Richard Gottlieb, MSW, worked full-time at Holland Hospital and had a private practice. He charged at least $150 for a therapy session. From the way he talked, I had the impression that he had a split-level house on a quarter-acre lot in suburbia. When I googled his home address what I found was more like a country estate. From the main road, a narrow road wandered off through the woods, over a stream and past some other homes—large and few and far between—and three golf courses. Gottlieb had a circular driveway in front of his very large house and a swimming pool behind it.
And then somehow the Gottlieb sex-abuse case file got put in front of an assistant attorney general. The plaintiff had filed a complaint against Gottlieb’s license and the case probably had worked its way from LARA—Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs—to the Attorney General’s Office. I talked to the Asst. Atty. Gen. (AAG) and proposed that a notification letter be sent to all Gottlieb’s ex-patients. The AAG—a woman—told me that was impossible: Gottlieb hadn’t kept any records. There were no billing records or even any names and addresses of patients. Presumably, also there were no patient progress notes. So I posted an on-line appeal for other women Gottlieb had sexually abused to come forward and talk to the AAG. https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/richard-gottlieb-msw-investigation/
Then I talked to the plaintiff’s attorney, also a woman. Richard Gottlieb, who had serially abused women, was now going to be called to account by women. The lawyer asked me a few questions, listened to what I knew about Gottlieb, and asked if I would testify for the plaintiff. Yes, I said, I would.
In November 2012 I received notification that the case against Gottlieb had been filed with the court: https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/crowley-crowley-vs-gottlieb-therapeutic-services/ “There are specific allegations for Count 1 – Medical Malpractice; Count 2 – Ordinary Negligence of Richard Gottlieb; Count 3 – Therapeutic Services, P.C. – Vicarious Liability/Respondeat Superior/Agency; Count 4 – Loss of Consortium.”
In 2013 I spent eight months transiting back and forth between hospital and nursing home. Dick Gottlieb ceased to be an important concern in my life.
I returned home after Christmas and three weeks later Gottlieb’s business entity, Therapeutic Services PC, failed to answer a call and the judge settled that part of the case by default in favor of the plaintiff.
The case was on the court trial calendar for March 17, 2014. On that day the judge dismissed the case against Richard Gottlieb. Presumably, the plaintiff had gotten an out-of-court settlement that adequately protected his wife’s privacy while at the same time penalizing Gottlieb as much money as possible.
On May 13 a hearing was held by the Michigan Board of Social Work Disciplinary Committee, which addressed Gottlieb’s case. Thereafter, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended Gottlieb’s license to practice therapy. The reasons given were negligence and incompetence.
Two months later, Clinical Social Worker Richard F. Gottlieb voluntarily surrendered his license to practice therapy.
Two years earlier, in a moment of honesty, Dick told me that he was going to lose his license, be unable to practice, and lose his income. There was no “if” in the statement—if I lose the lawsuit—there was just a blanket statement that he was going to lose everything. He acknowledged his actions and understood the consequences.
At one point in the process, I had reached out to a particularly gifted and experienced therapist whom I knew Dick respected, and I had asked him if he would see Dick in therapy. He said yes, but by then Dick had cut off all communication with me and I had no way to tell him that help was available. Later, I learned that the plaintiff had previously gone to see the same therapist.
In another footnote to this case history, when I asked the plaintiff how he’d gotten the lawyer, he said he’d asked around and then gone to a recommended lawyer. It turned out, first, that the lawyer had been Gottlieb’s next-door neighbor. Second, he had represented the first woman who had gotten a settlement from Gottlieb for sexual abuse. The plaintiff had been afraid to seek legal representation for fear the lawyer wouldn’t believe him. Instead, God had put the plaintiff in the hands of the one lawyer who was most knowledgeable of the truth of the plaintiff’s statements about Gottlieb’s bad behavior.
Back in the beginning, after my conversations with the plaintiff began, as God was my witness I knew that Richard Gottlieb had been abusing his power as a therapist and sexually assaulting his female patients, but as the legal system was my judge, I had no proof. Keeping in mind the Jerry Sandusky stories, I took the risk of moving forward to blog about Gottlieb’s sex abuse. I had no proof; I only believed that I was doing the right thing.
The next time I went to church, I bowed my head in prayer and suddenly the air became light and bright. It was as if every molecule of oxygen was shining and glittering. It was God smiling on me and saying, “You done good.”
I work for God. Dick Gottlieb now has unlimited free time to come to terms with death and deity. Dick was a good man with a vile streak. I cannot forgive him; only his victims and God can do that.