Springs psychologist cleared of sex assault charges

March 7, 2013

Prosecutors on Thursday dismissed sex-assault charges against a Colorado Springs psychologist accused of having a sexual relationship with a combat veteran under her care.

The case against Dr. Janice Husted was dismissed because of lack of evidence, prosecutor Kelson Castain said at a hearing.

New information surfaced after Husted’s Dec. 31 arrest, according to Castain, who declined to provide details.

Husted is still fighting a temporary license suspension related to the allegations, said her attorney, Pat Mika. She had been charged with sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist.

During Thursday’s hearing, Mika told a judge a defense investigation turned up information suggesting the victim, who has been dishonorably discharged from the Army, lodged the allegations for financial gain.

The soldier was seeking to have benefits reinstated after he was removed from the service for disciplinary problems, Mika said.

“We think this was done out of desperation,” Mika said.

According to the accuser, the sexual relationship began in August 2011 and continued until October or November 2011.

“The victim shared that the psychologist told him on several occasions that he had to be careful and not tell people when they were out on dates,” the man told investigators, according to Colorado Springs police.

Mika said “any relationship” between Husted and her accuser happened “months” after a therapeutic relationship ended. He declined to comment on whether the pair had a sexual relationship, as alleged.

“That is something that I’m not in a position to respond to,” Mika said.

According to the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct, “Psychologists do not engage in sexual intimacies with former clients/patients for at least two years after cessation or termination of therapy.”

Psychologists who pursue relationships with former patients after that period must be able to establish they are unlikely to cause harm, the policy says.

“One reason is that the power differential persists after the termination of the therapeutic relationship,” said psychologist and attorney Stephen Behnke, the American Psychological Association ethics director.

Behnke said psychologists whose licenses are suspended over sexual relationships are sometimes reinstated depending on the circumstances.

“It’s up to the state licensing board to do what they think is appropriate,” Behnke said.

A representative of the Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners, which regulates the profession, could not be reached for comment. Ian Kalmanowitz, the attorney representing Husted on the licensing matter, did not return a phone message left by The Gazette.

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