Pacific Daily News
AG investigating former Behavioral Health psychiatrist
By Jerick Sablan
February 8, 2020
The Office of Attorney General is conducting an investigation into allegations against Dr. Abner Pasatiempo, a former Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center psychiatrist, spokeswoman Carlina Charfauros said.
The AG’s office expects to conclude the investigation soon, she said.
Six complaints were filed against Pasatiempo in December, alleging inappropriate sexual conduct by patients. Behavioral Health Director Theresa Arriola said Pasatiempo was immediately suspended from his duties when she received the complaints.
The complaints also were submitted to the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, which is investigating Pasatiempo.
Pasatiempo’s resigned from Behavioral Health, and his medical license expired on Dec. 31, 2019. He didn’t renew his license.
Because he didn’t renew his license and is under investigation by the Guam board, a notice was placed on the National Practitioner Data Bank.
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 had previously been disciplined by the Maryland Board of Physicians after having a sexual relationship with a patient, according to records from that state. The Guam board knew about the discipline, but granted a license to Pasatiempo in April 2018 because of an extraordinary need at Behavioral Health.
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.
Documents from the Guam Board of Medical Examiners provide more details on how Pasatiempo was hired.
Pasatiempo, in an October 2017 letter, wrote that he spoke with the former Behavioral Health Director Rey Vega about job opportunities.Pasatiempo visited and met with Vega on Guam, and a position was then offered to him, he wrote.
Pending the result of his application with the Guam board, he would be working as a full-time employee for the government of Guam, he wrote, and he’d be responsible as a psychiatrist to provide services for the special population who suffers from addiction and mental illness.
Pasatiempo submitted an application for medical licensure in August 2017. The Guam Board of Medical Examiners granted a temporary license in January 2018.
Documents submitted to the board by Pasatiempo state he engaged in an emotional and sexual relationship with a psychiatric patient who was under his care in Maryland.
His actions caused her to suffer severe, painful and permanent psychiatric injuries, documents state.
Pasatiempo in an email to the Guam board admitted to the relationship.
“I was so remorseful and it was a humbling experience for what I’ve done, I had the opportunity to do lots of soul searching and reflections for myself,” he wrote.
Pasatiempo said the same patient sued him for malpractice and, per his attorney’s advice, he settled the suit out of court.
The Maryland board ordered 18 months of suspension from practicing in the state and Pasatiempo had to go through a psychiatric evaluation, a month of ethics classes and one-on-one professional mentoring from a colleague assigned by the board, he wrote in his email.
There was no psychiatric treatment recommended after the evaluation and he volunteered his time to share, with first-year psychiatry residents, the importance of understanding countertransference, Pasatiempo wrote. He also saw his mentor, a psychiatrist, once a week for 18 months, he wrote.
He completed the Maryland board’s requirements and was given a medical license on probation for five years and later given an unrestricted license in May 2013, Pasatiempo wrote.
‘Vigilant of myself’
Pasatiempo wrote he decided not to do private practice and got in a hospital setting treating male prisoners didn’t perform one-on-one psychotherapy to women.
“I have learned to be vigilant of myself, recognize my countertransference to patients, and learned from the dark experience I had,” he wrote.
In an April 2018 email to the board, Pasatiempo said he was given the responsibility to evaluate and treat individuals with psychiatric problems and drug abuse from the Department of Corrections. He also was involved in the inpatient care of patients admitted to Behavioral Health, he wrote.
He asked the board to give him permanent license status which they did the same month.