Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Psychiatrist charged again - accused of sex assault involving adolescent patient

From the Journal Sentinel Online

A psychiatrist serving four years of probation for having a large collection of child pornography in his downtown Milwaukee apartment was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting an adolescent patient in a Brookfield counseling center where he formerly practiced.

Eric B. Schwietering was charged in Waukesha County Circuit Court with sexual assault of a child under 16, a felony, in a criminal complaint that says the assault occurred between September 2005 and November 2006 when he was still associated with Cornerstone Counseling, 16535 W. Blue Mound Road.

The complaint says that the matter came to light recently when the boy, now 14 and living in Iowa, told his mother and a school official that he was assaulted by Schwietering, who specialized in treating children and adolescents. The complaint does not indicate why the boy was seeing Schwietering but does say that he saw the psychiatrist regularly for several months.

During one of the appointments, according to the boy, Schwietering questioned him about his sexual habits and asked him to disrobe, the complaint says. When the boy declined, according to the complaint, Schwietering climbed on top of him, partially disrobed him, then sexually assaulted him.

After the assault, Schwietering, now 41, told the boy not to reveal what occurred, warning that if he did so he would "hurt him really bad," the boy told police, according to the complaint.

In May, Schwietering was placed on four years of probation in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on two felony counts of possession of child pornography.

As part of his sentence, Schwietering, who pleaded guilty to the charges in February, was ordered to serve 45 days in jail.

That case stems from a raid in September 2006, when police seized more than a hundred pornographic video cassettes and DVDs, Schwietering's computer, and pipes and metal screens commonly used to smoke crack from a home in the 400 block of N. 3rd St. in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How Shyness Became a Mental Illness - Research reveals the importance of drug maker profits in the discovery of new diseases.

A Press Release from the News Office of North Western University

What's wrong with being shy, and just when and how did bashfulness and other ordinary human behaviors in children and adults become psychiatric disorders treatable with powerful, potentially dangerous drugs, asks a Northwestern University scholar in a new book that already is creating waves in the mental health community.

In “Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness” (Yale University Press, October 2007), Northwestern's Christopher Lane chronicles the “highly unscientific and often arbitrary way” in which widespread revisions were made to “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM), a publication known as the bible of psychiatry that is consulted daily by insurance companies, courts, prisons and schools as well as by physicians and mental health workers.

“The number of mental disorders that children and adults in the general population might exhibit leaped from 180 in 1968 to more than 350 in 1994,” notes Lane, Northwestern's Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor. In a book that calls in doubt the facade of objective research behind psychiatry's revolution, Lane questions the rationale for the changes, and whether all of them were necessary and suitably precise.

By labeling shyness and other human traits as dysfunctions with a biological cause, the doors were opened wide to a pharmaceutical industry ready to provide a pill for every alleged chemical imbalance or biological problem, he adds.

Lane, who meticulously and systematically researched the archives of the American Psychiatric Association, uses social anxiety disorder (first dubbed social phobia) as the lens through which to analyze American psychiatry's extraordinary shift in the last 30 years from a psychoanalytic orientation relying on talk therapy to its current emphasis on neuroscience and drugs.

He draws on previously neglected letters and memos written by the framers of the new disorders to argue that DSM revisions to social phobia or social anxiety disorder placed the diagnostic bar too low, turning social anxiety into a mental illness common enough to be considered, according to recent studies, third only to alcoholism and major depression.

The DSM continues to stipulate that social anxiety disorder (SAD) must be “impairing” for a diagnosis to occur. The problem, Lane argues, is that DSM-defined symptoms of impairment in 1980 included fear of eating alone in restaurants, concern about hand trembling while writing checks, fear of public speaking and avoidance of public restrooms.

By 1987 the DSM had removed the key phrase “a compelling desire to avoid,” requiring instead only “marked distress,” and signs of that could include concern about saying the wrong thing. “Impairment became something largely in the eye of the beholder, and anticipated embarrassment was enough to meet the diagnostic threshold,” says Lane.

“That's a ridiculous way to assess a serious mental disorder, with implications for the way we also view childhood traits and development, given the increased focus on reticence,” Lane adds. “But that didn't stop SAD from becoming what Psychology Today dubbed 'the disorder of the 1990s.'”

In addition to providing extensive documentation from the American Psychiatric Association archives, Lane includes previously confidential material from the drug companies themselves that present a worrisome history of the antidepressant Paxil.

The drug came onto the marketplace in 1996 despite the fact that its makers earlier had considered shelving it because of poor performance and early signs of side effects in clinical trials. Using a memo circulated among drug company executives, Lane presents evidence that a lot of information about the drug's poor track record was withheld from the public.

When Paxil became the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of social anxiety disorder in 1999, however, its makers launched a $92 million awareness campaign on the theme “Imagine Being Allergic to People.” This and other advertising campaigns helped change the way Americans think about anxiety and its treatment.

“Every marketer's dream is to find an unidentified or unknown market and develop it. That's what we were able to do with social anxiety disorder,” a product director for the drug told Advertising Age magazine. In 2001, with 25 million new prescriptions written for Paxil, the drug's U.S. sales alone increased by 18 percent from the year before.

Although psychiatrists insist that the line between ordinary shyness and social anxiety disorder (SAD) is sharply defined, Lane points to psychiatric literature that repeatedly confuses them, putting patients at risk of over-diagnosis and unnecessary, sometimes harmful treatment.

A professor of English in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Lane previously directed a psychoanalytic studies program in Emory University's psychiatry department. Long interested in psychology, he presents evidence of a burgeoning backlash to psychiatry's current trends in the form of analyses of novels including “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen and “The Diagnosis” by Alan Lightman, as well as the film “Garden State” by Zach Braff.

Lane, who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study psychopharmacology and ethics, audited medical courses and invited psychiatrists and pharmacologists to review his book, particularly a chapter on rebound syndrome. That term refers to a boomerang effect experienced by some patients on discontinuing Paxil that is more intense and dangerous than the turmoil that caused them to take the drug in the first place.

In examining the American Psychiatric Association archives, Lane -- who argues that psychiatry is using drugs with poor track records to treat growing numbers of normal human emotions -- even came across a proposal to establish “chronic complaint disorder,” in which people moan about the weather, taxes or the previous night's racetrack results.

“It might be funny,” he says, save for the fact that the DSM's next edition, due to be completed in 2012, is likely to establish new categories for apathy, compulsive buying, Internet addiction, binge-eating and compulsive sexual behavior. Don't look for road rage, however. It's already in the DSM, under intermittent explosive disorder.

Has Psychiatry Earned Its Unpopularity?

As seen on the Huffington Post

While psychiatry--similar to the Bush administration -- may want to blame its current unpopularity on the press, the corporate media is generally reluctant to challenge a powerful institution until it is already out of favor. Thus, the unpopularity of a powerful institution is usually well-earned through undeniable deceit, incompetence, corruption and failure.

Just how unpopular is psychiatry? A December 2006 Gallup poll on the "honesty and ethical standards" of different professions reported the following: 84 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of nurses, while only 38 percent have a positive opinion of psychiatrists--much lower than the 69 percent positive rating for other medical doctors.

Until recently, most journalists have been extremely timid about confronting Big Pharma's hijacking of psychiatry. One exception is Robert Whitaker, winner of the George Polk award for medical writing. Whitaker, in his book Mad in America (2002), summarizes the beginnings of the corruption of America's psychiatrists and their professional organization, the American Psychiatric Association (APA): "By the early 1970s, all of psychiatry was in the process of being transformed by the influence of drug money." Whitaker reported, "The APA, had become even more fiscally dependent on drug companies. Thirty percent of the APA's annual budget came from drug advertisements to its journals."

The APA, for quite some time, has seen no conflict of interest in its collaboration with drug companies. In 1992, after Upjohn, makers of the tranquilizer Halcion, had given an unrestricted gift of $1.5 million to the APA, the APA medical director claimed that the Upjohn-APA relationship was a "responsible, ethical partnership that uses the no-strings resources of one partner and the experts of the other." This sort of partnering has continued. In the first quarter of 2007, Eli Lilly, makers of the antidepressant Prozac and the antipsychotic Zyprexa, provided grants of over $412,000 for two APA programs: "Improving Depression Treatments" and "Understanding the Complexity of Bipolar Mixed Episodes."

Is the partnership between the APA and Big Pharma a "no-strings" relationship? The American Journal of Psychiatry is published by the APA. In September 2007, attempting to reverse declining antidepressant prescriptions in young people, an American Journal of Psychiatry study unjustifiably concluded that increased suicide was caused by decreased antidepressant use. This time The New York Times and others nailed APA's journal for its data dishonesty; and The Boston Globe reported that Pfizer, makers of the antidepressant Zoloft, had contributed $30,000 to that American Journal of Psychiatry study. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

When the serotonin-enhancer Prozac first hit the market in the late 1980s, Americans heard from the APA and psychiatry officialdom that depression is caused by a deficiency of serotonin. There was no proof of this, and by the mid-1990s the serotonin-deficiency theory of depression had been scientifically tested and rejected. But antidepressant manufactures knew that more people would take Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and other antidepressants if they believed these drugs worked by correcting a deficiency (analogous to insulin) rather than by "taking the edge off" (analogous to alcohol and illegal drugs). So drug companies and their partners in psychiatry kept quiet. Psychiatry also kept quiet about antidepressant tolerance (the need for an increasingly higher dosage), dependency, and nightmarish withdrawal--all of which was well-known in the scientific community several years before word got out to the general public.

