A La Jolla psychiatrist has been accused by the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance of three more instances of incompetence and negligence because of alleged sexual misconduct with women who went to him for psychiatric help.
Instead of helping them, the charges say, Dr. Stuart L. Brown concentrated during therapy sessions on talking about his personal problems, expressing his attraction for the women and kissing, hugging and fondling them.
The BMQA, which regulates psychiatrists and other physicians, charges in the Oct. 18 complaint that Brown’s conduct constituted incompetence and gross negligence and that his license to practice medicine should be revoked. A similar complaint was filed against Brown in July.
In one case listed in the October action, the doctor had sexual intercourse with a patient four times at his home, motels and in the office, the complaint says. The first instance occurred the night before Brown had a psychiatric appointment with the woman’s estranged husband, it says.
In another incident, he allegedly ordered a woman to be hospitalized for a week “for no medical or psychiatric justification” after she had become very upset by his persistent advances during a therapy session.
After she ended therapy with him so they could have a personal relationship, Brown spurned the woman and left her “in a much worse psychological state than when she first sought his help,” the complaint says.
The charges were filed against Brown, 55, on Oct. 18 as a result of additional complaints made by women after they learned of the July case filed against him by the board, said Barry D. Ladendorf, deputy attorney general. The investigation is continuing, Ladendorf said.
The July and October cases involved alleged incidents as long ago as 1979 and as recent as 1986.
The July 14 accusation was based on statements by a woman who said that, while she was a patient of Brown, he made suggestive comments and hugged, kissed and fondled her during sessions. Eventually they engaged in extended kissing during therapy sessions over a period of three months in 1986, but then Brown terminated her therapy abruptly after saying she “was not strong enough to have a relationship” with him, the complaint says.
The woman was left “deserted, confused, helpless, enraged and was potentially suicidal,” it says. Brown made no attempt to refer her to another psychiatrist, according to the complaint.
After that woman began considering a civil suit against the doctor, she reached a settlement with him to preclude a lawsuit. Her attorney, Daniel T. Broderick, declined to discuss the case because he said the agreement prohibits it.
Brown gained recognition in the 1960s for a study of Texas sniper Charles Whitman. More recently, he served as executive producer for a film documentary about philosopher Joseph Campbell, shown on the Public Broadcasting System this year.
Brown was out of town and unavailable for comment Friday, his answering service said.
His attorney, Lance C. Schaeffer, said he has not had a chance to discuss the latest accusations with his client. The psychiatrist filed a routine request for a hearing on the original accusation, but no decision has been made on whether to proceed with a defense, Schaeffer said.
A doctor can choose to surrender his medical license instead of fighting the charges. In 1986-87 in California, 20 doctors surrendered their licenses in this way to the Board of Medical Quality Assurance. An additional 51 physicians had their licenses revoked.
Last month, the board ordered the revocation of the license of another San Diego psychiatrist accused of sexual misconduct with a patient. But the psychiatrist, Dr. LeRoy R. Jaret, of the Kaiser Permanente health care system, appealed for a rehearing by the board and was granted it late Friday afternoon, said Suzanne Taylor, staff member for the board.
License in Effect
The reconsideration means that Jaret’s medical license will continue in effect. A new hearing is not expected to take place before March, Taylor said.
Jaret has been a psychiatrist with Kaiser in San Diego since 1970. During the appeal of his case, he has been continuing to practice there “in a limited capacity,” said press spokesman Jim McBride.
Central to the board’s accusations against Brown is a psychotherapeutic phenomenon known as transference, in which a patient unconsciously transfers feelings originally associated with a parent or other important person toward the therapist. If the therapist experiences similar feelings, this is called countertransference.
The board’s accusations charge that Brown failed to deal appropriately with those issues either for his patients or himself, and compromised their care as a result.
“The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct or relations with a patient, . . . substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties (of a physician) . . . constitutes unprofessional conduct,” says the section of the California Business and Professions Code that refers to physicians.
Number of Cases Rising
Ladendorf said his office has been seeing an increasing number of cases of San Diego-area mental health professionals being accused of improper sexual conduct with their patients.
“The relationship between the patient and the psychotherapist is such a position of power. The female patient can be so easily manipulated,” he said.
“I would say that there’s been really a marked increase in the number of cases we’re handling in our office for the medical board, and the Psychology Examining Committee and the Behavioral Science Examiners Board,” Ladendorf said.
“I know that, at one time, the medical board in the local office had something like 12 cases under investigation--and that didn’t include even the ones that (state lawyers) already were working on,” he said. “I think there’s become more a sense among the general population that this kind of conduct is wrong.”