On May 29, 2013, the Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists issued a formal reprimand to psychologist Carole Orem-Hough. Orem-Hough agreed as well to surrender her license for at least one year. This action was the result of a complaint filed by a former patient of Orem-Hough, who reported that the psychologist disclosed that she was double billing the patient’s insurance and was double billing all of her patients who were insured by either Aetna or Harvard Pilgrim as they did not reimburse her what she felt she should be reimbursed.
August 7, 2013
A former child psychiatrist who was felled by his lust for child pornography and spent time in federal prison is seeking forgiveness from those he betrayed — and a second chance.
And some of the most respected mental-health professionals in the area are rallying behind Dr. James H. Peak, suggesting that the man who served the medical community for nearly two decades deserves redemption.
Peak has petitioned the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for reinstatement of his medical license. A decision may come as soon as September.
“He has struggled with accepting the humiliation of public disclosure, but mostly with the fact that he has let his patients down,” said Michael J. Ramirez, clinical coordinator for the Montana Professional Assistance Program. “I believe that his remorse is genuine and heartfelt. He has paid his debt to society.”
Peak, 51, served just under 10 months in a Seattle federal prison after pleading guilty in August 2011 to possessing child pornography. He had been a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Billings Clinic, the state’s largest hospital, since 1994.
Since his release from prison, Peak has been working to restore not only his medical license but also his reputation and the trust he lost when his double life was exposed.
He is volunteering 20 hours a week at the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center in Billings, where he is helping update policies and procedures. He has no contact with patients.
As conditions of his probation and his treatment from the state Professional Assistance Program, Peak attends two 12-step programs, one for sex addicts and one for alcoholics. He regularly sees a psychiatrist and a social worker and participates in group therapy. And he attends a peer support group, which includes other licensed medical professionals. He also participates weekly in the Montana Sex Offender Treatment Program.
The court has restricted his contact with children and his use of computers. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender and is subject to random urinalysis and polygraph tests.
Along with the support of the Professional Assistance Program, Peak also has the loyal support of his wife, who is a prominent Billings physician, and their teenage daughter, said Ramirez, the program’s coordinator. Peak’s wife declined to be interviewed for this story.
The assistance program is funded by medical licensing fees and helps physicians and dentists whose practices have been jeopardized by sexual misconduct, substance abuse, psychiatric illness or other issues.
Ramirez said 90 percent of medical professionals who work with MPAP successfully return to practice.
He has been working with Peak since Peak’s arrest in February 2011.
“This man has been to hell and back,” Ramirez said, recalling one of their first meetings when Peak lay in the fetal position on his office floor.
“He is an example of courage, resilience, compassion and strength that will serve him, his future colleagues and patients well,” Ramirez said. “The best disinfectant is sunlight. … He doesn’t have anything to hide. Not anymore.”
Top of the world
From the outside, Peak seemed to have it all. He had a thriving practice serving troubled young patients. Even after his arrest, the parents of several of his patients praised his work, some even saying that Peak’s therapy may have saved their child’s life.
But Peak was battling an escalating addiction to child pornography that he said stretched back 30 years. As early as his own adolescence, he said he recalls being sexually attracted to young boys.
That attraction, he insists, never reached beyond fantasy and child pornography. He said he’s only had sexual relations with two women, all the while knowing something about him was “off.”
“I knew there was something wrong with me,” he said. “And I knew I could never tell anyone.”
He said he was mostly able to keep his inappropriate desires in check until the advent of the Internet, where pornography is more accessible and abundant. After viewing the child pornography he collected, he said he would despise himself, sometimes to the point of throwing away his computer.
He’d then be fine for a three or four months, he said, before caving in again.
Investigators say they found no evidence that Peak ever viewed pornography at work, and polygraph results confirm his insistence that he never touched a child inappropriately.
“I felt the powerful paradox of being a really good doctor, wanting to help people — and wanting to protect children — and this darker part of me that I tried to keep walled off,” Peak said.
“It was incredibly painful to discover that I was utilizing pornography that took advantage of children,” he said. “To become the thing I didn’t want to be was extraordinarily painful.”
His secret life began to unravel when a pornographic advertisement featuring little boys arrived in his mailbox. He contacted an FBI agent he knew about the ad and was told to contact a U.S. postal inspector.
The ad, it turns out, was part of a federal investigation. Peak’s illicit Internet activities had apparently come to the attention of federal authorities.
When he was later confronted by authorities, he consented to a search of his home and, according to court testimony, was “extremely helpful” in collecting and identifying evidence, including credit card statements confirming his purchases of child pornography.
