John Rosen


The Miami Herald
April 3, 1983

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist living in Boca Raton, has surrendered his only medical license to avoid a public hearing into allegations that he beat and sexually abused patients from some of America’s wealthiest families.

The Pennsylvania Board of Medical Licensure last week ended Rosen’s medical practice and a 36-year controversy into his aggressive approach to psychiatry.

Although Rosen never held a Florida medical license, he has wintered since 1947 in the Boca Raton area with his wealthy patients. His primary psychiatric work was near Philadelphia in suburban Bucks County.

Before the Pennsylvania board’s hearing into 102 alleged violations of a Medical Practices Act, the 79-year-old doctor pleaded guilty to three of the allegations. In exchange, Rosen surrendered his medical license and agreed to release his final four patients to the care of others.

Among the sworn admissions is one by Rosen that he is now “unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients because of his own illness.”
Contacted at his Boca Raton home, Rosen said he was simply too old to fight Pennsylvania’s lengthy investigation. “I’m not in the mood at my age to bother with it,” Rosen explained to The Herald.

Pennsylvania state medical investigators were ready to go before the Board of Medical Licensure to prove that Rosen’s illegal psychiatric methods contributed to the 1979 beating death in Lighthouse Point of one Rosen patient.

The testimony of Rosen’s former patients and employes also resulted in allegations that male and female patients were forced into acts of sex, physically assaulted and shackled in a basement security room — all as Rosen’s prescribed therapy.

Involved were alleged abuses to 11 patients including Sally Zinman, a Lake Worth resident who first questioned Rosen’s right to practice medicine.

When Florida authorities failed to act against her former doctor, Zinman went to The Herald. A story on Rosen’s methods alerted Pennsylvania medical authorities six years ago.

Walter Killian, an attorney for the Pennsylvania board, alleged in formal charges that one sex-abused patient, Janet Katkow, was forced into “frequent and numerous sexual relations with Rosen and with other parties” and that sex was “both heterosexual and homosexual in nature.”

A Katkow lawsuit against Rosen for civil damages is pending in a Pennsylvania court. Subpenaed for that lawsuit as an alleged participant in sexual therapy is a Philadelphia federal judge.

Rosen’s other affluent patients came from such prominent American families as the Rockefellers and Lindberghs. The son of former U.S. Ambassador to Britain Walter Annenberg died in 1962 while under Rosen’s care.

Killian was not available for comment. Tom Balloran, a second Board of Medical Licensure prosecutor, said Rosen suffered the most severe penalty possible. The board could not have fined Rosen.

“We dropped the sex and physical abuse violations and, in return, got a revocation stopping him from ever doing this again in a medical setting,” Balloran said. “We were able to accomplish everything we wanted.”

Rosen agreed to find competant doctors for four remaining patients, including Julia Blythe, 49, a Rosen patient for 21 years. Blythe wrote Boca Raton police in 1975 saying she had been kidnapped by Rosen.

Pennsylvania board attorneys said they had been ready to prove that Rosen was without authority to have Blythe as his patient.

They accused him of beating and forcing Blythe to have sex with Rosen and others.

Boca Raton police originally notified the Florida Board of Medical Examiners about Rosen in 1969. Florida’s investigation concluded that Rosen was practicing psychiatry here without a license. The case closed with Rosen saying he was returning to Pennsylvania, and Florida authorities assuming incorrectly that he would not return south for future winters.

Zinman, working with Delray Beach private investigator Virginia Snyder, failed to reinterest Florida authorities in Rosen when they complained in 1976 of sexual abuses and other wrongdoing.

Zinman said Saturday she had wished a public hearing into Rosen’s case. “It’s not a perfect justice. It’s too little and too late,” she said.

One of Rosen’s guilty pleas was to abandoning patient Gay Claudia Ermann without a doctor’s care at a Lighthouse Point rental home. Rosen described the allegation to the Herald this week as “a technicality.”

Ermann, 31, was beaten to death there in November 1979. Two of Rosen’s aides were convicted of criminal charges that resulted from her death.

Rosen’s psychiatric theory, first publicized in 1947, is that even the most acutely psychotic patients can be cured by hours-long sessions of intensive analysis.

Dr. Morris Brody, a psychiatrist who researched Rosen’s methods for Temple University, told the Herald in 1977 that physical punishment was Rosen’s apparent theraputic tool. “In the old days, they called it trying to beat the devil out of the patient,” Brody said.

Former employes say Rosen, who spent long hours golfing at the Boca Raton Hotel and Club, cut short the length of therapy sessions in his later years.