Private records released Prosecutor gets mental health files

May 25, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

The Carroll state's attorney's office obtained the private mental health records of a man who says he is a suspect in the February shooting death of Westminster fisherman William C. Prodoehl by telling Springfield Hospital Center the records were being sought in a case of "abuse or neglect."

By characterizing the investigation that way, the prosecutor's office obtained the records without either a court order or the man's permission.

Roy Monroe Robertson, 44, of Westminster, learned of the release of his records yesterday, three days after he filed a lawsuit in Carroll Circuit Court in which he seeks to bar Springfield Hospital Center from giving the documents to prosecutors, his attorney said.

"I am shocked," the attorney, Judith S. Stainbrook, said yesterday. "I am truly shocked. There is nothing else I can say."

Thomas Faulk, a staff attorney at Springfield, said he authorized the release of Mr. Robertson's treatment records to the prosecutor in March because records sought in the investigation of abuse or neglect must be released under state law.

"Based on the way the request was worded, under Maryland law we had no choice," Mr. Faulk said.

Asked if he would have authorized the release of Mr. Robertson's records if he knew they were being sought in a murder investigation, he said, "No."

Carroll State's Attorney Thomas H. Hickman, whose name is signed to the records request with a stamp, did not return calls to his office, home or pager.

The Sun obtained a copy of the request from Ms. Stainbrook.

Attempts to reach Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch yesterday at his office and at home also were unsuccessful.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, the county's chief sexual abuse prosector, declined to comment on the matter. She said she isn't involved in the homicide investigation.

In his motion for an injunction barring the release of his mental health records, Mr. Robertson said the state "is conducting an investigation into the death of William Charles Prodoehl and has indicated to both Roy Monroe Robertson and to his attorney that Roy Monroe Robertson will be charged in connection with said death."

Mr. Prodoehl, 34, was found dead Feb. 18 along the Monocacy River in northwestern Carroll County. He had been shot several times in the head.

Mr. Robertson lived with Mr. Prodoehl and his wife, Gina Maria Catterton Prodoehl, and the couple's two young children.

Mr. Robertson and Mrs. Prodoehl found Mr. Prodoehl's body after they went to search for him when he failed to return from a fishing trip. The victim was found lying on his back in a clearing near the river in Harney.

No one has been charged in the slaying, and state police investigators yesterday declined to confirm Mr. Robertson as a suspect in their investigation.

On March 17, two days after the central records office at Springfield received Mr. Hickman's request for the medical records, Mr. Robertson filed for a protective order against the state's attorney's office.

The prosecutor's form-letter-style request asked for the records to be released to state police Tfc. John Wisniewski "ASAP" -- as soon as possible.

On April 27, Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. signed a court order directing Mr. Robertson to file a civil suit so the "merits of the request" could be considered.

Judge Beck's order said Mr. Robertson's request "appears to be reasonable and valid." The order calls for a hearing on the injunction request "within five days" of the filing of a lawsuit.

Ms. Stainbrook filed Mr. Robertson's civil suit against the state's attorney's office and Springfield Hospital Center on Friday.

Yesterday, she said she learned from Mr. Faulk that the records already had been released.

"I don't think there was any actual investigation into abuse or neglect," she said.

Mrs. Proedehl's attorney, Michael Kaminkow of Baltimore, said yesterday that he wasn't aware of any abuse investigation.

"I've known Gina Prodoehl since she was a little child, and I can't perceive any abuse in that family," Mr. Kaminkow said. "I've known that family for many, many years."

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