“I’d like to say I turned myself in,” Peak said. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t have the courage to do that. I had to get forced into it.”
Peak, who said he was once suicidal, sees that initial call to the FBI as a cry for help. Deep down, he wanted to be caught.
“I was miserable,” Peak said. “I couldn’t go on like this. I was drinking a lot. I was an alcoholic. I was trying to medicate the pain of this illness.”
The most difficult part of his conviction was not the nine months and 18 days he spent in prison, he said. It was all the people he let down. He had patients he cared about and had fostered relationships of trust with.
Then, one day he was gone. Literally.
“I fell off the face of the earth,” he said. “I can never apologize for that enough. I feel bad about that every day.”
Many of his young patients were in need of therapy because they had been betrayed by adults. He struggles with whether he, too, has become another adult who let them down.
“When I’m in a bad mood, when I’m in my bad place, I become another one of those people, which is very difficult,” he said.
The road back
Peak realizes he will never be able to work with children again, but said he still has much to contribute as a practicing psychiatrist.
Other mental-health professionals agree, including Barbara Mettler, executive director of the Mental Health Center, where Peak is volunteering to update policies.
“We are a mental-health center,” Mettler emphasized. “We believe that with help, people can recover and get better. If we don’t provide opportunities for people to do that, who’s going to? I implicitly believe him when he says he has never touched a child. I think that’s worth giving this man a chance.”
Another advocate and mentor is Dr. Thomas Van Dyk, a psychiatrist and medical director at the Mental Health Center who encouraged Peak’s volunteer work there.
Van Dyk has known Peak for 18 years and said that with the exception of his prison term, he has met with him every week since his arrest. He describes Peak as an “excellent” psychiatrist and hopes he can eventually join the staff at the Mental Health Center.
“I’m proud of him for coming forward and working to get himself back in order,” Van Dyk said.
Before entering federal prison in Seattle, Peak was referred for a comprehensive psychosexual evaluation and treatment at a Texas facility that specializes in treating health care professionals. Reports from his treatment team indicated that he was a model patient and extremely motivated for change.
Michael D. Sullivan is director of the Billings-based South Central Treatment Associates, which specializes in the evaluation and treatment of juvenile and adult sex offenders and victims. He said that while there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, sex offenders can be rehabilitated. Much depends on the nature of the individual’s problem, he said.
The success of rehabilitation depends on several factors that include the makeup of an individual’s personality, his or her adaptive skills, the nature of the problem, and what he has done in terms of getting treatment.
“There are a lot of offenders deemed low-risk who are treatable and go on to lead productive lives,” Sullivan said.
Research also shows that the rates of recidivism for online offenders are relatively low when compared with average rates of recidivism found for hands-on sexual offenders.
As Peak awaits a decision on the reinstatement of his license, he is aware he has critics. None will be harsher on him than he is on himself.
“Jim Peak is having a difficult time forgiving Jim Peak,” MPAP’s Ramirez said. “That’s the hardest lesson, and it’s taking some time.”
January 25, 2013
A nurse at a Tayside psychiatric hospital has been suspended from practising for three months after locking a patient in a room and walking away.
Susan Sutherland trapped the man in a room at Murray Royal Hospital in Perth to “see what he would do”.
Ms Sutherland, who was sacked after the incident in December 2010, has always denied the charge against her.
A Nursing and Midwifery panel ruled that Ms Sutherland remains a risk and could put patients at unwarranted harm.
The panel heard from healthcare assistant Gary Boyle, who said he had managed to persuade Patient A into a bathroom in an attempt to bathe him, only for the patient to run out of the room naked.
The patient ran into and lay on the floor of a smoking room on the ward, before Ms Sutherland and Mr Boyle managed to convince the man to return to his room.
But when the patient returned to his room, an irate Ms Sutherland shut the door, locked it and told Mr Boyle she “was locking his door for five minutes to see what he would do before she “stormed off down the corridor away from Patient A’s room”.
The incident was reported to Margaret Cullen, the nurse in charge at Glenelg Ward and Ms Sutherland was suspended two days later.
Source: “Psychiatric nurse suspended after locking naked patient in room,” STV, January 13, 2013.
January 2, 2013
A nurse is on the run after being caught on CCTV beating up his girlfriend.
Malvern Kurehwa, 38, is being sought by Surrey Police for a separate matter and it is believed he has fled to Zimbabwe.
Kurehwa, from Rosehill, had pleaded guilty to battery of his girlfriend at Sutton Magistrates Court on October 20, 2009 and was ordered to pay a fine of £230.
