Los Angeles Times
May 9, 1990

The Medical Board of California has accused an Orange psychiatrist of kissing and fondling one of his patients and continuing that intimate conduct for 3 1/2 years.

Dr. George M. Hayter, 52, vehemently denied the charges.

“That’s totally untrue,” he said.

A 1966 graduate of Duke University Medical School, Hayter has been licensed to practice medicine in California since 1968 and has served on staff at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange for 18 years.

In an April 12 civil complaint, medical board executive director Kenneth Wagstaff called Hayter’s conduct “gross negligence and/or incompetence” and recommended that his license to practice medicine be revoked or suspended.

The charges will be heard before an administrative law judge. Hayter said he plans to contest them.

State officials and the president of the Orange County Psychiatric Society said intimacy between a psychiatrist and his patient is both unethical and illegal.

According to Abes S. Bagheri a Los Alamitos psychiatrist who is president of the county psychiatric society, once such a charge is proved, “psychiatrists usually have been expelled from the American Psychiatric Assn. and the Orange County Psychiatric Society.”

According to the complaint, Hayter began intimate relations with a female patient in March, 1983, and continued to do so intermittently until November, 1986. He is not accused of having sexual intercourse with the patient.

The relationship started when the woman, who had been undergoing weekly psychotherapy sessions with Hayter for depression and who was identified only as L.H., began discussing “her feelings of attraction” for the doctor, the complaint said.

Hayter allegedly responded that “she should not be ashamed” of those feelings and added that he “found L.H. to be attractive.”

According to the complaint, Hayter in that same session then embraced L.H., stated “Isn’t this what you would like to do?” and “gave her an open-mouth kiss on the lips.”

According to the complaint, the woman told Hayter throughout her therapy that she felt “their sexual contacts were wrong.” Sometimes, the complaint said, the psychiatrist would agree, but other times, Hayter “would deny that their relationship was wrong.”

For instance, in April, 1983, L.H. allegedly brought Hayter a Los Angeles Times article that described sex between therapist and patients as harmful. In a study of 559 patients who were intimate with their psychotherapists, 90% said their therapy or their personal adjustment had been harmed, the article reported. According to the complaint, Hayter “dismissed the article, stating something to the effect that the article did not apply to them as he and L.H. were different.”

Al Korobkin, a supervising deputy attorney general in San Diego, noted that state law since the mid-1970s has prohibited doctors from having sexual relations with their patients. He said, however, that the situation was not uncommon and the medical board has charges pending against many therapists who had sexual liaisons with patients.

George Hayter