- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Six University of Oregon employees are under investigation by state boards after complaints that they mishandled the therapy records of a student who says she was gang-raped.

The Oregon State Bar and Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners are investigating complaints filed in January by Jennifer Morlok, reports The Oregonian (https://bit.ly/1dSzHHo ). Legal correspondence identifies Morlok as the student’s therapist.

“It’s the worst thing I could think of,” said Morlok, who says she was shocked when the student’s entire file, including therapy notes, was released without the girl’s permission. “The last thing we want to release is the session notes, because those are the intimate details of a process a person is going through and sharing. We kind of want to guard those with our life.”

State law requires a clinician to report practitioners who appear to take illegal or unethical actions, she said.

Morlock, who still works at the university, said she has suffered retaliation and ostracism for making the complaints.

Interim general counsel Douglas Park and associate counsel Samantha Hill, the school’s top attorneys, are being investigated by the bar. Meanwhile, the psychologist examiners board is investigating complaints against four people, including Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes, who is a licensed psychologist.

Attorneys for all six of the employees under investigation said they did nothing wrong. Acting Provost Frances Bronet recently appointed Holmes and another psychologist under investigation to devise new confidentiality policies for the university clinics.

The unidentified student, called Jane Doe in court documents, says she was raped multiple times on March 8, 2014, by three members of the university men’s basketball team. The Eugene Police Department investigated the allegations, but the Lane County district attorney declined to prosecute for lack of sufficient evidence.

The athletes were never charged with a crime, but they were dismissed from the team and suspended from the university.

In December, University Counseling & Testing Center director Shelly Kerr released Jane Doe’s entire confidential file to the General Counsel’s Office without the student’s permission. The student sued the university and its basketball coach a month later on multiple grounds, including the release of the records. The university countersued, but it dropped the claim after public outcry as national outrage about campus sexual assaults began to increase.

Robert Steringer, a lawyer hired by the university to represent the psychologists, said they did nothing that would violate the American Psychological Association’s ethical principles or state or federal laws. The association’s code prohibits psychologists from disclosing confidential information without patient consent unless mandated by law or necessary to protect people from harm.

The university was responding to a notice from one of Jane Doe’s attorneys to preserve all potentially relevant documents in anticipation of a lawsuit, Steringer said.

But another lawyer working on behalf of Jane Doe said that the notice did not require university lawyers to turn the records over to the legal department.


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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