Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Psychiatrist Sam Castellani Allegedly Forced Patient To Perform Sex Act To Receive Prescription

From WSMV - Nashville - Nashville Doctor Arrested On Rape Charge - Psychiatrist Allegedly Forced Patient To Perform Sex Act To Receive Prescription

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Madison-based psychiatrist is facing a rape charge after he was arrested on Thursday.

Police said Dr. Sam U. Castellani, 67, is accused of raping a 36-year-old female patient on March 23.

Castellani, a Brentwood resident, was taken into custody at his 500 Lentz Road office in Madison.

Police charged him with one count of rape for allegedly forcing the patient to perform a sex act on him in order to receive her medication prescription.

The investigation of the March 23 incident began on May 27 when the victim came to police headquarters and reported the matter.

The alleged victim told police that her March 23 appointment was changed from mid-afternoon to 6 p.m. According to police, she said during the appointment Castellani wrote out her prescription, placed it on his desk and then exposed himself.

During the investigation, police said detectives found evidence that the alleged incident occurred and that Castellani may have had sexual contact with other female patients.

The public is urged to call the Metro Sex Crimes unit at 862-7540 if they had any inappropriate or illegal activity connected with Castellani.

The doctor is free on $74,999 bail.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update: The Prosecution of Psychiatrist Dr. Alan Beitel

We have an update on the prosecution of psychiatrist Allan Beitel. Essentially, the charges were dropped for a number of practical reasons as seen in the article below.

  1. He wasn't going to get anymore jail time than what he had already served while waiting for trial, and
  2. the victim was moving out of the country, and would not be available to give testimony.
These circumstances are not a clean verdict such as acquittal, and leaves a cloud of suspicion over the doctor's head. This is also not a clean statement of innocence by the prosecutor, although the original charges were a little convoluted. The psychiatrist still faces other criminal charges, according to the report. As reported in The Hamilton Spectator.
Charges of accessing and possessing child pornography against a psychiatrist who formerly practised in Hamilton and Burlington have been stayed by the Crown.

Dr. Allan Beitel, who now practices in Toronto, had been facing the charges since 2003.

The Crown also stayed a charge of possession of stolen property and two counts of failing to comply against Beitel.

The Crown's prosecutor concluded that it was no longer in the public's interest to continue prosecution of the case, according to a spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General.

"Even if Dr. Beitel had been found guilty of all charges, it was unlikely that he would serve a single additional day in jail beyond the time he had already served in pre-trial custody," the spokes-person indicated.

"Given that completing the trial would have required significant amounts of additional court time and resources, the Crown concluded that it was not in the public interest to continue."

Beitel had spent a number of months in custody last year related to other charges.

A charge of sexual assault against Beitel has also been withdrawn by the Crown after concluding there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction.

"The victim was moving out of the country and would not be returning for the trial," the ministry spokesperson indicated.

Beitel is still facing a number of other charges, including perjury, fraud under $5,000, two counts of theft under $5,000 and six counts of fail to comply with a recognizance.

Beitel remains an active member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, with no past disciplinary findings against him.

UPDATE: see also this Blog Post by David Akin

Monday, June 08, 2009

Science and the Psychiatric Publishing Industry

A paper in the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 11, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 29-36(8) Publisher: Springer Publishing Company, by McLaren and Niall


Objective: An empirical examination of the scientific status of psychiatry.

Method and Results: Analysis of the publications policy of the major English-language psychiatric journals shows that no journal meets the minimum criteria for a scientific publishing policy.

Conclusion: Psychiatry lacks the fundamental elements of any field claiming to be a science. Furthermore, its present policies are likely to inhibit scientific development of models of mental disorder rather than facilitate them. The psychiatric publishing industry is in urgent need of radical reform.

We told you so.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Electroshock therapy is being used on chinese teenagers to treat Internet addiction

From a report first seen here

Electroshock therapy is being administered to youngsters at a controversial Internet addiction clinic where patients are "reborn".

More than 3,000 youths have been tricked or forced in to a four-month program run by Dr Yang Yongxin at a clinic in Shandong province. About 100 people are currently receiving treatment at the clinic.

Patients are given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for breaking any of the center's 86 rules, including eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal and sitting on Yang's chair without permission, the Information Times reported.

Parents or guardians sign a contract acknowledging that the child will be given ECT and pay 6,000 yuan ($878) per month for treatment.

Details about the treatment were revealed online recently when a number of former patients began to write about their experience.

According to the posts, the clinic administers continuous ECT in a current of up to 200 milliamperes.

Meanwhile, patients are forced to admit "wrongdoings" and those of others and are also instructed to kneel down in front of their parents to show obedience.

In addition, patients - known as "members of the alliance" at the clinic - are not permitted to talk about anything other than overcoming their Internet addiction, numerous former patients write.

Most are found to be "cured" - or "reborn" according to Yang - by simply "admitting" that they have overcome their addiction.

Internet addiction is not classified as a mental illness in China, a country with nearly 300 million Internet users, many of whom are adolescents who willingly indulge in endless hours of online games per day.

