Friday, September 11, 2009

Dr. William Olmsted - Child Psychiatrist - Convicted Child Molester - Allowed to keep his license

A Dallas mother is outraged that her daughter's molester, a child psychiatrist who is a registered sex offender, has been allowed to retain his medical license.

"I'm shocked," said "Debbie," who asked that her real name not be used to protect her daughter's privacy. As a psychiatrist, "this person needs to be imminently trustworthy – and I don't trust him."

Debbie assumed Dr. William Olmsted would automatically lose his license after registering as a sex offender in January following a plea to a charge of indecency with a child.

But the law is "a little bit in conflict," said Jill Wiggins, public information officer for the Texas Medical Board. Texas law says the board shall revoke an offender's license. But "it also gives the board the authority to stay a revocation or to probate a revocation."
And that's what the board did at their August meeting. Olmsted, 46, was placed on probation for 10 years, with certain restrictions. He must submit to a psychiatric evaluation; limit his practice to a group or institutional setting, and to treatment of adult males only; complete "professional boundaries" courses; and pay a $5,000 fine.

He also must follow the terms of his plea bargain with Dallas County, where he agreed to six years of deferred adjudication and registration as a sex offender, including the requirements that he stay away from children other than his own and obtain counseling.
It's not unheard of for a sex offender to keep his medical license. But Wiggins said "it's certainly not common."

Olmsted, who is registered at an address in Georgetown, could not be reached for comment. Tim Weitz, the attorney who represented Olmsted before the board, declined to comment, deferring to the "findings of fact" in the board's order.

It is unclear whether Olmsted is practicing. He does not list a business address with the board, and his sex offender registration lists his occupation as "unemployed."

Debbie hopes he isn't practicing. For her, the board's decision was the latest turn in a steep learning curve on the difficulty of prosecuting sex offenders.

Protective parents

A self-described protective mother, Debbie warned her son and daughter to beware of strangers offering candy, looking for lost puppies or asking for directions. And she and her husband stressed that no one except the family doctor should touch them intimately. If they did, the children should come to them immediately.

"We were always pretty frank," she said.
But she never expected their affable neighbor, who planted petunias to welcome their daughter, "Cathy," home from the hospital when she was born, to later assault her.

Cathy, now a soft spoken 16-year-old, adored the Olmsted family, including the doctor's three children. She listened to her parents' safety warnings, but, "I never really thought about it being someone you would know," she said.

The abuse occurred one night when she was 10, while watching Finding Nemo at the Olmsted house with his children. When Olmsted's daughters fell asleep on the couch in their living room, Olmsted put Cathy's foot in his mouth and began sucking her toes, she said. Then he put his hand in her Capri pants and underneath her shirt.

"He was whispering in my ear and asking if it felt good," she remembers with a grimace.

Cathy finally managed to push away, and as she sprinted toward home, she says that Olmsted called to her: "Let's not tell anybody about this toe licking thing."

At first, she didn't. But two years later, she confided in a friend. A year later she told her mother in a letter.

"I've always thought I would just immediately leap on anyone who tried to hurt my children," Debbie said. But "rather than being angry, we were just literally stunned."
Cathy said she didn't tell her mother sooner because she was too embarrassed. "There was just no way I could say it," she said, adding that she feared Olmsted might try to hurt her.

When Cathy did tell, she "just wanted to be able to get it off my chest and move on."
Debbie found a therapist for Cathy and called authorities. As angry as she was, she still found it difficult to report Olmsted. "I kept saying ... 'He's my friend. We are neighbors. I've known him for 13 years. He's a child psychiatrist' "

Her friendship with Olmsted's wife and children died when she reported the crime. "You can't imagine what it's like, in a matter of seconds going from being friends and neighbors to, 'he's my mortal enemy,' " Debbie said.

Debbie never wavered in pursuing charges. "It was as if I put my daughter on a pike, parading into town," she acknowledges. But Debbie wasn't about to drop the matter. "I'm an adult," she said. "I just know you can't let people get by with this."

Mandy Griffith, who prosecuted the case and now works as a federal prosecutor, said Debbie has "a very keen sense of justice. She wanted justice for her daughter."
Debbie said Olmsted's work as a child psychiatrist haunted her. "If he had the audacity to do what he did with our daughter, he's certainly not to be trusted with any other children."
In December 2006, more than three years after the incident, Olmsted was arrested. Debbie then filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board.

She had no idea it would take almost three more years before either the criminal justice system or the board held Olmsted accountable.

During those years, prosecutors came and went, trial dates were scheduled and postponed and plea bargains were floated and dismissed. Olmsted continued to practice.

When pleas were discussed, Debbie and her family compromised, saying they wouldn't insist he serve prison time because Olmsted is "not a violent person." But she said Olmsted must register as a sex offender.

'Made him look small'

On the eve of a December trial date, Olmsted agreed to plead no contest.
At his sentencing, Cathy locked eyes with him, and gave her statement. "I thought you loved me," she said. "But how could you bring so much pain upon someone they loved? The nightmares still won't go away. They never go away. Why did you do this to me? You betrayed me."

Cathy now says she's glad she spoke up. "It made me feel really brave and big and made him look small."
Debbie wasn't finished. The medical board still hadn't taken action.

The board can suspend physicians when they are arrested, but it didn't suspend Olmsted. Three weeks after the criminal case was closed, Debbie was notified his disciplinary case was still open. Every few weeks the medical board would tell her the same thing.

Providing due process takes time, said Wiggins, the medical board spokeswoman, and discipline would have taken even longer had Olmsted not accepted an "agreed order."

The strict probation Olmsted received is "as far as you can go without actually taking away the license," she said. And even with a license, it's difficult for disciplined doctors to practice because obtaining credentials or professional insurance is practically impossible.

Debbie is disappointed. She wonders how many people check a physician's disciplinary record. And who will monitor Olmsted to see if he complies with the discipline?

But she's grateful her family's ordeal is over. And while she doesn't regret prosecuting her former friend, she doesn't rejoice in his punishment.

"It's a horrible thing, every aspect of it," she said. "It's not something to celebrate."


P.E. said...

You're doing some very good work here.
I found the article here on Olmsted quite useful.

Thanks for your dedication.

Shelley said...

My son saw Dr. Olmsted from about the time my son was three to six years old. At first, he was very attentive and did a great job of play therapy with my son. He took a conservative approach and did not immediately prescribe medications. He took about a year of therapy before he put my son on drugs. He was always available and would answer the phone, even on holidays, if we had a problem. But then, all of a sudden, everything changed. He abruptly stopped providing play therapy and started offering medication management only. He farmed out the play therapy to a psychologist in his office. About a year afterwards,he did not return phone calls whenever I called to get an appointment. He provided no referrals and ignored my calls, faxes and registered letters to get my son's medical records. It took me a few months to find a child psychiatrist who was taking new patients and then, we could not get the medical records. It took two years and the intervention of the state board of medical examiners to finally get the records. He was found guilty and had to pay a $500 fine. My son had speech delay and I can only wonder if he had done something to my child and he didn'dt want me to find out. He knew that I was a whistleblower and would pursue him to the ends of the earth. Luckily, my son, now 14, says that he doesn't remember him, but sometimes, I wonder....