(CN) – A South Florida attorney claims in court that she was mentally and physically abused by a psychologist who induced her to become a Buddhist and buy the doctor lavish gifts under the guise it was all part of the therapy.
In a lawsuit filed in Broward County, the plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, says that when she met Dr. Roe Clarke, the psychologist held herself out as “skilled and ethical.”
Doe claims she started her therapy sessions with Clarke in July 2013 for a previously untreated trauma from childhood sexual and physical abuse.
“Defendant diagnosed plaintiff’s condition as generalized anxiety disorder and advised plaintiff to continue weekly psychological counseling sessions and then continue sessions as frequently as four times per week,” the complaint says.
Doe says her treatment sessions included both office visits and lengthy telephone calls to Clarke’s home.
Clarke says in September 2013, Clarke asked her to participate in the “Soka Gakkai International USA Inc.,” an organization of the Japanese Buddhist religion.
Doe says Clarke made her attend Buddhist meetings and events, obligated her to be convert to SGI Buddhism, and to be part of a ceremony where Clarke became her “shakubuku mother,” who had the role of “breaking and subduing” her.
“Therapy included acts intended to break down plaintiff including plaintiff having to get on her knees before Dr. Clarke, crawl and beg for the chance to speak, being pushed and kicked by Dr. Clarke, and having objects thrown at plaintiff, having to pick up papers, and other physical abuse,” the complaint says.
Doe says that Clarke began and ended each session with a long embrace, would asked her to rub her feet, to put her to bed three nights per week, and required her to watch her bathe and shave four times per week under the allegation that she was teaching her “normal female intimacy.”
She goes on to say Clarke also made her sleep over her house several times where she would ask her to strip down her clothes and show her body.
Doe alleges Clarke twice asked her to pay for vacations in Amelia Island, Florida, where she would also conduct therapy sessions, and made her share a bed with her every night.
According to the complaint, Clarke often made Doe wash her “soiled underwear by hand,” sweep pubic hair off the bathroom and go inside the bathroom stall with her.
Doe also says that one occasion Clarke grabbed her and dug her fingernails in her skin as a punishment for not mentioning information during a therapy session.
“Dr. Clarke covered the impropriety of her actions by claiming that she was trying to break down plaintiff’s ego to make her more vulnerable and humble,” the complaint says.
Doe says in December 2013, her husband also started psychotherapy with Clarke.
From that point on, she says, Clarke often made degrading comments about Doe in front of her husband, and insulted her by calling her “stupid, an imbecile, a moron, slow, a dumb blonde, lazy and a liar.”
Doe alleges that Dr. Clarke would often made her pay for medical supplies for her office, for personal appliances, her son’s airfare for a trip to Florida, clothes, jewelry and other personal expenses and even asked her for free legal services.
Over the course of the therapy sessions, Doe says that her emotional state deteriorated but Clarke comforted her and assured her that everything was part of the therapeutic process.
Does says Clarke terminated their therapist/patient relationship in January 2016, making Doe believe that she was the one to blame.
“Dr. Clarke manipulated and controlled plaintiff, preying on her vulnerability and hiding the impropriety of her conduct under the guise of legitimate therapy,” the complaint says.
Doe seeks compensatory damages on claims of professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision.
She is represented by Ronald Weil from Weil Quaranta PA in Miami, Florida.
Clarke did not respond to email and phone requests for comment on the litigation.