Psychologist suspected of sexual abuse against migrants expelled, withdraws from party

A pre-trial investigation into the possible long-term sexual abuse of migrants accommodated in the Medininkai Alien Registration Center of the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) was launched in early April. It was not reported by law enforcement this week, but by the non-governmental organization “Center for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings”.

The allegations were made against a psychologist who worked at the center, and one person – a resident of the registration center – was recognized as a victim.

VSAT 15min confirmed that the three migrants in the investigation were transferred from Medininkai to the Rukla Refugee Registration Center on Friday after acknowledging their vulnerability. Unlike in Medininkai, migrants have the right to leave the center for a while.

Lukas April / 15min photo / Migrant camp in Medininkai

At that time, the suspected psychologist was removed from office in an unnamed public institution for half a year.

“A judge of the Vilnius City District Court granted the prosecutor’s request and, from 11 April this year, the suspect for 6 months. has been removed from office in one public body for the term of office ‘, – on Friday 15min said Gintarė Šatkauskaitė-Vitkauskienė, a representative of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office.

She confirmed to BNS this week that “a pre-trial investigation has been launched to pinpoint the circumstances of the alleged crime. It is possible that the circle of victims will expand. “

SBGS: Ethical violation is obvious

The suspected man worked for the Red Cross from October last year to mid-March this year. And on March 17, he signed an employment contract for the work of a psychologist with the SBGS.

On Thursday, the Deputy Commander of the SBGS Rimantas Petrauskas revealed to the LRT radio that a video was recorded. It is too early to judge from it whether a crime has been committed: “It must be understood that we are not talking about a relationship between men and women in this situation. Perhaps we are talking about LGBT people, whose relationship is somewhat different than that between a man and a woman. “Whatever video I saw, I really have serious doubts about, I am convinced that this situation should be questioned by lawyers and lawyers as well.”

However, according to the representative of the SBGS, the violation of the work ethic of a psychologist is obvious.

Paulius Peleckis / 15min photo / Agnė Bilotaitė visits Kapčiamiestis

Paulius Peleckis / 15min photo / Agnė Bilotaitė visits Kapčiamiestis

“What we can say is that there was indeed a violation of internal rules, because all employees are prohibited from establishing contacts with migrants and providing services that are not provided for in the legislation,” R. Petrauskas added.

The psychologist, who was suspected of sexual abuse, left the SBGS voluntarily – on the same day in the beginning of April, when a law enforcement investigation was launched.

Representatives of the SBGS 15min explained that he had not started an official inspection, as in that case the person would be removed from office while the investigation is ongoing. Upon the commencement of the pre-trial investigation, the official examination should be suspended, the person would formally hold a position in the service, but would not perform the functions. Thus, in reality, the post would be “occupied” until the end of the investigation or trial. At that time, the need for psychologists in the refugee centers was huge, so it was decided to comply with the specialist’s request and terminate the contract.

Suspected psychologist: Not that person

15min contacted the suspect psychologist this week. His identity is known to the editorial board, but is not disclosed due to data protection and the presumption of innocence. Data that may be relevant to the public interest shall be published.

Asked if he was involved in any pre-trial investigation, the man initially denied it and interrupted the conversation. After contacting him again later, the psychologist said he understood that a shadow of suspicion would fall on him.

“When the police find out the case, where I’m not really a figure, but I’ve heard about it, I read and realize that a shadow is falling on me, even though I’m not that person, but the police will find out and then we can talk,” 15min said a psychologist this week. But when asked if he was charged with sexual abuse, the man interrupted the conversation again.

Even at the beginning of the conversation, the psychologist hinted at rushing to work, attending the meeting, and being unable to speak.

There are no public data on where a psychologist who has left the Red Cross is currently working, including a psychologist who has left the SBGS.

Photo by Erik Ovcharenko / BNS / Psychologist's office

Photo by Erik Ovcharenko / BNS / Psychologist’s office

A court decision to remove a suspect from office in an unnamed public institution does not prevent him from engaging in private practice.

A specialist who graduated from the University of Education specializes in child and adolescent psychology, he has worked for some time as the curator of psychologists for pre-school education and several schools in the capital.

“He was a kindergarten curator for a very short time, a few months before he worked for us. He worked briefly because it did not quite meet the expectations of our service. Because of professional competence more, ”said Vida Roma Pivorienė, Head of the Vilnius Pedagogical Psychological Service.