In the past, those who have confronted Big Pharma's corruption of psychiatry have been accused by psychiatry apologists of belittling emotional suffering. But Americans increasingly understand that such smearing is as ridiculous as accusing critics of the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq of disloyalty to American soldiers.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Accused psychologist quits her job

From the Times Union Newspaper

A 32-year-old Rensselaer County psychologist accused of having sex with a 14-year-old male student has quit her job, county officials announced Friday.

Jennifer A. Hastings, who has been on paid leave since her Oct. 12 arrest, resigned her $52,426-a-year post effective Oct. 19, said county spokesman Chris Meyer.

Hastings remains free on $20,000 bail on charges of felony second-degree rape for allegedly having sex with the boy, a high school freshman whom she was providing with court-ordered counseling.

She is due in Sand Lake Town Court on Nov. 19. Her case is expected to go before a county grand jury, but Meyer declined comment on whether that is being pursued.

Hastings' lawyer, Steve Coffey, could not be reached for comment late Friday.

The unidentified victim has told State Police that Hastings allegedly had sex with him in an Albany County motel and later at the Sheer Road home in Sand Lake that the counselor shared with her husband, who was out of town during the alleged incident.

A state trooper stopped Hastings after she picked up the boy at school and drove off the campus. She claimed she was the boy's older sister, but investigators later uncovered the alleged sexual relationship when the boy gave a statement to police.

Child Psychistrist to be sued over faulty evidence, Disgraced pediatrician investigated in 'Child Experiment" case.

The impulse for human experimentation is not restricted to psychiatrists. Here we have a case from Britain involving a pediatrician. We also note that a child psychiatrist is being sued for giving false evidence in the matter. From the IC Wales website

A banned paediatrician whose evidence helped convict Sion Jenkins will next week face an investigation into allegations that he carried out secret experiments on children. [Ed. note - Sion Jenkins was later found fully innocent]

Professor David Southall gave evidence at the former deputy headmaster’s trial nine years ago in which he was found guilty of murdering 13-year-old foster daughter Billie-Jo in 1998.

Mr Jenkins, 50, whose parents live in Aberystwyth, was acquitted of the crime in 2005 after spending six years in jail. He was retried twice but a jury failed to reach a verdict on both occasions.

Next Monday, Prof Southall faces a full General Medical Council probe into experiments he is alleged to have carried out on children.

The month-long investigation will inquire into allegations that Prof Southall, who denies any wrongdoing, acted in a way which was inappropriate and added to the distress of a bereaved person. He is also accused of abusing his professional position in relation to a report he was instructed to prepare by a local authority in relation to the care proceedings of a child.

It is further alleged that Prof Southall kept secret medical records on children.

In the 1980s and 1990s, under the aegis of Dr Southall, thousands of sick children were given breathing tests – called ‘sleep studies’.

The experiments, authorised by hospital ethics committees, were carried out despite the doubts of worried parents.

It is alleged that some of the tiny babies were forced to breathe poisonous gases and deprived of oxygen. The results of these tests were then said to have been stored by the paediatrician in 4,500 files.

The Attorney General now wants to see the files to see if they were produced at court hearings in which parents were accused of child abuse.

Last November, one Swansea mother told a GMC hearing that the paediatrician, who was accused of tampering with her child’s hospital records, treated her son like a ‘lab rat’.

The GMC probe comes as South Wales Police investigate an allegation of assault concerning Prof Southall involving a child being treated within the University Hospital Wales in the Heath, Cardiff, in 1991.

Sources close to Mr Jenkins say the former deputy head will be watching next week’s probe with interest after making an independent complaint against Prof Southall to the GMC.

Mr Jenkins has also lodged a formal complaint against Dr Arnon Bentovim, a child psychiatrist whose evidence at his original trial in 1998 helped to secure his conviction.

Earlier this year Mr Jenkins said: “I have decided to take this action because I believe that Prof Southall and Dr Bentovim must answer for their false evidence.

“Together, these two men paved the way for the destruction of my family and my wrongful conviction, and also allowed the murderer of Billie-Jo to remain at liberty.”

At the time Mr Jenkins’ solicitor Frances Swaine said: “It is absolutely essential that any doctor who provides evidence in the prosecution of a murder suspect should do so with the highest possible regard for his professional conduct.

“Failure to do so – as we have seen in a number of cases in recent years – may lead directly to serious injustice”.

Prof Southall was banned from child-protection work by the GMC in 2004 for his ‘high-handed intervention’ in the case of solicitor Sally Clark, who was jailed in 1999 for murdering her two baby sons.

He accused Mrs Clark’s husband Stephen of killing the children after watching a Channel 4 Dispatches show about the case. Mrs Clark was freed on appeal in 2003 and died in March this year. In July, Prof Southall’s ban was extended for a year by a medical fitness to practice panel.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

World Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US - Part II

By Evelyn Pringle and as seen here. You can read Part I here, and see earlier columns on our site here

Mathy Milling Downing was a featured speaker at the annual conference of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology and told the audience that her anger is directed toward the FDA and drug companies, "for their incompetence and lack of concern for innocent children they have helped to kill, my little girl included."

Her 12-year-old daughter, Candace, hung herself from the valence of her bed on January 10, 2004, after being prescribed the antidepressant drug Zoloft for "test anxiety" at school.

Experts in the field of psychiatry and child development from all over the world attended this year's annual conference in Washington with the agenda aimed at ending the mental health screening programs put in place by the Bush Administration's New Freedom Commission and the mass-drugging of children with psychiatric drugs.

Child With PillDuring her presentation, Ms Downing said she objected to placing Candace on drugs but was assured that Zoloft was safe and did not learn until after her daughter's death that "up to four children out of every hundred run a risk of dying by their own hand or at least attempt to."

Had she been given the opportunity to have informed consent on the dangers of SSRI's, she said, "my child would still be alive."

"I never would have allowed my child to be placed on a drug with no proven efficacy and a history of possible harm," Ms Downing stated.

She described how she tried to contact doctors at the FDA numerous times to express her concerns, and no one was ever available to speak to her. She filed a complaint with MedWatch on March 18, 2004, and, "I am still waiting for my reply," she stated.

"One would think that the FDA would support the needs of Americans over the greed of the various pharmaceutical corporations," she said, "but that continues to be a pipe dream of mine rather than a reality."

Critics say TeenScreen, billed as a suicide prevention tool, is nothing more than a drug marketing scheme developed by the pharmaceutical industry and a front group operating under cover of Columbia University to establish a customer base within the nation's 50-odd million school children for the new generation of psychiatric drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRI's) and atypical antipsychotics.

These so-called new "wonder drugs" include the antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta by Eli Lilly; Paxil from GlaxoSmithKline; Zoloft by Pfizer; Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs; Effexor by Wyeth, as well as generic versions of the drugs. The atypical antipsychotics include Zyprexa by Lilly; Risperdal, marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Abilify by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Clozaril by Novartis, and Geodon by Pfizer.

Best-selling author of "Mad in America", Robert Whitaker, tracked the profits of these "wonder drugs" since the first SSRI, Prozac, arrived on the market in 1987 and found a tremendous rise in the cost to taxpayers. In 1987, psychotropic medication expenditures were about $1 billion, but by 2004, in a 40-fold increase, the cost had risen to $23 billion.

According to Mr Whitaker's analysis, global sales of antipsychotics went from $263 million in 1986 to $8.6 billion in 2004, and antidepressant sales rose from $240 million in 1986 to $11.2 billion in 2004.

In the paper, "Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America," published in the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Mr Whitaker also reports that, in addition to breaking sales records, within 10 years on the market, "Prozac quickly took up the top position as America's most complained about drug." He further states:

"By 1997, 39,000 adverse-event reports about it had been sent to MedWatch. These reports are thought to represent only 1% of the actual number of such events, suggesting that nearly 4 million people in the US had suffered such problems, which included mania, psychotic depression, nervousness, anxiety, agitation, hostility, hallucinations, memory loss, tremors, impotence, convulsions, insomnia and nausea."

According to the paper, "It is well-known that all of the major classes of psychiatric drugs - anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, and stimulants for ADHD - can trigger new and more severe psychiatric symptoms in a significant percentage of patients."

Ms Downing has been on a non-stop crusade to prevent the death of more children since her daughter died and the family's tragedy is featured in the documentary, "Prescription: Suicide," which also includes the story of 6 families effected by their encounters with SSRIs and how their lives changed forever. A copy of the film is available on the Participate Now web site at

Candace should never have been given Zoloft because it was never approved for use with kids. Prozac is the only SSRI approved for children in the US because it is the only drug reportedly shown to be effective in two pediatric clinical trials, a requirement that must be met to obtain FDA approval.

But according to ICSPP founder and leading SSRI authority Dr Peter Breggin, the term "effective" has little meaning because all a drug company has to do is show better results in kids treated with an SSRI than in children taking a placebo and can conduct 100 trials if need be to get the two positive studies. It stands to reason that with 50-50 odds, if enough trials are conducted, an SSRI is bound to do better than a placebo eventually.

However, with that in mind, experts say it's important to note that, other than Prozac, the SSRI makers have not been able to provide the FDA with 2 positive studies out of all the clinical trials that have been conducted in hopes of obtaining FDA approval for the sale of SSRI's to kids.

