Any crime committed by any person is wrong, but when the crime is committed by a person in a position of authority and trust — a teacher, police officer, priest or doctor — it can be all the more disturbing. Psychiatrists are seen as bastions of mental health and security. They are the people we go to for help with our children when they have problems beyond the purely physical. They are the people schools or work places can insist someone consult for their personal safety or long term well being. The general belief is that doctors of psychology can “fix” the psychological health of a person, or help the person fix themselves.
So how would it feel if the very person you trusted implicitly with your well being, or your child’s, turned out not just to be a terrible example of a psychiatrist, but a heinous criminal to boot? Shrinks are people like anyone else: Some are good, some… Not so much.
What comes to mind when you think, “dirty shrink”? Perhaps a doc takes advantage of an elderly patient, defrauding them of material things, or maybe they prescribe too many different medications, resulting in a fatal Michael-Jackson type combo, or pretend to be a psychiatrist after they’ve had their license revoked. What would most betray your trust if you were seeing such a professional? Here are the nine worst crimes committed by practising psychiatrists – it’s stranger than fiction, and even more terrifying.
9. Dr. Maria Carmen Palazzo: Intent to defraud
Dr. Maria Carmen Palazzo may be eligible for parole soon: She was convicted in Louisiana in 2008 with intent to defraud and mislead in clinical trials for Paxil, a would-be prescription drug. This health fraud is especially heinous — she was evaluating the safety and efficacy of Paxil in children and teens with Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Palazzo made diagnoses inconsistent with patients’ records, reported incidents of OCD where there were none, and reported examining children she never met. She got 7+ years in prison and was ordered to pay close to $100,000 in restitution to the pharmaceutical company behind Paxil.
8. Dr. Jackson Dempsey: Assault causing bodily harm
Although this is (unfortunately) not the only instance on this list of a psychiatrist doing physical harm, it is certainly the strangest. The 57-year-old psychiatrist who later told police he “didn’t like downhill mountain-bikers” booby trapped bike trails by stringing nylon cord across them near Ashland, Oregon in summer, 2012. He also put small trees in their paths, as well as littering the ground with nails! The psycho psychiatrist seriously injured three people. He was charged with fourth-degree assault and reckless endangerment after confessing, and did 30 days in jail.
7. Dr. Aubrey Levin: Sexual assault
Just this spring, the Alberta medical board took a lot of heat when Dr. Aubrey Levin, 75, was convicted of sexually molesting three male patients. This is not all: Levin, formerly of apartheid-era South Africa, was lovingly referred to as “Dr. Shock” in his home country. He had a reputation for using electro-shock therapy on male soldiers thought to be drug-users or homosexuals. He was wanted to testify in South Africa by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but he’d already left for Canada. To make matters worse, Alberta authorities had been apprised of his former alleged crimes, but he got his license to practice anyway. In a bizarre twist, he was caught red-handed by the camera-watch of one of his victims and was sentenced to five years.
6. Dr. Charles Caillé: Sexual assault
In 2011, this shining star from the Loire-Atlantique region of France was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting three female patients. Charles Caillé, 68, told the women this abuse was part of their treatment. It’s believed the crimes for which he was convicted, committed in the late 90s, may not have been the only ones. By the time a fourth woman came forward the statute of limitations was up in her case. Caillé denied the charges, saying the sex was consensual. He even thanked his former patients/victims for bringing the issue to light as it allowed him to see just “how far wrong [he’d] gone.”
5. Dr. Basem Shlewiet: Indecent assault
Earlier this year, 42-year-old psychiatrist Dr. Basem Shlewiet was arrested after allegations that he had inappropriately touched three of his female patients. One was 22, but the other two were underage teens. With the incident being so new, Pennsylvania authorities are worried there may still be other victims out there. Shlewiet was jailed after being arrested at his office, and is being prosecuted by the Bucks County District Attorney. His charges include two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, two counts of corruption of minors, and seven counts of indecent assault. Thankfully, he was remanded without bail.
4. Dr. Constanta Albumel: Kidnapping
Originally from Romania, this psychiatrist had two sons. At some point, Dr. Constanta Albumel, who treated the mentally ill, fell ill herself. One of her obsessions was shamanic rituals, and in 2009 Albumel decided she needed a Romanian daughter. Reports suggest that she thought if she had a baby girl from her homeland, her dead mother could be reincarnated in a ritual. She must have been seriously persuasive (or seriously scary), because she encouraged her hubby to help out by threatening divorce. They left Switzerland and drove to Romania, taking the infant from a children’s hospital. The law caught up with them two months later. Albumel was refused outpatient care after sentencing.
3. Dr. Stanley Dobrowolsk: Sexual Assault and Voyeurism
Dr. Stanley Dobrowolski took almost 10,000 lewd images and sexually violated at least 22 women while they were under his care. Admitting the accusations were true, the psychiatrist performed ‘full body exams’ during appointments in his home office. The women, mainly being treated for anxiety and depression, were told he was doing cancer screening examinations, and were unaware they were on camera. Amazingly, during the period many of the incidents took place, the doc was under a court order not to perform physical exams. Then one wonders: How was he allowed to continue practicing if he needed that court order?
2. Dr. Michael Kessler: Underage explicit material
A Pennsylvania child psychiatrist was caught in a Law and Order style sting after sending explicit video footage to a 13-year-old boy on Facebook. Dr. Michael Kessler was posing as a 14-year-old boy when the material was intercepted by the real teen’s mother, who promptly called police. With permission from the family, Detective Brian Webbe assumed the child’s identity and began chatting with the perpetrator. Eventually Kessler was identified, and it turned out the doc had already had his license revoked in New York and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania went further: After Kessler’s exchange with the law, the criminal has finally been sentenced to time in prison.
1. Jean Eric Gassy: Premeditated murder
The worst crime committed by a psychiatrist who clearly needs to be committed — to prison — is murder. Technically the perp in this case was no longer practicing, but only because he was deregistered from the profession by his victim, former boss Margaret Tobin of Sydney, Australia. In 1994 Dr. Gassy took sick leave and cited psychiatric reasons as the cause. His boss asked for an investigation into his state of mind, but Gassy refused to be assessed by a fellow psychiatrist. Tobin fired him and had him struck from the register of psychiatrists allowed to practice. Her instincts cost her her life: Gassy was so volatile, a whole eight years later he acted on his long-standing grudge by shooting Tobin four times at close range.