By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A Keene psychologist has surrendered his license to practice mental health therapy in the wake of allegations he sexually assaulted and stalked a patient.
Dr. Burton G. Hollenbeck, 56, of Richmond has been indicted in Cheshire County on eight counts of felonious aggravated sexual assault, two counts of violating a protective order and one count of witness tampering.
Each sexual assault charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. Witness tampering, also a felony, is punishable by 3 1/2 to seven years in prison. Violating a protective order is a misdemeanor charge with a possible sentence of a year in jail.
Hollenbeck’s attorney, Cathy J. Green of Manchester, declined an interview request but released the following statement: “Dr. Hollenbeck will enter pleas of not guilty to all of these charges and is confident that when all of the facts are brought before the court, justice will prevail.”
Hollenbeck, who worked out of an office on Roxbury Street in Keene, hung up on a reporter when reached by phone Monday.
In late January, Hollenbeck agreed to quit practicing psychology in New Hampshire until the state Board of Mental Health Practice resolves the allegations of misconduct pending against him. Psychologists are barred by ethical code from having sex with current clients or former clients within two years of the termination of therapy.
The sexual assault indictments against Hollenbeck allege that he had sex with a 36-year-old patient eight times between March and October 2008. State law forbids doctors from having sex with current patients or former patients within a year of the termination of therapy. The patient’s identity in this case is being protected because The Sentinel does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The state Attorney General’s Office has appointed Hillsborough County Attorney Robert M. Walsh to prosecute the case. Walsh did not return messages seeking comment.
The alleged victim and her husband — they were married in 1995 and have two children — began seeing Hollenbeck for marriage counseling in mid-2006.
After learning that the wife had been abused when she was younger, Hollenbeck asked her to have one-on-one therapy sessions with him, according to separate lawsuits the wife and husband have filed against Hollenbeck.
They are seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for mental anguish, emotional distress, lost wages, legal fees and other damages, losses or expenses they say they suffered as a result of the alleged affair and Hollenbeck’s “wanton, malicious and oppressive” actions.
Shortly after the wife started her private sessions with Hollenbeck, the doctor bought her golf equipment, gold and pearl earrings, paid her auto insurance, gave her $200 toward a trip to Europe and paid $50 for her monthly phone bill between March and November 2008, according to the husband and his attorney, William Aivalikles of Nashua.
The wife and Hollenbeck became involved in a romantic relationship in February 2008, the husband states in his lawsuit. In October, Hollenbeck’s office manager blew the whistle on the alleged affair, but the wife and doctor denied the allegations, according to the lawsuit.
The husband states in court documents that he wrote a letter in support of Hollenbeck because he could not believe the doctor was having a romantic relationship with his wife.
But in early December, the wife came forward and admitted she was having an affair with Hollenbeck, her lawsuit states. She then ended the relationship, according to her lawsuit.
Her attorney, Paul M. DeCarolis of Nashua, declined to comment on the case.
“All I can say is we’re confident that the case will get before a civil jury in Cheshire County and the jury will issue the appropriate justice,” DeCarolis said.
Court documents indicate the wife is seeking at least $400,000 in compensation from Hollenbeck. Her husband wants $500,000.
Both lawsuits have been suspended until Hollenbeck’s criminal case concludes.
After the wife ended her romantic relationship with Hollenbeck, the doctor began stalking her, according to her lawsuit.
Claremont District Court Judge John J. Yazinski barred Hollenbeck from contacting the wife in a Dec. 22, 2008, restraining order. In her request for the restraining order, the wife writes that Hollenbeck followed her to a gas station on Dec. 3 and tried to block her car with his vehicle.
“I refused to tell him where I was going so he followed me all around Keene and a few miles out before giving up and turning around,” she wrote. “I fear for my life because I have reported him to the Board and I don’t know what he will do, how he will react and I have many phone messages for you to hear his temper.”
She writes that Hollenbeck won’t stop calling her and sending her text messages and that she’s seen him parked outside her house.
Four days after the incident at the gas station, Hollenbeck pulled the keys out of the ignition of the wife’s vehicle while she was trying to drive away from him during another confrontation, according to her statement in support of the restraining order.
Hollenbeck “told me I could have them back when I got to his office. Despite repeated (requests) to give them back he went to his office. As I entered he grabbed me and threw me on the couch. He threw me many times whenever I was able to get out of his grip. I told him, ‘No Burt No! Get off me!’ to no avail.”
Hollenbeck is accused of violating the restraining order by contacting the wife on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, 2008. During the latter conversation, he told her, “I can’t help you from prison,” according to the indictments. The alleged statement led to the witness tampering charge.
On Dec. 31, 2008, Hollenbeck was arrested for violating the restraining order. He posted $25,000 bail and was released from jail the next day. The restraining order remains active.