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Goldberg v. Dep't of Professional Regulation

June 7, 2002


Appeal From The Circuit Court Of Cook County Honorable Sidney A. Jones, III Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Reid

This appeal flows from entry by the circuit court of Cook County of an order reversing the final administrative decision of the Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations (IDPR) to reprimand the medical license of Dr. Richard Goldberg.


On July 25, 1988, the IDPR filed a complaint against Dr. Goldberg, a psychiatrist licensed to practice in the State of Illinois. The complaint alleged that he committed acts of misconduct while treating Carolyn B. for an eating disorder and depression. The IDPR deemed these acts grounds for revocation of his medical license under sections 22(A)(4), (A)(5), and (A)(20) of the Medical Practice Act of 1987, (Medical Practice Act) (225 ILCS 60/22(A)(4), (A)(5), (A)(20) (West 1998)). The IDPR originally sought to have Dr. Goldberg's license revoked, suspended or otherwise disciplined. The complaint was answered by Dr. Goldberg on September 9, 1988.

An administrative hearing was convened on December 5, 1988. The IDPR called as witnesses Carolyn B., Dr. Goldberg as a hostile witness, IDPR Investigator Judith Johnson, and Dr. Judith Davis, as both an expert witness and a psychiatrist who treated Carolyn B. after Dr. Goldberg. At the end of these witnesses' testimony, the matter was stayed for approximately nine years while Dr. Goldberg sued Dr. Davis to turn over medical records in her possession. The litigation between Dr. Goldberg and Dr. Davis was appealed to this court and, ultimately, to the Illinois Supreme Court. The matter was remanded back to the circuit court for an in camera inspection of the records. After reviewing the records, the circuit court released them. On August 26, 1997, the hearing recommenced before a different hearing officer. Dr. Goldberg called six witnesses, including himself. Also testifying were character witnesses Dr. Edward Goldberg, Joyce Washington, Dr. Samuel Libert, and Dr. Peter Giovacchini. Dr. Edward Wolpert testified as an expert witness. Dr. Goldberg began treating Carolyn B in June 1987. At that time, he had been a licensed psychiatrist in the State of Illinois for approximately nine years. He diagnosed Carolyn B. with bulimia, borderline personality disorder and dental problems secondary to bulimia. He noted that her history contained some periods of indiscriminate sexual activity. According to Dr. Goldberg, Carolyn B. reported performing sexual favors for her previous psychiatrist in exchange for gifts or loans of money. During treatment she confessed a strong attachment to Dr. Goldberg. She also believed that he returned her feelings, which in her opinion were genuine.

During the treatment, Carolyn B. stated that Dr. Goldberg did not know what it was like to binge on food. Dr. Goldberg suggested that she show him. He claims the two arranged for him to be present at her apartment when she binged and subsequently purged. On October 16, 1987, Dr. Goldberg went to her apartment. He watched her eat quantities of ice cream, corn chips, and maple syrup. Then he watched her vomit.

Dr. Goldberg acknowledged that he had treated other patients with bulimia, but never went to their homes. He also testified that he did not watch any of his other bulimic patients eat or vomit as part of their treatment. He admitted there was another patient whose home he went to for a therapeutic session. He claimed he went to Carolyn B's house to observe her claimed numbness or altered state of being when she binged. He felt this might be indicative of a hypnoid or dissociative state, which he believed could not be properly observed any other way.

In a session on October 20, 1987, Carolyn B. told Dr. Goldberg that she would do anything he wanted for money and was very aroused when he hugged her. Carolyn B. claimed she could feel that he would get aroused during the hugs. He responded that he did not have sex with his patients. He also responded that this is why he did not like the idea of hugging his patients, in that it would ultimately be unsatisfying for her. Dr. Goldberg claims that Carolyn B.'s attraction for him became so intense that he had to turn her over to another therapist.

