaudet asked.

“No, they felt what they did was therapy,” McCollins replied.

“Does that look like therapy to you?” Beaudet asked.

“No, it was torture,” McCollins said.

For now, the public can’t see for themselves what Andre’s treatment looks like because the Rotenberg Center asked a Norfolk Superior Court judge to seal the video tape, saying it would be unsettling for viewers who didn’t understand the context. The judge agreed, and the video remains under a protective order.

“This is video they fought vehemently not to release, fought vehemently to keep quiet and I think now are very concerned that this tape is out there,” said attorney Andrew Meyer, who represents Andre McCollins in a lawsuit against the Rotenberg Center.

“The Judge Rotenberg Center has consistently gotten away with being able to soft sell their treatment, to whitewash what they’ve done about it being therapeutic: ‘It’s not so bad, it helps these children.’ But the eyewitness accounts that we now have about what actually goes on at this center puts to lie everything they’ve been saying,” Meyer said.

But not everyone agrees. When asked about the perception that electric shock therapy is torture, school attorney Michael Flammia said, “Absolutely wrong.”

Flammia would not talk about Andre McCollins.

“But I can tell you I’m familiar with every kid who has been at the school, who have been at the school over 20 years and I can promise you the treatment here is safe, it’s effective, it’s administered properly and every kid has benefited enormously from it,” Flammia said.

“We talked with a parent who says, ‘Put that video out there, let the public see what happened to my son here. Let them see what she calls torture,'” asked FOX Undercover’s Beaudet.

“The matter is in the hands of the courts and we have complete confidence in the court system on that particular matter,” Flammia replied.

“So you don’t want us to see that video?” Beaudet asked.

“It’s in the hands of the court,” Flammia replied.

But McCollins says the public needs to see the video of what happened to her son.

“I hope this stops it. I hope this tape being exposed puts an end to this torture. Because I feel it. You watch it, you feel it,” McCollins said. “How do we sit here and let this go on?”

It’s certainly getting tougher for the Rotenberg Center to use these shocks.

New York and Massachusetts recently barred shocks on new students, though the school is fighting those restrictions in New York and is planning to do so here.

This is also not the first time this kind of video has become a problem for the center. Last year, the school’s founder, Matthew Israel, was indicted on charges that he ordered video of improperly shocked students to be erased despite an ongoing investigation.

Israel agreed to a deal that gives him pre-trial probation in exchange for his stepping down from the school.

Source: Mike Beaudet, “Teen tied and shocked for hours; mom calls it ‘torture’,” My FoxBoston, February 20, 2012.

Mount Sinai Hospital psychologist dragged traffic cop across town in minivan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:41 pm

Maybe this shrink should have his head examined.

A Manhattan psychologist pulled over for a traffic violation on the Upper East Side flipped his lid — and ended up dragging the cop with his minivan, authorities said.

The bizarre bout of road rage began when William Bannon Jr., 42, a part-time research psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, was stopped after he had driven his gray 2007 Nissan Quest down the wrong lane on East 62nd Street near First Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday, cops said.

The officer asked for Bannon’s paperwork, but the Upper West Side resident instead tried to give him the Freudian slip — by steering onto the sidewalk and speeding toward York Avenue, the cops said.

But when the officer caught up on York and reached in to pull the keys from the ignition, Bannon hit the gas, taking the cop — who was leaning in through the car window — with him, police said.

The officer was dragged from the west side of York to the avenue’s east side, where he hit the pavement, gashing a knee and a hand, authorities said.

Responding cops found the officer, who is with the 19th Precinct, struggling with Bannon, who tried to wriggle his way out of being handcuffed.

He was charged with first-degree assault on a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless endangerment.

The Columbia Ph.D., who has studied kids’ post-9/11 behavior, was released Friday on $5,000 bail.

Source: Rebecca Harshbarger, “‘Head case’ arrest,” New York Post, February 19, 2012.

