Suit against counseling center alleges booze, sex instead of treatment

May 30, 2011

A woman who sought treatment for alcoholism at a Spanaway counseling center contends in a lawsuit that she instead was plied with liquor and forced by a worker there into an unwanted sexual relationship.

The 43-year-old woman seeks unspecified damages in a suit filed Monday in Pierce County Superior Court. The suit names Clay Vince Statewright, Alternative Counseling, Action Counseling and Kassuhn Inc. as defendants.

Statewright, 52, worked as a chemical dependency counselor at Alternative Counseling and Action Counseling, which are owned by Kassuhn, the suit states. The woman alleges Statewright forced alcohol, and ultimately himself, on her on numerous occasions in 2008.

The woman seeks damages for, among other things, assault and battery, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Instead of providing the treatment she needed and they agreed to give her, defendants made her condition worse by negligently and recklessly providing ineffective and harmful treatment, including exploitation of her vulnerable conditions,” the suit states.

The woman, whom The News Tribune is not naming, was granted a temporary sexual assault protection order against Statewright in Pierce County Superior Court in August 2009.

She also filed a complaint about him with the state Department of Health, which regulates chemical dependency counselors.

The department suspended Statewright’s credential on Sept. 8, 2010, “pending further disciplinary proceedings,” according to an order issued by the department.

Attempts to reach Statewright for comment this week were unsuccessful.

In 2006, he told a judge in an unrelated case that he had overcome a drinking problem of his own, was working as a drug/alcohol counselor and was becoming a domestic violence counselor, according to court records.

Betty Kassuhn of Kassuhn Inc. said she fired Statewright after the state yanked his license. She declined further comment until she could review the lawsuit and speak to her corporate attorney.

The woman sought treatment at Alternative Counseling in August 2008 after being arrested for driving under the influence. Statewright became her treatment provider, the suit states.

He allegedly told her he had the power to keep her out of jail and that she didn’t really need treatment, according to the suit.

During one of her first sessions, Statewright insisted they leave the office and go to a nearby bar and restaurant, where he bought her numerous drinks, the suit alleges.

He later told her to follow him home, where he gave her more alcohol and ultimately persuaded her to have sex, according to the suit.

“After leaving the defendant Statewright’s house, (the woman) was stopped on her way home by a police officer,” the suit states. “She was again charged with driving under the influence.”

For nearly four months, Statewright used coercion, threats and other means to maintain control over the woman, according to the suit.

At one point, after the woman was put on electronic home monitoring following one of her DUI arrests, Statewright allegedly instructed a worker at Alternative Counseling to forge a letter from a local church that then was sent to the company providing the monitoring.

The letter asked officials to allow the woman to leave her home to attend church services and Bible studies, the suit states. In reality, it was so she could meet with Statewright, according to the suit.

“His control over (the woman) was relentless, and the alcohol and sexual abuse was continuous,” the suit states.

The woman “finally managed to break away” from Statewright in November 2008 and later began counseling at the Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County.

In January 2011, the woman again was charged with DUI – this time a felony – after a breath test registered her blood-alcohol level at 0.163, court records indicate. The legal limit for driving in Washington is 0.08.

She’s been jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail since, but Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff allowed her to travel to Tumwater earlier this month to testify at Statewright’s administrative hearing regarding the future of his counseling credential.

A final decision on Statewright’s credential is expected before the end of August, said Gordon McCracken, a spokesman with the state Department of Health.

Source:  Adam Lynn, "Suit alleges booze, sex instead of treatment at Spanaway counseling center Spanaway: Counselor accused of taking advantage of weakness," The Bellingham Herald,  May, 25, 2011


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