Judge Finds for Patient Who Was Sued by Therapists

February 16, 2000
By Michael P. Rellahan

Former Patient Publicly Criticized Controversial Treatment Methods A woman sued by her former therapists after she publicly criticized their controversial treatment methods is calling last week's ruling in her favor a victory for freedom of speech.

"They were attempting to violate my First Amendment rights," said Carol Diament of the leaders of Genesis Associates in Exton [PA], where she had sought counseling in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"I should have the freedom to speak out and warn other people of my experiences in counseling." The three therapists who run Genesis - Patricia Mansmann, Patricia Neuhausel and Kathleen Fitzgerald - had sued Diament in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, alleging that she had violated terms of a confidential settlement agreement all four had signed.

The settlement agreement ended a lawsuit filed by Diament against Genesis for medical malpractice. Among the allegations was that Diament was pressured by the therapists to have false memories of participating in satanic rituals and suffering abuse at the hands of her family.

The trio said that Diament violated the confidentiality agreement when she gave a television interview and held a discussion at a symposium on therapy, in which she described them as running a "cult" that "tears families apart," according to the complaint they filed in 1998. She did not, however, mention Genesis by name.

In an order signed Feb. 7, however, Philadelphia Judge Matthew D. Carrafiello, found against the Genesis therapists, ruling that there was no restriction in the settlement agreement that would even at a stretch have kept Diament from talking about her experiences, as long as she did not touch on the issue of her litigation against her therapists. "To restrict her right to freedom of speech for conduct that does not fall within the parameters of the confidentiality agreement would be improper," the judge wrote. For Diament, the suit against her was no mere nuisance but another example of how former patients of Genesis have been attacked by the therapists, who have come under fire from both patients and state agencies for their controversial treatment methods.

"For several years Genesis has been harassing their detractors or people who are outspoken against them through the legal system," said Diament, who now lives in Philadelphia, in an interview after Carrafiello's decision was released. "Many people have been sued by them, but the suits have all either been dismissed in court as baseless or Genesis has lost. I'm happy with the judge's decision."

"A telephone call to Cornelia Farrell Maggio, Genesis's longtime attorney, seeking comment on the decision went unreturned.The case has its roots in a suit Diament filed in 1996 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, seeking at least $60,000 in damages from Genesis for what she described as medical malpractice. She said that in her years in therapy with Genesis she was forced to give up contact with her children, who were 11 and 8 years old at the time, and cut off relations with her husband.

Diament said she was also encouraged and pressured by the therapists to have false memories of participating in satanic rituals and suffering abuse at the hands of her family. Her suit, like others that have been filed against Genesis, Mansmann and Neuhausel, also said they told her she would either go insane or die if she left their care.

The suit was settled in 1997 and included a confidentiality agreement. Afterwards, Diament began speaking about her experiences, both at a symposium on children and cults put on by the American Family Foundation, and in an interview with Channel 10 News. In both cases, she never specifically mentioned either Genesis or her therapists. In their complaint against Diament, the Genesis therapists said that they entered the settlement agreement in exchange for her promise to "cease and desist her ... statements and behavior" targeting them and their therapy practice.

According to Diament, Mansmann testified during the one-day non-jury trial that she never would have agreed to the settlement if she believed it would not require Diament to "shut up and go away." But in his ruling, the judge stated that the scope of the confidentiality agreement was limited to the terms and conditions of the settlement, including the amount being paid Diament by Genesis. "It does not prevent Diament from discussing her experiences receiving therapy or from offering her thoughts on the matter," Carrafiello said.


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