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Woman sues family counselor for sexual harassment

When it comes to sorting out family law issues, many people rely on a multitude of professionals to help them sort out. A woman in Amarillo, Texas, ended up suing one of those professionals, accusing him of sexual harassment and threats to undermine her child custody case.

The woman, whose three children are in foster care, said the state-assigned counselor made sexual advances toward her for at least a year and threatened to tell the Department of Family and Protective Services that she was "unreliable" if she didn't consent to his advances, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

The counselor, who has a valid professional counselor's license, was referred to the woman in late 2008 or early 2009, according to the complaint. The referral came from Family and Protective Services, which says the woman has an open neglect and abuse case and is working to regain custody of her children.

The complaint says the counselor routinely scheduled their appointments at night and that he would drive her to his office, since she didn't have a car. It was there, she said, that the counselor would touch her inappropriately and make suggestive sexual comments. At one point he said he would "make sure" the court allowed her telephone visitation with her children if she had sex with him, according to the complaint.

Court records say she gave into the man at least three times. But with no resulting changes in her visitation rights, she stopped attending the weekly sessions.

From there things got worse. The complaint states that the counselor started harassing her with text messages, threatening to report her to the state as "unreliable." This led her to go back to seeing him both professionally and sexually for some time, according to the lawsuit.

The woman's predicament isn't making things any easier in her fight for custody of her children, which is the reason she agreed to go to counseling in the first place. While a state department appointed this counselor, most people wrangling with child custody issues are free to choose with whom they want to work. It's important to research the professionals you work with, and to demand that they are, in fact, professional.

Source: Amarillo.com, "Woman sues state-appointed counselor," Bobby Cervantes, Nov. 11, 2011

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