Psych Crime Reporter

August 27, 2013

Rockland Psych Center worker charged with abusing young patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:55 pm

ORANGEBURG — A Pleasantville man has been charged with abusing a special-needs boy while working as a mental health therapy aide at the Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center, officials said Thursday.

Lincoln Wallace of 460 Manville Road is facing misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the New York State Justice Center, an agency tasked with advocating for people with special needs.

Diane Ward, a spokeswoman for the Justice Center, said authorities have accused Wallace, 31, of taking a number of improper steps while caring for the boy.

“(He) allegedly approached a child in his care in a threatening manner, placed the child in an inappropriate restraint, knocked the child onto a table repeatedly, and refused to let go of the child when hospital staff attempted to intervene,” she said.

The child, whose identity, by law, has not been disclosed, suffered minor injuries to his face, neck and chest that required some medical treatment, Ward said.

Ward said a program director at the Psychiatric Center, which serves children and adolescents at the facility at 2 First Ave., took prompt action, reporting the incident to the Justice Center’s Vulnerable Persons Central Register.

The Justice Center then notified New York State Police and aided in the investigation, obtaining video footage of the alleged incident and photographing the victim.

No information about Wallace’s employment with the hospital was available, but the mental health therapy aide was said to have resigned from his position after the alleged abuse. On Aug. 15, he was arrested.

Staff at the Psychiatric Center on Thursday referred all questions to the state’s Office of Mental Health. A spokesman for that office would not discuss specifics of the case, but said any steps deemed necessary will be taken to avoid the potential for abuse in the future.

“Our agency will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if additional actions are needed to ensure the continued health and safety of the children served at Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center,” said Ben Rosen, a public information officer.

Rosen said his agency’s direct-care staff members receive training on how best to avoid abuse and neglect of their patients. Once Wallace’s actions came to light, management at the facility acted appropriately, he said.

Whether Wallace had obtained an attorney was not known Thursday. He could not be reached for comment.

Ward said the case will be prosecuted by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said his office had not yet received the case and that he could offer no comment.

Wallace is to be arraigned in Orangetown Town Court on Wednesday.

Source: James O’Rourke, “Orangeburg psychiatric center aide accused of abusing special-needs boy,” Journal News, August 22, 2013.

Israeli psych nurse indicted for raping patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:54 pm

The Northern District Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment with the Nazareth District Court against a male nurse for the rape and indecent assault of a 57-year-old female patient, who was hospitalized at a psychiatric ward.

According to the indictment, the 44-year-old nurse claimed the patient needed to be seen by the institution’s psychiatrist and took her outside the ward against regulations. He then led her to the institution’s yard, smoked with her and took her to one of the treatment rooms where he raped her and committed indecent acts.

Source: Ahiya Raved, “Indictment: Nurse raped psychiatric ward patient,” Israel News, August 25, 2013.

Police investigate suicide at University of Pittsburgh psych ward

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:54 pm

Allegheny County police are investigating the suicide of a patient in UPMC McKeesport last week, a spokesman for the county medical examiner’s office said Monday.

A physician in the hospital pronounced Samantha Bokin, 23, of McKeesport, dead on the psychiatric floor in the hospital at 1:51 a.m. Wednesday.

She had a plastic bag over her head, according to the medical examiner’s office, which ruled her death a suicide. The cause of death was asphyxiation.

County police could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

UPMC media relations director Gloria Kreps said the hospital is investigating the Aug. 21 death of a woman in the psychiatric unit.

Jack Bokin said Monday night his daughter had been hospitalized “to keep her safe.” She had been diagnosed with depression and previously attempted suicide, he said.

Mr. Bokin said he and his wife were told conflicting accounts of their daughter’s death by differing authorities.

About 2:05 a.m. Wednesday, the family was told Ms. Bokin had died.

When they first arrived, Mr. Bokin said, they were told Ms. Bokin was found on the floor, had turned blue and that a doctor had worked to revive her for about 25 minutes.

Several hours later, Mr. Bokin and his wife were told Ms. Bokin had been found with a bag over her head.

“How do you get a plastic bag into [a psychiatric unit]?” he said.

Ms. Kreps said via email Monday night, citing HIPAA and the Mental Health Procedures Act, that she was unable to provide information including the timeline in which the investigation is expected to be completed and how frequently hospital staff check on patients who have a history of suicidal thoughts.

Source: Liz Navratil and Lexi Belculfine, “Police probe suicide at psych ward,”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 27, 2013.

