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Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

California psychologist Robert S. “Dr. Bob” Weathers surrenders license; engaged in sex with former patient

In psychologist, sexual exploitation by a psychotherapist on December 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

On February 24, 2010 the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Psychology accepted the surrender of Robert Stanley Weathers, Ph.D.’s license to practice psychology.

According to the Board’s Accusation and Stipulated Surrender of License and Order, Weathers engaged in a sexual relationship with a former patient he later married and subsequently abandoned.

The Accusation states that between November 1, 2002 and December 10, 2002, “S.W.,” a female, was an in-patient at the Passages drug rehabilitation facility in Malibu, California, receiving treatment for her cocaine use. Weathers was her primary therapist and met with her twice a week for therapy.

S.W. developed a crush on Weathers early in her therapy. He became aware of this when another female patient told him that S.W. liked him.

After Weathers learned of S.W.’s attraction, their next therapy session was on the beach, where he told her he was aware of her attraction. The document states that he told her they could not begin a romantic relationship for two years (without risking disciplinary action against his license).

He told her he had been romantically involved with a graduate student while he was a professor at Pepperdine University. He ended up leaving her and she reported their relationship to the Dean, who subsequently asked for Weathers’ resignation. Weathers lost his professorship and tenure as a result of the relationship.

S.W. completed her treatment at Passages and went home to New Hampshire. Soon after, they began to correspond via e-mail. Their friendly exchanges continued until February 2003, when the messages became more intimate. Soon after, she flew back to California where they visited. Sexual intercourse ensued. This was only two months after the conclusion of the patient-therapist relationship.

In December 2003, Weathers resigned from Passages, relocated to New Hampshire and moved in with S.W. and her children. They were engaged on February 14, 2005 and married February 14, 2006. During the entire period, Weathers engaged in sexual intercourse with S.W.

In October 2006, Weathers flew to California to work at Passages for a week and had what S.W. described as a “meltdown,” after which he told S.W. he really wanted to move back to California. Weathers left S.W. in January 2007.

Later that year, they talked about getting back together. S.W. had arranged for them to attend some sort of marriage therapy in Seattle, Washington. Weathers told her that he would attend the therapy but then backed out.

Weathers is currently an unlicensed “life coach” in Malibu, California, where he specializes in, among other things, “couples communication” and “rehab aftercare.”

Source: Accusation and Stipulated Surrender of License and Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Robert Weathers, Ph.D., Case No. 1F-2008-190012, Before the Board of Psychology, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California.

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Human rights group asks court to order probe of Gitmo psychologist

In psychologist, SERE training, torture, waterboarding on December 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm

A court was asked Wednesday to force an investigation into whether an Army psychologist developed abusive interrogation techniques for detainees at Guantanamo Bay and should be stripped of his license.

The court petition, filed by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability and the New York Civil Liberties Union, furthers human rights advocates’ efforts to spur probes of some psychologists involved in detainee interrogations. Critics argue that the psychologists’ activities amount to professional misconduct and that state regulators should look into the matter.

Last summer, the California center filed a complaint about John Leso with New York’s Office of Professional Discipline, which oversees psychologists. Leso is licensed in New York; Army spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to inquiries Wednesday about him and where he could be reached.

While leading a behavioral science consultation team at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 and 2003, Leso developed “psychologically and physically abusive interrogation tactics” based on Army survival strategies, said the complaint, which drew on government documents, academic journal articles and other sources. The complaint said Leso wrote a memo promoting techniques such as exposing detainees to severe cold, depriving them of sleep and forcing liquids into them intravenously.

The agency declined in July to pursue a probe of Leso, saying his Army work fell outside its scope.

“It does not appear that any of the conduct complained of constitutes the practice of psychology as understood in the state of New York,” Director Louis J. Catone wrote in a letter to the California center. As for larger questions about the appropriateness of detainee interrogation methods, he said, “It is not within this office’s purview to express an opinion on that issue.”

A spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday’s court filing. It asks a judge to tell the agency to investigate the allegations that Leso’s conduct warrants revoking his license, or other discipline.

“We think that the professional standards that prohibit abuse or harassment — that prohibit, generally, misconduct — would generally cover abusing detainees and devising ways to hurt people in a professional role,” said Kathy Roberts, a lawyer with the Center for Justice and Accountability. It focuses on deterring torture.

Psychologist licensing boards in California, Louisiana and New York have rejected such complaints. But the American Psychological Association voted in 2008 to ban its members from taking part in interrogations at the Guantanamo prison and other military detention sites where the professional group believes international law is being violated.

The APA took an unprecedented step this year by encouraging Texas officials to revoke the license of James Mitchell, a retired Army psychologist accused of overseeing the torture of a CIA detainee in Thailand in 2002. Mitchell said the complaint against him, filed by a law professor, was full of “fabricated details, lies, distortions and inaccuracies.”

In a complaint filed last summer with Ohio’s psychologist licensing board, Harvard University’s International Human Rights Clinic said retired Army Col. Larry James observed abusive interrogations at Guantanamo in 2003, 2007 and 2008 and didn’t do anything to stop them. James has declined to comment; the Ohio board declined to pursue a similar complaint against him in 2008.

Source: “Court asked to order probe of Gitmo psychologist,” Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2010.