41 unexpected/unnatural deaths in Australian psychiatric system in ’08

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:41 pm

AN INQUIRY into deaths in Victoria’s psychiatric facilities has found serious deficiencies and has called on the Baillieu government to consider major changes to the mental health system.

The inquiry, led by Victoria’s chief psychiatrist Ruth Vine, was prompted by The Saturday Age’s exposure last year of the high number of people dying in mental health wards.

It has called for better staff training, improved support for grieving families and a further review every three years of violent or unnatural deaths in psychiatric units.

Dr Vine and two interstate mental health experts examined 41 unexpected or unnatural deaths in the mental health system between January 2008 and December 2008.

Their inquiry found numerous ”opportunities to further improve clinical practices and processes to provide safer treatment and care”.

Dr Vine has also called for:

■New guidelines around searching patients to prevent drugs being smuggled into mental health wards.

■A review of whether mental health providers are doing enough to stop patients absconding and are adequately suicide-proofing facilities.

■Steps to ensure ”consistent monitoring of patients overnight” and better training around drug and alcohol issues. Her report detailed concerns from the state’s mental health services that ”the current funding model for inpatient units limits the capacity of management … to manage complex patients and situations”.

Dr Vine also said an an issue ”not routinely well managed” by health services involved ”the contact with family, carers, staff and other patients at the time of the critical incident and in the weeks or months following”.

Of the 41 deaths examined, the inquiry found that 29 most likely occurred as a result of suicide, including eight in an inpatient unit.

Thirteen of the 41 deaths occurred after a person had absconded from a unit while a further eight deaths involved patients on approved or planned leave.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge told The Saturday Age yesterday the government had accepted 12 of Dr Vine’s 15 recommendations and had immediately allocated $500,000 ”to respond to urgent capital improvements” in mental health wards.

Ms Wooldridge said she supported ”in principle” calls for increased after-hours staffing and a review of high dependency units, but said a decision on whether they would be funded needed ”further consideration”.

”While the report shows there are a number of appropriate measures already in place to review mental health inpatient deaths, it has also highlighted that many of the issues surrounding individual deaths are common across mental health services. The government will therefore introduce a new review process to ensure there is a regular review of inpatient deaths.”

The Vine inquiry also revealed that the state coroner had, when examining the deaths of mentally ill Victorians, identified failings inside health services.

In one case, a patient had absconded from a mental health unit due to ”a combination of possible human error in leaving the rear door open, the lack of any protocol or policy to regulate access to the [unit] by non-psychiatric staff and a door that was inadequate”.

Another death involved an involuntary patient who was admitted to the inpatient unit via the emergency department but who absconded while arrangements were being made to transfer him to a high dependency unit.

The Vine inquiry reveals that the coroner found that ”anomalies” with the way the health service had interacted with the patient were ”indicative of suboptimal care”.

A third death examined by the coroner involved a patient who had taken drugs and then hanged themselves inside a mental health facility.

Dr Vine’s report states that after this death, the health service involved had identified ”a number of areas where patient management can be improved”.

The Vine inquiry also found that some health services were not ensuring adequate monitoring of patients by staff.

”In one service, night-time observations reverted to a lower level than in place during the day without this being a considered or documented decision,” the report found.

The inquiry also noted that high dependency units for patients considered most at risk were often ”stark, with little opportunity for activities or distraction other than a television screen.

”They are not pleasant or inviting spaces. The panel was of the view that the high dependency area should not be used solely as a means of detention for those who are high risk because of their mental illness or an absconding risk.”

Source: Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, “State’s failings over deaths,” The Age, February 18, 2012.

Counselor Willie Denice Barr sentenced for Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:40 pm

An Oklahoma counseling agency owner, director and therapist was sentenced to a 10-year deferred sentence and will pay $14,012 in restitution for Medicaid fraud, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.

In December, Willie Denice Barr, 47, pled guilty to four counts of Medicaid fraud in Oklahoma County District Court for submitting fraudulent claims for payment to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state agency that handles Medicaid funds, according to the AG’s office.

