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The Burlington Free Press (Vermont)
Psychiatrist’s license suspended
By Victoria Welch
June 3, 2005

McKenna charged with sex abuse
By Victoria Welch
The state Board of Medical Practice has suspended the license of an Essex Junction psychiatrist who has pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually abused a mentally ill patient under his care.

Dr. Peter McKenna, 57, faces three counts of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult. Vermont state statutes describe the offense as sexual activity by a caregiver paid by a caregiving facility or program. McKenna denied the charges in Vermont District Court in Burlington on Wednesday. His license to practice medicine was suspended the same day.

A 36-year-old female patient who had been under McKenna’s care for about 18 months told her primary care physician that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with McKenna. The physician reported the allegations to Adult Protective Services, according to a court affidavit.

William Congleton, McKenna’s attorney, declined to comment on the case Thursday evening.

The patient told state officials that she takes 11 medications to treat her illnesses, most of which were paid for by Medicaid, according to court documents. Medicaid data revealed that McKenna, who works out of an Essex Junction office, provided services to the patient from late 2003 until earlier this year.

The patient said a sexual relationship began in late 2003 and continued until this year, according to court documents. The patient told investigators the pair had sex at her home, McKenna’s home and at a Newport camp. The patient said McKenna gave her money, clothing and jewelry.

State officials said in court documents that evidence given to them by the patient, which included a pair of underwear and tissue paper with seminal fluids, was being tested at the Vermont Forensic Laboratory in Waterbury. When questioned by investigators, McKenna initially denied having physical or sexual contact with the patient, but later admitted to having sexual intercourse with her, according to the affidavit.

If convicted of the three charges, McKenna could face a fine of up to $30,000 and six years in prison. He was released on conditions Wednesday, including that he have no contact with the patient. He is next scheduled to appear in court June 28.

After McKenna’s license was suspended by the Vermont Board of Medical Practice, the state Attorney General’s Office said McKenna’s patients should contact their health insurance company or primary care provider for referral to another provider.