Roque R. Gerald, who this week was named interim head of the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), admitted in a civil lawsuit that he had sex with a patient, whom the Virginia Supreme Court described as depressed and suicidal.
Alan Heymann, a spokesman for Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles, said late today that Nickles was aware of the lawsuit and believes the incident "did not appear disqualifying for the interim position."
Gerald, who replaced Sharlynn Bobo late Wednesday, did not reply to e-mails asking for comment.
The lawsuit stems from an incident in February 1989 when Gerald was employed as a licensed clinical psychologist for the Center Psychiatrists in Norfolk, Va.
While counseling a woman named Katrina Plummer, Gerald engaged in "an act of sexual intercourse" with his patient, according to a 1996 decision of the Virginia Supreme Court, which reversed a decision by the Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake that had dismissed her claims against the corporation.
Center Psychiatrists contended it was not responsible for damages because Gerald was not acting in his professional capacity but "solely for his own personal interests." The court disagreed. Gerald admitted in the lawsuit that he had sex with the patient.
Plummer suffered from depression, and her case history included "prior attempts at suicide," according to the decision.
Gerald is deputy director and director of clinical practice for CFSA. He has been with the agency since November of 2001, when he was brought on by then-director Olivia Golden to establish the office of clinical practice. Heymann did not know whether Gerald has been considered for a more permanent tenure atop CFSA, or if he disclosed the lawsuit to Golden as a candidate for his first job at the agency.
Gerald has held jobs with nine organizations other than CFSA and Center Psychiatrists, according to an e-mail from CFSA. He received a doctorate from the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology in 1987.