Mental health therapist arrested

Court documents allege councilor had sexual relations with patient

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A mental health therapist assigned to work with a female prisoner at the Moffat County Jail faces a felony charge stemming from an alleged sexual relationship with the woman.

The 40-year-old man -- a jail counselor assigned by the Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center -- was charged late Friday by the District Attorney's office with sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, a class-four felony.

A conviction carries a possible one- to 16-year sentence in state prison, and fines up to $500,000.

The man -- arrested by Craig police Thursday -- has since been released from Moffat County Jail after posting a $10,000 bond. He's tentatively scheduled to be advised on the charge Feb. 18 before Moffat County Court Judge Mary Lynne James.

The alleged incidents came to investigators' attention following a probation officer's late January interview with the former female inmate, who, according to the arrest affidavit, was jailed in Moffat County between Aug. 1 and Nov. 13 last year. She served an additional 30 days between Nov. 29, 2001 and Dec. 29, 2001, according to court records.

While jailed in August, the woman requested to speak to a mental health counselor.

The affidavit details several sexual encounters while the woman in January claimed she and counselor had an ongoing relationship over the previous year. The woman also claims that the counselor had bought her jewelry and would give her money for items such a cigarettes.

Police, according to the affidavit, claim to have recorded a telephone conversation between the counselor and the woman during which details of the relationship are

discussed.

The man, later interviewed by police, insisted he lied about the sexual aspects of the relationship during that same conversation, he stated he had no romantic feelings toward the woman and denied buying her gifts.

The suspect is listed as the therapist of record for the woman, who has an open case with the Colorado West Regional Mental Center between Jan. 11, 2002, and Jan. 2, 2003, according to the affidavit.

During that time, the counselor worked with the woman over 24 sessions.

Mental Health supervisors told police the counselor had "never come to them and advised he could not see ... for any reason," according to the affidavit.

It is the policy of the Craig Daily Press to not identify suspects in sex-related cases unless and until a conviction occurs.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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