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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jury awards $16.5 million in State College suit

By Matt Carroll

A jury awarded $16.5 million Thursday to a woman who said she was drugged with carbon dioxide and manipulated to believe she was raped by family members at the hands of a former State College psychologist.

Her attorney, Bernard Cantorna, asked the jury to hold Julian Metter, 59, accountable for planting a “horror story” in the woman’s mind while she was drugged with carbon dioxide.

The jurors responded after five hours of deliberation, unanimously ordering Metter to pay what Cantorna said is the largest jury verdict in Centre County history.

“They clearly wanted to send a message that Dr. Metter is a danger to the public and anyone he might attempt to treat,” Cantorna said. “They wanted to make sure anybody and everybody could find this case and make sure he can never do this to anyone again.”

Metter, who had been in practice for 20 years, lost his license to practice psychology in June 2009 when he pleaded guilty to fraudulently billing Medicare, according to the National Council Against Health Fraud.

He was sentenced in February 2011 to serve five months in prison followed by two years probation. Cantorna said Metter is free to continue treating people, just not as a psychologist, after his probation.

When contacted Thursday night, Metter said he was saddened and disappointed by the jury’s decision. He said he will appeal the verdict.

“It was very surprising,” Metter said. “Everyone with me who knows (the woman) and the situation really felt we brought forward a very accurate picture.”

Cantorna said his client was made to believe she was raped at the hands of her family and abused in cultlike rituals by prominent members of the community.

Metter was accused in the civil lawsuit of creating those images and suggesting them as reality while the woman was drugged and in her most vulnerable state.

“He took a woman who never had any history of this and made her relive the most horrific things one could imagine,” Cantorna said Thursday during closing arguments in the six-day civil trial. “He made her live it.”

The lawsuit alleged the woman suffered lasting emotional anguish as a result. It also stated she suffered a brain injury due to repeated exposures to a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen.

The entire story is here.

Here is the civil complaint.

Here is a copy of the Consent Agreement and Order from the PA State Board of Psychology.

Here is Metter on Autism, with his center's "treatments" that fall outside the scope of a psychologist's practice.