Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Psychologist sues over false charges

NY Daily News

An Upper East Side psychologist is suing the city for $5 million, saying a false claim that he had a hidden camera in his office bathroom nearly destroyed his career.

"They say it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 20 minutes to destroy it," said Dr. Robert Reiner, an often-quoted expert on virtual reality therapy for phobias, who has appeared on "The Tyra Banks Show," MTV and NBC.

"This has been a nightmare," he said, after filing a notice of claim in Manhattan Supreme Court

Reiner was arrested on March 26, after a patient on his third visit spotted a camera in the bathroom light bulb in Reiner's E. 90th St. office and called cops.

The Manhattan district attorney's office found a camera hidden in a light bulb, but it did not work and was not hooked up to a monitoring device, court records show.

Reiner, 56, who runs a practice of nearly two dozen counselors, was cleared of all charges on May 1. But, he said, the attention from his arrest has had a "tremendous effect" on his business and family.

His chief of staff has quit. His latest book release was delayed. His patients are canceling. His kids are mocked at school.

And his boss at New York University Medical Center, where he has worked for more than 25 years, wrote him a letter, demanding an explanation.

Reiner said he used the bulb/camera to monitor his five children near the trampoline and pool at their Westchester County home. He said he brought it to work because he needed the code number on the camera to order a new one.

A contractor working in the office at night as part of an office expansion project told investigators he could not find a bulb when the light blew out in the bathroom, so he screwed in the broken one he found on Reiner's desk.

Reiner's lawyer, Neil Wollerstein, said his client's office was full of patients when officers stormed in with guns out to confiscate the practice's computers, including patients' confidential records. [...]

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