Now I spread the good word about hypnosis as often as possible… Today I am going to point out a very rare, yet worrying phenomenon… A therapist, albeit a man posing as a therapist who is allegedly a rapist… It brings up a huge amount of issues, some of which I wanted to mention here today…

So first up, let me share the facts with you, or rather, let me share what the news columns say about this incident that is all over the web today. This excerpt is from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Police said Carmine Edmund Baffa, 52, of Gainesville raped a 13-year-old and 19-year-old in two separate incidents at his former home on Stationview Run in Lawrenceville. He is being held without bond at the Gwinnett jail on charges of rape, sexual assault, child molestation and aggravated sexual battery.

Baffa’s website is labeled “The Home of Human Performance Engineering.”His seminars focus on life improvement, said Cpl. Illana Spellman, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Baffa later initiated “individual coaching sessions” at his home with adults and children, Spellman said.

It was during such sessions that he allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl between Aug. 1, 2006, and July 31, 2007. The 19-year-old victim told police she had private sessions with Baffa during the fall of 2006 and that he raped her on New Year’s Day 2007, police said.

Police also said Baffa posed as a hypnotist, but the victims were not in a hypnotic trance, Spellman said. Spellman said Baffa used his charisma to convince patients having sex would further their treatment.

“The adults at the time said they knew what was going on, but were convinced that it would help their treatment,” Spellman said.

Many of Baffa’s patients were referred to him by licensed psychotherapists, Spellman said. Baffa is “not a licensed therapist of any sort,” Spellman said, though police said he represented himself to patients as a psychotherapist.

Alan Allard, a counselor in Lawrenceville, said that up until 2006 he referred patients to Baffa. Allard said Baffa was always cautious about wording his credentials, describing himself as a “coach” and allowing others to assume he was a doctor.

Allard described Baffa as a “very charismatic man” with a compelling stage presence. Allard said he broke off communication with Baffa in 2006 because Baffa didn’t follow through with some of his business commitments.

The seminars were initially named “Mindsight,” but later changed to “Precious Video Productions.” Each year, Baffa reportedly held an average of 14 seminars — six in Atlanta and Chicago and one or two in Los Angeles, Spellman said.

Baffa held seminars at area hotels around Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, Spellman said.

“Investigators are requesting that anyone who has had inappropriate contact with Mr. Baffa in Gwinnett County to please call.”

As a therapist, you gain trust. Anyone that invests time, money and belief in a therapist — also invests trust. So much trust that the therapist could allegedly have sexual interaction with ‘clients’ of his?

It is crazy, isn’t it?

Lets be honest, we all would think it was unusual, wierd, out of the ordinary, if a therapist suggested such a thing (having sex as part of he therapeutic process), wouldn’t we? Yet some people go ahead and agree to it. Like cult leaders that suggest similar things and the people involved have such an invested belief, they go along with it!

There were people referring clients to him? Did they know who they were referring? I hope they did not refer either of the two alleged victims in this case.  

No-one ever checked his credentials.

No-one ever got testimonials or referrences? Maybe people just saw his seminars and made assumptions about his qualifiactions… It is easy to get swept along by that I suppose… How many people ever look at the qualifications, certification and authentication of a seminar leader?

Or did this guy just lose it suddenly, and turn bad? Well, I am guessing not, because he allegedly did it on more than one occasion, that we know of.

I offer previous client references, copies of my certification, professional references and allow anyone to check up on me at The Hypnotherapy Association and other organisations that I am a member of. I think the way I run my therapeutic practice and the way that the vast majorityof us run our therapeutic practices tends to invite a particular type of person into my practice.

Do the professional, qualified and authentic therapists then deter the sort of people who are likely to be led in the wrong direction? Is there a case for saying that some people are predisposed or even somehow attracted to the charismatic leader-type figure that this type of man is? Or are they simply victims of a nasty man who has duped them, led them into false belief and took advantage of his perceived position?

I feel for these alleged victims. In each and every profession there are bad people who do bad things… It is just that therapy is such a trusted, intimate and particular environment, that if these allegations are found to be true, the way it must have been played out by the perpetrator chills me…