Make Sure State Agencies Do Their Job and Investigate Healers Who Harm

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Synopsis

We need your help in an important case against the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Psychologists for refusing to investigate Dr. Larry James, a high-level psychologist involved in torture at Guantanamo. A Louisiana district court has ruled that it could not review the Louisiana Board's decision, no matter how wrong it might have been, but we believe the courts must make the psychology board investigate grave abuses committed by its licensees. If you are a Louisiana resident, please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Wherever you are, please inform yourself and spread the word that many of the health professionals responsible for torture in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan still hold licenses to practice here at home. Despite growing concern among members of the public, licensing boards and professional associations across the country are turning a blind eye and refusing to enforce their own rules.

Description

The case: on May 12, 2010, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments in the case of Bond v. Louisiana Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Dr. Trudy Bond (a Toledo, Ohio-based psychologist) seeks to hold Dr. Larry James accountable for his involvement in torture. Dr. Larry James is a Louisiana-licensed psychologist and current Dean of Wright State University's School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, Ohio. A retired U.S. Army Colonel, Dr. James was the senior intelligence psychologist in Guantanamo Bay when it was both policy and practice to abuse prisoners.

In compliance with her ethical obligation to report abuse by fellow psychologists, Dr. Bond filed a complaint against Dr. James before the Louisiana Board, the agency that regulates his Louisiana psychology license. Dr. Bond alleged that Dr. James breached professional ethics by violating his duties to do no harm, to protect confidential information, and to obtain informed consent. She called on the Board to investigate and determine if action should be taken against Dr. James.

Despite having been presented with extensive evidence in a properly filed complaint, the Louisiana Board has refused to investigate Dr. James's conduct. And a Louisiana District Court ruled last summer that it could not review the Board's decision, no matter how wrong it might have been.

On May 12, attorneys argued that the court can and should review the Louisiana Board's clearly incorrect decision. The appeal court's ruling will have broad implications for all patients and health professionals in Louisiana: health professionals who harm abroad could also harm at home, and by failing to act, the professional community helps legitimize that harm. At stake in this case is an essential, widely recognized tool for making sure state agencies charged with protecting the public welfare do their job and investigate healers who harm. The First Circuit should preserve this critical tool of judicial review.

What Louisiana residents can do:

What everyone can do:

  • Spread the word!
    Surprisingly few people know that many of the health professionals responsible for torture in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan also hold licenses to practice in their own backyard. While some have returned to treat patients, licensing boards across the country turn a blind eye. One of the most important and effective actions you can take is becoming an educator in your own community.
  • Visit WhenHealersHarm.org to learn more.
    Download the materials available on the website and distribute them. If you are a health professional, raise this issue in your local professional association meetings.

It is time to hold accountable the healers who have harmed. Take action, and show those who tortured in our name that we refuse to be a torturing society any longer.