Denver area psychiatrist Howard Weiss has been indicted on 120 federal charges that include allegations he prescribed higher doses of psychiatric drugs without trying lower doses or alternative treatments first. At least one of his patients died of an overdose, according to the indictment, although he is not charged in that death.
He is also charged with prescribing addictive drugs to already-addicted patients and prescribing high doses of benzodiazepines to patients taking opioids, a combination of drugs that could prove fatal.
According to the Denver Post, the indictment alleges that Weiss prescribed pills — including amphetamines such as Adderall and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium — to patients at dosages that were too high and without exploring other avenues of treatment.
The indictment alleges that, in one three-month period, one patient was prescribed 9,000 Adderall pills, 480 pills of the muscle relaxant Soma and 480 Xanax tablets.
Weiss has a criminal history. According to the disciplinary document on the Dept of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) website, in 1995 Weiss was suspended from practice in the State of Virginia after conviction on federal charges involving filing false and fraudulent billing claims of in-patient psychiatric services. He served his sentence of probation and paid a fine and restitution, and his license was later reinstated in Virginia.
Weiss was granted a license to practice in Colorado in 2003. In 2019 he once again faced disciplinary action after the Colorado Medical Board reviewed information that Weiss “simultaneously prescribed multiple controlled substances in high doses to multiple patients” and “permitted patients to make determinations regarding their prescription medications despite clear evidence of abuse or misuse.” He was found by the Board to “pose an immediate risk to the public health, safety or welfare” of the citizens of Colorado. In an emergency action, his license was once again suspended.
If you are concerned about the psychiatric drugs prescribed to you or a loved one, discuss it with your doctor. You can also research psychiatric drug side effects here.
WARNING:Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
All human rights organizations set forth codes by which they align their purposes and activities. The Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights articulates the guiding principles and goals of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).
In 2017, Dr. Dainius Pūras, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, called for a revolution in mental health care around the world to “end decades of neglect, abuse and violence,” and stating
“There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist.”
Human rights include the right to one’s own mind, and to protect oneself and one’s loved ones against any abusive or harmful “treatments” given under the guise of mental health.
Every man, woman and child is entitled to the fundamental human rights set forth in this Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of race, political ideology, religious, cultural or social beliefs.
Given the fact that virtually no human or civil rights specifically protects citizens from mental health abuses, it is vital that the following rights be recognized and that all countries adopt this Declaration.
A. The right to full informed consent, including:
1. The scientific/medical test confirming any alleged diagnoses of psychiatric disorder and the right to refute any psychiatric diagnoses of mental “illness” that cannot be medically confirmed.
2. Full disclosure of all documented risks of any proposed drug or mental “treatment.”
3. The right to be informed of all available medical treatments which do not involve the administration of a psychiatric drug or treatment.
4. The right to refuse psychiatric drugs documented by international drug regulatory agencies to be harmful and potentially lethal.
5. The right to refuse to undergo electroshock or psycho-surgery.
B. No person shall be forced to undergo any psychiatric or psychological treatment against his or her will.
C. No person, man, woman or child, may be denied his or her personal liberty by reason of mental illness, without a fair jury trial by laymen and with proper legal representation.
D. No person shall be admitted to or held in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility because of their political, religious or cultural or social beliefs and practices.
E. Any patient has:
1. The right to be treated with dignity as a human being.
2. The right to hospital amenities without distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, social origin or status by right of birth or property.
3. The right to have a thorough, physical and clinical examination by a competent registered general practitioner of one’s choice, to ensure that one’s mental condition is not caused by any undetected and untreated physical illness, injury or defect, and the right to seek a second medical opinion of one’s choice.
4. The right to fully equipped medical facilities and appropriately trained medical staff in hospitals, so that competent physical, clinical examinations can be performed.
5. The right to choose the kind or type of therapy to be employed, and the right to discuss this with a general practitioner, healer or minister of one’s choice.
6. The right to have all the side effects of any offered treatment made clear and understandable to the patient, in written form and in the patient’s native language.
7. The right to accept or refuse treatment but in particular, the right to refuse sterilization, electroshock treatment, insulin shock, lobotomy (or any other psychosurgical brain operation), aversion therapy, narcotherapy, deep sleep therapy and any drugs producing unwanted side effects.
