Glasgow noted that it sends a "very powerful message" that doctors should not be practicing "hocus pocus psychiatry."
The Illinois Department of Professional Regulationís case against Bennett Braun for his treatment of the Burgus family has been settled prior to the scheduled November hearings.
As discussed in previous issues (Vol. 6, #8, #9, #10; Vol. 7, #2, #6, & #7), the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (IDPR) filed a complaint against psychiatrist Bennett Braun, a leader in the repressed memory movement, and two of his colleagues. One of those colleagues, Elva Poznanski, had settled her case a few months ago.
Somewhat surprisingly, the IDPR has now accepted a settlement with Braun as well. This settlement prohibits Braun from practicing for two years, and then puts him on a minimum five-year probation period that forbids him from treating patients having multiple personality disorder. It also includes a $5000 fine and additional medical education.
When REALL last interviewed the lead prosecutor on this case, Thomas Glasgow, he said that he would only settle with Braun if such an agreement included the indefinite suspension of Braunís license to practice medicine. However, Glasgow has since left that position and gone into private practice. Tony Sanders, public information officer for the IDPR, said in a telephone interview that they looked at the long-term benefits of settling this case and decided this settlement was the way to go. Glasgow, also in a telephone interview, noted that the indefinite suspension would have required Braun to apply to get his license back, but otherwise is similar to the settlement that was reached.
In addition to losing his license for two years, the probationary period of at least five years has other ramifications. First, Sanders said that Braun will have to apply after that five years to be removed from probation. To do so, he will have to meet the requirements laid out for him, and it is by no means automatic. While on probation, he will be required to give a packet of the complaint, his response, and the final order to all prospective employers. He must submit quarterly reports to the IDPR, saying where he is practicing, what he is doing, and what he is treating his patients for. He will not be allowed to supervise any health professionals, including, for example, nurses. According to Sanders, "In effect, he is out of commission in Illinois." Who, after all, would want to hire a doctor who canít even supervise a nurse?
Another reason for accepting this settlement was outlined by the IDPR director to the Chicago Tribune, and essentially repeated by Sanders. If the IDPR had managed to get Braunís license revoked indefinitely, Braun would have had the option to appeal to the circuit court Ė which might have allowed Braun to practice for at least three more years while the case went through the court system.
When asked how this would affect his status if he wanted to move to another state, Sanders noted that all states belong to a Federation of State Medical Boards, and they are supposed to check for problems in other states whenever a doctor applies for a license. If he holds a license to practice already in another state (Sanders didnít think he did, but was unsure), that state will get a copy of the report. Sanders thought it unlikely that Braun would be able to pick up and move, especially given his notoriety.
Glasgow noted that this settlement does what it is supposed to do: it protects the citizens of the State of Illinois. Braun is losing his livelihood, and that sends a "very powerful message" that doctors should not be practicing "hocus pocus psychiatry." He added that there is not now, nor was there at the time of treatment, any scientific evidence that Braunís methods were accepted. He noted that doctors are supposed to be scientists, and Braun acted in an unacceptable manner. In fact, Glasgow said that it is his opinion that Braun "got a kick out of being the leader in the field."
While this settlement was not specifically approved by the Burgus family ahead of time, they were informed that a settlement was in the works. Burgus said, in a telephone interview, that she was satisfied with the outcome. He is 59 years old now, she noted, and wonít be able to practice without restrictions until heís at least 66 Ė retirement age. "Heís ruined his own life," she said. This also means neither she nor her family will have to testify in the case, but she said that was a small consideration, and they had been fully prepared to do so.
Burgus said there is also a pending ethics complaint against Braun with the Illinois Psychiatric Society. She testified at an ethics hearing this summer on her case.
While the cases against Braun and Poznanski have now been settled, one IDPR case related to the Burgus family remains Ė that against psychologist Roberta Sachs. Sanders said that her case is scheduled to go to hearing in January of next year.
Interestingly, Braun filed suit against his own insurance company this summer for allegedly settling the previous lawsuit against him without his consent. He also has claimed in this case that he only settled with the IDPR for monetary reasons Ė the cost of fighting the case Ė but claimed he could have proven he was in the right. He did not actually acknowledge wrongdoing as part of the settlement; he only admitted "that the Department could produce evidence of the facts alleged in the Departmentís case." And that is immediately followed by a statement saying, "The Respondent could produce evidence refuting the Departmentís charges but due to the Respondentís current plans and circumstances, the Respondent is seeking to resolve these matters without protracted litigation."
In other words, it seems he may have learned nothing and may still believe in the fantastic tales of huge satanic conspiracies that he elicited from Burgus and other patients. Burgus thinks he still believes in his conspiracies and his methods. Part of it, she thinks, is that he cannot admit to himself how much he hurt her and others; he has to maintain his stand to keep his belief system intact. There is something compelling about this description. Has the former patient diagnosed the doctor? Bennett Braun will have several years to ponder his beliefs and how they led him to where he is now.