Pacific Daily News
Investigation of former GovGuam psychiatrist stalled
By Jerick Sablan
January 18, 2020
The investigation of a former government of Guam psychiatrist accused of sexual misconduct with
patients is stalled because no one on island will take on the case.
The Guam Board of Medical Examiners met Wednesday to discuss the ongoing investigation into Dr. Abner Pasatiempo, who worked at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center until he resigned in December 2019.
Chairman Dr. Nathaniel Berg said the board doesn’t have anybody to work on the case after other psychiatrists on the island declined.
The board is looking for a psychiatrist, especially one who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction, to investigate Pasatiempo’s case.
The board reopened an investigation into Pasatiempo after he reapplied for his license to practice on Guam last year.
Pasatiempo resigned from the Behavioral Health in December 2019 after being accused of sexual misconduct involving six female patients. A seventh patient filed a complaint against him in January 2020.
Pasatiempo resigned from his job and declined to renew his license after the first six complaints were filed. The board said it couldn’t proceed with the investigation because it had no jurisdiction over the psychiatrist.
Because he left with an investigation pending, Pasatiempo was flagged in the National Practitioner Data Bank, which has affected his job prospects.
The data bank is a national clearinghouse of adverse actions, investigations and complaints involving health professionals. While not accessible to the general public, it “is a workforce tool that prevents practitioners from moving state to state without disclosure or discovery of previous damaging performance,” according to the data bank website.
Pasatiempo has had troubles in the past.
He was disciplined in the state of Maryland, where his license was suspended after he had a sexual relationship with a patient. Eventually, his license was restored and all restrictions were lifted. The Guam board decided to grant Pasatiempo a license here.
Although the board knew of the past problems, the board agreed there was a great need at Behavioral Health for a doctor who specialized in addiction treatment and approved his application. He was hired in 2018 and worked at Behavioral Health until December 2019.
Off-island help needed
During the November board meeting, Berg said he found a psychiatrist on Guam who would be willing, at no cost, to review the case. The psychiatrist had experience with alcohol and drug addiction, he added.
Pasatiempo’s attorney, Curtis Van de veld, asked the board to have a psychiatrist with a specialty in drug and alcohol treatment to review his client’s case because it involves patients in drug treatment.
But since the November meeting, no one has taken on the case and now the board will need to find someone was off island. However, the board is unable to pay for a psychiatrist from off island and needs to work with the Guam Legislature to address the issue, Berg said.
Van de veld has said, in his opinion, a capable psychiatrist reviewing the complaints will see most have no merit. He said he believes one complaint has some basis for further investigation.
Van de veld has said his client is currently in Alaska and had a job opportunity, but Pasatiempo can’t proceed until the Guam board addresses the issue.