On the evening of October 22, 1987, Carolyn B. paged Dr. Goldberg while he was dining with colleagues. When he called her, she indicated that she was unhappy with the referrals and needed to see him right away. She claims she suggested meeting at his office, but that he did not want to do that. According to Carolyn B., Dr. Goldberg offered to meet in the lobby of her building to talk for a few minutes. When he arrived, he parked in a loading zone. Since the building would not allow him to remain parked there, Carolyn B. got into the car and they drove around looking for a place to park. They parked on a street within Lincoln Park, where they remained for 30 to 60 minutes.

Carolyn B. testified they talked about her consultations with the other doctors. She claims he told her that he was the doctor who could help her better than anyone else. Carolyn B. claims she protested that she was too attracted to him to be treated by him. She also claims she asked Dr. Goldberg if they could be just friends, at which time he leaned in and french-kissed her. Carolyn B. claims she told him she wanted to physically demonstrate her affection and desire for him. He declined, supposedly responding that he would be putting not only his career on the line but his life as well.

On October 23, 1987, Carolyn B. claims she and Dr. Goldberg went to one of his offices for sexual purposes. During this encounter, Carolyn B. claims they engaged in mutual acts of oral copulation. When they tried to have intercourse, she claims he lost his erection. Dr. Goldberg denies having sex with Carolyn B.

Judith Johnson testified that Dr. Goldberg characterized his visit to Carolyn B's home as a research project. Dr. Goldberg denied the existence of any research project related to what he was doing with Carolyn B. Johnson testified to her understanding of what took place in Carolyn B's apartment. Johnson claimed that Dr. Goldberg went to the patient's home, spoon-fed her ice cream and other food, then watched her vomit. Dr. Goldberg denied that he spoon-fed the ice cream, claiming he was there to observe her actions and mental state during a binge.

Dr. Judith Davis testified that, in her opinion, Carolyn B. had developed an erotic transference to Dr. Goldberg. Dr. Davis acknowledged that, when the wishes of patients with character disorders are not met, either because their expectations are unrealistic or the failure of the object of their affection to respond as they desire, they can experience massive feelings of rage. Dr. Davis also testified that, in her professional opinion, bulimia does not require a patient to eat and vomit in a therapist's presence. In all the time Dr. Davis treated Carolyn B., she never made her eat just to watch her vomit. Although Dr. Davis admitted that more seriously ill patients sometimes require home visits, she did not feel Carolyn B. was such a patient. Dr. Davis also testified that she saw no point in watching someone eat and vomit. Dr. Davis also testified that picking up a patient in the car and driving and parking with her is inappropriate and violated professional standards in so doing. On cross-examination, Dr. Davis confessed that she had limited experience in treating patients with disorders similar to Carolyn B. Dr. Davis admitted that she was only trained in the psychiatric modality of psychoanalysis. Her familiarity with eating disorders was also limited, as she admitted to reading a number of professional articles and "psychiatric updates." Cross-examination also got Dr. Davis to admit that she was basically not familiar with professional literature in the area of psychiatric home visits. While she was familiar with literature in the area of personality disorders and borderline mental states, Dr. Davis admitted to taking no post-graduate training in the area, other than her work at the Psychoanalytic Institute. Further cross-examination revealed that Dr. Davis never requested Dr. Goldberg's record of the treatment, instead relying exclusively on Carolyn B's version of events. Clearly, Dr. Davis believed Carolyn B.'s version of the events during her treatment by Dr. Goldberg.

Carolyn B. next testified that she and Dr. Goldberg had discussed his making a home visit. They also discussed her attraction for him which she found frustrating. At the time she made arrangements with Dr. Goldberg to come to her home, Carolyn B. testified she still had her feelings of attraction.

Dr. Wolpert next testified as an expert for Dr. Goldberg. He testified that the home visit was not unprofessional, though it was a dangerous thing to do. He also felt that Carolyn B. had "trapped" Dr. Goldberg into making the home visit.

Dr. Edward Goldberg next testified. He is not related to Dr. Richard Goldberg. He is the hospital administrator at two facilities who has become familiar with Dr. Goldberg's reputation. He testified he believes Dr. Goldberg has solid professionalism and responsiveness. Any feedback Dr. Edward Goldberg received about Dr. Goldberg was positive. Also testifying as positive ...

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