Despite at least 15 civil lawsuits and dozens of complaints to Colorado state regulators regarding a Colorado inpatient treatment center for adolescents with mental illness issues and drug abuse problems, the owner of the center was allowed to operate the facility for almost thirty years despite not being licensed as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or as a medical doctor. The unlicensed owner allegedly received a doctorate of psychology from a distance-learning school in 1979, which did not have accreditation approved by the government at the time and no longer offers PhDs in psychology.
The unlicensed owner was a member of the faculty of Northwestern University from 1972 to 1978, where he was an associate in psychology, during which he was referred to as a M.D. and his co-workers believed he was a medical doctor. A local newspaper referred to him as “Dr.” in articles, as early as 1970.
The unlicensed owner was registered to practice psychotherapy in Colorado between 1992 and 1998, after which his license was allowed to expire. However, he was never licensed as a psychologist or psychiatrist in Colorado. The Colorado Board of Registered Psychotherapists issued the owner a cease-and-desist order in March 2013, which the owner appealed and is still pending.
Beginning in 1990 and continuing through 2012, the Colorado Department of Human Services reportedly investigated complaints of verbal abuse involving degrading, derogatory, humiliating, and racially charged rants towards both patients in the facility and their parents. The inpatient treatment facility voluntarily closed on July 1, 2013, while several civil lawsuits were pending and after a key member of it staff left the facility. The civil lawsuits and complaints against the facility include allegations regarding sexual abuse and verbal abuse.
The parents of a 16-year-old girl who had issues with mental illness and drug addition and who had sought help at the facility filed a civil lawsuit against the facility after their daughter committed suicide at age 17 (less than one year after her treatment at the facility). The lawsuit alleges that their daughter was subjected to severe verbal abuse (e.g., being called names such as “bitch,” being told that she was unloved by her parents, and being told that she was the cause of her parents’ problems), that she was cut off from her family, that her medication for bipolar disorder was abruptly discontinued without authorization from her prescribing health care provider, and that she was led to believe that she was faking her mental illness. Following her experiences at the facility, the teenager allegedly was more depressed, became self-loathing, and was suicidal. While the facility denied the allegations, the parties have reportedly agreed to settle the civil lawsuit.
In another civil lawsuit filed against the facility that is reportedly being settled, the parents of a 14-year-old girl allege that their daughter was subject to sexual abuse in the facility that included a humiliating physical examination of her exposed buttocks and genitalia by the facility staff.
If you or a loved one were abused or suffered other harm in a mental health facility in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your mental health claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case against a mental health facility, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with mental health malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your mental health claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.