That said, SSRI makers have made a fortune by getting doctors to prescribe the drugs for unapproved uses. A University of Georgia study in the June 2006 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 75% of persons prescribed antidepressants received them off-label. The researchers reviewed records of more than 106,000 Medicaid recipients in 2001 to examine the rates of off-label prescribing of drugs that act on the central nervous system and found 75% of antidepressant patients received the drugs for unapproved uses.

"More than two-thirds of the studies of antidepressants given to children showed that the medications were no more effective than a placebo, and most of the positive results came from drug company sponsored trials," Dr Karen Effrem reported in her presentation at the ICSPP conference.

Litigation against drug companies has established this fact. In 2004, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer brought fraud charges against Glaxo for hiding studies that "not only failed to show any benefit for the drug in children but demonstrated that children taking Paxil were more likely to become suicidal than those taking a placebo." Two months later, Glaxo agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the charges.

Mr Spitzer pointed out that Paxil was never approved to treat any condition in children, and yet doctors prescribed the drug to kids two million times in 2002, the same year that Paxil became Glaxo's top seller with $3.8 billion in sales.

On November 1, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Glaxo "has agreed to pay $63.8 million to settle a lawsuit's claims that it promoted its antidepressant drug Paxil for use by children and adolescents while withholding negative information about the medication's safety and effectiveness."

Critics say it's not difficult to track the industry money involved in the promotion of TeenScreen. The program's Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, was the Executive Director of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) for 16 years, which bills itself as a patient advocacy group, but in reality is the most heavily industry-funded front group in the US.

Mother Jones Magazine obtained NAMI documents for the period between 1996 and mid-1999, while Ms Flynn was running the show, which revealed that NAMI received a total of $11.72 million during that 3-year period from 18 drug companies, including Janssen, $2.08 million; Novartis, $1.87 million; Pfizer, $1.3 million; Abbott Laboratories, over $1.24 million; Wyeth-Ayerst, $658,000, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, $613,505.

NAMI's top donor during that period was none other than Lilly, the maker of Prozac and Zyprexa, which coughed up a total of $2.87 million out of the goodness of its heart.

Ms Flynn also wrote an article promoting TeenScreen entitled, "Before Their Time: Preventing Teen Suicide," in which she stated: "The TeenScreen Program developed 10 years ago by Columbia University and offered in partnership with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill helps communities across the nation identify teens with mental illness who might be at risk for suicide."

If TeenScreen is "offered in partnership" with NAMI, critics say, it goes without saying that millions of dollars of drug company money was invested in the program.

The efforts to implement TeenScreen by use of "this partnership" cannot be understated. A video-taped presentation at the annual convention of NAMI, obtained by researcher Sue Weibert, shows the TeenScreen crew telling the army of NAMI members from all across the country that helping set up TeenScreen might require contacting a child's insurance company to check on coverage or driving a child to an appointment with a psychiatrist.

The video also shows the presenter passing around a notebook for signatures from members who would be willing to act as volunteers and rise up against anyone who speaks out against TeenScreen.

The presenter also explains the importance of bribing kids with movie coupons, pizza or other perks, because parents won't agree to allow the children to be screened, so they need to win the kids over first and send them home to talk the parents.

Early on, NAMI and TeenScreen did not even hide the fact that drug money was funding the screening. In June 2002, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Update Newsletter reported that NAMI and Columbia University sponsored the screening of 170 Nashville students with TeenScreen and that the survey was funded by grants from AdvoCare and Eli Lilly.

But two years later, in March 2004, Ms Flynn appeared at a congressional hearing trying to drum up the allocation of tax dollars to set up TeenScreen in public schools. During her testimony, she as much as defined the customer base the drug companies were after when she told the lawmakers that, "close to 750,000 teens are depressed at any one time, and an estimated 7-12 million youth suffer from mental illness."

On September 27, 2007, psychologist Michael Shaughnessy, professor in Educational Studies at the Eastern New Mexico University and columnist for the educational news and information site,, was interviewed about his views on TeenScreen by Doyle Mills, an independent researcher in Clearwater, Florida who was instrumental in blocking TeenScreen from setting up shop in schools in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, two of Florida's most populated counties, and has published several articles critical of TeenScreen.

Mr Mills shared his interview with Dr Shaughnessy at the ICSPP conference, in which the Professor called TeenScreen "a program aimed at locating, identifying and procuring new customers for the mental health industry."

He says TeenScreen is a creation of psychiatrist David Shaffer, a paid spokesman for Lilly and paid consultant for drug companies Hoffman la Roche, Wyeth and Glaxo.

TeenScreen started out by claiming the program was free and required no government funding. But as it turns out, taxpayers are funding this marketing scheme from start to finish. Government money is being used to set up TeenScreen in schools all over the US and tax dollars are paying not only for the follow-up visits to prescribing shrinks but also for the majority of drugs prescribed.

The pilot programs of TeenScreen in five counties in Ohio were funded by five $15,000 grants allocated by mental health boards within the Ohio Department of Mental Health.

Medicaid record show that taxpayers in Ohio are footing the bill for most of the child drugging as well. In July 2004, over 39,000 children covered by Medicaid were found to be taking drugs for depression, anxiety, delusions, hyperactivity and violent behavior, and Medicaid spent more than $65 million for mental health drugs prescribed to children in 2004, according to an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch.

The massive drugging of patients covered by public health care programs is similar in states all across the US. In 5 years, prescription costs for Iowa Medicaid increased 82.5%, and by class, antipsychotics reflected the largest increase for mental health drugs.

In 2005, while the average cost for a first generation antipsychotic to Medicaid was only $36 a month, a month's supply for a new antipsychotics cost between $100 - $1,000, according to the December 8, 2005, Mental Health Subcommittee Report to the Medical Assistance Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee.

For the record, TeenScreen is not free, and it is costing tax payers a bundle. On November 17, 2004, the University of South Florida announced the receipt of a grant of $98,641 from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand the TeenScreen program in the Tampa Bay area.

Florida Medicaid is also being bilked. On July 29, 2007, the St Petersburg Times reported that, in the last 7 years, the cost to taxpayers for atypicals prescribed to kids rose nearly 500%, and on average it cost Medicaid nearly $1,800 per child in 2006.

The Times reported that more than 18,000 kids on Medicaid were prescribed antipsychotics in 2006, including 1,100 under the age of 6 and some as young as 3, even though guidelines from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration says that, with children under 6, psychotropic drugs should "only be considered under the most extraordinary of circumstances."

In setting up TeenScreen to screen students in Brimfield, Illinois, "organizing the system and employing a part-time counselor specifically for the program is estimated to cost about $100 per student," the July 11, 2005, Peoria, Illinois Journal Star reported.

Overall, the "Brimfield High School program alone will cost around $20,000 for the first semester," the Journal noted.

The TeenScreen gang claims that it always obtains parental consent prior to screening students and that it does not diagnose students with mental disorders.

However, Michael and Teresa Rhoades, from Indiana, attended the DC conference and as a featured speaker, Teresa described how her daughter was TeenScreened in December 2004, without parental consent, and was told that she had not one, but 2 mental illnesses.

Teresa recalled the day that her distraught daughter came home and informed her parents that she had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and a social anxiety disorder.

Michael and Teresa say they were furious to the point that they filed the nation's first lawsuit against TeenScreen, charging that their daughter was wrongly screened, diagnosed, and labeled mentally ill in a public school without their consent.

"TeenScreen itself is a questionnaire with invasive and probing questions which indoctrinate young people into a belief that all their feelings and behaviors are indications of a mental disorder," Dr Shaughnessy told Mr Mills in the interview.

He said, "the child is convinced of it, the parent is convinced of it, and then the child becomes a customer of TeenScreen's local mental health 'partner,' which sells counseling or drugs and profits tens of thousands of dollars per child."

Dr Shaughnessy acknowledged that adolescence is a hard time for everyone but said, "maybe it's supposed to be," that's how we learn.

He says TeenScreen labels the normal pain and uncertainty of adolescence as a mental disorder for profit and asks, "When did adolescence become a disease or something unnatural or deadly that needs intervention if anyone is going to make it through?"

""What a ridiculous concept," Dr Shaughnessy added.

He also points out that school records for children are intended to be secure but says, once committed to paper or computer, nothing can be 100% secure. "Normal school records are fairly harmless no matter who sees them," he states.

"TeenScreen records on the other hand," he warns, "contain unscientific evaluations which can be taken to mean that the child has a permanent, incurable mental disorder."

He also says these records can then be used against a child as an adult, to take away his rights, limit his opportunities or "just as a horrible embarrassment."

"As there is no scientific way to prove that anyone has a mental disorder," Dr Shaughnessy points out, "there is likewise no scientific way to disprove it."

He told Mr Mills that this is one aspect that parents are never made aware of prior to allowing TeenScreen access to their children. "Once a person is diagnosed, he may never be able to escape that label," he warns.

Advocates against school screening have set up a web site that lists the TeenScreen locations throughout the US, which also posts a petition for people opposed to the program to sign at []

Reuniting Twins separated by a Psychiatrist

Identical twin sisters who were separated at birth have been reunited after 35 years.

But more incredibly, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were astonished to discover they had been part of a bizarre social experiment.

Researchers had kept them apart with different adoptive families to investigate theories over 'nature and nurture'.

Telling their amazing story for the first time, the twins, who were born in New York, said they might have remained oblivious if Elyse, who had been living in Paris, had not decided to look for her birth mother.

She was told that the mother was not interested in meeting her, but was then informed she had an identical twin called Paula.

