Woman Sues Therapist
Jericho Abuse Survivor Alleges Church Counselor Forced Her to Have Sex 'Therapy,' Made Her Pregnant

By Ann Givens and Alfonso A. Castillo
August 8, 2006

A Jericho woman filed a lawsuit against her one-time therapist yesterday, saying that he forced her to have sex with him many times during a five-year period - and then pay for each incident as a "therapy session."

The 39-year-old woman, who was not named to protect her privacy, was already a survivor of sexual abuse in 1998 when she sought counseling from Stephen Parrish. According to the suit, he claimed to be a psychologist affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Plainview.

Two years later, Parrish began forcing her to have sex, got her pregnant, then counseled her to have an abortion, the lawsuit says. In the end, Parish turned out not even to be a licensed psychologist, the lawsuit said.

"She was taking it because of her vulnerabilities," said Ken Mollins, of Melville, the woman's lawyer. "She was told that what he was doing was going to help her."

The woman said she'd spent $30,000 on treatment with him, according to Mollins.

Parrish vehemently denied the charges, but conceded that he made some mistakes.

"When you address an individual's personal needs, you have to do it in a way that is appropriate for them, and sometimes it's very, very difficult to know," he said. "I have no compunctions saying I made mistakes, and that's part of the reason I stopped treating her."

But he denied many of the specifics of the suit.

"I can assure you that I have never forced anybody to have sex at all, ever," he said, adding that he "never counseled anybody that they must have an abortion" and that he never represented himself as a clinical psychologist.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Nassau Supreme Court yesterday, seeks unspecified damages from both Parrish and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said she was not given enough time to research and respond to the charges.

But she said the church "always takes seriously any allegations that an individual has been abused, and it will not tolerate abuse by anyone affiliated with the church."

According to the lawsuit, there was no sexual contact between the woman and Parrish in her first two years of therapy, during which time the woman became a member of the church. Then in 2000, Parrish suggested they begin meeting at her home rather than at his church office, the lawsuit says. Soon, Parrish began forcing the woman to have sex, the lawsuit says. She could not remove herself from the relationship because of her history of abuse, the lawsuit said.

Parrish said he has been excommunicated from the church, but would not say why.

"The church has nothing to do with this in any way, shape or form," Parrish said.


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