Jury Finds Psychiatrist Negligent In Pedophile Case

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The New York Times

October 9, 1998

A federal court jury in Bridgeport found a Manhattan psychiatrist partially responsible in a child molestation case that has received national attention because of its implications for doctor-patient confidentiality.

Dr. Douglas Ingram was found negligent for failing to warn anyone that a third-year resident undergoing psychoanalysis as part of psychiatric training had confessed to being a pedophile.

Four months after his confession, the resident, Joseph DeMasi, molested a ten-year-old boy at Danbury Hospital. The boy was being treated at Danbury for suicidal tendencies when the abuse occurred.

Despite the confession during his own psychoanalysis, DeMasi went on to become a child psychiatrist and assaulted two other boys.

Karen Koskoff, the attorney for the boy, now 22, charged that Dr. Ingram could have and should have ensured that the pedophile was not allowed to interact with children in a professional setting. She maintained that Dr. Ingram could have limited DeMasi's access to children or could have recommended to the medical board that he was unfit to be a doctor. Dr. Ingram could have had the resident 'suspended to deal with unspecified emotional problems'.

The case was complicated by the delicate issue of doctor/patient confidentiality, but the jury agreed with Koskoff's argument that Dr. Ingram could have taken steps that would not have publicly branded DeMasi a pedophile.

Koskoff dismissed Dr. Ingram's insistence that by taking any action he would lose his patient's trust.

An undisclosed settlement was reached after the trial, and Koskoff said she 'was pleased' with the amount.