Social workers eventually managed to reunite the pair.

Their emotional meeting was one thing. But then, following further inquiries, the pair discovered they had been part of research conducted by psychologists - thought to be the only study of its kind on twins separated from infancy.

The twins told yesterday how the experiment was so secret that not even their adoptive parents were told the full truth.

They were told only that the children were part of an ongoing study.

Paula said: 'They neglected to tell them [the adoptive parents] the key element of the study, which is that it was about child development among twins raised in different homes. Nature intended for us to be raised together, so I think it was a crime we were separated.'

After finally meeting three years ago in a cafe the pair talked long into the evening. In a victory for those who are on the side of nature, the two women found they had a host of things in common.

They discovered they had led similar lives, both editing their school newspapers, studying film at university and having been brought up by loving families.

The women, now writers living in Brooklyn, have decided to write an account of their lives.

In their memoir, called Identical Strangers, they have tried to uncover the truth about the study.

'Imagine a slightly different version of you walks across the room, looks you in the eye and says "hello" in your voice,' they write in the book.

'Looking at this person, you are able to gaze into your own eyes and see yourself from the outside. This identical individual has the exact same DNA and is essentially your clone. We don't have to imagine.'

The twins tracked down and confronted the scientists behind the study, including Peter Neubauer, a child psychiatrist. They allege he showed no remorse and offered no apology.

The twins found that he was willingly aided by the Louise Wise adoption agency that handled both their adoptions.

A year after the study ended, in 1980, the State of New York issued guidelines stopping the separating of identical twins by adoption.

Perhaps aware that his research would be criticised, Mr Neubauer reportedly locked the study in a university archive not to be opened until 2066.

Thiensville psychiatrist in court, captured after manhunt

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A former Thiensville psychiatrist who, along with his lawyer girlfriend, led police on a High Plains manhunt that ended in Tennessee this year was back in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Friday on charges he stole the identity of his ex-wife and used it to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards and buy jewelry as revenge for her seeking child support from him.

Judge Joseph D. McCormack scheduled a preliminary hearing for Tuesday in the case of Lyndon K. Steinhaus, 47, who is in custody in the Ozaukee County Jail after spending the last nine months in a Gillette, Wyo., jail.

Steinhaus and Darcy Bogenrief, 42, sent taunting e-mails to his ex-wife, a criminal complaint says.

They used the woman's identity to take an online questionnaire, "Are you a slacker mom?" and sent the results to her; purchased a subscription to the Brotherhood of Father's Rights newsletter; and filed a change of address so that her mail would be forwarded to Oregon, the complaint says.

Steinhaus and Bogenrief were arrested in Gillette on Nov. 8, 2006. Steinhaus was employed there by a hospital as a child psychiatrist after he worked for years as a psychiatrist in Ozaukee and Washington counties.

Steinhaus and Bogenrief are each charged with one felony count of identity theft for financial gain. If convicted, they could be imprisoned for six years and be fined $10,000.

Bogenrief is a Cedarburg native and a Marquette Law School graduate.

"Both of them have special needs that were the catalysts for his actions," Frank Schiro, Steinhaus' lawyer, said Friday.

After being arrested and posting bail in Wyoming, the pair took off on a two-week, cross-country spree that included crossing into Canada, where Bogenrief was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving; and posting bond in Montana by leaving behind a BMW.

They were finally arrested in Brownsville, Tenn., when they stopped at a check cashing store in an attempt to get an advance on a federal income tax refund.

When the tax preparer called the Internal Revenue Service, the preparer was alerted through the National Crime Information Center that the couple was "suspicious."

Steinhaus also was charged in Wyoming with 27 misdemeanor counts of illegally prescribing more than 3,000 tablets of Methylin and methylphenidate hydrochloride, which are closely related to the drug Ritalin, to Bogenrief from May 18 to Oct. 26.

Steinhaus served nine months in jail in Gillette on those charges and then was extradited to Ozaukee County, Schiro said.

Steinhaus is being held on a probation violation in the Ozaukee County Jail stemming from a third drunken-driving charge in Milwaukee County.

According to Wyoming court records, Bogenrief was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect for charges filed in Wyoming and was committed to a mental health facility.

Bogenrief appeared in Ozaukee County Circuit Court in September and was freed on a signature bond. McCormack allowed her to return to Wyoming to continue receiving treatment. She is due in court Nov. 12.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dr Phil House Shut Down by Angry Neighbors

As we reported earlier, it seems that local angry neighbors have put an end to the Dr. Phil House. Now gossip rag TMZ has picked up the story, with more details

"Dr. Phil" has had to shut down production at a location for a popular segment of the show, after angry neighbors waged a revolt. It seems the cocaine addicts and others who were holed up in the house didn't go over too well with residents on the block.

Every Monday, "Dr. Phil" features guests who live together for a week in the "Dr. Phil House," a home located in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Peteski Productions, Dr. Phil's production company, purchased the residence last June. The inside was gutted and remodeled with the help of Phil's wife, Robin. We're told 45 cameras were installed in the home, and a brain center was built in the pool house, dubbed "video village." Miles of wires were run throughout the inside and outside of the house, much to the dismay of complaining neighbors.

But neighbors say the unsightly wires were nothing compared to the nonstop noise and ear-shattering arguing coming from addicts, racists, misfits and others who populated the house. Tom Griep, who lives next door, told TMZ he was none too happy when "two crack cocaine addicts were yelling at each other for all to hear."

Griep adds "Dr. Phil" violated the city's ground rules by taping past midnight many nights and starting up again before 7AM. Griep says some of the production staff were rude and uncooperative. He also claims the staff cut his hedge down. Griep and other neighbors allege the show constantly violated parking restrictions on the street and created an extreme eyesore with cables and all. Neighbors also claim the low-life clientele in the house caused several disturbances.

Neighborhood residents contacted the LAPD and other agencies on a regular basis, complaining that the show was turning their lives upside down. As Steven and Susan Jamerson put it, "Our once-peaceful neighborhood has now turned into a studio backlot." Griep says a production executive told him the taping would continue for several years.

Seventy-six residents signed a petition protesting the production and after a meeting last month with city officials, production was shut down. FilmL.A., the agency that processes permits for shooting TV shows and movies, has been instructed by city officials not to issue future permits for the house in question.

City officials tell TMZ the show had requested eight additional shoots, each lasting between five and nine days, but the request was rejected. An official for FilmL.A. tells TMZ that "Dr. Phil" was trying to turn the house into a studio, and that violates the city's zoning laws.

In a statement to TMZ, a rep from "Dr. Phil" said, "Our primary objective has always been to be extremely respectful of the neighbors and we have accommodated their requests whenever they have arisen." The spokesman says the show has received a lot of neighborhood support.

The spokesman adds that production vehicles did not park on the street and taping was limited to inside the house.
Read the Petition of the Angry Neighbors here

Read the entire "Dr. Phil" statement here.

Psychiatric Horror Story - Hospital misdiagnosed gall bladder inflammation as a case of child molestation by a satanic cult. Oops

As reported in the Daily Mail. We feel that the damages awarded were far too small. The victimized woman should have receive far more money, as should have the rest of her family.

As she galloped over the rolling downs of Perthshire over the weekend, her father riding alongside her, Katrina Fairlie felt a peace which had eluded her for many years.

It was the sort of invigorating 'hack' that father and daughter had enjoyed together when she was a girl.

For a long time, though, such an excursion would have seemed unimaginable. Eleven years ago, Katrina, now 37, accused the father she adored, a man who was once a prominent politician and deputy leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, of rape and sexual abuse.

The accusations devastated her family and sent shockwaves through Katrina's community. Jim Fairlie, she insisted, had not only horribly abused her but also led a 17-strong paedophile ring.

It would be several tortured months before it finally emerged that these unfolding memories were pure fantasy - the drug-induced ramblings of a woman pushed to the brink of sanity by a controversial form of psychotherapy known as recovered memory syndrome.

In the space of 15 months, the therapy had transformed 25-year-old Katrina from a healthy and independent girl to a suicidal depressive.

It is an extraordinary drama which culminated last week in Katrina accepting a £20,000 payout from NHS Tayside after she had launched a medical negligence lawsuit.

Though to suggest that this verdict has brought with it some form of closure is far from the truth. Speaking for the first time about her ordeal, Katrina says: "I thought I would be able to put it behind me, but it's not that easy. This has been almost all I could think about for the past decade.

"It's been with me for so long that it's hard to switch off from it.

"I have lost a huge chunk of my adult life because of this terrible episode. I was a normal young woman, with dreams of a husband and family. I should be married with children of my own - but instead I am still piecing my life together. All I can do is take one step at a time."

Scratch the surface of the relatively calm demeanour presented by this troubled woman, and the fallout from the nightmare that has engulfed her family is still all too raw.

Her confidence shattered, she still does not feel able to take on a full-time job, and while she has a new relationship, trust has proved to be an issue.

"He has been incredibly patient and supportive, but it's been difficult for both of us," she says. "Trusting anyone is hard after everything that has happened."

The youngest of five children, Katrina was raised in a close-knit, affectionate environment by Jim and her mother Kay, a former nurse.

"Dad was very hands-on - he wasn't the type to just sit there with the newspapers," she recalls. "He would take me and my sister for Sunday walks, and also used to take us skating, swimming and riding. As the youngest, I always felt very loved."

