Celebrity Psychiatrist Faces Suits Alleging Sexual Misconduct

Kerry Dooley Young

February 28, 2019

A celebrity psychiatrist is facing three lawsuits alleging inappropriate behavior with patients, including engaging in physical sexual misconduct and encouraging acts of submission.

Two of these suits were filed against Keith Ablow, MD, last week in the Superior Court for Essex County, Massachusetts. In these complaints, two women separately made charges similar to those in a suit filed in July. The women are named in the lawsuits, but Medscape Medical News is not identifying them because of the nature of the case.

Dr Keith Ablow

In all three cases, the women allege they were patients of Ablow. In addition to allegations of physical sexual misconduct, Ablow is alleged to have participated in acts causing physical trauma and to have encouraged submissive behaviors.

The three women in these cases are all represented by Clyde D. Bergstresser, a Boston attorney.

Bergstresser also had a fourth client who earlier sued Ablow in 2016, accusing Ablow of improper prescribing of medication for pain related to orthopedic injuries. Unlike the more recent complaints, this suit did not include charges of physical sexual misconduct.

Allegations Denied

Ablow's attorney, A. Bernard Guekguezian, told Medscape Medical News via email that his client "denies any and all allegations of improper behavior or substandard care in their entirety.

"Dr. Ablow has been a respected and highly regarded psychiatrist who has for decades helped countless patients," wrote Guekguezian, who is with the law firm of Adler, Cohen, Harvey, Wakeman and Guekguezian, LLP. "We look forward to a full evaluation of all evidence before a panel of objective and fair minded jurors."

As of Tuesday, the website for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine showed no records of past disciplinary actions against Ablow. The site also contains no record of him having made payments of malpractice claims.

Ablow graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1987 and interned in psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. His personal website says he meets with patients via Skype, as well as in person and by phone.

All four lawsuits handled by Bergstresser claim boundary violations by Ablow.

The suit filed in 2016 said Ablow frequently texted and emailed the plaintiff, "including messages about their personal lives and business pursuits." The plaintiff said she was a patient from mid-2012 to about mid-2014.

In this suit, the plaintiff claims that Ablow discussed, and eventually treated, the plaintiff's husband and son without first having met them. She also claims there was an exchanging of "gifts of significant value."

Sessions for Sex Talk?

The suit filed in 2018 alleges that Ablow rewarded sexual conversations with free therapy sessions. The plaintiff in this case said she was under Ablow's care from mid-2015 to approximately March 2016. She claims Ablow offered to help with her music career.

Last year Ablow told the Newburyport News that the woman who sued him was the subject of a no-trespassing order previously sent by his lawyer.

One plaintiff in the two lawsuits filed last week said she had been under the care of Ablow from late 2011 until February 2018. The other said she had been under his care from January 2015 until February 2018. Both of these women said in their lawsuits that Ablow encouraged them to cut ties with their families and move to Massachusetts to be near him.

All four lawsuits claim Ablow texted and emailed the plaintiffs during "all hours of the day." The three most recent ones also allege he made "numerous personal disclosures" about others, including his wife. Ablow is said to have made disclosures about his employees, children, and medical care. He also is said to have discussed other patients.

Recent news stories citing additional legal documents provided further details on the allegations. The Boston Globe and the Salem News reported that these women received ketamine (Ketalar, Par Pharmaceutical) as part of their treatment. The papers also said Ablow is accused of manipulating patients into degrading or sadomasochistic relations and asked one patient to get a tattoo in his honor.

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Bergstresser praised his clients' courage for coming forward. He also said former employees of Ablow have provided affidavits in support of the plaintiffs.

Ablow's Response

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) declined to comment on the case. However, the APA's commentary on ethics in practice clearly states that sexual behavior with patients is unethical.

Ablow himself responded publicly to the claims made in the last week's lawsuits.

"Categorically, completely deny the allegations lodged against me," Ablow tweeted. "I look forward to the court proceedings and will continue to offer excellent care to any patient in need of my help."

Ablow has also used his Twitter feed to repeatedly promote free ketamine consultations. His Twitter profile provides a link to his website, which describes Ablow as "an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author."

A former Fox News contributor, Ablow's books include The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, cowritten with conservative radio and television host Glenn Beck.

Ablow's work with Fox also includes a 2017 online opinion piece defending President Donald Trump against questions about the stability of his mental health.

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