Richard J. O’Meara never has been nor is he currently a “health psychologist.” He was at one time a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor before he voluntarily surrendered his license in 2012 in lieu of charges for therapy sex abuse. Yet, here he is, still practicing without a license and claiming on Examiner.com that he is a health psychologist — and the board continues to do nothing about it.
In complete mockery of the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, former therapist, Richard O’Meara, who surrendered his license last year in lieu of facing criminal charges for therapy sex abuse has still been practicing in the state as a “pre-marital coach” under the business O’Meara Counseling Services, LLC. Read the entire article about the convicted felon and the board’s continued failure to protect mental health clients:
Watch this latest video of Lynette’s Law founder Heather Lynette Sinclair on fire before the House Judiciary Committee (HB60) and revealing to them the rampant therapy sex abuse throughout the State of Maryland. The board in their testimony for HB56 tried to manipulate a time frame to claim there were only five cases, but Heather went digging and found at least 21.
While the criminal portion of Lynette’s Law, HB 60, passed the House unanimously 135-0, it has come under fire in the Senate by the boards who have become embarrassed at the abuse they’ve let slide by for years. The Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists has routinely submitted letters of opposition in regards to HB 60 and HB 56, but have waffled at the hearings, retracting statements and contradicting themselves to the point that at the HB 60 House Judiciary hearing a flustered Delegate Sam Arora asked: “I don’t know is a fine answer, but I’ve heard you say, ‘we like the amendments’ and it says here opposition. I think it’s just fair that we know where the board is coming from, and I think that’s been confusing. … Does the board have a position?” Board Executive Director Tracey DeShields, who also stated she thinks a heart doctor having sex with a patient is the same as therapy sex abuse, answered, “The board has no position.” The board has now come back in the Senate in opposition with Chair Carol Deel claiming she doesn’t want victims going through the ordeal of the court system. Senator Nancy Jacobs responded to that with, “We already do that with children,” and essentially called out Deel on the board trying to protect their own.
The Maryland Psychological Association suddenly came out in opposition to HB 60 because an amendment to the bill included psychologists. They claimed that they supported the bill in the House although they never actually submitted a letter of support or came out to testify in the house, but now oppose it because of the amendment. Lobbyist Julia Worcester stood up for the board and claimed before the Senate that the APA code was stringent enough and psychologists in matters of sexual exploitation were charged both civilly and criminally, but there are no laws in place for psychologists to be held criminally accountable. This is what Lynette’s Law is designed to do. Instead, the Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists can only pass civil sanctions against psychologists, suspending licenses and administering fines up to $10,000 that are paid to the board — and not the victims.
Lynette’s Law and HB 60 can use all the support it can get. Please contact the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee (here) and let them know that you support HB 60.
In a stunning display of shortsightedness, Healthgrades has decided to remove the felony conviction notification off of Richard O’Meara’s profile stating that it has been 23 years since the conviction. Lynette’s Law 4 Maryland and its supporters are appalled at this action and are calling for the immediate boycott of Healthgrades. Felony convictions are not expunged from a person’s record for a reason, and when applying for employment one must state if they are a convicted felon (O’Meara, by the way, falsified his license applications by not disclosing he is a felon). O’Meara was convicted of aggravated assault and has since committed therapist abuse. Should he try to get licensed in another state (which he can since Maryland let him “surrender” instead of revoking his licenses) this is information unsuspecting patients ought to know about their therapist. Therefore, Healthgrades can no longer be considered a reliable source of information.
This comes less than a month after Healthgrades decided to mark the felony conviction on the profile. The original post is below:
Heathgrades has finally agreed to properly display the Richard O’Meara felony conviction in his Healthgrades profile. After a lengthy tense deliberation with the physician information website, Lynette’s Law prevailed in making sure consumer safety was held in the highest regard.
The importance of this matter lies in the fact the system in Maryland allowed O’Meara to simply surrender his license, which still gives him the ability to apply for a license in another state. However, with his conviction now noted, any state doing a basic check on him will now see his conviction. O’Meara was able to be licensed in Maryland because Maryland does not perform background checks on healthcare professionals, and O’Meara omitted his conviction from his application. This is why Lynette’s Law is fighting to make background checks for healthcare professionals mandatory in the state.
