El Camino Hospital – Shocking Patients Since 1961!
San Jose Mercury News
Mountain View: Advocates for those molested by priests want psychiatrist out of El Camino Hospital
By Eric Kurhi
December 5, 2014
Victim advocates Friday called for the ouster of a psychiatrist and former priest who has practiced at El Camino Hospital for decades, citing accusations that he had molested two teenage girls years ago.
In 1988 Dr. Thomas Havel, now 77, was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl whom he had counseled before coming to El Camino, beginning when she was 13 years old. That lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds that too much time had elapsed — the woman was 34 when she came forward.
And according to personnel files of priests and nuns suspected of sexually abusing children while working for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Havel was accused in 2002 of molesting a girl between 1968 and 1973 while he was at a Pasadena parish. The files — which the Archdiocese released as part of a 2007 settlement that paid $660 million to more than 500 alleged victims — state that the Marianist Order settled that 2002 case and Havel petitioned to leave the priesthood in the late 1990s.
On Friday, Tim Lennon and Melanie Sakoda of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests went to the hospital to urge administrators to terminate Havel, file a complaint with the state medical board, and reach out to patients to let them know about the allegations.
The hospital issued a brief statement: “We are taking this matter seriously and assessing the situation carefully. Information about personnel matters remain confidential per California law.”
Havel did not respond to requests for comment through the hospital.
The action was prompted when SNAP was alerted to Havel’s continued presence at the hospital, where he has worked since 1980 and now serves as one of two electro-convulsive therapy specialists in the Behavioral Health Department.
“A concerned citizen who knew his background and had been watching saw where he was became very concerned that he still had access to vulnerable people,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP.
Lennon, who said he was himself molested by a priest in Iowa when he was 12 years old, said it’s important to have continued vigilance when suspected molesters are in the community even if they were never convicted of a crime, and that they’re alarmed by the length of time he’s been practicing at El Camino Hospital.
“There may be other victims out there,” Sakoda said, “and if there are, we hope they know they are not alone and that there are people out there who will believe them.”
Dorris said exposure of the allegations can inspire other victims to come forward.
“When the news of Jerry Sandusky broke, we heard from victims of coaches and victims of teachers,” she said, referring to the Pennsylvania State University coach accused of molesting players. “You feel safer to come forward when someone’s blazed the trail.”
SNAP would like to see the statute of limitations lengthened for survivors of childhood sexual abuse — “I didn’t remember for 30 years,” Lennon said — but just such a bill was vetoed in October by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“If there’s no ability criminally or civilly to step forward, most survivors will never step forward,” said Lennon. “And most child abuse is never reported. For those who do step forward, we try to honor them and hold someone accountable.”