She assured that no warnings had been received about the specialist’s behavior at the time, and that her work was more concerned with developing methodological material for educators.

The man, who has been suspected by law enforcement, has been a member of the Liberal Movement for more than a decade and has run in the municipal elections. He informed the party this week that he was leaving. The man did not state the reasons for his decision.

Union of Psychologists: We have no official information

The suspected psychologist is a member of the Union of Psychologists, and his name is among the specialists recommended for speaking to the media.

President of the Union Valija Šap 15min The association claimed that the association had not received official information about the allegations made against the union member. Upon receipt of such information, it would be evaluated.

“The statutes of the Lithuanian Union of Psychologists define who can become a member and how a person leaves the union. It may leave the union under certain circumstances. One of them is that a member may be expelled by a decision of the board if it is established that the member has grossly violated the professional ethics of a psychologist. Our statutes provide, but we must have the information. “We will never take action against a member if we do not have reliable information,” the union president said.

She also stressed the importance of the presumption of innocence here and added that she would not want to know which particular member of the union was suspected by law enforcement.

According to V.Šap, the suspension of the psychologist’s membership in the union would not have any effect on his ability to continue his practice.

According to the head of the union, this specific situation could again lead to faster consideration of the draft Law on Practical Activities of Psychologists in the Seimas. The project, which has been under discussion for almost a decade, has already passed the stage of submission in parliament.

“You are talking about the need to protect customers if there is such a need while a pre-trial investigation is underway. However, the activities of psychologists in Lithuania are not regulated by law, only by judicial means. In other words, it is very sad to say about the possible harm that a person may or may not do in relation to psychological services, which is still not governed by the Psychological Practice Act, which we are talking about and for which we have expressed a great deal of will. “, V. Šap said.

Photo album of personal album / Valija Šap

Photo album of personal album / Valija Šap

The interlocutor hoped that this painful case would lead to a faster discussion of the missing law in the Seimas: “This case is painful, but in any case it will be painful. It hurts us psychologists, and I believe more than ever that we need to pass the Law on the Practice of Psychologists as soon as possible because there is no other way. And by demanding that the heads of institutions be responsible for the activities of psychologists, we must give them the tools. ”

The law provides for a register of psychologists

“In the United States, it would be very clear that a person would be suspended from work until a court decision is made as to whether the person is guilty or not,” said Linas Slušnys, a member of the Seimas Health Affairs Committee. A representative of the ruling Conservatives chairs the working group that drafted the bill.

Photo by Sigismund Gedvila / BNS / Linas Slušnys

Photo by Sigismund Gedvila / BNS / Linas Slušnys

A government conclusion on the draft is currently awaited, he said. It does not provide for the licensing of psychologists, as a significant part of the psychological community itself has opposed it.

“This law provides for an ethics service and a supervisory system. The hole in the law is not a licensed process, but it would be officially registered who the psychologists are, ”said L. Slušnys.

“Theoretically, in such a situation, a person could continue to work, but a gross violation of ethics would be removed from the official list of psychologists’ registers, so people will be able to see that the person does not have an official registration. Therefore, the citizen will be able to ask the question – why are you not on this list? And to find out from the Ethics Supervision Service that this person has violated work ethics, ”the parliamentarian explained. But when consideration of the bill could move again did not begin to predict.

K.Mišinienė: we are meeting for the first time

Kristina Mišinienė, Head of the Center for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Exploitation 15min said he was facing for the first time a situation where allegations of sexual abuse were made to a psychologist.

“During our 22 years of practice, we have seen enough abuse of office, but for the first time we are facing allegations of sexual abuse against a psychologist,” she said.

According to her, the migrants held in the center are vulnerable, cannot leave the situation threatening them, do not have much to trust, do not know how their request for help will be responded to.

“So, calling himself a psychologist an employee of such a center, and still coming on behalf of one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations, is seen as a very powerful figure with unlimited power,” said K. Mišinienė.

Josvydas Elinskas / 15min photo / 15min in the studio: Linas Slušnys and Kristina Mišinienė

Josvydas Elinskas / 15min photo / 15min in the studio: Linas Slušnys and Kristina Mišinienė

That is why, according to the head of the center, when the investigation started, it was necessary to transfer the migrants in it to another refugee center.

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