A Twin Cities psychiatrist repeatedly sexually assaulted one of his patients in therapy for trauma during private sessions and once at his home, according to charges filed in Dakota County District Court.
Gavin P. Meany, 38, of Apple Valley, was arrested after being charged last week with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the assaults that spanned from early 2017 until last month.
In arguing before the court for a bail amount of $75,000 with conditions, the County Attorney’s Office noted that despite Meany knowing he was “treating the woman for specific issues including past sexual trauma … he began grooming the victim and manipulating her.”
Meany’s assaults started out as touching and escalated to intercourse while his wife and son were traveling, the prosecution continued.
Judge Karen Asphaug set Meany’s bail at $15,000. He posted bond and was released Friday.
At the time of the charges, Meany had been working since January 2018 as an independent contractor with Counseling Care, which has offices in Lake Elmo and Burnsville. An office manager said Meany was fired Friday.
The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice shows no disciplinary history for Meany, who has been a licensed doctor in the state since 2012. The board does not acknowledge any ongoing investigations.
Meany’s online biography said he completed his psychiatry residency at the University of North Dakota, his medical school studies at the University of Sint Eustatius in Barbados, and his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota.
In his bio, Meany explained that his approach toward his patients “involves patience and empathy; listening and asking questions are my medical instruments.”
Meany also is a medical officer in the Minnesota Army National Guard. While stationed overseas from November until February with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, Maj. Meany was featured in a U.S. Central Command video that aired on Twin Cities television as a Christmas greeting to his family.
Court records show no attorney yet for Meany. His wife, Yulia Meany, said Tuesday, “I love my husband.” She declined to comment further.
According to the charges:
The woman went to police on Aug. 27 and said she began seeing Meany at the Melrose Center clinic in St. Louis Park in August 2015 for an eating disorder and other mental health challenges connected to “past trauma that involved prior sexual assaults from her youth as well as domestic violence from a prior partner.”
She said the weekly meetings were professional at first but soon turned to her feeling uncomfortable as he asked her personal and sexual questions that seemed irrelevant to her needs.
He began what the prosecution has termed grooming by saying he wanted to look for physical signs of self-harm. He lifted up her shirt and touched her. The touching later turned to holding and rubbing her hands.
After Meany was fired from the Melrose Center in late 2016 for reasons the organization declined to state, she followed him to the West End clinic in St. Louis Park. That summer, “the touching began to escalate,” the complaint read. He rubbed her legs, ran a hand up her thigh and touched her bare stomach as she was on a couch.
From there, he sexually fondled her over her underwear.
The woman “was shocked in the moments that these happened but believed it was OK because he told her touch was OK and she believed [him] as her doctor would not hurt her,” the charges continued. The touching continued week after week.
In May 2018, the sessions moved to the Counseling Care clinic in Burnsville, where the woman said the touching intensified.
“She believed he was doing something good for her,” the complaint read. That same month, they went to his Apple Valley home and had intercourse.
The sexual contact continued during the sessions. By September 2018, they said they loved each other, and they discussed her seeing a different therapist. However, she did not hear from him the entire time he was overseas with the military. Upon his return, the sexual contact resumed.
On Aug. 27, the woman disclosed the encounters to her new therapist, who alerted law enforcement.
In speaking with authorities, Meany said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he added that the woman was being “romantic and sexual” toward him, the charges read.
He also admitted to having sex with his patient in his home while his wife and son were out of town.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482