Child molester psychiatrist William Ayres sentenced to 8 years prison

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:53 pm

REDWOOD CITY — As one victim after another testified, calling William Ayres a monster and a serial child-abuser who robbed them of their innocence, the once-renowned child psychiatrist sat stoically Monday as a judge sentenced him to eight years in prison for molesting his former patients.

Because of his age and health problems, it is likely a life sentence for the 81-year-old ex-doctor who pleaded no contest to eight felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

For decades, patients were referred to Ayres through the county juvenile justice system, schools and other doctors. Authorities know of at least 50 victims, but many of those cases were so old they fell outside the statute of limitations.

During a day of angry, sad and triumphant testimony in San Mateo County Superior Court, the men he molested during therapy sessions when they were his patients as boys from the 1960s to the 1990s, spoke out against him.

One of the first victims to speak grew up to become a psychotherapist helping teens.

“You are the monster they talk about,” said the man, identified as Thomas C. in court. “I was the perfect candidate for you to perform your perversions on. I told my parents, and they didn’t believe me.”

Ayres used his work with boys having trouble at school, at home or with the law as a setting to abuse them, the victims said. His position of authority allowed him to deflect suspicions about his sexual interest in boys and keep parents from believing their sons’ complaints, victims said.

Between 1987 and 2002, officials received at least three sexual abuse complaints about Ayres. Yet he was honored in 2002 by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors with an award recognizing his “tireless effort to improve the lives of children.”

“He’s a destroyer of boys,” said Irene, whose son was a victim. “I encourage you to give him the maximum sentence.”

Because the charges are considered a serious felony, Ayres must serve 85 percent of the sentence. He also has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life once he’s paroled.

Clad in red jail clothes and seated in a wheelchair, Ayres mostly stared at the table in front of him, as more than a dozen victims and their family members testified. The sentencing comes just more than three months after Ayres pleaded no contest to the charges as his trial was beginning. The counts carried a maximum of 22 years in prison.

The onetime head of the prestigious American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has always professed his innocence. He claimed the only touching came in the form of physical exams that were part of the boys’ treatment. Ayres didn’t speak at Monday’s sentencing, but his wife and two children, in rare public statements, spoke against his “persecution.”

“There was nothing to suggest he could be guilty of the unspeakable crimes of which he is accused,” said wife Solveig Ayres. “Memories can be manipulated. I think they have.”

Her son and daughter went on to say the case was the result of a frenzy of emotion, misdirected anger and the personal “crusade” of victims’ advocate Victoria Balfour. A chance revelation of abuse by one of the victims led Balfour to call San Mateo police in 2002. She became part of the subsequent and winding investigation, which ended with felony molestation charges against Ayres in 2007.

“A mob of pitchfork and torch-wielding (accusers) has won,” said son Robert Ayres.

Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall said the family will pursue an appeal. He and the family said Ayres pleaded no contest only because his mind is so damaged by Alzheimer’s-related dementia that he wouldn’t have been able to defend himself at trial. McDougall said the decision had nothing to do with the family’s ability to pay legal bills.

Prosecutors’ first effort to convict Ayres ended in mistrial after jurors deadlocked in 2009. They decided to try him again, but the case slowed to a crawl and almost died due to Ayres’ alleged Alzheimer’s-related dementia. In the fall of 2011, both prosecution and defense agreed the disease had left him mentally incompetent for trial, and he was sent to a Napa State Hospital.

But on the eve of Ayres possibly being sent home, a forensic psychiatrist at Napa dropped a bombshell report, saying Ayres had been exaggerating, if not outright faking, his mental problems. In the fall of 2012, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Ayres had used his mental health experience and expertise to fool tests meant to catch fakers.

For Karl F., another victim of Ayres’ abuse, the molestation has cast a shadow over his life as he nears 50 years old. He’s afraid to be intimate with his wife, he’s plagued by feelings of filth and guilt, and he can’t even enjoy simple activities like building a model with his son.

Ayres gave models as rewards to his patients, and Karl once built one of Star Wars character R2-D2 with the former doctor.

“It crushes (my son) that I won’t sit down and build a stupid model with him,” Karl said.

Source: Joshua Melvin, “Peninsula child psychiatrist William Ayres sentenced to eight years for molesting patients,” San Jose Mercury News, August 26, 2013

August 22, 2013

Class action suits says Florida “warehousing” patients in psych facilities

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:51 pm

TALLAHASSEE – A disability-rights organization has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Florida has improperly “warehoused” people with mental illnesses in psychiatric institutions.

