COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - Two doctors, a minister and a disabled veteran sued the Ohio Board of Psychology, claiming it failed to act on their detailed complaint against a psychologist, an Army colonel who "was responsible for the abuse and exploitation of detainees as a senior psychologist at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, in violation of Ohio law and Board ethics rules." The plaintiffs seek writ of mandamus to compel the State Board to take "formal action" against Dr. Larry C. James, a board-licensed psychologist and Dean of Wright State University's School of Professional Psychology. James is not listed as a defendant. The plaintiffs say he worked at the Guantanamo prison in 2003 and in 2007-2008. At Guantanamo, James was an Army colonel who led the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, which included psychiatrists and psychologists who "played a role in the exploitation, abuse, and torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, subsequently misrepresented that experience, and improperly disclosed confidential patient information," according to the complaint.
Col. James was not a licensed Ohio psychologist at the time the conduct in question occurred, but the complaint argues that James was ineligible for licensure in the first place:
This complaint gathers publicly available evidence indicating that Dr. James’s conduct renderedhim ineligible for licensure at the time of his application to this Board and warrants revocation of his license today.
The specific accusations of misconduct are listed in the complaint,.
Dr. James denies the accusations and says that he was part of a team brought in to "reverse" the improper conduct of CIA psychologists.
A similar complaint against James was dismissed by the Louisiana Board.
My personal reaction is that torturing people or acting on behalf of the state to gather evidence against an accused are unacceptable conduct for a psychologist. I can't imagine using my training for such purposes. But in thinking further about this, psychologists evaluate job applicants while working on behalf of prospective employers. Our recommendations often go against the wishes of the examinees. One could argue that job applicants aren't patients and that disqualifying them for a job is really a favor. But the bottom line is that training and skills as a licensed psychologist are being employed first and foremost in the interests of a third party rather than the interests of the person being evaluated. That person could argue that they were in some sense harmed by an evaluation. Obviously any harm done in these situations pales in comparison to torture.
In any case, I don't think the complaint against James will go anywhere. Physicians who have participated in executions have not, so far as I know, had their state licenses revoked, despite what would seem to be conduct in violation of medical ethics codes. Similarly, I am not aware of any physicians who have suffered license revocation for administering involuntary blood tests to persons accused of driving under the influence. Apparently, when the state gets involved, the best interests of the patient/suspect/condemned don't matter.
There is much more I could say on this, but I'm short on time. Let's see what develops in the comments.