Lawsuit accuses SA therapist of sexually exploiting patient during two sessions

Therapist Justin Wolff avoids criminal charges in case

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter, Josh Saunders - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Bexar County district court in late 2018 accuses a San Antonio therapist of sexually exploiting a patient during two sessions in 2017.

The suit filed against Justin Wolff on Nov. 15 seeks up to $5 million in damages, according to a copy of the filing obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Wolff, who is a state-licensed professional counselor and chemical dependency counselor, did not respond to repeated emails from the Defenders requesting comment for this story.

Wolff abruptly closed his door on a KSAT 12 news crew when asked about the suit at his San Antonio-area home in December.

Court records show he was personally delivered a copy of the suit on Jan. 25.

**WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW**

"He said 'You're masochistic and you need a treatment that is not going to cause long-term damage,'" said the patient during an interview with the Defenders.

KSAT 12 has decided not to name her, citing the sensitivity of her case.

She said she began sessions with Wolff at his far northwest side office in the summer of 2017 after learning that he accepted Tricare and could provide treatment for her post-traumatic stress disorder.

The woman said after a few sessions that she said were ineffective, including Wolff's attempt to use eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, he told her they should try a different approach.

Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 21, 2017, the woman said Wolff told her near the end of a session, "I wanna grab your (expletive) and pull it till it hurts."

The lawsuit states that Wolff then got up, locked the main door of the office and then came back into the therapy room, closed the door behind him and proceeded to have forceful sexual contact with her in a "rough and overpowering" manner.

She said she did not go to police after the first incident because she felt she needed evidence that a sexual encounter had taken place for anything to be done to Wolff.

"This man has the power to make me look crazy. He could say that I'm making it up. He has a lot of power," the woman told KSAT.

She said she returned for another session on Aug. 31, 2017, but Wolff did not act inappropriately.

During their next session on Sept. 8, 2017, she says Wolff again had forceful sexual contact with her and then performed a sex act on himself.

Wolff resumed grabbing and slapping her, including her private areas. She described one incident as so forceful it felt like Wolff was performing a pelvic examination on her, the lawsuit states.

The session left the woman feeling "humiliated and frightened," according to the suit.

She said after the session ended she called her mother, who encouraged her to go to an emergency room and to report the incident.

San Antonio Police Department records show the woman filed a sexual assault complaint against Wolff on Sept. 8, 2017.

Details from the report match the lawsuit and the woman's recollection of her final session with Wolff.

Medical records provided to the Defenders indicate the primary impression of the physician who treated her was that she was a victim of sexual assault (rape).

SAPD officials, however, have declined to release a copy of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) report for the woman, claiming the information is protected from being released by common-law privacy laws.

Following a nine-month investigation by SAPD, prosecutors with the Bexar County District Attorney's Office dismissed the case against Wolff.

A spokeswoman for the previous administration of the DA's office released the following statement:

The case against Justin Wolff was filed with our Office on June 15, 2018 and the defendant was charged with Sexual Assault. Upon receiving the case from SAPD, the handling prosecutors followed up on the SAPD detective’s investigation. After review of the case in its entirety, it was determined by the prosecutors that there was insufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Therefore, the case was dismissed on November 30, 2018.

Records provided to the Defenders show that the woman has filed complaints with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission against both of Wolff's licenses.

Records show another counselor filed the complaints on her behalf, weeks after the September 2017 incident.

The woman said she refiled the complaints in the summer of 2018, and this time included her name and additional details.

Officials with Health and Human Services on Dec. 14 asked the State Attorney General to allow it to keep any complaints against Wolff confidential.

The state's website indicates that both of Wolff's licenses are still active.

A state investigator assigned to the woman's case told her via email late last month that he was still waiting on requested information from the City of San Antonio and had no timeline on when her complaints would be reviewed.

"I knew that the process would be long and and I knew that it would be hard, but I expected that at some point someone would do something," the woman said.

The woman and Wolff's patient-therapist relationship has also raised ethical concerns.

Text messages provided by her include one from Wolff sent less than a week after the September 2017 incident that reads, "I'm begging to feel forgotten about."

She said she believes Wolff meant he was beginning to feel forgotten about.

The Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association prohibits counselors from having sexual/romantic relationships with their clients and their family members.

The restriction applies to both in-person and electronic interactions.

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