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Settlement lets psychologist continue to practice

"Former Oak Harbor psychologist Steve Talmadge has decided not to go before the state Examining Board of Psychology to defend against charges that he engaged in an improper sexual relationship with a client.Instead, Talmadge reached a settlement agreement with the board Oct. 11 that gives him some strict conditions to follow if he wants to continue practicing in the state.The state filed four charges against Talmadge Feb. 29, accusing him of unprofessional conduct, multiple relationships, sexual misconduct, and misconduct regarding the maintenance and retention of records.Under state law, it is unlawful for a mental health professional to have a sexual relationship with a patient within two years of any counseling or treatment.Two of his former clients have also filed lawsuits against Talmadge in connection with the same sexual misconduct case. In a professional misconduct suit filed July 9, 1999, Oak Harbor resident Lewis Wagoner states that he and his former wife went to see Talmadge together for marriage and mental help counseling in 1994. Wagoner claims that Talmadge had a secret affair with his wife while they were in counseling.Wagoner's ex-wife also filed a complaint for injuries and damages arising from healthcare provider negligence against Talmadge March 23.Under the agreement, Talmadge's license to practice psychology is suspended for four years, but the suspension is stayed as long as he complies with a series of conditions that include a $10,000 fine, therapy, a mentorship and continued education.According to the agreement, Talmadge must undergo treatment with a therapist who has expertise in treating mental health care professionals who have had sexual contact with patients, and also enter into a mentorship with a psychologist who has experience in recognizing and dealing with professional boundary issues. If Talmadge fails to follow the agreement, the board can take action against his license. "

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