Saying the offense deserves a stiffer penalty, state licensing rejected a recommendation to place a social worker on probation for having a sexual relationship with a client.
Instead, David C. Brewer will have his clinical and certified social worker license suspended for two years, followed by the three-year probation, according to a final order issued by the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.But Brewer's attorney Bradley Rich said he will appeal by asking for administrative review of the order by someone outside the division. "Here we have a panel of experts listen to expert witnesses then some bureaucrat overrides the expert recommendation."
Division director David E. Robinson said the board's recommended three-year probation didn't reflect "the serious nature of (Brewer's) misconduct" or the harm done to the patient.
"Simply put, a therapist who offers professional counseling must diligently avoid any sexual relationship with any client," Robinson said in his order noting that similar cases have resulted in revoking a license.
"While revocation of (Brewer's) license may not be warranted under such circumstances, it is necessary that an appropriately severe sanction should enter."
Documents detailing the board's decision said that between 1982-84 Brewer regularly counseled a patient who had been sexually abused as a child.
Four months after therapy had been temporarily terminated, Brewer and the patient developed a personal friendship and sexual relationship, the board said. Later that same year, the patient and her son sought therapy from Brewer.
Although Brewer eventually stopped all contact with the patient, the order said, the relationship compounded the patient's problems and hampered therapy she sought from another counselor.
Brewer acknowledges his relationship with the patient was inappropriate, the order said.
This is not Brewer's first round with the division. Rich said that two years ago the state revoked Brewer's license over the same incident. It was appealed, and the Utah Court of Appeals ordered a new hearing after Robinson denied Brewer's request for administrative review.
The board said it wouldn't revoke Brewer's license if he stopped his private practice, sought therapy for himself and met other conditions during a three-year period.
Rich said board members were new and hadn't heard the case before and their decision was fair. "But then you have Robinson again making the final decision."
In the upcoming round of appeals, Rich said he will request someone other than Robinson look at the case. "I firmly believe we are in a position where he ought to step aside and have someone else take a new look at this."