News

Former psychologist pleads guilty to sexual exploitation

Patrick Pomfrey
Patrick Pomfrey

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor

A former psychologist convicted in November of sexually exploiting a patient, but given probation instead of prison, now faces the prospect of time behind bars for violating the terms of his release with a drunken driving arrest.

Patrick L. Pomfrey, 63, of Fairfield, is scheduled to appear in Jefferson County District Court on March 25 for a probation violation hearing. He was arrested Dec. 15 on a charge of second-offense drunken driving following a home visit by a probation officer as part of his supervised probation. His probation revocation hearing was set for Jan. 7, but Pomfrey motioned to delay the hearing, which the judge granted.

Pomfrey pleaded guilty in November to felony charge of sexual exploitation by a therapist and received a five-year suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation. He also pleaded guilty to witness tampering and practicing without a license and received suspended sentences on those charges. Though ordered to pay $45,249 in restitution to the woman and register as a sex offender, Pomfrey would have been able to avoid jail time if he had completed probation without violations.

During the Dec. 15 home visit, a probation officer said he found Pomfrey sitting in his car with keys in the ignition and the car running. There were open cans of beer in the center console of the car, the report said. It was the second home visit in as many months in which a probation officer found Pomfrey intoxicated, records show. The first incident did not result in criminal charges but is noted in court records.

A breath test estimated his blood-alcohol content at .236, nearly three times Iowa’s legal limit for impaired driving of .08. The probation officer contacted Fairfield Police, who arrested Pomfrey. He posted a $4,000 bond the same day and left jail pending additional proceedings.

“He stated that he has a problem and needs help. He said that he was not going to go anywhere,” the probation officer wrote in a violation complaint filed in Jefferson County District Court.

Pomfrey has pleaded not guilty to the charge of operating while intoxicated. A pretrial conference in that case has been scheduled for March 14.

Pomfrey’s most recent charges are the latest twist in a two-year criminal exploitation case which resulted in the former psychologist surrendering his professional license and also spawned a civil lawsuit in which the victim in the case, Leslie Marks, is suing Pomfrey for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander and other claims.

While The Fairfield Ledger does not typically name sexual abuse victims, Marks filed a civil lawsuit against Pomfrey in November 2017 under her own name, and provided The Ledger with court documents. The lawsuit is pending in Jefferson County District Court.

In his guilty plea, Pomfrey acknowledged he was involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with the victim. He acknowledged sending a text message threatening to sue Marks, and providing counseling from Sept. 25, 2015 until Sept. 17, 2016 while unlicensed.

Marks told the court her interaction with Pomfrey began in 2010 when she and her then-husband sought marriage counseling. Instead of patching up their marriage, Pomfrey pushed them apart and used her history of childhood sexual abuse and human trafficking to further exploit her, she said in a victim impact statement to the court.

Iowa professional standards and criminal law prohibit sexual relationships between providers and patients because of the abuse of trust in the patient-client dynamic.

Pomfrey sent her thousands of texts at all hours of the day, encouraged her to skip going on vacations with her family and pressured her to have sex, Marks said.

“I trusted him to help me heal from my old traumas, to help me and protect me from further trauma by creating a safe, therapeutic sanctuary in his office,” she said during her victim impact statement. “Instead, he went on to sexually exploit me in that very sanctuary.”

The texts Pomfrey sent Marks prompted the Iowa Board of Psychology to investigate Pomfrey for violating boundaries with his patients, and eventually led to the surrender of his license.

The Ledger contacted Pomfrey with a list of questions about the case, however, he declined answering specific questions because of the pending legal cases. He provided the following statement:

“Under legal advice, until all concerns have been adjudicated, this is all I’m allowed to say. My attorney informed me he could legally defend my case and felt reasonably confident I would prevail. He informed me it would cost $30,000 to $40,000. I didn’t have that kind of money. Had I had the finances to defend myself, I would have pled differently. The course I had in front of me was to plead guilty and hope the court would impose the minimum penalty. This is indeed what happened. I have moved on from this challenge and am happily married to my beautiful and supportive wife Noelle. We are looking forward to a new chapter in our lives and thank all of our families and supporters in our beautiful community of Fairfield.”