Army psychiatrist accused of having sex with patient


WASHINGTON -- The Army is investigating allegations against a psychiatrist accused of having sexual relations with a female patient at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center between 1983 and 1985, an Army spokesman says.

On June 17, the Army ordered an investigation of charges that Dr. Rafael 'Pete' Rivera, a colonel, committed sodomy, 'indecent acts,' adultery and 'conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,' Army spokesman Lt. Col. John Ooley said last week.


The commanding general at Fort Belvoir, Va., will decide on the basis of the findings of the Article 32 investigation -- the equivalent of a grand jury inquiry -- whether to order a court martial of Rivera, Ooley said in response to a query from United Press International.

The charges, filed by Fort Belvoir's hospital commander, allege Rivera engaged in sex while serving as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed, the Army's leading medical center, and as command surgeon at the U.S. Southern Command in Panama, spokeswoman Marilu Trainor said.

The married woman patient has alleged that Rivera had intercourse and sodomy with her between July 1983 and March 1985 while treating her for depression in his Walter Reed office and in seeing her clandestinely at motels in the Washington area, a source familiar with the matter said.


The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits such conduct.

The source said the patient filed an administrative claim with the Army in February accusing Rivera of medical malpractice and seeking $1 million in damages for psychological and emotional injuries.

Rivera, asked last week for comment, said, 'I don't have anything to say at the moment.'

If the patient is not satisfied with the Army's response to her administrative claim or if the Army does not respond in six months, she is entitled to file suit.

Rivera, 51, who is married, has been the deputy commander for clinical services at DeWitt Army Community Hospital in suburban Washington since leaving Walter Reed in July 1985. He was detailed to work on a task force at Fort Detrick, Md. in late June, pending the outcome of the investigation.

A preliminary Army criminal investigation found 'circumstantial evidence corroborating allegations that Rivera had an unlawful, unsanctioned relationship with his patient,' said Maj. Gen. Lewis Mologne, the Walter Reed commander.

Mologne said he requested the criminal investigation in November after the patient's husband, an Army officer, complained to him about the relationship.

Rivera is at least the second Army psychiatrist in the last eight months to be charged with having had sexual relations with a patient.


The Army decided to release Dr. Robert Stein, a colonel, from active duty in November following allegations he engaged in sex with a married woman patient at Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, in 1984 and with two women patients while a civilian psychiatrist in Kansas in the 1970s.

Shortly after he was notified of his release, Stein committed suicide, a spokeswoman for the Army surgeon general's office said.

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