A plaintiff in the Disability Rights Florida’s lawsuit is a 60-year-old woman who lives at Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny.

The suit, filed last week in Tallahassee by the non-profit Disability Rights Florida, is a proposed class action on behalf of potentially hundreds of people and contends that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. It says that many people in institutions could live in their communities if adequate services were provided.

“The state’s mental health treatment facilities are not the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of its residents,’’ the lawsuit said. “Hundreds of individuals are confined in these facilities, not because of need, but because the state does not provide the necessary services in appropriate quality, quantity, and/or location to allow them to live in the less restrictive and integrated setting.”

Claims being evaluated
Disability Rights Florida listed two plaintiffs in the case. One, identified by the initials T.W., is a 32-year-old man who was committed in December 2009 to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. The other, identified as P.M., is a 60-year-old woman who was committed in October 2010 and lives at Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny.

The suit names the Florida Department of Children and Families and the state Agency for Health Care Administration as defendants. Whitney Ray, a DCF spokesman, said in an email Monday that the agency hasn’t been formally served with the lawsuit but is “evaluating the claims.”

Disability Rights Florida seeks a declaration that Florida is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, it seeks an injunction that, in part, would prevent the state from “administering mental health services in a setting that unnecessarily isolates and segregates individuals with disabilities from the community.”

Seeking placements
The suit says that, as of June, 61 people were seeking community placements from Florida State Hospital, 107 were seeking community placements from Northeast Florida State Hospital and 71 were seeking community placements from South Florida State Hospital, which is run by a private contractor.

But the proposed class is broader, as it includes institutionalized people who are capable of living in communities and also people who might be capable in the future.

The case was filed as the state also battles two lawsuits alleging that it has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing some children with complex medical needs in nursing homes. The Agency for Health Care Administration has adamantly disputed the allegations in those cases, which include one filed last month by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Source: Jim Saunders, “Lawsuit: State has improperly ‘warehoused’ mentally ill,” Florida Courier, August 22, 2013.”

Second Nevada psych hospital under investigation by Medicaid

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:33 pm

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A second Nevada psychiatric hospital is under investigation by a federal agency for alleged violations of patient treatment and discharge standards.

Dini-Townsend Inpatient Facility in Sparks was served notice Aug. 12 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for various deficiencies, the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://on.rgj.com/173zo31 ) reported Wednesday.

Deficiencies include failure to report and keep appropriate medical records, examination delays, and not providing appropriate medical screening and stabilizing treatment.

Dini-Townsend also was cited for inappropriate patient transfer, a charge also levied against Rawson-Neal Hospital in Las Vegas, the newspaper reported.

The violations at Dini-Townsend were discovered during a May 16 survey of the facility following allegations of noncompliance with the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, the Reno newspaper reported. The federal law requires hospitals that receive Medicare funding to abide by a set of standards, which include providing proper medical screening and ensuring that patients are transferred properly when discharged.

Mary Woods, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said the state intends to question the alleged deficiencies cited under the Act.

She said in the agency’s view that law “does not apply to this facility and we question and appropriateness of requiring a psychiatric facility to adhere to regulations for a medical emergency room,” Woods told The Associated Press.

Still, she said a plan of correction and response would be submitted to the federal agency Wednesday.

Woods added that a review of records show that from December 2007 through March 2012, seven patients discharged from Dini-Townsend received transportation to California.

“In each instance the client identified California as his or her previous place of residence and had a support system in California,” Woods said.

Dini-Townsend is overseen by Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services. The federal agency warned that failure to address the problems could lead to the termination of the facility’s participation in the Medicare program, though such action is rare.

The investigation comes as California officials threaten to sue Nevada for allegedly giving patients at Rawson-Neal in Las Vegas one-way bus tickets to California.

An investigation by The Sacramento Bee earlier this year found the Las Vegas hospital had bused nearly 1,500 patients out of state over five years, with roughly 500 sent to California. That investigation was triggered after James F. Brown, who suffered from schizophrenia and depression, was given a one-way bus ticket in February to Sacramento, Calif., where he knew no one. The American Civil Liberties Union and a Sacramento attorney have since filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on his behalf.

A subsequent review by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services found that of 31,043 people admitted to Rawson-Neal during a five-year span, 1,473 patients were provided bus transportation to other states. The review identified 10 cases where documentation was insufficient to determine whether hospital staff had checked to ensure a released patient had family or a support system waiting for them in the new state.

