A former State College psychologist is being prosecuted after officials said he not only abused clients by disguising molestation as therapy, but billed their insurance companies for the sessions.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Wednesday the charges filed against Richard Scott Lenhart, 53, in Centre County Court for the abuse of two female patients, both survivors of prior sexual trauma, in his private practice between January 2008 and November 2011.
Allegedly, Lenhart conducted “touching therapy” with the women. Prosecutors said this included stroking, sexual contact and rubbing of genitals. That led to one count of aggravated indecent assault, one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one count of sexual assault, all felonies, and three counts of misdemeanor indecent assault.
More charges stem from the second part of the complaint. Kane’s office said that Lenhart submitted insurance claims for his treatment practices using a code that would indicate he was rendering proper psychology services and treatment.
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According to the criminal complaint, Lenhart submitted nearly 700 claims for more than $71,500, leading to two counts of insurance fraud, two counts of theft by deception and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, all felonies.
Lenhart was placed in Centre County Correctional Facility, unable to post a $250,000 bond after being arraigned in front of District Judge Tom Jordan.
The state Board of Psychology took formal disciplinary action against Lenhart, revoking his license in 2012 and filing formal disciplinary action in 2013, based on 111 counts of professional misconduct. He was ordered to pay $50,000 in penalties and $18,433 for the cost of the state board’s investigation.
Lenhart, who as recently as 2012 was also a lecturer at Penn State Altoona, appealed the penalties, according to court documents at the time, but the board upheld the punishment. He denied inappropriate sexual relations with the women under his care, though in a written response to the state’s charges, he admitted to engaging in sexual acts with one patient in his South Pugh Street office as part of her treatment.
The Pennsylvania Department of State at the time said Lenhart exploited the patients, “re-traumatizing them in his role as psychologist,” while engaging in a pattern of sexual grooming and repeated sexual misconduct.
The Attorney General’s Office Wednesday credited the State College police for their part in the investigation and stressed that the case remains active. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Special Agent Doug Hilyard at 717-787-0272.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, of the Office of Attorney General's Criminal Law Section, and Senior Deputy Attorney General Mark Bellavia, of the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section, are prosecuting the case.