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Menendez brothers' psychologist surrenders license


Therapist charged with leaking confidential information

January 3, 1997
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EST

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- A psychologist who allegedly leaked information to his girlfriend and police about the Menendez brothers' shotgun slayings of their wealthy parents surrendered his medical license to the California Department of Consumer Affairs on Friday.

The Consumer Affairs Board of Psychology said Leon Jerome Oziel violated the professional confidence of his clients, Erik and Lyle Menendez.

The brothers were sentenced in July 1996 to life in prison without parole for the murders of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. Prosecutors said Erik and Lyle shot their parents in August 1989 to gain their fortune. The brothers claimed they were victims of years of sexual abuse and thought they were acting in self-defense when they killed their parents.

The board accused Oziel in 1993 of sharing confidential information with a patient who was also his girlfriend. It said Oziel allowed Judalon Smyth to listen to and reproduce audiotapes of his therapy sessions with the Menendez brothers. Smyth later turned over the tapes to police.

"We had charged him (Oziel) with a variety of offenses," said Nancy Hardaker, spokeswoman for the Consumer Affairs Department. "Rather than go to court, he surrendered his license."

Hadn't been in practice lately

"He elected to do this because it was not practical to defend the license," said Bradley Brunon, Oziel's attorney. "He is not practicing psychology anymore and hasn't been for several years. It wasn't worth the expense and interference with his life."

Brunon said that Oziel surrendered his license "while at the same time denying he engaged in any improprieties."

The Beverly Hills psychologist, who specialized in phobias, had agreed to give up his license of 22 years on September 16, but the final paperwork was not filed until Friday.

Oziel can petition for reinstatement of his California license in three years, according to legal papers. The charges against him will be listed in a national databank and will appear if he tries to apply for a medical license in another state.

If Oziel is granted a new license in California, he must reimburse the state Board of Psychology for the costs of the investigation, a figure totaling $17,699.97.

Oziel accused of improper relationships with patients

Oziel was also charged with having both a business and sexual relationship with Smyth and supplying her with drugs. The board has accused Oziel of physically assaulting Smyth on two occasions.

The board also accused Oziel of engaging in sexual misconduct with a pair of female patients, but his attorney denied the charge.

"He strongly denies that either of the two women involved were ever patients," said Brunon. He said there were no physical records to prove it.

Oziel's license was temporarily suspended in 1986 for "engaging in a dual relationship with a patient," according to legal documents.

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