Barr, the owner and director of New Restorations Counseling Center in Oklahoma City and Guthrie, also was ordered to complete 500 hours of community service and is responsible for accrued court costs and fees, according to the AG’s office.

In addition to the court-ordered restitution, Barr also must pay $398,097 to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for repayment of fraudulent claims, according to the AG’s office.

An audit by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Program Integrity Unit revealed Barr received more than $1.2 million in Medicaid reimbursements from September 2007 to May 2011. Barr’s contract with the state agency was terminated in May.

Barr was charged in May following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Source: Mark Schlachtenhaufen, “Judge sentences counselor in fraud case; Defendant owned offices in OKC, Guthrie,” The Edmond Sun, February 15, 2012.

Psychiatrist Ong Ming Tan facing 7 indecency charges involving teenage patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:39 pm

A Sydney psychiatrist has been accused of molesting a second patient at a private north shore clinic, with police today laying a further 10 charges of indecent and sexual assault.

Dr Ong Ming Tan today faced Hornsby Local Court where police presented further charges following their investigation into the doctor’s behaviour at the high-profile Northside Clinic.

Police originally laid charges in relation to a 19-year-old patient, but Dr Tan has since been charged with a number of fresh charges in relation to his conduct with a second complainant, aged 29.

In total, he how faces seven counts of aggravated indecency with a victim 16 or over and under his authority, and seven counts of aggravated indecency, victim under the authority of the offender.

As originally reported in The Sun-Herald, Dr Tan, 38, had been under investigation by both police and the state’s public health regulator over his conduct with patients at the Greenwich clinic.

He has taken leave from his private rooms while the investigations continue, and declined to speak to The Sun-Herald about the claims when they were first raised.

The chief executive of the Northside Group, Anne Mortimer, told the Herald it had taken action within one hour of being informed of the allegations.

She said the allegations had been raised before Christmas while the psychiatrist was on leave.

“We took immediate action,” Ms Mortimer said. “We had a meeting within an hour and [the doctor] did not return to the clinic. He chose to take annual leave.”

She said the matter was immediately reported to the commission as well as the clinic’s medical advisory board. An internal investigation had also been launched.

Ms Mortimer said she was not surprised a complaint had been made to police because she could understand anyone who felt they had been a victim would be outraged and likely to take all available avenues.

“We take these matters very seriously and we are co-operating with all agencies,” Ms Mortimer said. “We are keen to get to the bottom of all this. Our primary motivation is always our patients. And these patients are incredibly vulnerable.”

The Northside Clinic has 92 beds. It is a teaching hospital for the University of Sydney and has a number of specialised treatment units that deal with mood disorders, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation, and eating disorders.

Dr Tan was present for the brief mention of the case today, which was adjourned to May.

Source: Lisa Davies, “More psychiatrist sex claims emerge at private Sydney clinic,” Sydney Morning Herald, February 15, 2012.

Psychiatrist Stanley Hanan charged with sexual battery

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:39 pm

A Tulsa area psychiatrist is charged with two counts of sexual battery.

Court records say Dr. Stanley Scott Hanan, who practices in south Tulsa and Sand Springs, is accused of fondling a female patient and licking her breasts when she leaned over to pick up medicine. The alleged incident happened in October in 2011 at Associated Centers for Therapy at 71st and Yale.  Supervisors say Hanan no longer works there.

Hanan is listed as specializing in psychiatry and pharmacology at Counseling and Recovery Services of Oklahoma. According to records the state medical board has disciplined Hanan three times for over-prescribing narcotics in 1997, 1998, and 2003. His license was reinstated in 2005.

Hanan is being held on $20,000 bond. A court date is scheduled for February 27th.

Source: “Tulsa doctor booked for sexual battery,” Fox -23.com (Tulsa), February 17, 2012.

