Boise child psychiatrist who had sex with former patients allowed to return to practice

The Idaho Board of Medicine has reinstated the license of Dr. Richard Pines, a Boise child and adolescent psychiatrist who was found by the Idaho Supreme Court to have had improper sexual contact with former patients.

The case was highlighted in an investigative report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year on how states protected, or failed to protect, patients from sexually abusive doctors.

The board and Pines entered into an agreement on March 6 that allows him to work again, following a long court battle over the board’s decision to strip him of his license in 2013. The board in 2012 accused Pines of inappropriate conduct with a former psychiatric patient as well as former foster and respite-care children, and of prescribing drugs to a woman with whom he had a sexual relationship.

Related story: Boise doctor fights license revocation

Under the agreement:

▪  Pines will dismiss a pending court appeal. He also will pay the board $18,876 to reimburse its costs and attorney fees.

▪  Pines will not be allowed to treat patients under age 18 for at least five years.

▪  After five years, Pines can ask the board to modify that restriction. Pines would still be required to have “a third party” present during consultations or treatment sessions with patients under 18.

▪  A workplace monitor approved by the board will review Pines’s medical care for a year after he starts seeing patients again.

▪  Pines will not have sexual contact with current patients, or with former patients unless it has been at least five years since he treated them.

▪  Pines intends to work at a hospital, such as Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, the Boise VA or Intermountain Hospital. He will notify the board if he can’t get a hospital job and decides to go into private practice instead.

▪  Pines will be in counseling indefinitely.

Pines was licensed in Idaho since 1997. He worked at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise and Northwest Children’s Home in Lewiston, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also was a state-approved foster parent, but the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare revoked his foster-parent license.

The Idaho Board of Medicine took away Pines’s license to practice medicine because, it said, he had abused four former patients and had an affair with an adult patient.

The board accused Pines of telling the patients that he needed to practice massages on them to renew his doctor’s license. The board said he took naked photos of a teen at his Garden Valley cabin and gave the teen money.

Pines denied any wrongdoing and fought the board’s decision all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court. That court ruled in 2015 that he broke state law by having improper sexual contact with two former patients — but the other two young men were not actually his patients, as the board had argued. The court also scolded the board for its approach to Pines’s discipline.

The Idaho Supreme Court said Pines had “conducted himself in a reprehensible manner, taking advantage of young men with troubled pasts.” But the board used “heated rhetoric and denunciations” in its decision, the justices wrote.

The board had written in its decision that Pines’s “egregious conduct was so corrupt and degenerate as to shock the conscience.”

Since 2015, Pines has sought treatment. He was evaluated at the Sante Center for Healing, an addiction treatment center in Texas. The center recommended inpatient treatment, and Pines spent about seven weeks at a center called The Meadows. He also agreed to complete a “boundaries course” at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Idaho Board of Medicine Executive Director Anne Lawler said the board decided Pines had fulfilled the requirements to have his license reinstated.

“In each case, it’s completely fact-dependent” whether a doctor can be allowed to return to practice, she said.

The Idaho Board of Pharmacy also voted in April to reinstate Pines’s controlled substance registration.

Pines could not be reached for comment. His attorney did not return calls from the Statesman. Another health care provider whose office address is listed on Pines’s medical license also did not return a call from the Statesman.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @audreydutton