NBC Bay Area
Vets Accuse VA Therapist of Abuse Involving Sex, Astrology, Psychedelic Drugs
By Stephen Stock, Michael Bott, Michael Horn and Mark Villarreal
March 15, 2022 – Updated on March 16, 2022
Three Bay Area military veterans struggling with serious mental health issues have filed a federal lawsuit accusing their former Veterans Affairs (VA) psychiatrist of serious ethical and legal lapses, including sexual abuse, dosing an unwitting patient with a potent psychedelic drug, and using astrology to inform therapeutic decisions.
In their darkest emotional hours – coping with major trauma experienced both in and outside of the military – the veterans say they turned to VA psychiatrist Dr. Ferda Sakman for help. Instead, she left new scars, they say in the lawsuit…
She also alleges in the lawsuit that Dr. Sakman routinely turned to astrology to make serious therapeutic decisions.
“She comes back with an astrological map and she maps my life into this map,” Dodge said. “She’s telling me, you know, ‘Chiron is right here, and the moon and stars align right here, so this is why your life is messed up right here,’ you know?”…
Dr. Sakman, the lawsuit alleges, told Park he wasn’t an alcoholic and pushed him to drink when she took him to lunch at a local sushi restaurant. Park said the therapist told him it was part of his “exposure therapy.”
“Then my drinking, of course, flared back up,” Park said. “After the sushi and drinking, either that day or the day afterwards, she invited me to her house.”
After that lunch, the therapist took him back to her house to have sex, according to the lawsuit.
“She wanted to have an intimate relationship at that point,” said Park, adding that Dr. Sakman reassured him everything was fine when he raised concerns about doctor-patient boundaries.
In California, it’s against the law for a therapist to have sex with a patient, and it’s universally considered a major ethical lapse. Park and Dodge are joined by a third plaintiff in the lawsuit – a Marine Corps veteran named Daniel Pere – who says in court filings that Dr. Sakman asked if he thought about her in the shower and told him she knew he wanted to have sex with her.
“You need to vet the doctors for the vets,” said John Winer, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “If anybody in the administration was paying any kind of attention, there is no way that this whole situation could have happened. There is no way.”…