SALEM — His name has been splashed across television screens and book covers. Now psychiatrist Keith Ablow, who has ties to Lynn and Marblehead, is being sued by women patients claiming he exhibited “sexual and unprofessional behavior” with them.
Suits filed in Essex Superior Court in Salem on Feb. 21 by an Amesbury and a Boston woman seek jury trials for medical malpractice. The suits name Ablow and his practice, Baystate Psychiatry PC in Newburyport.
A third suit filed in Superior Court by a Salem woman last year also seeks a medical malpractice jury trial. All three suits were filed by Boston attorney Clyde D. Bergstresser.
A fourth suit filed by a Marston Mills woman in 2016 stated Ablow exchanged gifts with her and improperly prescribed pain medication for an orthopedic injury.
The Daily Item does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault and misconduct, but the complaints outlining the accusations against Ablow detail claims that he encouraged frequent text and email exchanges with the three women and urged two of the women to cut ties with family and move to Massachusetts to be near him.
The complaint filed by the Amesbury woman accuses Ablow of “engaging in physical sexual conduct which included acts of physical trauma … encouraging acts of physical submission” between 2015 and 2018.
The Salem woman’s complaint accuses Ablow of not charging for psychiatric sessions if the woman engaged in sexual conversations with him.
“The defendant, Keith Ablow, MD, was negligent in failing to exercise that degree of skill, care and diligence that is exercised by the average qualified psychiatrist,” the complaint stated.
Ablow did not return a call to his office Friday afternoon. But in a tweet on Thursday he said, “Categorically, completely deny the allegations lodged against me. I look forward to the court proceedings and will continue to offer excellent care to any patient who needs my help.”
Ablow’s attorney, A. Bernard Guekguezian of Boston, released a statement Friday afternoon saying Ablow “denies any and all allegations of improper behavior or substandard care in their entirety.
“We look forward to a full evaluation of all evidence before a panel of objective and fair-minded jurors,” the statement read.
The allegations leveled against Ablow, if proven to be true, present layers of ramifications for patients and the mental health profession, said North Shore Chamber of Commerce psychology professor Dr. Lori Azzara.
She said the American Psychological Association professional handbook prohibits sexual behavior between doctors and patients, including any behavior for two years past the date when a patient stops visiting a doctor.
Azzara is concerned for the women who filed the suits and for Ablow’s other patients.
“It damages any work he may be able to do. You have to ask, ‘How do I go into a session and trust him?'” she said.
Ablow’s practice website describes him as a “practicing adult and adolescent psychiatrist” providing services including psychotherapy, marriage counseling, and treating psychiatric disorders with medications.
His resume is a tale of success built upon success. A Class of 1979 Marblehead High School member who graduated Brown University in 1983, Ablow was studying medicine at John Hopkins University in 1986 when he won an American Medical Association award.
He co-wrote his first book while studying at Tufts University in 1989 and published a second book in 1992, the year he started a three-year career as medical director of the former Tri-City Mental Health in Lynn. Over the next five years, he wrote a true-crime book and debuted as a novelist with “Denial,” a thriller partly set in Lynn and Marblehead.
His television appearances included Court TV and Fox News.
The complaint filed by the Amesbury woman states that Ablow discussed his sexual preferences with the woman, took her to social events, and engaged in sex with her.
He also talked about his family, his employees and other patients with the woman, according to the complaint. Documents filed with the complaints indicate the suits are seeking $5 million in damages apiece.
Each suit states that the victim named in it “suffered and continues to suffer personal injury and extreme emotional distress.”