Professionally, Katrina had hopes of following in her mother's footsteps, but she struggled to find a training vacancy, so took a job in a post office sorting office to help carve out some financial independence.

To her surprise, she found that she liked it. She was promoted, and by her early 20s was renting an airy two-bedroom Georgian flat in Perth with a close friend.

"I was living a happy, normal life," she says. "I loved my flat, had good friends, a good relationship with my family and regularly saw my nieces and nephews. Life was good."

The chain of events that was to turn that life on its head began in June 1994, when Katrina returned from a family holiday to Wales. Experiencing severe abdominal pains and sickness, she was admitted to Perth Royal Infirmary.

Initially, doctors thought her appendix was to blame and it was removed, only for it to be found healthy. After further examinations, her gallbladder was removed, too, and Katrina, heavily dosed on the painkiller pethidine, was discharged to the family home to be nursed by her mother.

But, in increasing pain, she was readmitted to the Infirmary in the November.

"I was frustrated and bewildered," Katrina recalls. "I didn't understand why, after two operations, we couldn't get to the bottom of it."

This time, however, the doctors concluded that, with the lack of any obvious physical cause, Katrina's symptoms were psychosomatic. At the start of 1995, she was admitted, under protest, to Perth Royal's psychiatric annexe.

"When they said it was psychosomatic, I insisted it was rubbish," she says. "But everyone seemed to think it was in my best interests, so I went, assuming that I would be there for just a few days.

"I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of it, too. I now know what a terrible mistake that was."

In fact, according to medical notes subsequently obtained by the family, it appears Katrina's physical condition may have worsened due to a simple clinical oversight: at the time of removal, Katrina's gall bladder was chronically inflamed. In such cases, pethidine is not recommended as pain relief because it can actually cause spasms which replicate the original pain.

No matter: the doctors at Perth had now found a new focus for their investigations. Following her admittance, Katrina's parents told doctors a family secret, believing it might help with their diagnosis: as a child, Katrina had been abused by her paternal grandfather, now deceased.

It was a secret she had kept until the age of 17, when it came to light that he had abused two other children in the family. When Kay Fairlie questioned her own children, Katrina revealed the truth, and all family contact with her grandfather was severed.

"Of course it was difficult to face that horrible part of my childhood, but I truly believed I had dealt with it," she says. "I had worked it through with my family and moved on."

But in the wake of this revelation, and in a seemingly desperate attempt to make some sense of her symptoms and evident physical pain, Katrina underwent several sessions of the controversial Recovered Memory Therapy.

This treatment claims to unlock memories so painful the patient has blocked them out from their conscious mind, so that they are 'retrievable' only through dreams and hypnosis.

It is a therapy that was completely discredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the late Nineties - but that was too late for Katrina.

During the sessions, in which a consultant psychiatrist, two psychologists and a nurse endlessly probed Katrina's memories of her childhood, intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the legacy of the abuse by her grandfather.

"Every day, the abuse by my grandfather was brought up over and over again," Katrina recalls. "They asked me outright if anyone else in the family had abused me.

"I was on anti-depressants and sedatives, drugged up to the eyeballs, and I was mingling with schizophrenics and drug addicts. I quickly became overwhelmed with depression and was losing all sense of reality."

Finally, one morning, the psychiatric nurse asked the question which would send shockwaves through her family. "She said: 'Have you ever been abused by your father?'

"I told them no, of course not. I was shocked they could even think about it; furious in fact.

"But the whole relationship was then subjected to the most intense scrutiny. Did he cuddle me? Did he bath me? Did he kiss me? I was cracking up, but they kept asking me about Dad. I was so confused because of the drugs, and was getting no reassurance from the staff. I was having nightmares in which Dad featured heavily."

As the borders between memory and imagination blurred, these nightmares turned into hallucinations, which staff told her were flashbacks. She must, they said, face up to the fact that she had been abused by her father.

At that point, Katrina began to 'recover' an increasingly graphic series of memories of her father abusing her almost daily from when she was two years old - memories that were spun into scenes of appalling violence. Her father had, she said, attacked her with a screwdriver; she had seen him batter a six-year-old girl to death with an iron bar.

"When I told them all these things, it didn't seem to come as any surprise. It seemed to be the answer they were looking for."

Eventually, she even alleged that he was the ringleader of a paedophile gang which included two local politicians.

"My mind wasn't my own," Katrina says now, tears welling at the memory. "At the time I really believed what I was saying to be true. I was so confused."

Back at home, her parents, unable to see their daughter, remained blissfully unaware of the mounting series of horrific allegations - until they were confronted by their four other children, who had themselves been made aware of the allegations by the hospital.

Katrina recalls: "I was told by the staff that I needed to tell my sister, Sharon.

"She didn't believe me at first, but when she questioned what I had said, she was told that she had to believe the allegations were true to help my recovery, and that she, too, may have been a victim but blocked the memory out.

"It was a truly Kafkaesque scenario. All my siblings were sworn to secrecy."

At the same time, Katrina was also persuaded to make an official statement to the police, although the case was quickly dropped when it became clear there was no case to answer.

By October 1995, however, three months later, Sharon and her three brothers were unable to withhold their shocking secret and confronted their horrified father, who was devastated that his family could ever have believed him capable of such monstrous acts.

Pleading his innocence, he was met with anger by his children because they had been told by the hospital that it had proof the abuse had taken place - but couldn't reveal what it was.

Unable to see her parents, and under intolerable strain, Katrina attempted suicide several times with pills. She does not know why she didn't succeed, but does recall, through the foggy memories of those dark days, that by early 1996 she found herself seized by a renewed sense of resolve. She made the decision to check herself out of hospital and into a nearby clinic. It may have saved her life.

"My medication was reduced, and I just started to feel better, more like myself," she says. "I started eating again and putting on weight. It was like slowly waking up from a coma.

"And one morning I just woke up and had this revelation. I thought: 'This is all garbage' - and there was this enormous sense of release, and relief.

"The first person I remember talking to was my sister Sharon, and seeing the relief on her face."

Nonetheless, the process of repairing her damaged family was not so simple.

"One of the things that has been hardest is imagining what my parents went through, what it must have been like to be confronted by a daughter they loved turning against them like that, as well as their other children," she says quietly.

"The first time I saw my father after making the allegations, he was standing on the doorstep. He'd had pneumonia and looked so vulnerable, and I felt so guilty. All I wanted to do was cuddle him and make it all go away.

"He gave me a big hug and we both stood there for a very long time as he stroked my hair while I cried.

"My parents never once blamed me. There were never any recriminations, either at the time or since, and I have so much respect for them about that.

"Mum often talks of them both watching me go down a dark tunnel, and how they simply didn't recognise the girl who came out the other end. I didn't recognise her either.

"There was an enormous sense of guilt about what I had put Dad and the family through. I felt horrified that I could have ever entertained such thoughts, been prepared for my father to go to jail.

"But I was so lucky because although there was a lot of pain, they welcomed me back with open arms. They never blamed me. I think they were just so relieved to have the old Katrina back that it didn't feel as if our relationship was beyond redemption.

Nonetheless, father and daughter felt a desperate need to make sense of what had happened. How could a bright young woman have been admitted to hospital with stomach pains and emerged 15 months later spouting a string of horrifying accusations, weighed down by post-traumatic stress and addicted to painkillers?

Determined to hold someone to account, Jim Fairlie demanded to see his daughter's hospital notes. Armed with these, and with Katrina's support, he sued the NHS for defamation of character.

His bid for compensation was quashed on a technicality after Judge Lord Kingarth ruled that the doctor in charge had a duty of care only to patients, not to relatives.

It was a blow, but three years ago, Katrina launched her own legal action for negligence again NHS Tayside.

The case was due to be heard this week, but at the 11th hour she was offered an out-of-court settlement which she accepted.

"I was reluctant because I wanted my day in court" - but she says that after she had spoken to her barrister, she decided that the best thing to do was accept the money.

"But it is hard because they still haven't said sorry. Part of me can't accept there is going to be no court case because I have built up to it in my head for such a long time."

Nonetheless, with the judgment behind her, Katrina can dare to look forward instead of back. She has her own flat again, and is sitting exams in English and psychology in a bid to fulfil her longstanding dream of being a nurse.

'It is all I've ever really wanted to do since I was 15, although when I mention it to people after everything I have been through, they look at me as if I'm barmy,' she smiles. 'Whatever happens, it's going to be small steps. I am still struggling to deal with what happened to me, but I also know that I am lucky to have come through the other side.'

She pauses. 'Maybe in a year I will be working and living a normal life again.'

It is, in many ways, the most humdrum of dreams. But after her series of unimaginable nightmares, to be able to dream at all is, for Katrina, an achievement in itself.

Using the Population as Guinea Pigs - The Psychiatric Side Effects of a Poorly Tested Drug

From CBS11 TV in Dallas/Fort Worth

The drug manufacturer and the FDA say they test new drugs on a few people and then release it to the masses.

But the masses may be upset to learn that the government and drug companies may be using the population as guinea pigs.

For example, Becky Moser of Dallas is one of 3 million people taking Chantix, the anti-smoking pill. She said it is helping her quit.

But soon after taking the pill, Becky said she began to have thoughts of suicide. That was not one of the symptoms on the warning label, she said.

But Pfizer, the manufacturer of Chantix, knew about the side effect. When clinical trials were conducted, it was listed as a rare, adverse reaction.

According to Pfizer, Chantix was tested on approximately 5,000 people before its U.S. release. Becky thinks "that’s not a lot of people."

