Psychologist Still Unlicensed In Md. As Case Is Reviewed

September 19, 1990|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

A well-known Columbia psychologist remains without a license to practice in Maryland despite court arguments to block the revocation Tuesday.

Following nearly two hours of arguments, Circuit Judge J. Thomas Nissel said he would review the case, but gave no indication how soon he would rule. Attorney Jeffrey W. Thompson, representing psychologist Dennis M.

Harrison, said Harrison's patients would be harmed if he were not allowed to treat them while he appeals his case.

Harrison, 43, plans to fight the Sept. 10 revocation of his state license on the grounds that the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists violated his constitutional right to due process by conducting a hearing on the charges against him when Harrison was not present.

Thompson, Harrison's lawyer, said his client was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses and "tell his side of the story." Harrison could not attend the meeting because he was hospitalized with a pinched nerve, said Thompson.

But Assistant Attorney General Harry J. Matz, representing the psychology board, said the board went forward because Harrison had postponed three previously scheduled hearings. Matz said the board was not given adequate reason to postpone again, and first received evidence that Harrison had been hospitalized three months after the hearing.

In a 53-page decision, the state psychology board said it revoked Harrison's license due to unprofessional and unethical conduct dating to 1986. The decision described complaints from five former patients, who testified against Harrison at the May 1 administrative hearing.

The decision charged that Harrison turned treatment sessions over to a high school senior who was working as his assistant and asked a former patient to help him send a child into hiding. Harrison's critics have linked him with a national "underground" network used to send children who are believed to have been sexually or physically abused by a parent or guardian into hiding..

It also stated that Harrison lied about his credentials often, claiming he had a doctorate in psychology when his doctorate was actually in human development.

The Columbia resident, who has practiced psychology for the past 15 years, developed a national reputation for his involvement in child custody cases, particularly those involving allegations of sexual abuse. Among his cases was the highly publicized Washington custody battle over Hilary Foretich, daughter of Dr. Elizabeth Morgan and Dr. Eric Foretich.

Harrison did not attend Tuesday's hearing.

After the hearing, Thompson would not disclose Harrison's whereabouts.

He said Harrison was still acting as a consultant in a variety of cases, but he would not say what states.

Harrison still has patients in Maryland, Thompson said, but he did not know how many. He did not know if the patients' treatments had been suspended or turned over to another psychologist.

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