There came a time when Richard Gottlieb’s hospital cut his hours to half-time because only half his work was billable to insurance; the hospital was paying him out of pocket for the rest of the time. When Dick went to half-time, he dropped me. Simply stopped calling. It was while I was reeling in confusion that I started getting the cryptic comments on my blog.
I found the plaintiff and we started talking. Slowly and carefully—neither of us trusted anybody who had anything to do with Gottlieb—we started comparing notes and telling our stories. There wasn’t a single word said by the plaintiff that didn’t match up with what I knew about Gottlieb. I was hearing the truth and I knew it.
But what to do about it? As God was my witness, I knew that Richard Gottlieb had been abusing his power as a therapist to sexually assault his female patients; as the legal system was my judge, I had no proof.
I began to write about issues involving boundaries. Without naming Gottlieb, I wondered about various relationships—friend, patient, colleague, lover. A therapist talked to me about “Internet affairs,” of which I had never heard. An Internet affair is non-sexual but appeals to the human being’s deepest need for emotional intimacy. And, she said, the loss of boundaries is the precursor for sexual abuse. Dick Gottlieb was free-ranging, arrogant, self-assured that the rules applied to other people, not to us. We were better than them. We were smarter, older and wiser. We didn’t have to operate within the limitations imposed on lesser people. For Gottlieb, there were no boundaries; for me, God set the boundaries. Gottlieb did not believe in God and was terrified of death.
An unidentified person attacked me for posting about Gottlieb: https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/replying-to-anonymous/ . My response referenced Jerry Sandusky. As the plaintiff and I talked, we frequently discussed the Sandusky case as it wound its way through the courts. It was the same story: a man with power over a vulnerable class had been sexually abusing those he was detailed to help.
The plaintiff’s first concern was to protect his wife; his second concern was to utterly destroy Gottlieb. The plaintiff wanted Gottlieb’s license and his money. My chief concern was to prevent Gottlieb from hurting anyone else, and to transfer Gottlieb’s money to his victims for use in healing and recovery.
The plaintiff was making all the right moves in the judicial system but the system was moving with aggravated slowness. The plaintiff and I both had been made the center of Gottlieb’s world from his office in Holland Hospital. Who was Gottlieb now abusing from his position at the hospital? There wasn’t time to wait on the judicial system; Gottlieb had to be stopped right away before he got his next victim.
The plaintiff’s law firm had a conflict of interest with the hospital so the plaintiff had been required to sign a statement that he would not go after the hospital. I had signed no such statement, so I identified and called Gottlieb’s supervisor. I gave him a brief outline of the highlights of the case and told him that he needed to investigate Gottlieb. The supervisor took it seriously and was very solemn. Thereafter, I never heard from him again. He did not accept or return any other phone calls.
There was not a doubt in my mind that I knew what had happened. The supervisor had talked to Gottlieb and Gottlieb had told him that I was a poor, sick, mentally ill woman who he had tried to help, and who now was betraying him. What is essential to understanding this story is that Richard Gottlieb is a big man with a big laugh. He is charismatic and easily manipulates people. How do you think he got into so many women’s pants? He is kind, compassionate, funny and very, very smart. He would call me up and sing to me, tell me stories, read poetry. He was wise and experienced and very, very helpful. And he used woman for his own sexual needs. He was in total violation of his professional license.
Clearly the supervisor had bought Gottlieb’s story, so I got the name and address of the president of the hospital and wrote to him. I started by telling him about the Sandusky case: from the top down, how many of the university executives had lost their jobs and/or were facing criminal charges. Then I told him about the sex abuser he had on his staff. Then I told him that I’d already reported it to Gottlieb’s boss, who had done nothing. Then I told him to fire Gottlieb’s boss and do an appropriate investigation, verifiable by me. If he didn’t, I would bring legal and media attention to his hospital.
Sometime thereafter, I received a brief note on Holland Hospital letterhead saying that the matter had been referred to such-and-such a public agency. The letter was not signed. In the line of accountability, no one was going to admit knowing anything.
From other sources, I heard that when a highly placed professional goes to work for a hospital, he signs a contract that contains words about reporting any legal action taken against him. Gottlieb neither had reported the previous experience in which he had settled a claim out of court, nor that he was currently being sued. Following my letter—and presumably the hospital’s investigation—the hospital suspended Gottlieb while they figured out how to legally terminate him.
And I got a letter from Gottlieb’s lawyer telling me to shut up and stop writing blogs or Mr. Gottlieb might sue me, which was silly. (https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/a-letter-from-the-lawyer/) My only income is Social Security, which is below the poverty level and therefore untouchable by law suit or lien. Gottlieb might shut me up but he wasn’t going to get any money from me. And Gottlieb, who always has claimed poverty (e.g., he bought his winter coat at the Salvation Army) has all his money committed to trying to retain his license and defend himself against the malpractice charge. He hasn’t got anything left over with which to sue me; all he’s got are empty threats.