A jury recently found a former Travis Air Force Base staff psychologist who has Southeast Idaho ties guilty of abusing his position to entice sexual assault victims to have sex with him, claiming it was important toward their treatment, according to the Daily Republic of Solano County, California.
Heath J. Sommer faces up to 11 years and eight months in prison, having been convicted of six felony sexual assault charges, the Daily Republic reported. The newspaper reported the verdict came after a six-week trial that included six days of jury deliberation.
Sommer used to own the mental health care provider Seasons of Hope, which had a Chubbuck location and served seven Idaho cities. The company also served people in Idaho Falls and Blackfoot. It had 79 clients within the Post Register's 10-county coverage area, including 37 in Idaho Falls, as of 2013. The business closed that year, following allegations of Medicaid fraud by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
The Journal reported in April 2015 that Sixth District Judge David Nye exonerated Sommer of the Health and Welfare billing accusations, which he described as "arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion." Nye's ruling affirmed a prior decision by former senior Sixth District Judge Peter McDermott who had dismissed fraud charges against Sommer in June 2013. Health and Welfare had appealed McDermott's ruling.
Sommer said in the Journal story the Nye ruling came too late for his Idaho business to recover.
According to the Daily Republic's account of Sommer's recent criminal trial, he was treating patient's for the Air Force base's David Grant Medical Center.
Sommer told his victims, who were officers in the Air Force, during sessions in 2014 and 2015 that he was using "exposure therapy," which entailed recreating aspects of their past sexual assaults. The Daily Republic reported one of the victims testified how he took her off base to his home for sessions.
He's scheduled for a Jan. 25 sentencing.