Psychiatrist Allison Hargrave to remain in jail pending trial; defense admits she engaged in sex with 14-year-old

July 8, 2010

A psychiatrist and former school counselor is alleged to have had an illicit relationship with a high school freshman that lasted five months.

The small federal courtroom radiated emotion as details of alleged sex crimes and mental illness were discussed for the first time.

Dr. Allison Hargrave, a 39-year-old psychiatrist and former Ascension Episcopal School counselor, teacher and chaplain, has spent time in treatment and jail as the case moved forward.

A gaunt woman in a bright pink jumpsuit with IPJ — Iberia Parish Jail — stenciled on the back, Hargrave stared blankly at her cuffed hands, avoiding the stares from friends and family of her alleged female victim.

She teared up a few times — but never cried — as her attorney J. Kevin Stockstill built an argument that Hargrave needed to be released from jail to continue to receive treatment she sought before being arrested in June.

A decision on her incarceration was not made Wednesday, and prosecutors argued that she's a flight risk and a danger to the community.

The defense admitted Hargrave had sent e-mails that are evidence against her charge, and even engaged in sex acts with a then-14-year-old student. She is not charged with molestation, because that is a state crime, U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker said.

The student's family has also filed a civil lawsuit against Hargrave and Ascension. Two of the four pews in the audience were filled up by more than a dozen friends and family of her alleged victim.

The victim's mother sat in the middle of the first pew, clutching the hand of supporters and often leaning forward to hear testimony, visibly shaken.

Ochberg met with Hargrave for three hours before the hearing and reviewed medical records before the meeting. She has made progress in treatment, he said.

Hargrave has not received treatment nor has she been allowed to take anti-psychotic medication while in jail.

Hargrave completed an 11-week program and was working on another intensive one before being arrested. During her treatment, she was diagnosed with a sexual disorder, major recurrent depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and could have a personality disorder.

The post-traumatic stress disorder stems from three incidents in Hargrave's life — being molested as a 4-year-old by a 10-year-old, being raped by an acquaintance at 17 and a near-death experience as a psychiatric resident, Ochberg said. A patient ran at her with a sharp object.

"Trauma that impaired her judgement, but not her conscience," Ochberg said, who added that he believed Hargrave felt great guilt. Hargrave nodded through his testimony.

"I don't believe she's a risk to underage boys and girls," he said.

Despite Ochberg's assessments, the defense argued that Hargrave was not psychotic while in a relationship with a minor. They presented e-mails that they said show she was manipulative.

Walker argued that she was manipulative enough to have a sexual affair with Ascension Episcopal School's headmaster, Pat Dickens, who continues to run the school. Walker's argument was that the relationship could have pursued to make Dickens less likely to ask questions, Judge Michael Hill said.

Their affair started before the sexual relationship with the minor, but overlapped. She was also having sex with one or two other men, including another Ascension teacher, Walker said.

"When you look at what she was doing at that time, she was having sex with a wide variety of people and this child," Walker said.

Hargrave was caught in sex acts and purchased sex toys to be used with the minor child, Walker said.

The minor is seeking psychiatric help now, and she has threatened to commit suicide, Walker said. One of the concerns of letting Hargrave free was that she might contact the student and push back progress.

However, Hargrave has not contacted the girl since February, months before she was arrested, nor has she fled.

The prosecutors said that is a concern since she has a boyfriend she met in treatment who lives in Canada.

Hargrave was indicted on May 26 for using e-mail to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. She was then arrested on that charge at the Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattisburg on June 2.

Source: Tina Marie Macias, "Counselor in sex case faces hearing," The Advertiser, July 8, 2010.

IF YOUR PSYCHOLOGIST, PSYCHIATRIST OR OTHER MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER HAS ENGAGED IN ANY THREATENING, VIOLENT OR SEXUAL BEHAVIOR WITH YOU, REPORT IT TO THE POLICE AND TO CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, WHO CAN ASSIST YOU IN FILING REPORTS, COMPLAINTS, ETC.  PLEASE CONTACT STEVE WAGNER, DIRECTOR OF LITIGATION AT swagner@cchr.org

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