8. The right to make official complaints, without reprisal, to an independent board which is composed of non-psychiatric personnel, lawyers and lay people. Complaints may encompass any torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment received while under psychiatric care.
9. The right to have private counsel with a legal advisor and to take legal action.
10. The right to discharge oneself at any time and to be discharged without restriction, having committed no offense.
11. The right to manage one’s own property and affairs with a legal advisor, if necessary, or if deemed incompetent by a court of law, to have a State appointed executor to manage such until one is adjudicated competent. Such executor is accountable to the patient’s next of kin, or legal advisor or guardian.
12. The right to see and possess one’s hospital records and to take legal action with regard to any false information contained therein which may be damaging to one’s reputation.
13. The right to take criminal action, with the full assistance of law enforcement agents, against any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff for any abuse, false imprisonment, assault from treatment, sexual abuse or rape, or any violation of mental health or other law. And the right to a mental health law that does not indemnify or modify the penalties for criminal, abusive or negligent treatment of patients committed by any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff.
14. The right to sue psychiatrists, their associations and colleges, the institution, or staff for unlawful detention, false reports, or damaging treatment.
15. The right to work or to refuse to work, and the right to receive just compensation on a pay-scale comparable to union or state/national wages for similar work, for any work performed while hospitalized.
16. The right to education or training so as to enable one better to earn a living when discharged, the right of choice over what kind of education or training is received.
17. The right to receive visitors and a minister of one’s own faith.
18. The right to make and receive telephone calls and the right to privacy with regard to all personal correspondence to and from anyone.
19. The right to freely associate or not with any group or person in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility.
20. The right to a safe environment without having in the environment, persons placed there for criminal reasons.
21. The right to be with others of one’s own age group.
22. The right to wear personal clothing, to have personal effects and to have a secure place in which to keep them.
23. The right to daily physical exercise in the open.
24. The right to a proper diet and nutrition and to three meals a day.
25. The right to hygienic conditions and non-overcrowded facilities, and to sufficient, undisturbed leisure and rest.
With studies showing that an average of 6% to 10% of psychiatrists and psychologists sexually abuse their patients, including children young as 3 years old, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is encouraging victims of sexual abuse by mental health practitioners to contact us and speak out about it.
The observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April would not be complete without a cautionary look at how common it is for psychiatric practitioners to have sexual contact with patients, often under the guise of therapy.
The sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, one U.S. law firm stated. 
Psychiatrists themselves indicate that 65% of their new patients tell them that they have been sexually abused by previous psychiatrists. Sexual assault or rape is not just limited to females. Men are also victims of therapist sexual abuse or rape. And so are children. 
Data from national studies suggest one of every 20 sexual incidents between psychotherapists and their patients involved minors – the average age was 12 for boys, 7 for girls. 
Psychiatrists who sexually abuse patients are often serial abusers, with some surveys noting over 50% of male therapists reporting sexual involvement with more than one patient. 
Clinicians have compared psychotherapist-patient sexual involvement to rape, child molestation, and incest, putting victims at increased risk of suicide, according to the study, “Psychotherapists’ Sexual Relationships with Their Patients” in Annals of Health Law. 
Sexual assault victims commonly struggle with emotional repercussions such as: Feelings of no self-worth, denial, crying spells, paranoia, helplessness, loneliness, shame, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, numbness, withdrawal, depression, fear of relationships and intimacy, and more. 
The findings of a national study of 958 patients sexually abused by their therapist suggested that 90% were harmed and of those, only 17% recovered. About 14% of those who had been sexually involved with a therapist attempted suicide. 
Women are the usual targets of sexual assault, but men and children of both sexes have been attacked in the name of therapy.
A person seeking help is already in a fragile state and may already feel victimized by their situation. To add a sexual attack is heartless, cruel, and blatantly wrong no matter how these activities are justified.
The prevalence of such behavior has prompted laws in some states prohibiting any sexual contact between practitioner and patient. CCHR has long pushed for uniform state laws prohibiting mental health practitioners from engaging in sexual relations of any sort with a patient, making it not only a gross violation of medical ethics, but also illegal.
