Psychologist Ordered to Stop Using
Sex Toys When Treating Children
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
>In December 2001, the Colorado Licensed Psychologists Examiners Board issued a stipulation and order temporarily barring John A. Dicke, PsyD, JD, from using several disputed practices in treating children. The board's stipulated order banned Dicke from using any kind of sex toys in therapy; permitting clients to undress; using touch therapy or physical restraints; making suggestions or asking certain leading questions; and permitting any parent who has made allegations against another person to attend therapy sessions. The board acted in response to a complaint from a mother that Dicke had encouraged her child (identified as "AS" in the document below) to engage in sexualized behavior with a dildo (latex penis) and had inserted the dildo into the child's anus. Many of the sessions were videotaped.
In February and March 2003, Administrative Law Judge Nancy Connick held hearings about the allegations against Dicke. On the final day of the hearing, the board's attorney withdrew two allegations (restraint-during-fellatio and anal-insertion) that he said were not clearly visible on the videotapes. However, the board still argued Dicke had acted inappropriately in other ways. Connick agreed that Dicke's treatment had been substandard and recommended that he be placed on indefinite probation and barred from evaluating, assessing, or treating children suspected of being sexually abused. with restrictions on whom he could treat. But the board concluded that Dicke's actions and judgment "demonstrated (a) steadfast resistance to and lack of recognition of generally accepted standards of practice, (b) a single-minded approach to problems and defense of his treatment techniques, (c) clinical skills that are substandard, (d) treatment below generally accepted standards of practice in AS's case." On December 18, 2003, the board revoked Dicke's license and ordered him to close his practice within 45 days. Dicke has stopped practicing psychology but is appealing the board's order.
BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGIST EXAMINERS
STATE OF COLORADO
Case No. RG PS DLNLM
STIPULATION AND ORDER
IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED and agreed by and between the State Board of Psychologist Examiners ("Board") and John A. Dicke Ph.D. ("Respondent" or "Dicke"), as follows:
- The Board has jurisdiction over the person of respondent and the subject matter set forth in this stipulation and order.
- State Board of Psychologist Examiners granted respondent a license to practice psychology in Colorado pm June 23, 1995. Respondent was issued license number 1980. Respondent has been licensed to practice psychology since that date and is so licensed at this time.
- On or about June 2001, the Board received a complaint alleging that respondent's practice of psychology fell below generally accepted standards of practice. The actions alleged included:
- During the first of five sessions with AS that respondent videotaped, Respondent allows AS to touch respondent's penis three times;
- During the videotaped sessions, Respondent appears to encourage AS to disrobe and remain naked during the sessions;
- During the videotaped sessions with AS, Respondent encourages AS to engage in sexualized behavior with latex adult sex toys ("dildos").
- During a videotaped session, Respondent inserts a dildo into the anus of AS while AS is naked.
- During videotaped sessions, Respondent physically restrains AS while AS is naked and holds the dildo to AS's face while AS performs fellatio on the dildo.
- Respondent repeatedly engaged in leading and suggestive questioning of AS relating to allegations of sexual abuse by his father.
- Following investigation of the complaint the Board determined that reasonable grounds existed to refer this matter to its legal counsel, the Colorado Attorney General, for initiation of disciplinary action against respondent's license to practice psychology.
- Respondent admits and agrees as follows:
- That Respondent is a licensed psychologist practicing psychology in Colorado. Respondent is a licensed psychologist as defined in C.R.S. § 12-43-301 (10) with Psychologist license number 1980.
- During the course of his practice as a licensed psychologist respondent entered into a professional and therapeutic relationship with client AS (a five year old child) on or about December, 2000 as part of his practice of psychology, to provide AS with psychological services as defined in C.R.S. § 12-43-201 (9).
- Respondent provided fourteen one-hour sessions of psychological treatment to AS from December 2000 through March 2001. Adams County Social Services ("Social Services") referred AS to Respondent for psychological treatment related to his behavior.
- During the course of the therapy Respondent engaged in questioning of AS relating to allegations of sexual abuse by his father. Respondent also allowed the mother of AS, who initiated the allegations of sexual abuse, to attend, participate in and provide some direction for AS's sessions with Respondent.
- At the request of Social services, respondent videotaped five of his sessions with AS. During these sessions Respondent allows AS to disrobe and remain naked during the session.
- In a session on or about March 8, 2001 respondent presented sex toys to AS during thus session and subsequent sessions.
- Respondent currently uses sex toys with other children in the course of providing therapeutic treatments.
- Respondent understands that he has the right to a hearing with respect to the complaint filed against him. Respondent has indicated that he intends to request a hearing regarding complaints filed against him. The purpose of this Stipulation and Order is to assure that Respondent will not engage in activities that the Board feels may endanger the health, safety or welfare of persons in the State of Colorado. The parties have agreed to this Stipulation and Order in lieu of a Cease and Desist Order to ensure that Respondent does not engage in the activities set forth here during the pendency of the disciplinary action against Respondent. Accordingly, the BOARD HEREBY ORDERS that Respondent shall not engage in the following activities until further order of the Board following completion of disciplinary action against Respondent arising from the complaint related to these activities:
- Utilizing any form of anatomically correct devices or sex toys during any aspect of a therapeutic relationship.
- Permitting a client to disrobe during any aspect of a therapeutic relationship.
- Utilizing touch or physical restraint during any aspect of the therapeutic relationship unless necessary to protect against physical abuse.
- Performing any kind of forensic client questioning or suggestion when a client is seeing Respondent for therapeutic treatment.
- Permitting a parent to attend and participate in treatment when such parent has made allegations against others (including the other parent) regarding improper behavior.
- Respondent has been ordered to undergo a mental status evaluation by the Board, pursuant to C.R.S. § 12-43-224(2)(d). Respondent has agreed to undergo such evaluation and to provide the evaluator with any medical or psychological information requested by the evaluator as part of the evaluation.
- No agreement, understanding, representation, or interpretation not contained in this stipulation and order may be used to vary or contradict its terms.
- Each provision of this stipulation and order is separate. In the event of litigation involving compliance with the terms of this stipulation and order, the issues will be restricted to those raised by the interested parties; the resolution of those issues will affect only the pertinent parts of the stipulation and order; and the parties will be obligated by the Board-construed or judicially constrained parts of the stipulation and order as if they were part of the original stipulation and order.
- This stipulation and order shall take effect on acceptance and signature by the Board.
- This stipulation and order is a public record.
(Signed) John A. Dicke, Ph.D., Respondent
Accepted, signed and ordered this 12th day of December 2001.
(Signed) Jeffrey I. Dolgan, Ph.D., Chair
This article was revised on December 24, 2004.