Two Rawson-Neal staff members were fired and three others were disciplined. In April, Gov. Brian Sandoval also announced new procedures requiring two physicians instead of one to sign a discharge order for patients, as well as a hospital administrator. Also, a chaperone is required to travel with patients being bused out of state.

Source: “2nd Nevada psych hospital under investigation,” Houston Chronicle, August 21, 2013.

August 20, 2013

Psychiatrist Thomas Radecki charged with trading drugs for sex

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:14 pm

A Pennsylvania psychiatrist who operated four drug addiction treatment clinics has been charged with over-prescribing medications and trading treatments for sex, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

Dr. Thomas Radecki, 67, of Clarion, operated offices and clinics in Clarion, Venango, McKean and Clearfield counties.

Prosecutors with the state attorney general’s office said that in the first five months of 2012, before his clinics were closed, Radecki was the largest purchaser and distributor of Subutex – a drug used for the treatment of opiate addition – in the United States.

Authorities said that in 2011 and 2012, Radecki purchased and distributed Subutex, Adderall and Ritalin with an estimated street value of more than $5 million, and evidence before a grand jury revealed that many patients did not need the drugs, but allegedly resold them.

The grand jury additionally found that Radecki accepted only cash payments from patients, including those who had medical assistance and insurance, but submitted claims to private insurance companies.

Authorities said the investigation further revealed that Radecki had inappropriate physical contact and sexual relationships with several patients, and repeatedly invited female patients to move in with him.

Agents said that female patients who lived with Radecki worked at his clinics, had access to other patient files and were given money and drugs.

Radecki was charged with 13 counts of prescribing outside accepted treatment principles, four counts of provider prohibited acts, two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of dealing in unlawful proceeds, one count of theft by deception and one count of insurance fraud.

He was released on $25,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing set for September 3.

Source: Myles Snyder, “AG: Pa. psychiatrist traded drug treatments for sex,” WHTM (ABC-27), August 20, 2013.

Child porn found on devices of accused N. CA child molester psychologist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:46 pm

SANTA CRUZ — Investigators found more than 1,200 digital pictures of child pornography on a single thumb drive taken from the office of a Capitola child psychologist accused of molesting his patients, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing Thursday.

John William Visher, 66, faces 21 charges of child molestation and child pornography. If convicted, Visher faces life in prison.

Sgt. Joseph Heartsner, a computer forensics examiner with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, testified that investigators found child pornography photos and videos on the thumb drive, two DVDs and a laptop taken from Visher’s office.

“They were almost all pretty graphic child porn,” Heartsner said.

Investigators also found evidence on the laptop that indicated the user visited adult and child pornography websites.

When defense attorney Doug Fox asked if there was any evidence Visher took the photos or videos himself, Heartsner replied no.

When prosecutor Michael Gilman asked Heartsner to describe characteristics of a pedophile, he said pedophiles often collect and keep pictures for long periods of time and view them compulsively.

Several family members and friends were in court to support Visher, who exchanged friendly looks with them before court proceedings. They all declined to comment.

Visher’s attorney said he and his client were grateful to have support in the courtroom.

“I’m pleased to say he’s got the support of friends and family, loved ones who appreciate the fact that a person accused of a crime doesn’t make them guilty of a crime,” Fox said.

Visher was first arrested in Sept. 19 at his La Selva Beach home after complaints from a then 8-year-old girl who was his patient. Capitola police believe the incidents with the girl happened in 2009 at Visher’s former Bay Avenue office.

A civil lawsuit by the girl’s family has been suspended while the criminal case proceeds.

If Judge Sam Stevens, a retired Santa Cruz County Superior court judge who is filling in, rules there is enough evidence to hold Visher accountable to the charges, Visher’s case will go to trial.

Visher’s psychology license was suspended by the California Board of Psychology shortly after his arrest. Visher’s website, which has been taken down, stated he served at-risk youth and provided therapy for sexual problems, Capitola police said. Investigators believe he retired before his arrest.

After posting bail of $110,000 from his original arrest, he was rearrested in May after prosecutors charged him with several more counts stemming from other underaged victims.

Including the 8-year-old girl, prosecutors allege Visher abused four victims as far as back as 2001. In April, a fourth victim who is now 21, came forward and said he was abused in 2002 and 2003.

Visher remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail. Because of scheduling conflicts and technical difficulties with evidence on the defense’s end, the preliminary examination was continued to Aug. 21.