The Washington D.C. watch dog group Public Citizen agrees. The group put Chantix on its worst pill list.

There is great concern that new drugs have potential dangers that turn up after wide public release. According to Public Citizen, "one half of all problems that arise in a drug occur within the first 7 years."

According to Dallas psychiatrist Stephen Vobach, who researched drugs for clinical trials, that's just the way it's done.

In fact, traditionally drug companies, not the FDA, fund and conduct the drug research. The FDA does review the results, but some argue the pharmaceutical companies are better equipped to conduct the studies.

According to Pfizer, the clinical trial information is intended for doctors, not patients. That's why Becky didn't know that suicidal thoughts were an adverse reaction.

Pfizer points out "these aren't reactions associated with the drug, and there is no causal association - it's just that they were reported in the trials."

An official statement from Pfizer read:

Quitting smoking with or without treatment is associated with nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as depressed mood and anxiety. Quitting smoking has also been associated with the exacerbation of underlying psychiatric illness. Care should be taken with patients with a history of psychiatric illness and patients should be advised accordingly by their doctor.

It was a CBS 11 investigation last month that documented the bizarre behavior of Dallas musician Carter Albrecht who was shot and killed trying to break into a house. According to his family, it was just hours after taking Chantix with alcohol. Click here to read the investigation.

Since then, CBS 11 has received similar stories of rage and suicidal thoughts from people using Chantix. Click here to read some of their testimonials.

According to the FDA's database, the list of people complaining about the drug's side effects is nearly equivalent to the number of people who were part of its initial clinical trials.

Becky says if she knew then what she knows now, "I wouldn't have taken it."

Pfizer says Chantix is safe. It spends billions of dollars on research and is continuing to study the drug.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Psychiatrist Sues Columbia University After Being Fired, was Critical of Teen Screen Shrink

Seen in the NY Times

Two prominent psychiatrists clashed frequently over small details and big money, over research priorities and ethics, and in the end Columbia University’s child psychiatry department was not big enough to hold both of them, colleagues said.

Now, one psychiatrist is suing the university for wrongful termination and charging that the other engineered his ouster in a Machiavellian plot that went on for years.

In the suit, filed last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Dr. Peter Jensen, formerly the director of the Ruane Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health at Columbia, contends that after he was hired by the university in 1999, Dr. David Shaffer, director of the university’s child psychiatry division, continually undermined his work. By making derogatory comments and subjecting Dr. Jensen’s work to unfair scrutiny, the lawsuit says, Dr. Shaffer helped force Dr. Jensen out of his job.

Dr. Jensen — who said that, among other things, Dr. Shaffer had called him “the Brad Pitt of psychiatry” — is seeking about $15 million in damages from the university.


Beginning in 2005, according to the suit, officials at the Research Foundation for Mental Health, an independent review board that monitors research grants in the state, identified several violations in Dr. Jensen’s research.

In an interview yesterday, Dr. Jensen would not specify what the violations were. He said that the university had approved other studies, with similar methods, without finding ethics problems.


Dr. Jensen and Dr. Shaffer were continually at odds over research, according to colleagues. One of Dr. Shaffer’s projects is TeenScreen, a standardized questionnaire meant to assess potential suicide risk in adolescents.

The voluntary screening, which has been used by more than 400 schools, is controversial among many parents and patient advocates, who say it can stigmatize youngsters who are struggling but are not mentally ill or at risk of suicide. Dr. Jensen said that he was less eager to promote TeenScreen than Dr. Shaffer, and that this created tension as well.

The two doctors also drew research financing from the same source, a fund set up by an investor in New York, William J. Ruane, which paid Dr. Jensen’s $220,000 yearly salary. The lawsuit says that the university owed Dr. Jensen three years’ salary.
It's hard to know who to root for in this case, since both sides probably have things to hide. Comes with the territory

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Minnesota state drug panel advisers declare potential conflicts of interest

As seen in the Pioneer Press

A Minnesota panel that chooses drugs for low-income Medicaid patients started operating under a new, tougher conflict of interest policy on Tuesday.

Members of the Medicaid Drug Formulary Committee now must declare potential conflicts of interest in writing, after an Associated Press review of drug company disclosure records found financial relationships between two members and the drug industry.

Three committee members - including psychiatrist John Simon, who got more than $350,000 from drug companies while serving on the panel - disclosed potential conflicts. The new policy requires them to reveal employment, compensation, honoraria, paid testimony, free travel and other perks in the past five years.

Pharmacist Margaret Artz disclosed that her daughter works as a sales representative for Novartis in Wisconsin and abstained from voting on three drugs made by the Swiss pharmaceutical company.

"While I do not consider her job as an influence on my judgments either on the DFC or in my own areas of employment, there may be the appearance of a conflict of interest," Artz wrote in her disclosure statement. "Therefore, I will abstain from voting on any matter relating to any Novartis product. If there are other or additional actions the MN Department of Human Services wishes me to do, I will comply."

Panelist Mary Graves disclosed that she worked for 3M Pharmaceuticals for three years ending in 2005. No drugs made by 3M came up at Tuesday's meeting.

Simon's form listed "Speaker's bureau for Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Forest, Wyeth" and "meals at talks; $55.00/year." He abstained from a vote on asthma drugs, one of them made by AstraZeneca.

Simon will leave the panel because of discomfort about his pharmaceutical ties at the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, which originally asked him to serve.

Dr. William Korchik, the panel's chairman, noted the "increasing interest about conflict of interest."

He asked that future public meeting agendas include the manufacturers of drugs scheduled for discussion. That information hasn't appeared in the past, although many of the pharmaceutical representatives who attend the meetings are keenly aware of whose products are being discussed.

"It's gotten so complicated, with some drugs where there might be agreements between more than one company," Korchik said. "It would be useful to have that on our agenda."

The Drug Formulary Committee helps shape state policy on prescription drugs for about 200,000 Medicaid patients, many of them disabled or mentally ill people whose medical bills are paid directly by the state. Last year, the panel's recommendations guided spending on $240 million worth of medications.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NY child psychologist charged with having child pornography

As seen in NewsDay

Prosecutors are investigating whether a psychologist who was arrested on charges of having a massive stash of child pornography ever physically abused any of the children he treated.

The Manhattan district attorney's office released a hot line number that people should call if they believe James Bonczek, a child psychologist and social worker, molested them or their children. The hot line number is (212)335-3025.

Bonczek, 58, was arrested Thursday in his Stuyvesant Town apartment where prosecutors said police found more than 2,000 pictures, some of them showing nude boys who appeared to be younger than 10 in sexually graphic poses.

Bonczek was arraigned Friday in Manhattan Criminal Court on a charge of possessing a sexual performance by a child. Besides the porn images, a prosecutor said, Bonczek was a frequent visitor to Asia and could have been a sex tourist.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Kushner of the Manhattan district attorney's office said the defendant's porn cache was found after a maintenance worker entered Bonczek's apartment to fix a leak and saw an image on his computer screen.

Bonczek was freed on $3,500 bail and told to return to court on Feb. 5, 2008.

The defendant's lawyer, Michael Chernis, said, "We haven't seen any of the evidence yet and I cannot comment."

Bonczek, who received a graduate degree from Columbia University in 1980, runs a private practice where he treats children with emotional and behavioral problems at an office near his home.

A Witness to Torture at the Rotenberg School

I recently came across this commentary by Greg Miller, a former teacher’s assistant at the Judge Rotenberg Center, in response to an article on a ABC Nightline News story about the "Rotten-Berg" school. We commend him for his courage in speaking out, and for his honesty.

My name is Greg Miller. I used to work at Judge Rotenberg Center and spoke against the abuses in the ABC Nightline documentary. I appreciate reading your thoughts on the documentary.

ABC Nightline did leave out many facts. For example, I told ABC in my 2+ hour interview with them about JRC tying students into restraints on a four-point board and shocking them five times consecutively (over 10 minutes, or 40 minutes, whatever is on the student’s plan) for certain behaviors. The person with the remote control in one hand that you saw on the documentary, and a timer in the other hand, would remain out of sight from the student on the board to administer the shocks. That is to create as much panic and fear in the student as possible to make the punishment far worse than the shocks itself. This was all pre-approved by parents and the judges and the laws of Massachusetts.

There are worse things I’ve seen at Judge Rotenberg Center. Imagine watching a 40+ year-old adult male, in there with suicidal tendencies from a young age, get attacked three times per week by an adult male staff with a plastic knife. The student was left in restraints all day long for this procedure so that he was unable to defend himself. Then while the student is screaming for his life, TRYING HIS BEST TO DEFEND HIMSELF WHILE TIED IN RESTRAINTS, and the staff tries to jam the knife down the student’s throat while yelling the words,”Do you want to swallow a knife? DO YOU WANT TO SWALLOW A KNIFE???,” someone with the hidden remote control presses the button to shock the student. The student had tried to commit suicide by swallowing a small Exacto Knife blade, and this was their “treatment” for suicide! Ever see the movie Clockwork Orange?

Not only was this “treatment” traumatic for this student being attacked by the staff with the plastic knife and shocked while defenseless, the “treatments” were done right in front of 40+ other students and 7 - 9 staff in the large Workshop room. If other students screamed or jumped up in response to watching their classmate get attacked like this, they too would get shocked!

Again, all of this was pre-approved by the judge and is legal in Massachusetts. I have papers from the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) who investigated it to prove that this “treatment” was not “abuse” because it was ordered by the judge.

