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Psychologist Accused Of ‘Touching Therapy’ Abuse

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(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – A central Pennsylvania psychologist has been jailed on charges that “touching therapy” he used on two female patients really amounted to sexual abuse, for which he fraudulently billed insurance companies more than $71,000.

Richard Lenhart, 53, of State College, was arrested on indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, insurance fraud and other charges Wednesday.

The charges filed by the state attorney general’s office grew out of a misconduct investigation by the state Board of Psychology, which revoked Lenhart’s license two years ago and penalized him more than $68,000 on more than 100 counts of professional misconduct.

Lenhart appealed those penalties and denied that he had inappropriate conduct with the women. He acknowledged sexual acts with one patient in his office, but argued that was part of her treatment, according to documents filed in the disciplinary proceedings.

The two patients involved in the criminal charges were both victims of previous sexual trauma, state prosecutors said. Lenhart “treated” them between January 2008 and November 2011 by caressing and groping them, which he described as “touching therapy,” state prosecutors said.

The licensing board found that Lenhart was “re-traumatizing them in his role as psychologist” and rather than helping the women was grooming them for future sexual abuse.

Lenhart was charged with insurance fraud because prosecutors contend the treatments weren’t legitimate.

He faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 27 and remained in the Centre County Prison on Thursday, unable to post $250,000 bail.

The attorney general’s office said the investigation remains active as investigators attempt to determine whether other patients were treated similarly.

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(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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