Colorado is one of the several states that specifies that “consent” is not a valid defense. The state takes the position that the psychiatrist is in a position of overpowering influence and trust. Therefore, a patient cannot consent to sexual relations with a therapist and ANY sexual contact is considered a “boundary violation” and is illegal, even if initiated by the patient.
A report in Annals of Health Law said that when sexual contact occurs in a psychotherapeutic setting, it is not unusual for the patient to have been persuaded that it was a necessary and integral part of the therapy itself. 
In a therapeutic setting, such relationships by and large involve male practitioners assuming domineering roles to bring usually much younger female patients under their sway. Done under the guise of therapy or love and never to the patient’s benefit, a complaining or protesting patient need no longer be blamed for the seduction, experience shame and regret or be coerced into silence.
With the #MeToo movement shining an unprecedented spotlight on this complex societal issue, it is time to uncover the perpetrators of sexual abuse and bring them to justice.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual contact by a mental health worker, we want to talk to you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
 Doctor Sexual Assault Cases: Capable Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Fight for Justice,” https://www.beasleyfirm.com/medical-malpractice/doctor-sexual-assault/; Kenneth S. Pope, “Therapist-Patient Sex as Sex Abuse: Six Scientific, Professional, and Practical Dilemmas in Addressing Victimization and Rehabilitation,” https://kspope.com/sexiss/therapy1.php
 Clifton Perry, Joan Wallman Kuruc, “Psychotherapists’ Sexual Relationships with Their Patients,” Annals of Health Law, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 1993, https://lawecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.bing.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1356&context=annals
Two Colorado psychiatrists had their licenses put on five years’ probation by the Colorado Medical Board for unprofessional conduct under the state Medical Practice Act.
The disciplinary action taken against psychiatrist Thomas William Starkey, Jr., of Denver, is the result of his violation of an earlier agreement with the Board. After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, Starkey signed a July 2019 agreement with the Board to stop performing any act requiring a medical license, while the Board investigated and determined what further actions, if any, were warranted.
The Board then found that between July and October 2019, Starkey authorized his office staff to continue distributing pre-written prescriptions for medications to patients, in violation of his agreement with the Board.
In its Final Agency Order, dated January 27, the Board states that Starkey has a physical or mental condition that renders him “unable to perform a medical service with reasonable skill and with safety to patients in the absence of treatment monitoring” and that he “habitually or excessively used or abused alcohol, a habit-forming drug, or a controlled substance.”
In addition to five years’ probation, the Board ordered Starkey’s abstinence from addictive substances, treatment as determined by the Colorado Physician Health Program, and compliance monitoring.
Starkey was previously disciplined with five years’ license probation in October 2010, after the Medical Board found that he crossed the boundaries of professional conduct with a female patient the same day he terminated treatment of her. He completed that probation in 2015.
Psychiatrist Andi Kristine Woodbury, of Pueblo, was disciplined by the Medical Board, effective January 8, with a Letter of Admonition and five years’ license probation and treatment monitoring for violating a section of the Medical Practice Act concerned with failing to notify the Board of certain physical or mental conditions, or failing to practice within the limitations of those conditions with safety to patients, or failing to comply with limitations agreed to under any confidential agreement.
Woodbury’s specific act or omission that prompted the Board’s disciplinary action was not further detailed, but it follows the March 2020 voluntary surrender of her clinical privileges during an investigation of her professional competence and conduct at the medical facility at which she worked and a July 2020 evaluation by the Colorado Physician Health Program, which concluded she could practice safely if she received treatment and monitoring.
A Boulder psychiatrist accused of overdrugging female inmates at the correctional facility where he worked – in some cases causing them to become delirious – has permanently surrendered his license to practice, under an agreement reached with the Colorado Medical Board.
According to Board documents, Charles F. Clark started patients on multiple psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs simultaneously, prescribed initial dosages in excess of the recommended starting dosages, and rapidly increased the dosages of multiple drugs simultaneously. He reportedly ignored potentially dangerous drug interactions and reports from staff at the facility that inmates were experiencing adverse side effects and were even delirious.
Clark allegedly also prescribed psychotropic drugs that were not justified and were sometimes contraindicated by information documented in the inmates’ medical records, as well as restarted inmates on psychotropic drugs that had been stopped by other providers.