As a result of the sentence, Malvern Kurehwa, 38, was told his fitness to practice as a mental health nurse was compromised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
He was due to face the NMC on Friday (December 14) to hear the panel determine his future, but he failed to show up.
He informed the panel in October this year that he was raising funds for a flight in order to attend the hearing.
A panel decided in his absence that he should be struck off the nursing register as: “The panel cannot be satisfied that there was no longer a risk of Mr Kurehwa’s conduct being repeated.
The panel concluded that there is a real, current need for public protection in this case.”
At the hearing at the International Dispute Resolutions Centre on Fleet Street, Central London, the panel heard about the incident which gave rise to his conviction.
On October 18, 2009, Kurehwa had called police from a phonebox in Rosehill claiming he was being attacked by his girlfriend.
However CCTV footage in fact showed him punching his girlfriend in the head at least four times whilst holding her around her neck before dragging her to the floor and pushing her across the road.
A report of the NMC hearing said: “In considering Mr Kurehwa’s fitness to practise, the panel reminded itself of its duty to protect patients and its wider duty to protect the public interest which includes the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour.”
“The panel considered that Mr Kurehwa’s actions are fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the register.”
August 30, 2012
On May 3, 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Board of Examiners of Psychologists reported to following disciplinary actions:
Revoked the license of psychologist GERALD P. MOTZ because he failed to provide proof of Board-required continuing education requirements.
Ordered psychologist JOSHUA M. MASINO to pay an administrative penalty for failure to report criminal charges within the time prescribed by law.
Placed psychologists BRENT NATHAN LANE on probated suspension for failure to cease providing psychological services while in a potentially harmful dual relationship with a patient.
Reprimanded psychologist WILLIAM R. HESTER and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for failure to report criminal charges within the time prescribed by law, and for failure to cooperate with a Board investigation.
Reprimanded psychologist STACY NELL BROUN and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for “charging usurious interest.” He was also ordered to refund the patient’s money.
Placed psychologist RICHARD CLARK SCHMITT on probated suspension and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for Failure to substantiate opinions or state appropriate limitations to those opinions (such as in a psychological evaluation or custody evaluation).
In May 2012 the Pennsylvania Department of State reported on March 27, 2012, psychiatrist Mary Ann Ager voluntarily surrendered her license to practice medicine and surgery in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because she had her license to practice medicine disciplined by the proper licensing authority of another state.
On August 13, 2009, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners reprimanded Ager for conduct consisting of repeated acts of negligence, malpractice or incompetence; engaging in professional or occupational misconduct; prescribing an excessive amount of a controlled substance and for remaining insufficiently alert to a patient’s dependence on prescribed substances.
Ager is alleged to have inappropriately prescribed pain medication for one patient and wrote prescriptions that allowed the patient to obtain pain medication in dosage amounts exceeding appropriate levels prior to the patient’s death in January 2007.
Source: Disciplinary Actions, May 2012, Pennsylvania Department of State and Consent Order in the Matter of the Suspension or Revocation of the License of Mary Ann Ager, M.D., license no. 25MA04458500, New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners Administrative Action filed August 13, 2009.
August 14, 2012
On February 9, 2012, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists took the following disciplinary actions:
Revoked the license of psychologist Annette G. Raj for failure to comply with a prior Board order.
Revoked the license of William M. Moss for failure to timely report an arrest and for personal problems with potential to impair competency.
Imposed an administrative penalty and continuing education on Jim Larkin Holston Cox, due to his failure to report an arrest to the Board in a timely manner.
Imposed an administrative penalty on Johnny K. Burkhalter for failure to respond in a timely manner to a patient records request.
Suspended Fabian Aguirre for engaging in an improper dual relationship. The suspension includes a partial contingent probation. The Board additionally imposed an administrative penalty. Aguirre was also subjected to having a practice monitor.
Ordered psychologist Rachel Tova Winer to pay an administrative penalty for failure to respond in a timely manner to a request for patient records.
Reprimanded Rebecca Smith Sterling for rendering a forensic opinion concerning visitation and access without conducting a forensic evaluation. The Board also imposed and administrative penalty.
Imposed an administrative penalty on Frank Edward Saucedo for failure to report an arrest in a timely manner.
Reprimanded Marta Elena Otero for rendering a forensic opinion concerning visitation without conducting a forensic evaluation. The Board also imposed an administrative penalty.
Reprimanded psychologist Joann C. Androvik for failure to create and maintain adequate treatment notes and patient records. The Board also imposed an administrative penalty.
Source: Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists Board Disciplinary Sanctions, February 2012.
