A Tampa psychologist under license suspension for having sex with a patient is now being sued by that patient, a Lakeland woman, for gross negligence, malpractice and other damages.
The woman’s complaint, filed last month in a Hillsborough County Circuit Court, accuses Daniel R. Lerom of causing a “complete mental collapse” that required her to be institutionalized.
Identified only by the initials HF, the Lakeland woman seeks damages in excess of $15,000. The suit names as co-defendant Plaza Therapy Associates, Inc., the
Tampa practice that employed Lerom.
A trial date has yet to be scheduled.
The complaint was filed just days after the state issued an emergency order to suspend Lerom’s license following an investigation into his affair with his former patient.
The investigation ensued after the woman first voiced her concerns to officials at Victory Church in Lakeland, where Lerom provided Thursday night counseling services. But he wasn’t employed or under contract with Victory.
The church provided him free space in which to offer his services, according to the Florida Department of Health and Victory Church.
When the woman complained to Victory about Lerom last year, the church stopped letting him do counseling there.
State investigators outlined the doctor-patient history dating to March 1995 when she was 23 years old and married. Lerom counseled the couple jointly, then, following their divorce, continued to treat the woman off and on until August 2008, when the sessions became more regular.
The woman had spine surgery that year, and the state accused Lerom of fostering a sexual relationship primarily so he could have access to the woman’s prescription pain medication.
In her lawsuit, the woman accuses Lerom of professional malpractice by ingesting her psychotropic drugs during their sexual encounters to enhance his pleasure.
The suit charges professional negligence for billing the woman’s insurance numerous times for so-called treatments immediately following Lerom’s sexual encounters.
On or about May 2009, an officer of Plaza Therapy Associates who knew of the misconduct implored Lerom to cease the relationship, the complaint said, which he did, causing the plaintiff’s mental collapse.
It’s a felony for a psychotherapist to commit sexual misconduct with a client or with a former client when the professional relationship ends primarily for the purpose of having sex. Consent from the patient isn’t a defense.