Such actions constitute unprofessional conduct as defined in the Colorado Medical Practice Act.
Then in a Board order dated July 20, Clark waived his right to a formal hearing and agreed to permanently surrender his license to practice in the state of Colorado.
If you or someone you know has been overdrugged or otherwise harmed by treatment from a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
A Denver psychiatrist who continued to practice after his license expired in 2015 and then failed to respond to an official complaint against him violated the Colorado Medical Practice Act and has been disciplined with the loss of his license.
The Colorado Medical Board received a complaint that Gordon L. Neligh III violated state law by practicing psychiatry and prescribing Ritalin, a controlled substance, without a valid license, according to documents recently posted online by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
The Board turned the matter over to an administrative law judge who, under Colorado law, can take evidence and make findings for the Board.
Neligh was notified of the legal proceedings, but failed to respond to the complaint and failed to appear at the proceedings. By default, he is deemed to have admitted the allegations.
The administrative law judge found that Neligh engaged in unprofessional conduct by practicing with an expired license and by failing to respond in an honest, materially responsive, and timely manner to the complaint against him.
The judge recommended that Neligh’s license be revoked. The Medical Board adopted the decision, effective June 15.
Online records indicate Neligh was in private practice with offices in Denver and Westminster.
If you or someone you know has experienced unprofessional conduct from a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
An Erie psychiatrist specializing in addiction psychiatry has been put on indefinite probation by the Colorado Medical Board after admitting he wrongly prescribed controlled substances to a female patient, failed to maintain proper records of his prescribing and treatment of her, and engaged in a romantic relationship with her.
Halbert B. Miller was publicly disciplined by the Medical Board with indefinite probation effective March 16, a letter of admonition, and orders to complete a professional boundaries course and a prescribing course in response to his actions, which are unprofessional conduct under Colorado law.
Boundary violations occur when doctors use their position of trust and authority for their own pleasure or benefit (or the benefit of others). Psychiatrists account for the largest percentage of doctors with boundary violations. One in three physicians who were disciplined for inappropriate personal contact with patients were psychiatrists.
Miller, who is also licensed in North Dakota, had been disciplined by that state’s medical board for the same misconduct, which it termed “unprofessional, unethical and/or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public.”
Miller was previously disciplined by the Colorado and Massachusetts Medical Boards.
After failing to renew his Massachusetts license in 2013, Miller continued to practice psychiatry without a license. He also fraudulently claimed in his license renewal application that he was Board-certified in addiction psychiatry, but the certification had expired in 2008. In 2014, the Massachusetts Medical Board publicly reprimanded Miller and fined him $2,500 for this misconduct.
Following the actions taken by the Massachusetts Board, the Colorado Medical Board sent a letter of admonition to Miller in 2015, stating that his actions were also unprofessional conduct under Colorado law and warning him that any similar conduct in the future could lead to formal disciplinary action against his Colorado license.
Miller currently lists addiction psychiatry as his specialty in his online profile.
The Colorado Medical Board monthly disciplinary action summary lists Miller’s address as Erie, while the Department of Regulatory Agencies license lookup lists it as Lafayette. Online search results indicate he practiced in Boulder.
If you or someone you know is the victim of inappropriate behavior by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
A Cody psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment is facing a charge of felony aggravated assault with a vehicle for a head-on collision allegedly caused by his inhaling an intoxicating substance while driving.
Matthew V. Hopkins allegedly inhaled chemical fumes from a cleaning product while driving, passed out and crashed head-on into another vehicle. The passenger in the other vehicle was hospitalized.
In addition to the felony charge, Hopkins is charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a toxic substance.
Hopkins is also facing a prior charge of driving under the influence, after allegedly hitting a parked vehicle while drunk five months earlier. Other charges in that incident include having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and leaving the scene of a crash.
Hopkins is a psychiatrist in private practice in Cody. His listing in the Wyoming Medical Board physician directory shows addiction psychiatry as one of his specialties. His website for his practice highlights his experience in addiction psychiatry.
Hopkins’ history of substance abuse goes back more than a decade. His medical license was suspended in New Hampshire in 2003 for an alcohol problem and for writing fake prescriptions for Adderall for himself. He entered a recovery program.
