A psychiatrist formerly employed by the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center has been arrested in Alaska for sex crimes he has been accused of committing in Guam. Dr. Abner Pasatiempo, according to the Office of the Attorney General of Guam, attempted to avoid facing his alleged victims by fleeing to Alaska. Authorities in Alaska apprehended him following cooperation between the OAG and the Alaskan attorney general.
A Superior Court of Guam judge issued three summonses earlier this year for Pasatiempo to appear at a hearing where he would face the charges against him. He failed to appear each time. Media reported he had appeared virtually for administrative hearings before the Guam Board of Medical Examiners during this same time period. After his display of blatant disregard for the law, the judge then issued a warrant of arrest.
Guam Attorney General Leevin Camacho initiated communications with Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. This prompted investigators of Guam’s OAG to establish contact with Alaska law enforcement authorities who were able to locate and arrest Pasatiempo. Attorney General Camacho stated, “this should send a clear message that we are carrying through on our commitment to take action against individuals who are alleged to have committed a crime through the abuse of their position with the government.”
Prior to his employment in Guam, the Board of Physicians in Maryland suspended Pasatiempo’s license for five years in 2006 for engaging in a sexual relationship with one of his patients. Then, after only 18 months, the Maryland board reinstated his license following the completion of his conditions but kept him on probation. The accused had a history of allegations behind him but the Guam Board of Medical Examiners Chairman still licensed him based on Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Centers’ ‘extraordinary need.’
In 2018, seven women under his care at GBHWC accused him of sexually harassing or abusing them. Around the time that the complaint was submitted, the doctor’s license was up for renewal. When he decided to withdraw his renewal application, the board conveniently lost its jurisdiction to continue investigating their colleague’s case. He was suspended from GBHWC and later resigned from the agency.
In discussions to address the allegations against Pasatiempo, the GBME tried to downplay the severity of the matter and excuse his behavior by pointing out that, though there was physical contact made by Pasatiempo, no intercourse is alleged. This abuse of power by the GBME and apathy toward the victims brought about OAG’s involvement because of the board’s unwillingness to do anything about the doctor’s misconduct. Worse, after being made aware of the circumstances, tried to help him clear his name by reaching out to the alleged victims. One of the seven women was asked for her consent to review her medical records because the doctor was trying to renew his license elsewhere and they needed to resolve the issues. Later, his counsel argued that the women may not be reliable or competent because they were recovering drug addicts.
Luckily, because Pasatiempo decided not to renew his license pending an investigation by GBME, a report was made to the National Practitioner Data Bank. As stated on the website, it “is a repository of reports containing information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers and suppliers.” The Data Bank prevents practitioners from practicing elsewhere without resolving previous issues at their prior place of employment.
Meanwhile, A Superior Court of Alaska Judge has ordered Pasatiempo not to leave the state and released him on a $2,000 bail bond. A status hearing was set for September 30, 2021. The OAG will be working with its colleagues in Alaska to decide how to proceed with the case.