Northern California psychologists gets 8 years prison for “extreme” child pornography

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:38 pm

A Marin psychologist convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced in federal court to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $50,000 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Donald Tosti, 76, who surfaced as a pornography suspect after taking his computer to CompUSA for repair, was convicted on two charges of possessing child pornography after a search of his San Rafael home and office produced a “large collection” of child pornography, including depictions of the rape of very young children, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Haag issued a statement describing Tosti as a psychologist who founded the Independent Learning Schools.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White in San Francisco noted the quantity of pornography seized and the extreme nature of acts and images it contained as key factors in the eight-year sentence ordered Thursday.

Tosti was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 6, 2009. A second count was added when additional child pornography was found after his arrest.

Judge White also sentenced Tosti to a five-year period of supervised release and ordered him to pay $50,000 in restitution to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The sentencing followed a four-year investigation by the FBI and San Rafael Police Department. A San Rafael detective said police became aware of suspicions about Tosti in 2005.

Source: Nels Johnson, “Marin psychologist sentenced to 8 years in child porn case,”  Marin Independent Journal, February 6, 2012.

Human Rights Court awards damages to man held in inhuman conditions” of psych institution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:37 pm

The European Court of Human Rights said on January 17 2012 that it was ordering Bulgaria to pay 15,000 Euro ($19,700) in damages to a man forced to live for years in inhuman conditions in a psychiatric institution.

The court found that there had been violations of six articles of the convention on human rights:

1. The man had been illegally detained in the institution;

2. It had been made impossible for him to challenge the legality of his detention in court;

3. It had been made impossible for him to apply for compensation for his illegal detention,

4. The degrading treatment represented by the conditions in which he had to live;

5. The impossibility for him to apply for compensation regarding his degrading living conditions;

6. Violation of his right to a fair hearing in that he was denied access to a court to seek restoration of his legal capacity.

The applicant, Rusi Kosev Stanev, was born in 1956 and lives in Pastra in the municipality of Rila, south-western Bulgaria.

In 2000 and 2001 the Bulgarian courts found Stanev to be partially incapacitated, on the grounds that he had been suffering from schizophrenia since 1975 and was unable to manage his own affairs adequately or realise the consequences of his actions.

In 2002 he was placed under the partial guardianship of a council officer as his family did not wish to take on guardianship responsibilities for him.

Without consulting or informing Stanev, on December 10 2002 his guardian had him placed in the Pastra social care home for men with psychiatric disorders, in a remote mountain location near the village of Pastra. He has lived there ever since.

The director of the home subsequently became his guardian. Stanev was only allowed to leave the institution with the director’s permission.

On one occasion, when he did not return from a period of organised leave, the director contacted the police, who located him. He was then returned by staff members.

Conditions in the institution, built in the 1920s, were considered to constitute inhuman and degrading treatment by Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on its official visits in 2003 and 2004.

The CPT noted that the buildings were dilapidated, there was no running water in the buildings and the toilets were decrepit and in an execrable state in the yard.

The available heating was inadequate, as was the residents’ diet, which contained no milk or eggs and rarely fruit and vegetables.

No therapeutic activities were provided and residents led passive, monotonous lives.

In addition, the home did not return clothes to the same people after they were washed. Improvements to the home were not carried out until 2009.

Stanev tried to have his legal capacity restored in November 2004.

In 2005 prosecutors refused to bring a case, finding that he could not cope alone and that the institution was the most suitable place for him, following a medical report of June 15 2005 which stated that he showed signs of having schizophrenia.

Stanev tried unsuccessfully to have his partial guardianship over-turned by asking the mayor of Rila to bring a court case. His application for judicial review of the mayor’s refusal was rejected on the ground that an application could be made by his guardian.

Stanev has made several oral requrests to his guardian to apply for release which have all been refused.

On August 31 2006 a private psychiatric report found that Stanev had been incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenic on June 15 2005 but that he was prone to alcohol abuse, the symptoms of which could be confused with schizophrenia.

It was also found that his mental health had improved and was not at risk of deteriorating and that the home’s director thought he was capable of being reintegrated into society. On the other hand, his health was being damaged by his stay in the home, where he risked becoming institutionalised.

