Counselor submitted false documents, witness testifies

Posted Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- A former Euless-based marriage counselor charged with the sexual assault of a client apparently submitted false malpractice insurance documents to her employer, the former client testified Thursday.

The man, along with his wife, sued their counselor, Sheila Loven, 47, and her employer, Kool Solutions Counseling, in 2010. The suit was settled for $275,000, of which the husband got $63,000, he testified.

Loven did not have insurance to cover the settlement, he told the jury.

"When she was hired at Kool Solutions, she was supposed to provide insurance," the husband said. "She provided paperwork to Kool Solutions showing she had insurance. Our attorneys called the insurance company and we found out that the papers were a fraud and she never had insurance through that company. So we were never able to collect any money from Sheila."

Loven, 47, is on trial this week in criminal court, accused of using her influence as a professional counselor to coerce the husband into having sex. At the time, she was also counseling the wife.

The maximum sentence on the sexual assault charge is 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Loven and the husband had sex for more than two months in summer 2009 before the husband and wife compared notes and realized that Loven had deceived them, according to testimony in the trial, which began Tuesday.

After the husband stopped seeing Loven, the couple complained to Arlington police that she was harassing them. They also filed complaints with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists and with Loven's supervisors.

According to Tarrant County district clerk records, on Dec. 3, 2010, the couple sued Loven; her employers, Dave and Tammy Koolbeck; and their company, Kool Solutions Counseling.

Lawsuit's allegations

The suit's statement of facts alleges that Loven failed to provide any beneficial counseling and instead plotted to destroy their marriage by seducing the husband.

The civil court record does not provide information about the settlement the husband referred to on the stand. And in criminal court Thursday, attorneys did not pursue his testimony about Loven's insurance situation.

Tammy Koolbeck testified Thursday about learning from the wife that Loven had had sex with the husband. Loven admitted it, and, Koolbeck said, she encouraged Loven to report the ethical lapse to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. The board looks more favorably on a counselor who "self-reports" than on one who waits for a complaint to be filed, Koolbeck said.

"Loven said she was not going to do that," Koolbeck testified. "She said, 'I know what I did was against the rules,' but she didn't think it was wrong. She said she didn't think that anyone else would report her."

Koolbeck testified that she was obligated to report Loven to the state board and canceled all of Loven's Kool Solutions appointments. She met with the husband and wife to get more information for her report and to get permission to use their names.

Loven surrendered her license April 25, 2010, according to the state board's website.

Psychologist testifies

There's always inequality between the patient and the counselor, testified Michael Gottlieb, a Dallas-based forensic psychologist. The counselor knows a great deal about the patient while the patient knows very little about the counselor, and it's structured that way to help the patient, Gottlieb said.

Loven harmed her patients by not maintaining the proper boundaries, Gottlieb testified. Also, Loven's records were inadequate, Gottlieb said.

"People don't like to think that others have power over them, but as professionals we do," Gottlieb said. "We have the power of expert knowledge; we have state licensing. People come to us who are suffering and they have an expectation that we will try to relieve that suffering. We are expected to place their interests ahead of our own.

"It appears to me that Ms. Loven certainly did take advantage of the situation."

The first time the husband visited Loven's apartment, in June 2009 the morning after a night of drinking and dancing at an Arlington nightclub, they kissed, which the husband said made him uneasy because he still wanted to be with his wife.

But his wife had rebuffed him, the husband said. He sent flowers, her favorite coffee and a muffin to her job to show her that he had been thinking about her. Her response was to tell him never to do that again, the husband testified.

Loven told him that his wife was through with him. He said he believed his marriage was over because Loven told him so.

Mark Scott, one of Loven's attorneys, asked the husband whether he knew he was going to have sex with Loven when he returned to her apartment days later.

"You went over to Sheila's house to have sex?" Scott asked.

The husband said: "That's pretty accurate. No one had shown me any attention like that in months."

Scott shot back that no one had shown the husband any attention in years.

The husband said his wife had starved him for attention and withdrawn her love, Scott pointed out.

The trial is scheduled to resume this afternoon in state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez's court.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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