The student was not permitted a counselor to offer any type of counseling or psychotherapy, as they believed that it would be counterproductive to their stimulus-response behaviorist approach.

Dr. Matthew Israel, the owner and Director of Judge Rotenberg Center, was a personal student of Dr. B.F. Skinner, the behaviorist behind ABA. Dr. B.F. Skinner even visited Dr. Israel at the Behavior Research Institute, later renamed to Judge Rotenberg Center, while the Behavior Research Institute was located in Rhode Island. They relocated to Massachusetts after Rhode Island became outraged by the death of one or more students at that school.

The investigator from the Department of Mental Retardation told me that he was not a doctor to diagnose the bloody scabs as “burns”, that I was also not a doctor to diagnose the bloody scabs as “burns”, and therefore the accusation of “burns” from the electric shocks could not be validated - even if we could provide photographs of the actual injuries. He said even doctors could not diagnose the injuries from photographs, and would risk lawsuit to diagnose the bloody scabs (scabs on top of previous scabs, resulting from so many scabs that anywhere you move the electrodes on the arms, legs or torso will result in placing the electrodes on top of another scab) because doctors have not studied the phenomena of these types of injuries from these specific electric shock devices enough to be able to call it “burns”.

I came to the conclusion myself that there is a scam and coverup taking place, and that people are prevented from knowing the truth about the laws in Massachusetts that they support.

Best wishes to Massachusetts Senator Joyce while he tries to change those laws.

- Greg Miller
Former JRC Teacher’s Assistant
In response to this commentary, there is this comment by Phil Schwarz, who is the Vice President of Asperger’s Association of New England.

What is even more disgusting in many ways than the restraints and the electrical shocks is the inculcation of *learned helplessness* in the JRC students.

In the report compiled for the New York State Board of Education on JRC (NY State sends over a hundred kids to JRC at a cost of $200k per student per year, so you can begin to comprehend the lucrativeness of Mr. Israel’s dirty little business and the fierceness with which he defends it), students are described as being set up in patently unfair situations and then rewarded for not complaining about them, and punished for speaking up either for fairness for themselves or for classmates.

Mr. Miller, did you witness situations like that? Could you elaborate further if you did?

The parents are psychologically intimidated too: Israel holds the sword of Damocles over them, threatening them that if JRC is shut down, their children who are intractably unmanageable without those electrified fanny-packs will be deposited overnight on their doorsteps without a shred of further support. No wonder they clamor and sing JRC’s praises upon command.

Legislation that would indeed have shut down the abuses at JRC was killed in committee in the Massachusetts legislature — by a single spoiler vote held by Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, who has a nephew attending JRC.

Israel is a clever manipulator: he orchestrated the derailment of the career of Philip Campbell, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation, who attempted to shut JRC down.

Half a dozen JRC staffers recently acted in the capacity of licensed mental health professionals — and were advertised as such by JRC — *without* appropriate licensing. As far as I know, criminal litigation on this matter is still proceeding through the state court system.

The whole thing stinks to high heaven and is a blot upon my home state.

Ethics complaint against TV psychiatrist Alicia Salzer.

As seen on, regarding the controversy surrounding psychiatrists who seek to treat homosexuality as a disease, in a column by Dr. Warren Throckmorton:

Alan Chambers and Exodus international have filed an ethics complaint against television psychiatrist Alicia Salzer. Actually the complaint was filed some weeks ago but Exodus has received no reply from the APA. Dr. Salzer works for Montel Williams and in that role took part in a controversial March 15 episode titled “Homosexuality…Can it be cured?” After Alan described his personal story, Dr. Salzer had this to say:
“This is marketing; this is not science… Science has shown us that 96% of people cannot change and along the way, absorb an enormous amount of self-loathing, a lot of confusion, a lot of family conflict, so I know the harm.”
In the ethics complaint, Alan refers to my blog post on Dr. Salzer’s misapplication of Shidlo and Schroeder’s research on harm that some have experienced from ex-gay therapies to provide some of the foundation for the complaint. In their public statements, psychiatrists are not to speak for the profession without solid empirical evidence. In this case, Dr. Salzer spoke not only for psychiatry but for science.

As noted in past posts, the video Abomination takes a similar route. The documentary presents the Shidlo and Schroeder study as if one can have confidence in their findings being representative of those who have sought out ex-gay style ministries or therapy. [...]
We happen to think that people CAN change, for the better. But that there are significant problems with the psychiatric definitions of disease.

Texas Medical Board gets scrutiny

CBS 42 Texas Investigates:

The Texas Board of Medical Examiners is the state agency that oversees doctors in Texas. It's supposed to protect the public from bad doctors.

But some say the board isn't doing its job.

Tuesday the Texas House Appropriations Committee will be hearing from doctors and others who say the medical board wastes valuable time and resources going after doctors for minor record keeping violations instead of doctors who pose a risk to patients.

CBS 42's Nanci Wilson talked to some of the medical board's most outspoken critics in this installment of CBS 42 News Investigates.

Steven Hotze has a thriving medical practice in Houston. But lately, he's trying to change a different practice.

"The Texas Medical Board needs to be reformed," Hotze said.

He says he thought the medical board was supposed to go after dangerous doctors.

"I personally had an anonymous complaint filed against me for advertising," he said. "I have a radio program I have had every day for the last seven years. I wrote a book, Hormones, health, and happiness. Some competitor complained, and I've got to hire attorneys, go to the board hearings. I saw the way we were treated -- like criminals. "

The board dismissed the complaint against him, but he still had to pay thousands in legal fees.

"I started hearing horror stories from other doctors," Hotze said. "Their licenses being revoked and the intimidation tactics that were used."

That's when he created a web site to draw attention to the issue. And he's the first of many doctors expected to testify before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

"It's egregious," Hotze said. "It's wrong and it should be stopped. The board is really out of control."

During the last meeting in August, the medical board disciplined 88 doctors.

Seven surrendered their licenses.

Twenty-four were cited for quality of care issues -- unprofessional conduct -- problems with drugs or alcohol, and non-therapeutic prescribing.

But more than half -- 49 doctors -- were disciplined for things like violating board rules, inadequate medical records, advertising or other minimal violations.

Hotze says this is typical.

"Once legislators were made aware of it, some had heard of this from their doctors," Hotze said. "They said things have got to stop. We have to reform the board."

Hotze says the Texas Medical Board needs to focus on its mission.

"They ought to be helping with licensing," Hotze said. "And then those doctors that are drug addicts, those who are alcoholics or sex abusers -- get rid of them. That's what they ought to be doing."

But he says, they are not.

One example -- psychiatrist Gregory Vagshenian.

You may remember back in 2004, he was convicted of nine charges of assault.

During the trial three former patients described how he molested them when he practiced at the VA center in Austin.

And according to the medical board records, nine of his other patients made similar accusations.

Vagshenian denies he did anything wrong.

This wasn't the first time he was accused of sexual misconduct.

In April of 1990 he was arrested in Redwood City, California for solicitation of a lewd act.

He was convicted and, after serving probation, his record was expunged with the understanding that he would disclose the arrest if he applied for any license.

But in 1993 when he applied for a medical license in Texas, he checked "no" when asked if he had ever been arrested or convicted.

He also didn't disclose his second arrest in September of 1990 for solicitation of a lewd act in San Francisco.

When the allegations surfaced about his practice at the VA center -- the Texas Medical Board suspended his license. But it was reinstated -- soon after he was convicted -- with the restriction that he have no direct contact with patients.

A year and a half later -- the medical board lifted that restriction and ruled he could start seeing patients again as long as it's limited to the military.

That's not likely though. He's banned from practicing in any federal healthcare programs.

Psychiatrist censured over patient's death

Another frustrating report where privacy rights are used to protect someone who was criminally negligent, from NZPA New Zealand

A psychiatrist should apologise to the family of a patient who was killed after deliberately stepping into traffic, the health and disability commissioner has found.

After a two-year investigation, a report released today by commissioner Ron Paterson has found breaches to its code of consumers' rights by the psychiatrist, known as Dr F.

The 24-year-old victim, referred to as Mr A, had been admitted to a hospital psychiatric ward for observation with symptoms of anxiety which had developed while his grandparents, with whom he lived, were away on holiday.

The report said Dr F formed the view Mr A was not suffering from a psychiatric illness, but that his judgment was impaired as a result of a head injury he received at the age of nine.

Mr A was then placed under the care of community mental health services and transferred to a rest home for respite care as a voluntary patient until his grandparents returned.

Two days later, Mr A left the home, followed by the home manager – Ms D – who tried to persuade him to return.

However, he deliberately stepped into oncoming traffic and was killed after being hit by a vehicle.

In September 2006, Mr A's mother laid a complaint to the commissioner about the appropriateness and adequacy of her son's care and treatment provided by the District Health Board, Dr F, a registered psychiatric nurse, the rest home and Ms D.

In the report, Mr Paterson said the lack of an appropriately thorough assessment by Dr F may have contributed to Mr A's lack of reassessment after he was transferred to the home.

Mr Paterson recommended Dr F review his practice "with a particular focus on improving his clinical judgement skills".

"Dr F should also ensure that he fully documents the rationale for his clinical decisions, and a clear management plan is recorded," the report said.

Mr Paterson also recommended Dr F apologise to Mr A's family for his breach of the code.

Others involved in the care of Mr A and investigated as part of the report were found not to have breached codes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dr. Phil evicted from the Dr. Phil House?

