Psychologist to be arraigned
He’s accused of molesting four kids
Abuse victims urge others to “step forward”
Group believes more are “still suffering in silence”
A Santa Cruz psychologist is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow (Tuesday, 5/28) on charges that he sexually abused a girl he was allegedly treating. The arraignment will be at the Santa Cruz County Superior Courthouse, 701 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.
Prosecutors say that John W. Visher, 56, abused four victims as far back as 2001. Earlier this month, he was taken into custody.
A support group for child sex abuse victims is cautioning the public against complacency in the case.
“A charge is not a conviction. So it’s crucial that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Visher calls the police,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s executive director. “
“All too often, we see child predators hire top notch lawyers, exploit legal technicalities, and walk free or get light sentences. That shouldn’t happen here,” said Clohessy. “Each of us has a duty to kids to share what we know or suspect about child molesters with law enforcement.”
More information about the case is below:
September 25, 2012
California psychologist John Visher arrested on child sex abuse and child porn charges
CAPITOLA, California — A 65-year-old psychologist was arrested Wednesday at his La Selva Beach home on suspicion of child sex abuse and child porn possession.
Capitola police received a report in January that Dr. John Visher possibly had committed lewd acts with a minor who was his client at the time. According to the criminal complaint, the incidents are alleged to have taken place sometime between September 2009 and December 2009, prosecutor Michael Gilman said.
The girl was 8 years old at the time.
During the course of the police investigation, a search warrant was executed at Visher’s home and his office on Bay Avenue in Capitola.
Due to potential patient-therapist privilege issues, the court appointed a special investigator to review all items seized during the investigation. Members of the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office assisted.
Visher was arrested by Capitola police detectives Wednesday. He’s charged with committing lewd acts with a child younger than 14, displaying harmful matter to a child and four counts of possession of child pornography.
Visher was taken into custody and booked into County Jail without incident. He was out on bail as of Wednesday night and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Authorities have notified the state licensing board that oversees licensing of psychologists of the investigation and the arrest.
Visher was first licensed to practice psychology in California in August 1982, according to the California Board of Psychology. He does not have any prior administrative citations or disciplinary actions on record with the agency.
The investigation is ongoing, according to Capitola detective Sarah Ryan.
Source: Jessica M. Pasko, “Capitola psychologist arrested on suspicion of child molestation,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 20, 2012.
SANTA CRUZ -- A child psychologist accused of molesting his patients was rearrested this week after prosecutors expanded their case against him.
John W. Visher, 56, abused four victims as far back as 2001, prosecutors allege. He was first arrested at his La Selva Beach home in September based on complaints from a 9-year-old girl, and this week saw several new counts added involving three more underage victims.
"The defendant has engaged in a decade-long (if not longer) campaign of utilizing his position of power and control to molest the children he was supposed to be counseling and helping," prosecutor Michael Gilman wrote in court papers.
If convicted, Visher could face life in prison. He is accused of 21 counts of child molestation and child pornography, and a judge Thursday increased his bail from $110,000 to $1 million. He was still in custody Friday.
Visher has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His psychology license was suspended by the state pending resolution of the criminal case.
The case broke when a 9-year-old girl reported inappropriate contact with Visher. But it wasn't the first time authorities had taken a look at Visher, who has been a licensed California psychologist since 1982.
According to court papers, Capitola police investigated Visher in 2001 and 2005, though neither resulted in charges. County Child Protective Services also investigated the 2001 case, which involved a 5-year-old boy.
Due to statutes of limitations, none of the charges involve the 2001 case. Authorities have contacted that victim, who reportedly confirmed and added to the original report.
In 2005, Visher allegedly molested an 8-year-old boy and warned him not to tell anyone. That incident also was investigated by Capitola police, and the victim was recently re-interviewed by authorities, according to court documents.
A fourth victim, now 21, stepped forward in April. He said the abuse occurred in 2002 and 2003, and involved forced oral sex and sexual penetration by an object.
Visher is being sued by the family of the 9-year-old girl, a case now suspended while the criminal case plays out. A lawyer for the family, Joseph C. George, called the added counts a bombshell.
"I'm sort of speechless," he said. "It's mind-blowing the nature and extent of molestation by a trusted authority figure."
Prosecutors have asked for special circumstances in Visher's case, making him eligible for a sentence of 25 years to life. Several counts call for sentences of 15 years to life as well.
Prosecutors asked anyone with additional information to call the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office at 831-454-2516.
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