Doctor loses license

David A. Sabatino

  By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  JOHNSON CITY -- A local psychologist has permanently lost his license to practice medicine due to sexual misconduct and violations of the rules and regulations of the Tennessee Board of Examiners in Psychology.
  David A Sabatino, Ph.D., 1736 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton, lost his license to practice psychology on Nov. 3 and was ordered to pay $16,000 in civil penalties for 16 violations of the Tennessee Psychology Practice Act, according to the order from the Board of Examiners in Psychology. The address for Sabatino's practice is registered as East Tennessee Psychological Associates, 112 East Myrtle Ave. Suite 304, Johnson City, according to his practitioner profile with the Department of Health.
  The order begins by stating that Sabatino made inappropriate sexual comments and suggestions to a female patient between 1995 and 1997. "During that period, Respondent (Sabatino) made inappropriate sexual comments and suggestions to her, including, but not limited to the following: (a) During a therapy session, he asked her if she was wearing panties; (b) During a therapy session, he discussed having his (male genitals) enlarged; (c) He loaned her money and asked for sex in return; (d) He helped her with a lawyer referral and offered to pay for the lawyer's services in return for sex; (e) He discussed his own sexual preferences with her; (f) He encouraged her to have sex with another man in return for a car, commenting 'Why not? It sounds like a good deal to me.'; (g) He asked her how much she would charge for sex and to clean his house; (g) He kissed her, and (i) He regularly used profanity during therapy sessions."
  Another patient's mother, M.C. (initials used for reasons of confidentiality) was offered a job house sitting for Sabatino's mother. The order reads, "One evening when Respondent came home from work, he had sex with M.C. in his house. M.C. stated that she was afraid she would lose the job if she did not have sex with the Respondent. After this, Respondent left notes for M.C. because she tried to avoid seeing him. In one of these notes Respondent asked her to marry him. When she refused his proposal, he fired her from the job. Some of M.C.'s personal items disappeared from Respondent's house while she was working there, after which she filed a police report.
  "On Nov. 28, 2002, Respondent called M.C. and told her he had a check to reimburse her for the missing items. Respondent told her to come to his house to get it and that he would be downstairs in the den. M.C. took a friend with her to see Respondent and when she entered the room, Respondent was sitting naked in a chair watching a pornographic movie. He jumped up and said he did not expect her to bring anyone else. Respondent went into the other room, returned wearing pants, and wrote M.C. a check for $500."
  Sabatino is also a former professor of psychology at East Tennessee State University. From 1989 to 1994, he was the chair professor of Human Development and Learning. Phone calls made to ETSU to verify current employment were not immediately returned.
  Sabatino received a master's degree in 1961 from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in 1966.