Depression, fainting, muscle weakness and twitching and anorexia have been listed as typical syndromes of Internet addiction.

The government established the first Internet addiction treatment clinic in Beijing in 2004.

Today, all online game operators are required to install a "fatigue system" for players under 18 years, which is designed to restrict their play time to three hours a day. But analysts say there are too many ways to work around the rules.

Until recently, media reported on Yang's alleged "success". Liu Mingyin, a China Central Television reporter, called Yang "a fighter in the Third Opium War", framing the doctor's combat against Internet obsession as part of an ongoing war against "spiritual opium".

For his part, Yang views his acts as part of "a holy crusade" and says the electric current he applies to his "patients" is mild and "not dangerous".

What the youths receive at the clinic isn't really ECT, but a "refreshment therapy" that cautiously helps Net-addicted children calm down, says a story written in Yang's name and published online.


Tao Ran, director of the China's first Internet addiction clinic, said that ECT is "the last resort" in treating people with severe depression who are suicidal.

"It'll make patients more submissive, no doubt. But at the same time, ECT will cause memory loss," Tao says, adding that Yang's clinic is "the only Internet addiction clinic in the world that applies ECT to patients".

Tao's own center has treated more than 4,000 Internet-addicted youths. Patients have "comprehensive therapy" that includes medication and psychological counseling.

About 30 percent of Internet addicted youngsters are hyperactive and uncontrollable in a family environment, Tao said.

They need treatment at a professional institution that does not administer ECT, he said.

Zhuo Xiaoqin, a public health expert with the China University of Political Science and Law, said it was wrong to link Internet obsession with mental illness.

"A consistent standard must be in place to determine what Internet addiction really is," he said.

(China Daily June 3, 2009)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Trial for psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres, accused of molestation begins

Report from the San Mateo County Times

After two years of events worthy of a prime time legal drama, embattled child psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres will finally stand trial Monday. He is accused of molesting seven of his young male patients.

Ayres, 77, was a prominent member of the San Mateo medical community and served as president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

He also performed physical examinations and inspected the genitalia of many of his juvenile psychiatric patients.

The once well-respected doctor was arrested in April 2007 and charged with 14 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with three victims, ages 9, 11 and 12 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The case's publicity brought forward four more accusers, bringing the number of Ayres' felony molestation counts to 20. He was freed on $750,000 bail.

The shocking story made international headlines, and the trial beginning Monday is expected to draw more public attention.

"We are exceedingly pleased that we are now on the doorstep of getting justice," San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Friday.

A trial judge will be selected by Judge James Ellis in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City on Monday morning.

Wagstaffe predicted jury selection and pretrial motions would take two weeks, but that the entire trial would last eight to 10 weeks.

Ayres practiced for decades in San Mateo County, seeing patients referred to him
through local school districts and the county's juvenile court, in addition to his private practice.


Police first began investigating him in 2002 after being told by a man who was a patient of Ayres in the 1970s that the doctor had molested him on multiple occasions. But the case had to be dropped after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively changed the statute of limitations on such cases.

Childhood molestation can only be brought by victims who are younger than 29 or whose alleged abuse occurred after Jan. 1, 1998.

The San Mateo Police Department reopened the case in March 2006, at the urging of a friend of one of the victims to seek out other possible victims who fell within the legal statute of limitation.

That friend was New York-based freelance writer Victoria Balfour, who made it a personal crusade to unearth possible molestation victims of Ayres and help authorities build a case against him.

A search warrant was executed for Ayres' records, and a list was compiled of more than 800 patients.

Prosecutors believe they know of at least 39 former patients of Ayres who had been molested by him, but most did not fall under the state's statute of limitations.

After seven months of exhaustive and painful interviews with patients on the list, police took Ayres into custody at his San Mateo home on April 5, 2007.

Ayres' medical license was suspended, and has since expired.

On April 28, 2007, the child psychiatrist accused of molesting dozens of pre-adolescent boys in San Mateo County for decades declared his innocence of the multiple counts against him.

Now, more than two years later, the once-prominent child psychiatrist's fate will likely be left to a jury.


Ayres was known nationally as one of the country's top child psychiatrists; he was just as well respected on the Peninsula where he ran a private practice for decades.

He was probably one of fewer than 10 San Mateo County psychiatrists with a subspecialty in child and adolescent psychiatry, according to San Mateo County Medical Association Executive Director Sue Malone.

He told colleagues he performed medical examinations because that was the way he had been trained. He had done his residency in the early 1960s at the Judge Baker Center in Boston, one of the country's premier centers for the study of child psychology.

While most child psychiatrists admit that administering physical exams to patients is uncommon today, many professionals defend the practice as another instrument in a psychiatrist's toolbox.

A spokeswoman from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, of which Ayres was president for more than a decade, told MediaNews that performing physicals on patients in a psychiatric setting can be "consistent with good medical practice."

Wagstaffe said he expected attorneys on both sides to present expert opinions on the matter.

While the passing of time between charges and trial can often damage prosecutors' cases, Wagstaffe said all their witnesses were ready to go.

"This case is more than ripe for trial," he said.