August 8, 2012
Disgraced criminal psychologist Vito Zepinic attempts to redefine response to life’s troubles as mental disorder
Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) recently received a press release with the title “New, Serious Psych Disorder, Its Nature and Treatment in Book”. It was issued for psychologist Vito Zepinic’s new book, The Self and Complex Trauma.
“Complex Trauma,” says Zepinic “develops when the individual is subject to repeated traumas…and is incapable of escaping it for an extended period of time.” Zepinic knows a lot about this from personal experience. He most likely made up this “new” disorder as a way to position himself as a mental health expert, since he is unable to obtain employment due to his own dishonesty (more on this later).
Dr. Zepinic says that this disorder is “serious”. Of course, anyone who has ever gone through tough times–deaths of loved ones, reversals of fortune, broken releationships, disappointed expectations–knows how serious life feels during those times.
But that is not new and it’s certainly not a mental disorder.
Life can be traumatic. How you respond to that trauma is proof of your character but it’s not a mental disorder.
Life can also be full of satisfaction and even joy. CCHR suspects that Dr. Zepinic might be working on another book about a “new” disorder in people who are living quite happily.
Psychcrime.org recently discovered the “new” syndrome of Compulsive Labeling Disorder. The sufferers of this “new, serious” disorder are uniformly mental health “professionals.”
Vitomir Zepinic left his native Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s for Australia, where he first registered as a psychologist in 1994. In May 1998, he applied to the Australian Medical Council (AMC) for assessment of his specialist qualifications in psychiatry. The AMC required him to fulfill a period of supervised clinical practice before being eligible to sit for his examination as a psychiatrist. In February 2000, Zepinic filed an application with the Queensland Medical Board for a conditional medical registration, which would allow him to fill a training position in psychiatry. He applied for and was granted a renewal of his conditional registration in May 2001 to continue specialist training as “Senior Medical Officer – Psychiatry.” However, in March 2001, the AMC advised the medical Board that Zepinic was not entitled to advanced standing in medicine/psychiatry as his post-graduate training was in the non-medical subject of psychotherapy.
The reason for the Australian authorities’ reassessment of Zepinic’s qualifications was acquisition of information from the institution in Yugoslavia from which Zepinic had graduated, which had not been available earlier due to the conflicts in Yugoslavia at the time. The Queensland Medical Board cancelled Zepinic’s registration on May 14 2002 noting that he did not have a “valid registrable undergraduate qualification in medicine.”
Zepinic had falsely claimed to have medical degrees from Sarajevo and Belgrade universities and had misled the Medical Boards of New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, Australia. The Australian licensing authority’s Tribunal’s decision document lists 19 separate occasions between 1996 and 2009 when Zepinic misrepresented his qualifications to licensing boards/councils, prospective employers, a court of law and a publishing company, among others.
He was convicted August 18, 2008 on six counts of having misrepresented himself as a medical doctor. The Psychologists Tribunal of New South Wales subsequently banned Zepinic from practicing for five years. The decision was upheld on appeal on August 12, 2010. He may not reapply for licensure until August 2015.
On March 1, 2010, Zepinic resigned from his position as senior lecturer in psychiatry in the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (a position he obtained by misrepresenting his credentials) after school authorities confronted him about his 2008 criminal conviction.
July 7, 2012
As of May 23, 2012, the California Board of Psychology revoked the license of Janis Elaine Foote, Ph.D. based on her failure to comply with the terms of an earlier probation order issued by the Board.
On June 21, 2008, the Board placed Foote on five years probation, based on a finding of Negligent Acts and General Unprofessional Conduct, among other things, for providing a custody recommendation to the court after having interviewed her patient’s three children without the knowledge or consent of the other parent (who shared joint custody of the children) and made evaluations against the other parent without ever having met or observed him directly.
Among the conditions of her probation was the requirement that she file quarterly reports stating that she was in compliance with the terms of her probation.
In August 2001, the Board sought to revoked probation and served appropriate notice on Foote. The documents were returned, unopened with a notice that Foote had moved and left no address. However, the Board found that Foote had signed the certified mail receipt for the package. Foote nevertheless never responded to the Board and failed to file a change of address with the Board, as required.
The Board also noted that Foote engaged in a dual relationship with a minor patient, whom she had spend the night at her house and help with her garage sale and also paid the child to clean her house.
She is also required to reimburse the Board $24,371 for its costs of investigation and enforcement.
Source: Default Decision and Order in the Matter of the Accusation and Petition to Revoke Probation Against Janis Elaine Foote, Ph.D., License NO. PSY 5810.