Pacific Daily News
Guam psychiatrist under investigation; previously disciplined in Maryland
By Jerick Sablan
January 5, 2020
A Behavioral Health and Wellness Center psychiatrist whose Maryland medical license was suspended after he had sex with a patient is under investigation by the Guam Board of Medical Examiners.
The board knew about Dr. Abner Pasatiempo’s troubles in Maryland when he applied for a license here, but the Guam license was granted in April 2018 because of an extraordinary need to fill the position at Behavioral Health, said Dr. Nathaniel Berg, Board of Medical Examiners chairman, during the board’s Dec. 13 meeting.
After his Maryland license was suspended in 2006, Pasatiempo fulfilled all the requirements of a consent decree with the Maryland Board of Physicians. He currently holds an active license in that state, according to the Maryland board.
The Guam Board of Medical examiners has received six complaints against the doctor. The board requested that he not practice medicine here until the complaints are resolved.
Pasatiempo’s Guam license expired in December 2019. According to discussion during Dec. 13 meeting, the doctor didn’t plan on renewing it.
According to discussion during the Dec. 13 meeting, Behavioral Health and Wellness Center had taken away Pasatiempo’s scriptwriting privilege, but the agency didn’t inform the board what disciplinary action it took against him.
Pasatiempo, who couldn’t be reached for comment as of Friday afternoon, is listed as a staff psychiatrist at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center. He earns a base salary of $260,000 annually and including benefits $325,594.62, according to the fiscal 2019 fourth-quarter staffing pattern.
Berg during the meeting said the six Guam complaints didn’t involve allegations of sex, but Pasatiempto was accused of inappropriate touching. The board agreed to notify the patients that their complaints were received and will be investigated.
Berg said doctors know they shouldn’t have any sexual contact with patients because it’s an abuse of power. In psychiatry, the boundary is especially important.
“You cannot be a psychiatrist and have sex with your patients,” he said at the meeting.
In a recording of the April 2018 meeting, board members indicated they discussed Pasatiempo’s application during a previous teleconference. There was no discussion during the public meeting and his application was approved.
In 2006, Pasatiempo was disciplined in Maryland after having a romantic relationship with a patient. The Maryland Board of Physicians found him guilty of immoral or unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine and suspended his license for five years, according to disciplinary records.
All but 18 months of the suspension was stayed. In 2008, the board found that he was in compliance with terms of a consent order and his license was reinstated. He was placed on probation for five years, and in 2013 the probationary terms were completed.
The case stemmed from a June 30, 2004, complaint in which a woman said she and Pasatiempo had a sexual relationship while the doctor was providing her with psychiatric treatment. In a letter to the board dated the following day, the doctor “admitted to having become ‘romantically involved’ with an unnamed adult female patient,” according to board disciplinary records.
In 1997, when she was 19, the woman was referred to Pasatiempo for evaluation because of difficulties with unstable mood and anxiety. The woman “had undergone two past psychiatric hospitalizations, one of which followed a suicide attempt,” according to Maryland Board of Physicians’ disciplinary records. She “had also previously resided in a residential treatment program for two years.”
In 2002, Pasatiempo also began treating the woman’s 7-year-old child, who had a “history of hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggressiveness and other behavioral issues,” according to the records. The doctor continued to treat the woman, referred to in discipline records as “Patient A.”
In late 2003, Pasatiempo “began making openly sexually suggestive remarks to Patient A,” the records state. He “started engaging in sexual activity with Patient A in his office in or around November 2003. Because of her discomfort, Patient A requested that they not have sexual relations in Respondent’s office. The Respondent then sent Patient A to a nearby hotel, after which he joined her there, where he had sexual relations with her.”
He also brought the woman on a trip to Arizona, where he took his board re-certification exam, and he took the woman and her child to Disney World in Florida, the records state. He also provided financial support for her, and signed over checks written to him by other patients, according to the discipline records.
In April 2004, he and the woman moved in together, and he attempted to conceive a child with her, the records state.
The relationship deteriorated, and in mid-June 2004, Pasatiempo “left the apartment he shared with Patient A and moved back in with his wife. When the Respondent terminated his personal relationship with patient A, he informed her he could no longer provide treatment for her. Around this time, the Respondent provided Patient A with very large amounts of psychotropic medications for her to use, while reportedly telling her that he was worried about her committing suicide.”