OH- Therapist hired by diocese loses license

For immediate release: Monday, August 18, 2014

For more info: Judy Jones (636) 433-2511,
SNAPjudy@gmail.com, David Clohessy of St. Louis (314) 566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com

Therapist hired by diocese loses license

He counseled several clergy sex abuse victims

And he was used to evaluate prospective clerics

Board found “{he} acted inappropriately with a client”

SNAP says his recommendations are now “questionable”

Group wants bishop to let victims choose their own therapist

A psychologist who worked for the Youngstown diocese in two roles has lost his license for having an inappropriate and non-professional relationship with an adult client.

Psychologist D. Terence Heltzel, in a four page “consent agreement” with the State Board of Psychology, admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with one of his female clients.

According to the consent decree “The Board received a complaint from an adult female alleging that Dr. Heltzel acted inappropriately towards her during her during her final therapy session.”

“The Board and Dr. Heltzel agree that (he) established a professional psychological psychotherapy relationship with (this client) when (she) sought help following the deaths of two family members (and) entered into a non-professional relationship with (her),” the decree says.

“This psychologist dealt with possible victims and possible predators but is guilty of misconduct himself,” said David Clohessy, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Now, already wounded victims have been hurt again because of the very poor choice by Youngstown Catholic officials to hire Heltzel.”

“We suspect that Heltzel has tested and evaluated dozens of prospective Youngstown area priests, seminarians and deacons and maybe lay employees over years and years,” said Judy Jones of SNAP. “Now his judgments about those church staff – and their suitability for employment – are in serious doubt.”

“And from the victims' perspective, imagine the pain they feel when they bare their souls to a church-recommended and church-paid therapist, only to find out that he too engages in predatory behavior,” said Jones.

“Bishop Murry should reach out to anyone who was directed to Heltzel and encourage them to speak up if they were hurt,” said Clohessy. “It's inherently hurtful – and illegal – for mental health professionals to abuse their authority and power to sexually exploit clients.”

SNAP also noted that Bishop Murray has not responded to their letter requesting that he hold an open public meeting to discuss child molesting clerics in the diocese, including Deacon Ernest Formichelli who was exposed last week as an allege abuser. It was sent a week ago.

Heltzel was represented by Glennon Karr, a lawyer in Columbus (gkarr@karrlaw.com614-848-3100 ). Two others signed the consent decree are Assistant Attorney General Roger F. Carroll ( roger.carroll@ohioattorneygeneral.gov, 614-466-8600) and board member Dr. Suzanne Lesure (330- 722-4166).

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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  • Not Abused Anymore
    commented 2014-12-17 20:38:57 -0600
    “And from the victims’ perspective, imagine the pain they feel when they bare their souls to a church-recommended and church-paid therapist, only to find out that he too engages in predatory behavior,”

    Both the predatory priests and psychologist have much in common. Both exploited power differentials to gain access to victims. They exploited the most basic human principal of trust. It is disheartening that there are no real consequences for this behavior. Many priests and this psychologist are allowed to surrender a license or get moved to a rectory “away from the children”. Unfortunately, the catholic church has deep pockets and may purchase pedophile protection at will. Most disturbing, is the clergy’s exemption from state reporting laws. If a bishop or other church official has knowledge of priest abusing children or others; the first call should be to the police. Failure to do this should be criminal as it is for teachers, counselors and all other state mandated reporters. In this case, the call likely went to a psychologist guilty of the same predatory types of behaviors. It took the psychologist’s victim nearly 20 years to come forward. Perhaps she has felt the way many of us have felt, that it was her fault, that no one would believe her. I commend her courage to come forward and expose this fraud. I encourage any other victims or former patients of Dr. Heltzel to come forward and report any issues experienced during their church sponsored care or as a client of Dr. Heltzel in other capacities. Predatory behavior NEVER happens just once. Bishop Murray’s lack of courage and conviction in transparent dealings with the issue of sexual abuse is sad and disgusting. He should be formally charged with a crime for his failure to report known crimes against children.
  • Timothy Lennon
    commented 2014-11-12 09:18:26 -0600
    Church authorities should do more.
  • Aloh Marcus
    commented 2014-11-11 20:29:24 -0600
    @not abused. I believe he still works at Psycare because he is one of the owners.
  • Not Abused Anymore
    commented 2014-10-23 21:47:28 -0500
    This Heltzel guy still is involved in the day to day running of the agency he was at after he lost his license. How is that possible? Most times you are fired when when you lose your license. Why the hell would they keep him at Psychcare?
  • Not Abused Anymore
    commented 2014-10-23 21:42:06 -0500
    I am not surprised that the Catholic Church would utilize such poor judgement in their selecting of this fraud. Given their uncanny ability to select pedophiles for the priest position, perhaps he was hired to identify them, not rule them out?
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