Former Euless marriage counselor guilty of sexually assaulting client

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Shortly after convicting Sheila Loven, a former licensed counselor, of sexual assault for having an affair with a male client, jurors heard testimony Tuesday from a former female client that Loven had also sexually assaulted her.

The woman, 35, said Loven asked if she had kissed a girl before, and then kissed her. Days later, she said, she and Loven had sex in a car.

"Loven said it would make me feel better," the woman said. "Up to that point I had never had a homosexual relationship. I tried to think it through and it bothered me. I blamed myself. I thought it was me. It made me feel really dirty."

The guilty verdict Tuesday morning followed four days of testimony last week in 432nd State District Court about Loven's affair in summer 2009 with an Arlington man while he and his wife were her marriage counseling clients.

The sentencing phase began Tuesday afternoon. Loven, 47, could receive probation or a maximum of 20 years in prison and be fined up to a $10,000.

Called by Tarrant County prosecutors, the former female client testified that Loven became her best friend.

She said that Loven described their meeting as a "God-thing."

Later, she testified, Loven's employers called to tell her that Loven no longer worked at their office but would not tell her why.

On Oct. 23, 2009, she testified, her husband took her car and disappeared. She desperately wanted to speak with Loven, and reached the counselor on her cellphone. Loven drove to the woman's home to pick her up, the woman testified.

Loven was opening her own office, and therapy sessions resumed. The woman even started helping Loven around the office, helped her decorate and lent her money.

"I was in such a bad state of mind it was very comforting," the woman testified.

But later, Loven asked the woman to hide Loven's computer. Loven was worried because she had falsified liability insurance documents to get a job with a Euless-based counseling service, the woman told the jury.

She refused to hide the computer, she testified.

Then, Loven asked the woman to submit false insurance claims. Loven was to give her the insurance payout in exchange for helping at the office. The woman agreed to do that, she testified.

The woman acknowledged that she has been granted immunity from prosecution for the fraudulent insurance claims in exchange for her testimony against Loven.

None of the witnesses are being named because the Star-Telegram usually does not identify accusers in sexual assault cases.

Drug use alleged

The woman testified that she did not separate from Loven until April, and then because she grew tired of Loven's use of marijuana and cocaine. What upset the woman the most was that Loven smoked marijuana in front of her youngest daughter, she told the jury.

Loven told the woman's husband to buy marijuana and get her to smoke it because it would make her feel better. When her husband told her about the conversation, she thought Loven was joking, she said.

"I had to get away from it," the witness said. "So I moved out of state. I found a wonderful counselor who has helped me deal with this."

The woman said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders and has been hospitalized for those conditions more than 20 times.

Last week, the Arlington man whom Loven sexually assaulted testified that Loven frequently smoked marijuana in his presence.

Loven would "walk around the house nude, sit with me on the couch, often smoke marijuana and then we'd have sex," he testified.

'She got really drunk'

In other testimony Tuesday afternoon, a witness said that she went to Loven for treatment of alcohol abuse after she was charged with driving while intoxicated.

About a month after her therapy sessions ended, she agreed to drive Loven to the Cowboys nightclub in Arlington where other clients of Loven had gathered for drinks. Loven got so drunk that a bouncer had to be summoned to get her out of the women's restroom and to the car, the witness said.

"My respect for her dropped very dramatically," the witness said. "She got really drunk. I was irritated. I'm not a baby sitter, but I felt responsible for getting her home safely so I waited."

Loven surrendered her professional counselor's license on April 25, 2010, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors website showed.

According to testimony, Loven and her former employer, Kool Solutions Counseling of Euless, settled a civil lawsuit with the Arlington couple for $275,000.

Testimony is expected to resume this morning in state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez's court.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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