Psychologist who practiced in east Idaho accused of raping patients at Air Force base
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A psychologist who practiced for years in Chubbuck was arrested this month on multiple felony sexual assault and battery charges.
Dr. Heath Sommer is accused of mistreating patients and leaving them “even more traumatized” at Travis Air Force Base in California from 2010 to 2016, prosecutors said in a complaint.
Prosecutors detail allegations against the clinical psychologist that he used a technique known as exposure therapy on his patients — inflicting the same sort of abuse that landed some of them in his office in the first place.
CBS Sacramento reports the alleged abuse included sexual battery, rape and oral copulation. It was not clear how many alleged victims there were.
One client said Sommer told her if she didn’t participate, she would likely commit suicide within the year. Prosecutors wrote, “This court may never see a more egregious and calculated abuse of power.”
Another alleged victim, who was raped in Afghanistan in 2002, said that after three therapy sessions Sommer asked her to come over to his house.
Sommer claimed he would treat the soldier by making her re-create every aspect of her 2002 sexual assault, according to the Daily Republic.
After she recalled eating badly cooked goat meat in a dirty room before her assault, Sommer allegedly made her put dirt from his backyard into her mouth and consume leftover Chinese food.
Recommending a “positive and loving” sexual experience, Sommer then had sex with her while his wife stayed downstairs, she said. They had sex a further nine times during further “therapy” sessions, it is alleged.
In a statement released by Travis Air Force Base, spokesperson Traci Keller confirmed that the U.S. Air force had contracted Sommer to work at the base’s David Grant Medical Center, but said he was “no longer employed there.”
“The United States Air Force and Travis Air Force Base have zero tolerance for sexual assault,” Keller said in the statement.
Sommer was the CEO for Seasons of Hope in Chubbuck until March 2013 when the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare alleged fraud against the facility and suspended Medicaid payments. Three months later, KPVI reported Seasons of Hope was cleared of the allegations, but the facility shut its doors.
Sommer has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges and was detained on $750,000 bail at the Stanton Correctional Facility, according to CBS Sacramento.