Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Encounter With a Rogue Psychologist

When I was attending Arabic language classes at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey in August of 1980 to August of 1981, the dropout rate was close to fifty percent. One day, the sailor who sat next to me in class had an anxiety attack and was sent back in training. At the time, the thought of being dropped from language course and being sent out to sea as a nonrated seaman terrified me. Furthermore, after seeing Seaman Zimmerman completely freak out, I was scared of getting too scared. I found out that the Presidio Monterey Dispensary had a counseling center. Upon discovering that it was FREE, I decided I would see a counselor once a week after class so I could, in effect, count my marbles and make sure I still had all of them.

For a while, I was seeing an Army Captain by the name of Frank King, who seemed to have a pretty good idea of what he was doing. One afternoon, I got to the Dispensary and Captain King was not there to greet me. After a minute or two, I had the orderly on duty page him, but there was still no response. The two of us went back to Dr. King’s office and knocked on his door. A few seconds later, Captain King opened the door just slightly and told me that he was working on a stress case and that he would be with me shortly. We had our usual session, and I didn’t think anything more of the incident until the next day, when I got back to the Navy Barracks. I had received a message that there was a call for me from the Criminal Investigation Division. I immediately called the CIE personnel, wondering what they wanted. Shortly thereafter, I learned I’d be talking to a different counselor. It was not until several weeks later that I learned that Captain King was under investigation for making improper advances on his female patients.

I graduated from DLI in August 1981 and went off to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas for four months of additional training. One day in late October, I was taking care of some paperwork at the Navy admin center when I heard I’d been subpoenaed to testify at Captain King’s court martial. I was on the next flight, and arrived in Monterey on Thursday evening, which made for one of the best four-day weekends of my life.

When I took the stand, the defense tried to get me to say that I had seen everything that had been going on, and that everything had been above-board. That’s not what I saw and that’s not the testimony I gave. On cross examination, the prosecutor asked me why I’d been seeing Captain King. I told him, “Academic stress.”

The prosecutor asked, “Did Captain King ever tell you that you needed ‘relaxation therapy’?”


“Did he ever tell you to lie down on the sofa?”


“Did he ever dim the lights?”


“Did he ever touch you?”

“Uh, I think we might have shaken hands.”

I found out later that six servicewoman had testified that Captain King had made improper advances during counseling sessions. My brief testimony was just one more nail in Captain King’s coffin. The court martial convicted him on all counts, and he was shipped off to Leavenworth. After leaving the Navy in June of 1984, I attended Notre Dame Law School and occasionally told the story of the Captain King Court Martial. In December of 1987, just as I was about to take my last final exam at Notre Dame, I got a call that I’d been subpoenaed to testify at Captain King’s retrial. I was flabbergasted to learn that he’d managed to get a new trial on appeal. While out on bail, he had allegedly committed date rape. So he was on trial for all of his previous charges in addition to the alleged rape. I learned a few days later that the defense had stipulated to my testimony so I was not going to have to fly to Leavenworth, Kansas in December. Captain King was convicted on all charges a second time, but a military appellate court reverse the rape conviction and, ultimately, he was released on time served.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Mine is that six years and a few months in Leavenworth does not strike me as a lenient sentence. To this day, I enjoy the irony that Captain Frank King managed to totally trash his career through his egregious, unprofessional conduct, and I managed to get a five-day weekend in Monterey.

A lawn at the DoD Center at Monterey.

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