HARRISBURG -- The two partners of the Exton-based Genesis Associates therapy firm accused by the state of mistreating clients -- and by former clients of operating a cult -- have agreed to end their counseling careers here.
Psychologist Patricia Mansmann has agreed to never again provide counseling of any type in Pennsylvania, in an agreement announced by state attorneys and accepted by the state psychology board Monday. Her Genesis partner and social worker Patricia Newhausel has also agreed to stop practicing, with the state social workers1 board scheduled to vote on whether to accept that agreement on April 11.
Both were facing the possible suspension of their state licenses, with Mansmann1s settlement announced just before a 10 a.m. hearing in Harrisburg began. Their firm, which lately changed its name to To Life Inc., has no connection to Genesis Health Ventures Inc. of Kennett Square.
Attorneys for the state hope these consent agreements will once and for all conclude the counseling careers of Mansmann and Neulander, both of whom had their respective licenses temporarily suspended in 1997 and have reached out of court settlements with at least 15 individuals and families who claim their lives were torn apart after going to Genesis for therapy.
Mansmann and Neulander have been accused of practices state Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs officials have characterized as ranging from unprofessional to grossly negligent. They include "detaching" clients from their family members, telling clients they would die if they left Genesis, and asking them to help pay Mansmann1s and Neulander1s various legal expenses.
"The Commonwealth is pleased with the agreement because of the egregious allegations" outlined in a 23-page order filed with the state Board of Psychology in November, said state prosecuting attorney Mary McDaniel. "We felt they called for a strong penalty in this case."
McDaniel said the consent agreement specifically prohibits Mansmann, within Pennsylvania, from ever again participating in any psychological, counseling or social work as they are defined by state law and the American Psychological Association.
"She is basically agreeing never to practice psychology in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania again," McDaniel told psychology board members, who unanimously and quickly accepted the consent decree.
A spokesman for the state's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, Diane Galutia, said the agreement protects against Mansmann opening a new office in some counseling field apart from psychology.
"She will not be allowed to practice psychology, even if she sets up another shop or changes to a new name," Galutia said. "She is not to practice as a social worker either."
State officials said they would only offer the specifics of Neulander's consent decree next month, when and if it is approved by the state Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.
Mansmann, Neulander or their attorney, Cornelia Farrell Maggio of Philadelphia, were not at Monday's announcement made in Harrisburg. Maggio later said she would not comment on the consent decree, but said her clients would continue to argue their innocence.
"We continue to deny the allegations," Maggio said, questioning those former Genesis clients who now criticize the practice. "I'm sure you're aware of the tremendous amount of energy and effort put into destroying my clients' business."
Mansmann and Neuhausel opened Genesis in the 1980s. The state said Genesis had between 50 and 80 clients between 1990 and 1996, and that they were referred to by Mansmann and Neulander as the "network." After the first consent decree was finalized in March of 1997, fewer than 25 people remained in the "network," attorneys said.
In the 1997 consent order, Mansmann and Neuhausel agreed to suspend treatment for several years, but practiced anyway, according to state officials.
McDaniel discussed what the state can and cannot do this time to ensure that consent decrees are complied with.
"We can't sit on people," McDaniel said. "If we find out they're practicing, we can enforce the consent agreement at that point. But we can't put them in jail."
She said state inspectors can by law knock on doors and inspect whether individuals are illegally practicing psychology or some other field which requires a license, but would not comment on whether that will occur here.
Monday's development was applauded by attorney Joseph Rizzo of Philadelphia, who has represented 15 former Genesis clients who sued claiming improper treatment and eventually reached out-of-court settlements against the practice. One of his client's cases is still pending.
"This extraordinary penalty supports the claims of those individuals who have stated that the practices of Mansmann and Genesis Associates are harmful to the clients and inappropriate," Rizzo said. "This decree vindicates those former clients who have been unfairly portrayed as liars, malcontents, abusers and addicts by misguided supporters of Mansmann and Genesis."
Rizzo would not specify the size of financial settlements given his clients, but said "They were all six figures."
It was also good news to Carol Diament, a Genesis client between 1989 and 1995, who said Monday the wounds and division it caused her family have still not healed.
"I'm thrilled that the state board of psychology has clearly shown that they are willing to protect the public from dangerous therapy," Diament said from her Philadelphia home. "Distraught family members have been urging the psychology and social workers board for the past six years to delicense these fraudulent therapists. I personally am thrilled."
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