An odd tidbit regarding legal problems at the Dr. Phil house which I have not be able to confirm elsewhere

Clearly, District 4 Councilman Tom LaBonge wasn't out to make friends this week. His weekly newsletter reports the expansion of red light cameras into CD4 at Western Avenue and Beverly Boulevard (if you're ever snagged by one of these bad boys, refer to Highway Robbery dot net).

But the bigger news is that LaBonge "evicted" the Dr. Phil from "Dr. Phil's House" on Detroit Street off Miracle Mile for running an "unlawful production":
Dr. Phil, the television personality, may have legions of fans across the country but not on the 800 block of S. Detroit Street in the Miracle Mile. This is where he set up an unlawful production facility to film "The Dr. Phil House" at a duplex zoned for residential use until Councilmember LaBonge and staff alerted city building and safety and FilmLA officials to shut the operation down. Neighbors on the street complained that cast and crew overran the neighborhood, was disruptive and parked production vehicles up and down the street, among other unwanted activities.
As of this writing, Dr. Phil's website is still featuring "Dr. Phil's House" on the main page with the ironic tagline, "To Move On, You've Got To Move In."
"We want to support film production in Los Angeles, but this particular production company was subverting the process," said Councilmember LaBonge. Dr. Phil, who purchased the property and outfitted it for film purposes, clocked in 17 film days during July and when the month was over, applied for additional short-term film permits. Officials determined that the operation was thus commercial and out of compliance with its R2-1-0 zoning. Tom Griep, a neighbor on Detroit, documented the multiple infractions, which greatly helped officials build its case against Dr. Phil. "In CD4, the quality of life in our neighborhoods trumps celebrity," said Councilmember LaBonge.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ethics Lapses Usually Start Small for Therapists

The WSJ Health Blog has an entry on how therapists start down the slippery slope towards ethics violations:

Being an ethical therapist isn’t about being well-respected, intelligent or capable. No recent example highlights the reality better than Jack Gorman’s fall from professor at Harvard Medical School and president of McLean Hospital, a world-renowned psychiatric facility, after a sexual relationship with a patient.

Having sex with a patient, common sense would say, is an obvious no-no. But what about going to the wedding of a patient’s child? Is it OK to give the last patient of the day a ride home in a driving rainstorm instead of leaving her stranded at a bus stop? Or what about treating the family member of a current or former patient?

Breaches of the accepted patient-therapist relationship, or “boundary violations,” are among the most common complaints made to the ethics committee of the American Psychiatric Association, committee chair Wade Myers tells the Health Blog.
More at the link. Of course, there is the usual rote reference to the guidelines of the various professional organizations.

The damning criticism is that these experts of the mind seem to be sorely lacking in any methodology for the rehabilitation of their own professional ethics. In fact, this is an area that they rarely address at all, relegating it to the world of mere "chemical imbalances".

If only it were so simple.

Psychiatrist faces probe over unamed offenses

Strangely, the news story does NOT reveal the crime or offense that the psychiatrist is alleged to have committed. As seen in the Kidderminster Shuttle out of the UK

A psychiatrist from Kidderminster is facing a probe by the General Medical Council - GMC.

Pending the outcome of the probe, the GMC has now imposed conditions on her right to continue in practice.

Addiction psychiatrist, Pushpa Kaushall, will now remain under restrictions until April, 3, 2009. One of the conditions stipulates that she must not run care homes.

The conditions, among other things, stipulate she must not act as a medical director or in a similar capacity in either residential care or nursing homes and she must not be involved in the management or running of either residential care or nursing homes and must not prescribe for residents of either care or nursing homes.

Also, she must notify the GMC promptly of any professional appointment she accepts for which GMC registration is required.

She must inform the GMC of any formal disciplinary proceedings taken against her by employers and she must inform the GMC if she applies for employment outside the UK.

Finally, she must inform any employers or prospective employers in respect of posts requiring GMC registration of the conditions that have been imposed.

No details of the circumstances leading to imposition of the conditions are given in the decision, which has just been published.

A spokesman for the GMC, however, said such cases were referred to the Interim Orders Panel when a doctor was facing allegations of such a nature that it may be necessary for the protection of members of the public, or otherwise be in the public interest or in the interests of the doctor, for the doctor's registration to be restricted while the allegations were resolved.

The spokesman said considerations taken into account included preserving public trust in the medical profession and maintaining good standards of conduct.
This is so unusual, you have to wonder what the shrink did that it cannot be made known to the public.

Child psychologist arrested for kiddie porn freed on bail

From the NY Daily News

The child psychologist arrested after cops found a cache of child pornography in his Manhattan apartment was freed Friday on $3,500 bail, according to court records.

But Dr. James Bonczek's neighbors in Stuyvesant Town said he hasn't been seen since he was hauled off in handcuffs at 9 a.m. Thursday.

"He's a sick man. Parents trusted him. His practice was with children, mostly boys. Everybody trusted him," fumed 32-year-old Lisa Rodriguez, an ex-neighbor.

Bonczek graduated from a Columbia University graduate school in 1980 and is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist, according to an online biography found on Psychology Today. He is quoted in the biography as saying, "Most of my patients are children or families with behavioral problems."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Indiana had dozens of student sexual abuse cases in five years

As reported by WTHR in Indiana, part of information from a much larger investigation of child sex abuse in the education system.

A judge painted a chilling portrait of a former school psychologist before sentencing him to 385 years in prison for molesting two boys.

Stephen Serino had a "sexual appetite for young boys," the judge said, and used his professional training to choose victims and gain the confidence of their families. Then the molesting began, sometimes during overnight visits or after Wednesday night church services. One 13-year-old boy was molested more than 100 times.

It's a parents' nightmare. And it's one of 30 accounts of sexual misconduct by licensed teachers and school employees recorded from 2001 to 2005 in Indiana, according to a review by The Associated Press.

Sexual misconduct was reported in all types of schools - urban and rural, rich and poor, private and public. Victims were girls and boys, from 17 years old to as young as 8. Crimes included child molesting, sexual battery and child pornography. And the teachers involved were often those who spend time with students outside the classroom - band directors, choir teachers or coaches.

"Parents are concerned," said Marilyn Jones, a Hammond parent, former teacher and member of the Indiana PTA. "When you read the paper, you think, 'How can this happen? How do you make it not happen?"'

The state recorded 30 sexual misconduct cases over five years, with 17 involving student victims, the AP review found. Nearly all resulted in criminal convictions.

Indiana's figures were gathered as part of a seven-month investigation in which AP reporters sought records on teacher discipline in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The state has more than 30,000 licensed teachers, and there are about 3 million public school teachers in the United States.

Across the country, sexual misconduct allegations led states to take action against the licenses of 2,570 educators from 2001 through 2005. That figure includes licenses that were revoked, denied and surrendered.

The numbers may alarm parents, but Indiana's school leaders and lawmakers say they are trying to protect children from predators.

Background checks are required for teachers, and the state Department of Education can revoke a license for a number of reasons, including "immorality." State Superintendent Suellen Reed said schools have become more open about reporting the issue in recent decades, which could prevent sexually abusive teachers from returning to education.

"Today people are much more anxious to get anybody who may be a danger to any child out of the school system," Reed said.

One of Indiana's most troublesome recent cases is that of Serino. His original prison sentence was reduced to 90 years by the Indiana Supreme Court, which said 385 years was excessive. Serino's earliest possible release date is 2046, when he would be 82 years old.

Another high-profile case involved a girls basketball coach in Carmel, an affluent Indianapolis suburb. In 2001, Donald Renihan was accused of having sexual relations with a team member.

Renihan pleaded guilty to child seduction and spent a brief time in jail before being released on probation. The team member, who said she was in love and not a victim, greeted him with a kiss outside the courthouse. By then she was 18, and she married the then-41-year-old Renihan less than a week after the sentencing.

Abuse prevention experts say sexual contact by a teacher or coach is wrong at any age.
"Either situation is a total betrayal of trust," said Sandy Runkle, with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. "A teenager is not able to process that like an adult would."

The Carmel district now conducts federal background checks on employees and has other safeguards, but that's no guarantee that sexual abuse won't happen again, said Superintendent Barb Underwood.

"I wish we had the secret magic formula so it would never happen again," she said. "We feel a responsibility to protect all our young people."

State law requires districts to notify the Department of Education if a teacher is fired for sexual misconduct, and prosecutors must alert the department when a teacher is convicted of such crimes.

But experts say not all cases are reported, and not all abusive teachers are caught.
State Rep. Jerry Torr, a Republican from Carmel, said Indiana law should require districts to report when teachers resign to avoid being fired or when they are arrested, instead of waiting for convictions on such crimes.

"In the old days, that was just the norm," Torr said. "If a teacher was suspected of some kind of misconduct with a student, a lot of times the teacher would just agree to resign and then they'd move to another district."

The Indiana State Teachers Association supports background checks and other precautions, but points out the fine line between protecting students and making sure innocent teachers aren't wrongly accused.

"False allegations occur often enough that you have to rely on convictions rather than arrests," said Dan Clark, the union's deputy director.

The days of hugging a child or patting a student on the back may be gone. ISTA tells its members to be careful to avoid allegations of impropriety.

Education leaders say it is clear what schools must do when in doubt about an accusation.

"If they're going to make an error, it's going to be on the side of protecting children. For some people who really didn't do anything, that's going to be hard," Reed said. "But our first duty is to protect the children."