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Tomah VA counselor faces sex assault charges
Senator: Allegations are 'deeply disturbing'
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Police at the Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center are investigating allegations that a mental health counselor sexually assaulted patients in the hospital’s psychiatric unit.

The 47-year-old man was arrested Jan. 4 by the Tomah VA police and booked into jail.

The La Crosse Tribune reports that the man, who is a peer support specialist.  was released on a signature bond Jan. 5 and is expected to be charged this week.

In an email to employees, acting hospital director Victoria Brahm said a patient reported “inappropriate behavior” by an unnamed peer support specialist on Dec. 31, and he was removed from clinical duties.

“The allegations reported in the press are deeply disturbing,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in a statement Jan. 6. “If they are true, and if patients at the Tomah VA suffered sexual assault, it would be an absolutely deplorable violation of the duty this nation and the VA owe to the finest among us, especially those seeking relief for physical and emotional wounds.

“Nearly one year after serious problems at the Tomah VA came to widespread attention, it is of utmost importance that the VA protect our veterans from wrongdoers.  I will continue to hold VA officials accountable while also addressing the other problems that have engulfed the Tomah VA,” Johnson concluded.

The committee continue to investigate the overprescription of painkillers and other failures of patient care at the Tomah VA.

The facility in west central Wisconsin came under scrutiny last year following reports that physicians were prescribing more painkillers than most VA hospitals, and that employees who spoke out were subjected to intimidation.