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on September 8 2006.

A Chamber hearing on the admissibility and merits of the case was held in public, on November 10 2009, and it was declared admissible on June 29 2010.

On September 14 2010 the Chamber dealing with the case relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. A Grand Chamber hearing was held in public on February 9 2011.

Source: “European court orders Bulgaria to pay damages to man held in ‘inhuman conditions’ in psychiatric home,” The Sofia Echo, January 17, 2012.

Sydney psychiatrist charged in sexual assault of 19-year-old patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:37 pm

A Sydney psychiatrist has today been charged with sexual assault of a patient at a high-profile private clinic on Sydney’s north shore.

As revealed in The Sun-Herald yesterday, the doctor – who can now be revealed as Dr Ong Ming Tan – had been under investigation by both police and the state’s public health regulator for indecent dealings with patients at the Northside Clinic in Greenwich.

Dr Tan, 38, was charged at Chatswood police station this morning with two counts of aggravated indecent assault of a young woman, aged 19.

He also faces two aggravated acts of indecency by a person in authority.

The incidents allegedly took place in August last year.

He was granted strict bail conditions and will appear in Hornsby Local Court on February 15, police said.

He has taken leave from his private rooms while the investigations continue, and declined to speak to The Sun-Herald about the claims last week.

It is understood another Northside patient, aged 29, has made similar allegations.

The Health Care Complaints Commission and the advisory board of the mental healthcare company that owns the clinic, the Northside Group, are also investigating.

The chief executive of the Northside Group, Anne Mortimer, told The Sun-Herald it had taken action within one hour of being informed of the allegations.

She said the allegations had been raised before Christmas while the psychiatrist was on leave.

“We took immediate action,” Ms Mortimer said. “We had a meeting within an hour and [the doctor] did not return to the clinic. He chose to take annual leave.”

She said the matter was immediately reported to the commission as well as the clinic’s medical advisory board. An internal investigation had also been launched.

Ms Mortimer said she was not surprised a complaint had been made to police because she could understand anyone who felt they had been a victim would be outraged and likely to take all available avenues.

“We take these matters very seriously and we are co-operating with all agencies,” Ms Mortimer said. “We are keen to get to the bottom of all this. Our primary motivation is always our patients. And these patients are incredibly vulnerable.”

The Northside Clinic has 92 beds. It is a teaching hospital for the University of Sydney and has a number of specialised treatment units that deal with mood disorders, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation, and eating disorders.

The Sun-Herald has learnt the complaints were made by a psychiatrist treating a 19-year-old woman, who was also under the care of the psychiatrist being investigated.

The psychiatrist who made the complaints had known the patient and her family for several years and is understood to have told police concerns had been raised with the clinic’s management in early December. However, after two weeks of inaction, it is understood that the psychiatrist decided to contact detectives.

Ms Mortimer denied there had been a delay and said the clinic had acted immediately. However, the psychiatrist told officers staff had been told to “talk to no one”.

The younger victim is also believed to have spoken to other clinic patients, who said it was “normal practice”.

To bring the matter to the attention of authorities, The Sun-Herald understands the treating psychiatrist contacted the other psychiatrist’s private rooms and was told he was on leave and being treated for depression.

A police investigation led by Chatswood detectives continues, and anyone with information is urged to contact them or Crime Stoppers.

After he was charged, the Northside Clinic “suspended” Dr Tan from treating at its facility.

Ms Mortimer said the doctor had not treated patients since he took recommended leave before Christmas, after the first allegation surfaced.

“We are very concerned about this development today and will continue to co-operate with police and other investigating authorities,” Ms Mortimer said today.

“Our primary concern is for the welfare of our patients how are incredibly vulnerable. It is very important that we get to the bottom of this and understand what has happened.

Source: Lisa Davies and Amy Corderoy, “Sydney psychiatrist charged with sexual assault,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 23, 2012.

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