State Board Renews Ethics Charge Against Newton Psychologist

Boston Globe/December 3, 1985
By Judy Foreman

A state licensing board has renewed a complaint of unethical conduct against a Newton psychologist four months after a previous charge against him was dismissed.

Meanwhile, the psychologist, Peter L. Gill, has gone to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to challenge the board's jurisdiction over him on the grounds that he resigned his state license voluntarily after the earlier case was dismissed, his attorney said yesterday. On Nov. 21, the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists issued a new "show cause" order against Gill charging him with "blurring professional boundaries by hiring (his) own patients" as therapists, giving patient-employees "inadequate supervision" and repeatedly breaching patient confidentiality. The board also alleged that Gill "offered harmful treatment" to his patients.

Gill has 21 days from receipt of the order to respond.

Gill's lawyer, Paul Gitlin, said he challenged the board's jurisdiction in an action filed about two weeks ago before the Supreme Judicial Court. He has asked the court to rule that Gill removed himself from the board's jurisdiction when Gill gave up his license in July. The board disputes that view.

Gill turned in his license on July 17 on the heels of a July 12 decision by an administrative magistrate holding that the earlier show cause order failed to substantiate with adequate detail the allegations against Gill.

Gitlin said Gill's "position is that the board does not have jurisdiction because he resigned his license in July 1985. There was no investigation pending because the matter had been dismissed. The facts are that the board, for a substantial period of time, maintained an action against him and dismissed it. Then he resigned. There was no action pending when Dr. Gill resigned."

When the board dismissed the earlier show cause order, it said it would continue its investigation of Gill until it could either write a better order or drop its case.

Board chairman Herbert Hoffman said in a telephone interview that "if indeed it were possible to resign in that fashion it would be a travesty on the disciplinary responsibilities of the boards of registration. Therefore, we certainly maintain jurisdiction, and I believe Supreme Judicial Court will not have a finding adverse to the board."

The complaints against Gill were initiated by a former patient, Wallace Ralston, now of Salem.

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