Prosecutors asked anyone with additional information to call the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office at 831-454-2516.

Source: Calvin Men, “Child porn found on devices of accused Capitola child molester,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 10, 2013.

New York psychiatrist Dham Gupta suspended; asked patients to help find women willing to accept money for sex

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:46 pm

Two physicians have been suspended by state regulators following separate investigations involving negligence and failure to maintain proper records.

Dr. Dham Gupta, a psychiatrist in Hamburg, was slapped with a one-year suspension of his license, to be followed by a five-year probation.

The Office of Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline within the state Department of Health found Gupta guilty of gross negligence, negligence on more than one occasion, conduct showing moral unfitness and failing to maintain accurate patient records.

According to the determination order published on the DOH website, the charges included asking two patients treated in 2010 to help him find women willing to accept money for sex. Both patients had long psychiatric histories, including drug dependence and suicide attempts, demonstrating Gupta’s breach of trust with his patients.

In total, Gupta was charged with 14 cases of professional misconduct related to the care of five patients at sites including the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, a Niagara County Department of Mental Health clinics and the St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Syracuse.

The hearing committee also gave serious consideration to revoking Gupta’s medical license, which would have been unanimously revoked had there been any sexual contact with this patients. The committee said he “callously manipulated” his patients while enlisting their help in obtaining sex partners, a gross deviation from the professional and ethical standards expected from a psychiatrist.

Gupta will also be required to undergo a thorough psychiatric evaluation of his own before he would be permitted to resume his medical practice.

Source: Tracey Drury, “Hamburg, N.F. doctors suspended for medical misconduct,” Buffalo Business First, August 15, 2013.

Psych nurse Bryan Neal Harris flees to S. Africa after losing UK license; viewed Nazi, torture websites while on duty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:45 pm

Bryan Neal Harris watched rape, torture and murder while working at the Hill Crest Mental Health Unit in Redditch, Worcestershire

A mental health nurse who browsed the web for torture techniques and toured Nazi death camp websites while on duty has been struck off the nursing register.

Bryan Neal Harris also researched the history of Hitler’s infamous SS henchmen, viewed clips of fatal motor racing accidents and accessed sites about the torture, murder and rape of prisoners.

He looked at the sites while working at the Hill Crest Mental Health Unit in Redditch, Worcestershire – in the grounds of the town’s Alexandra Hospital.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has issued the order to strike him off, meaning he can never work in the profession again.

They found that vulnerable patients had “suffered” because of the experienced nurse’s “irresponsible” behaviour and misconduct.

Harris, who has since fled to South Africa, accessed the vile websites between July 2, 2010 and January 12, 2011 on a work computer at the unit’s Hillcrest Ward, where he had been employed for 24 years.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “We have very clear policies on the use of the internet and any member of staff who is found to be using it inappropriately or excessively will face disciplinary action.

“Cases like this are extremely rare for our Trust and the vast majority of our staff act in accordance with the policy and the guidelines provided.”

Harris was also found guilty of asking healthcare assistant Kirsten Buck to give patients emergency medication, despite her not being qualified to do so, during a two-and-a-half year period from February 2009. The panel heard that Harris had confessed to assessing whether patients needed emergency medication simply by “looking at them through a window” at an earlier disciplinary hearing.

Ms Buck also told the panel how Harris’s computer usage “made the shifts stressful as he did not attend to his other duties on the ward”.

Disturbing

Darren Levett, who is now the Acute Lead for Adult Mental Health at the Trust, retrieved Harris’s disturbing internet history during an investigation launched after a patient complained about his attitude and behaviour in January 2011.

He uncovered numerous sites relating to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, torture methods and instruments, the SS, abuse of prisoners, serious car accidents and trailers for gory horror films including Saw IV and Saw V. Harris then tried to pin the blame on two other colleagues, saying they had logged in under his name.

But Mr Levett told the NMC panel that staff members would be automatically logged off a computer once it had been inactive for two to five minutes, and anyone using the computer after that would have to log in with their own username and password.

Harris has 28 days to appeal the decision. He is said to be in South Africa and has not provided the NMC with a forwarding address.

The Hill Crest Mental Health Unit looks after adults suffering mental health issues, and offers an intensive recovery service, consultant psychiatry, psychology and help with eating disorders.

It has 18 in-patient beds and also offers out-patient consultation and counselling.

Source: Katy Hallam, “Sick nurse struck off after viewing vile nazi sites while on ward duty,” Birmingham Mail, August 18, 2013.

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