Lynette’s Law founder, Heather Sinclair, has recently been contacted by Health Grades, and she had the following to say to the company: “Look, it’s like this don’t misrepresent your company and we have no issues. You are still profiling a therapist who is a violent convicted felon who also surrendered to avoid jail time! Keeping your records up to date, especially when you’ve been informed of the surrender, is just good public policy! Consumers have the right to know their practitioner’s professional history! We need to do away with laws that were passed in 1986 protecting the practitioners. We need to protect our consumers! If you won’t, I will!”
Heather L. Sinclair
Pasadena Woman Starts Movement to End Abuse by Therapists
Pasadena, MD – September 4, 2012 – Before one looks into personal therapy or therapy for family members, this story about one woman’s horrific therapy nightmare may want to be considered. It’s not just her story that is absolutely shocking, but the movement reveals therapy abuse is prevalent and most often not punished.
Heather Sinclair is the founder of a movement known as “Lynette’s Law for Maryland,” a movement that aims to spread awareness about abuse by therapists. Its other focus is a call to action for Maryland to add to their current health codes to require all mental health professionals to pass background checks before obtaining licensure. Currently, only psychologists are required to pass background checks.
Sinclair’s former therapist, Richard J. O’Meara, is a convicted felon who spent four years in prison in Pennsylvania for aggravated assault. O’Meara surrendered his license and certificate in July to avoid prosecution for violating the Professional Counselors and Therapists Act and the Code of Ethics under the Code of Maryland Regulations. More specifically, the “board concluded that he engaged in a prohibited sexual and dual relationship with a female client, fostered a mutual dependency, and exploited the professional relationship for personal advantage.”
Currently, therapist abuse is a crime in 23 states. New York recently passed a bill closing the loophole on therapist abuse naming it, “statutory rape.” No such laws exist in Maryland, and if one checks the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists’ website, what will be found is page after page loaded with surrenders, denials of renewals, and suspensions for therapists found in violation. Sinclair charges, “This isn’t enough. Everyone has the right to feel and be safe in therapy. Clients have the right to seek help from a licensed professional who does not have a criminal background. Clients also have the right not to be exploited or taken advantage of by their therapists. Therapists are abusing clients every single day and the devastation it causes lasts for years, yet guilty therapists only get a slap on the wrist. This needs to change. Allowing people to become therapists without background checks opens the doors to clients being violated. Trust in the therapeutic relationship is essential. Without it, there’s no growth. How can we put our trust in mental health professionals when it seems any criminal can get a license and when they are found guilty of hurting people, they get away with it?”
A new article “How sexually abusive therapists avoid jail time” has been added to the Articles section of the site. This piece covers loopholes in the systems that therapists guilty of abuse can use to circumvent the system to come away with only a slap on the wrist and retain the ability to practice again in another state! This article also uses Richard J. O’Meara, who recently surrendered his licenses (see “First Victory” post below), as an example.
In a piece of striking news, Richard O’Meara, now former therapist in Maryland, has surrendered his licenses in lieu of disciplinary measures that would have been taken against him for the following actions:
“a. That I met with the client and her husband during one session and was aware of their marital conflicts;
b. That I was aware of the client’s troubled psychiatric history, which included a suicide attempt;
c. Despite this awareness, I entered into a social and sexual relationship with the client;
d. I engaged in sexual contact and sexual intercourse with the client;
e. I met the client in parking lots, restaurants and at her home;
f. I engaged in phone, voicemail and Facebook interactions with the client, and met her children and her friends;
g. I paid off the client’s counseling bills.
The Board’s investigation also concluded that I failed to disclose on my August, 2001 application for certification as an associate counselor-alcohol drug (CAC-AD), a guilty plea and conviction for aggravated assault that occured in Pennsylvania in 1989, that I further failed to disclose this felony conviction on my application for licensure as a clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in April 2004.”
Read the entire public order document here: http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bopc/PublicOrder/richardomeara2012.pdf
There is still a loophole in the system that O’Meara squeezes through and is one of the reasons we’re seeking legislation on this matter. Since he surrendered his licenses he will not have to face any criminal charges for what he did. Yes, it’s true… he used his position of power to sexually exploit and assault someone and will never have charges brought upon him for it. This needs to change.