After moving to Wyoming, he agreed in 2009 to continue in a similar program. Two findings of noncompliance in 2011 led, first, to a stayed six-month suspension of his license in July that year, and then a six-month suspension that November, according to data on the Wyoming Medical Board’s disciplinary action list. In 2015, the Medical Board granted Hopkins’ petition to remove all restrictions and conditions related to his medical license.
If you know of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker with a substance abuse problem, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
A Denver psychiatrist has been disciplined by the state licensing board for unprofessional conduct with a patient who became sexually fixated on him during treatment.
Steve Sarche failed to terminate his doctor-patient relationship with a patient who developed erotomania during treatment that lasted from approximately November 2008 through July 2012, according to a Colorado Medical Board public document posted online.
Erotomania is defined as excessive sexual desire, or the delusional belief that one is the object of another person’s love or sexual desire.
The Medical Board also found that Sarche crossed professional boundaries by seeing the patient outside of his office, and by continuing to communicate with the patient after the professional relationship was finally terminated.
The Board found that the behavior was unprofessional conduct under state law and issued an order, effective February 27, under which Sarche agreed to a disciplinary letter from the Board, indefinite probation, and completing an ethics program and professional boundaries course.
Psychiatrists account for the largest percentage of doctors with boundary violations, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. Boundary violations occur when doctors use their position of trust and authority for their own pleasure or benefit (or the benefit of others).
Similarly, a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that one in three physicians (34%) who were disciplined at least partly because of their inappropriate personal contact with patients were psychiatrists.
If a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker has acted improperly with you or someone you know, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
A Denver District Court judge decided against reinstating the medical licenses of a psychiatrist and three other physicians who allegedly authorized the possession of an excessively high number of marijuana plants for hundreds of individuals without medical necessity.
In his August 12 decision, the judge said he did not have the jurisdiction to make a ruling because the case had not yet been reviewed in an administrative proceeding.
The Colorado Medical Board had summarily suspended the licenses of the four doctors, effective July 19.
One of the four, Deborah Kaye Parr of Durango, practiced as a psychiatrist providing addiction treatment.
The Board’s order of suspension for Parr stated that from January 1 to May 25, 2016, she signed more than 300 medical marijuana certifications authorizing individuals who did not have a diagnosis of cancer to possess 75 or more marijuana plants.
The standard number of plants a medical marijuana patient can grow is six, with a medical justification needed for more plants.
All four of the doctors with suspended licenses sued the state, claiming that there is no law or Medical Board rule prohibiting doctors from authorizing large plant counts.
The Medical Board maintained that it has the authority to determine whether a doctor’s treatment of patients is standard medical practice.
The Board found that authorizing more than 75 marijuana plants without a diagnosis of cancer falls “below generally accepted standard of medical practice and lacks medical necessity” and is, therefore, a violation of the Medical Practice Act in Colorado law.
Parr previously disciplined in Texas for controlled substances prescribing
Parr was previously disciplined by the Texas Medical Board, where she was licensed from 1998 to 2012, for her prescribing of controlled substances to two patients with a history of substance abuse.
According to the Texas Board, Parr prescribed increasing doses of a controlled substance without a documented rationale for one patient, and substituted opiates instead of trying to wean the other patient off Vicodin.
The Board found that Parr harmed the patients, that “the harm was severe and contributed to [their] addiction,” and that her actions constituted “increased potential of harm to the public.” Parr’s failure to appear at a settlement conference was cited as an additional aggravating factor in determining the disciplinary action taken.
On June 4, 2010, the Texas Medical Board and Parr entered into an agreed order that publicly reprimanded her, fined her $10,000, and required her to complete educational courses.
The Colorado Medical Board followed the Texas Board’s action by sending Parr a letter of admonition in November 2010, warning her that “any repetition of such practice may lead to the commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings against your license to practice medicine” in Colorado.
Sara Carver, director of clinical operations for Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment Services, expressed concern about Parr’s history of prescribing opiate-based drugs to patients with a history of substance abuse, according to the Durango Herald.
“We…fear that her questionable prescribing practices spill over into her prescribing practices in addiction treatment as well,” Carver said.