State revokes license of psychiatrist H. Michael Meagher for 10-year sexual relationship with patient, harrassment
July 5, 2012
On February 23, 2012, the Maryland State Board of Physicians revoked the license of psychiatrist H. Michael Meagher for immoral conduct in the practice of medicine and sexual misconduct against a patient.
Meagher was board-certified in adult, as well as child and adolescent psychiatry.
The Board initiated an investigation against Meagher after receiving a report from the American Psychiatric Association’s Office of Ethics, which stated that, following its own investigation, it had sanctioned him for having a ten-year sexual involvement with a patient to whom he had provided long-term psychoanalysis. The American Psychiatric Association’s investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Washington Psychiatric Society, both of whom subsequently suspended him for five years, commencing June 1, 2009.
The Maryland Board’s documents state that Meagher began delivering twice-weekly psychotherapist to the patient beginning in April 1989. In September of that year, he increased her appointments to four times a week. Meagher also began prescribing psychotropic drugs to her. He later increased her appointments to five times weekly.
During a session in or around May 1994, Meagher touched the patient, under the pretense of a therapeutic maneuver. In subsequent sessions, he continued to engage in other forms of inappropriate physical contact with the patient. He shortly thereafter terminated the therapist-patient relationship but continued to see the patient in his office, where he instead talked to her about his personal life. He then started having sexual relations with the patient in the same room where psychotherapy had taken place.
The Board’s document states that over the next ten years, the patient experienced extreme anxiety about the relationship, going so far as to drink alcohol before arriving at his office. Meagher continued to prescribe her an antidepressant and a tranquilizer despite having earlier terminated her as his patient. The patient informed Meagher of her desire the end the relationship but the document states that he – quote -- made it impossible for her to do so -- endquote.
In 2004, the patient, while the counseling with a new therapist, telephoned Meagher and instructed him not to have any further contact with her.
Meagher disregarded the patient’s wishes and repeatedly harassed her through various means. He frequently telephoned her, sent her letters and appeared at her home and workplace. In his communications, Meagher attempted to discourage the patient from reporting him to any disciplinary authorities, stating that he would do bodily harm to himself if she reported him.
On several occasions, Meagher showed up at the patient’s home late at night, drunk, without invitation, demanding to see her. He also appeared early in the morning, threatening to harm himself if she did not see him. In one such incident, the patient called Rockville Police, who arrived at the scene and issued a no-trespass order to Meagher. He continued to violate it by purposely driving past the patient’s residence.
She also engaged an attorney to assist in getting Meagher to leave her alone.
After a drunken midnight visit in March 2005, the patient informed him that if he continued she would indeed report him to medical authorities. Meagher finally stopped but two years later, appeared again at her residence at midnight, wanting to talk to her and hoping that he could be “just friends” with her. She subsequently filed a complaint with the Washington Psychiatric Society that resulted in the investigations of Meagher’s conduct.
As much as 25% of psychiatrists and psychologists engage in sex with their patients. Nineteen states have laws making psychotherapist sex with patients a crime. If you are receiving counseling or psychotherapy and your therapist is engaging or attempting to engage you in sexual conduct, Citizens Commission on Human Rights at 800-869-2247 or contact your local police to file a report.
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