Clifton psychiatrist who allegedly had sex with bipolar patient agrees to suspend his practice
By JEAN RIMBACH
August 14, 2015
Dr. Theodore F. Jasper has signed a “cease and desist” order that calls for him to stop treating patients until Oct. 14, when the Board of Medical Examiners is scheduled to consider his case, a state spokesman said. The state Attorney General’s Office has said it is ultimately seeking a suspension or revocation of Jasper’s license.
The agreement takes effect at the end of business on Aug. 24. Until then, Jasper is barred from in-person contact with women patients and may communicate with them only to arrange for their continued care by telephone, email or fax.
The action comes amid heightened scrutiny of how the state handles cases of doctors accused of sexual misconduct. Recently, Steve C. Lee, the acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, spelled out initial plans for change and said, going forward, the state attorneys handling such cases will seek the “most aggressive penalty that is appropriate based on the evidence available.”
Lee is reviewing how the board responds to allegations of sexual misconduct following articles in The Record about a Teaneck dermatologist who continues to practice — but is barred from treating women — despite claims he groped a dozen patients.
The board, meanwhile, has extended another “cease and desist” order in place for a Fair Lawn cardiologist who is contesting allegations of fondling patients. Dr. John Strobeck, who was indicted in February on six counts of criminal sexual contact, has agreed not to treat patients until the board hears his case on Sept. 2. He has denied any inappropriate behavior, contending the “relevant conduct was professionally and ethically permissible and medically necessary,” the new interim order said.
Jasper, who faces no criminal charges, has denied having a sexual relationship with his patient. The state alleges he had repeated sexual encounters with the 35-year-old woman and, in an administrative complaint filed last month, asserts he “thought only of his own prurient interests with little or no regard for the damage that would be visited upon his already unstable patient.”
Neither Jasper nor his attorney, Svetlana Ros, returned calls. In a recent letter to the board, Ros said the doctor has acknowledged “the existence of a friendly, social relationship” with the woman but has “vehemently denied that the sexual activity described” by the patient “ever occurred.”
Ros wrote that Jasper “consistently rebuffed her advances” to initiate sexual activity.
Jasper’s case was scheduled to be heard by the board this week but was adjourned “to allow the parties time to discuss a global resolution to this matter,” the order said.
The administrative complaint filed with the board last month on behalf of acting Attorney General John Hoffman seeks a temporary license suspension pending a full disciplinary hearing on the matter. It indicated that, in addition to either suspending or revoking Jasper’s license, the board is being asked to consider civil penalties and other costs.
Patient since 2004
According to the state complaint, the woman had been Jasper’s patient since 2004, and he was treating her with talk therapy and medications. The state asserts a physical affair developed in 2013 and when the patient attempted to end the relationship, he pursued her.
The two allegedly had intercourse in her apartment and his office about 30 times and oral sex on multiple occasions. They exchanged gifts, the complaint said, and he received topless and provocative photos from her that he kept in his private files.
Jasper told investigators they saw each other outside the office and developed “a very friendly relationship” in the fall of 2013, according to the complaint. He said their relationship changed that December and it consisted of “hugging, kissing, you know … we had some moments,” the complaint stated.
These encounters were in his office, her apartment and on a motorcycle ride to New York, the complaint said. Jasper said he would stop by her apartment before work for some “intimate hugging” and said the sessions were “a little romantic,” according to the complaint.
In papers filed with the board, Jasper challenged the characterization of his interview by a state investigator; he said medical records that were provided must be read in their full context. His lawyer termed his interaction with the patient “a far cry from the sexual exploitation” alleged.
Ros wrote that the case is based “upon hearsay statements” made by someone suffering from bipolar disorder, “a very serious mental illness that can affect perception and behavior” and there is “no reason to suppose” she “is telling the truth.” Ros said the majority of the evidence of “sexual contact” comes from the former patient’s handwritten, uncorroborated statement.
Ros accused the state of trying to bolster allegations by referencing gifts of modest value, even ascribing “improper motives” to a Christmas tree he provided after learning she and her son would not have one that year due to financial concerns.
She noted, too, that Jasper is not in any of the revealing photographs the patient sent and there is no evidence he asked for them. He kept them with the patient’s chart, she wrote, because they could have a bearing on her mental state.
The attorney also addressed a claim that the patient was prescribed the stimulant Adderall for weight loss in addition to other medications. The state alleges records don’t indicate the patient had a condition — such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder — that would be “appropriately treated” with the drug. The lawyer wrote the patient was given the drug for ADHD symptoms.