May 25, 2009
My Life as a Crime Fighter: The Case of the Predator Psychiatrist – Part 2
Part 1 of "My Life as a Crime Fighter: The Case of the Predator Psychiatrist" can be found HERE.
[Note: Some names and details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals, especially the victims.]
Wearing a Wire
I offered to go see the psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph R. Dorsey, and try to get him to make incriminating statements about having sex with his patient, Gertrude (Gerti) Kossik. Gerti's husband, Nathan, and her (now former) lover, Janice Wines, were surprised that I would offer to play cloak and dagger. It never occurred to them, but they felt it could help their complaint with the New York State Department of Education concerning Dorsey's medical license, as well as their civil case. Their attorneys, Willard Marino and Robert Cohen, thought it was a great idea. I agreed to wear a wire, a concealed tape recorder, to gather the evidence. It wouldn't be a problem getting access to Dorsey because we knew each other from varied professional events in the mid-Hudson Valley. Also, I consulted with him about IBM employees who were having adjustment problems at work. I was at his office once or twice, so there shouldn't be a problem making an appointment to see him under the pretense of discussing matters about a couple of employees.
The trial attorney, Bob Cohen, gave me a legal briefing on the secret recording of telephone and personal conversations. By this time, I was sure Bob had been a yeshiva student, if not a trained rabbi, in an earlier life. Not only did he look and sound like a biblical scholar, but he would raise his right hand, index finger extended and pointing toward heaven, to emphasize the authority of his points of analysis and conclusions, “Now if you consider the intent, and the fact that it will be a matter for both a civil and administrative trial, ...”. Later I told him he presented himself like a biblical scholar. He smiled at me and said, “Thanks. That's a great compliment.” I asked why he was called a 'trial attorney'. “Don't all attorneys participate in trials?”, I asked. He smiled again and said, “Asking me that question is good news for you.” “How's that?”, I replied. He straightened up a bit and said, “It means you've been fortunate, to this point in your life, not to have been involved in matters that required interactions with lawyers.” He went on to explain the distinction between solicitor and barrister in the U.K. While we don't have the same formal classification in the U.S., there is an informal and practical alignment that results from personal preferences and experiences among attorneys. My status as a legal ingénue would come to an end in a couple of years.
For New York State, the law concerning the secret recording of a conversation is as clear as it is simple. Anyone can can record any telephone conversation, or personal conversation, to which one is a party. There is no requirement to inform the other person in advance of, during, or following the conversation. Permission from the other party, or parties, is not required. The laws in other states will vary. For example, Linda Tripp was violating the laws of the State of Virginia when she secretly recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky.
I purchased a small, easily concealed, cassette tape recorder. It had a rechargeable battery, a built-in microphone, an external plug-in microphone, easy controls, optional voice activation, and good sound quality on playback. After testing it, I concluded it was not very good at recording a voice that was not close to the built-in or the external plug-in microphone. The device was better used as a personal dictation unit. So I returned to my professional technical adviser, Jimmy, the sales clerk at Radio Shack. He sold me an external CONDENSER microphone. It was like any other external plug-in microphone, except that it had its own power supply in the form of an in-line AA battery. Also, it was omni-directional. The difference in recording quality and sensitivity was like night and day. I decided not to use the voice activation feature because it could result in loss of a small amount of initiating voice. The cassette tape, itself, was a problem. The tapes came in four variations of recording time: 60, 90, 120, and 180 minutes. This included recording time on each side of the tape. I would not be able to flip over the tape while conversing with Dorsey. So, I opted to use a 180 minute cassette. This insured me up to 90 minutes of recording. Also, I would have to start the recorder before I arrived at his driveway and I didn't know how much time I might have to sit in his waiting room. I needed as much continuous recording time as possible. Using a 180 minute cassette had its own problems. In order to fit the longer 180 minute tape into the standard cassette housing, the manufacturer had to use a thinner tape medium than is used for the 60, 90, and 120 minute tape cassettes. The thinner tape had a tendency to tangle and jam, more so than the shorter and thicker tapes.
I concealed the tape recorder in the inside right vest pocket of my suit coat. This is where I normally carried my wallet. The external condenser microphone was threaded from inside the pocket, through the lining of my jacket, around the back, and terminating inside my left vest pocket. There was a black clip on the small microphone head, also black. It was attached to the top opening of my left inside vest pocket. The microphone would face forward, away from me, when I unbuttoned my jacket.
It's Going Down
I called Dorsey to make an appointment to discuss a couple of employee cases. I told him we needed about an hour. His office and home are a short way off the east end of the IBM Fishkill facility. It's only ten minutes from the moment I leave my office and head toward the lobby of the administration building, and then out to the parking lot to get my car. I stopped before I got to his driveway, where I was concealed from his house by high bushes. I turned on my tape recorder and made sure everything was working properly. The battery had a full charge, and I put a new AA battery in the external condenser microphone. I turned on the car radio and waited for an announcer to state the time and station identification, for purposes of the recording. I kept the radio on for continuity in the recording. I spoke out loud in the car and identified myself, gave the date, and said something about what I was doing and where I was. I got carried away with this. “Ok, I released the brake, and I'm driving toward Dorsey's driveway...now I am turning right and pulling into his driveway...the address is...I'm turning off the engine...I'm getting out of my car...walking up to office...it is on the left as I approach the house...it is attached to his house...I am now ringing his door bell...”. For anyone who listened to the tape, the unique sound of my 1972 VW Super Beetle was unmistakable.
Dorsey answered the door, stepped back as he held it open, gave me a welcome greeting, and asked me in. I stepped in and turned left. I am at one end of the waiting room. It was not terribly wide, but it was long, had a couple of windows, a coat closet, and could seat at least five or six people. The lighting was incandescent, subdued by shades on the lamps, and gave a brown and gold sense of warmth to the room; The chairs were nicely upholstered, the furniture fit for any living room, and the carpeting firm and thick; The window treatments were attractive and probably decorator selected, and the walls were wood paneled. It was as nice as any room in an old money country home in Connecticut. Classical music was piped in from somewhere else in the house.
Midway into the waiting room I turn right into Dorsey's office. The door well into his office is at least 18 inches deep, and the wall between the office and the waiting room is just as thick. There is an in-wall sliding door on the waiting room side, and also on the office side. This insured complete privacy from anyone in the waiting room, and total sound isolation within his office. I turn left as I entered his office and take the first of two overstuffed chairs. Seated with my back to the wall that separated us from the waiting room, I wait for Dorsey to close and latch both sliding doors, and walk around his large desk and take his seat, facing me from the other side of the desk. He was short in stature and sat in a large leather executive chair. He would lean back in his chair, put his feet up on an ottoman under the desk, and work with his files and notepad in his lap. To my right against the far wall, to his left, was a long leather couch. It was conventional in shape, and not like the ogival couch in Sigmund Freud's office. Between Dorsey's chair and the couch was a door, opening into the wall behind him, and accessed his house. The décor was just as elegant, warm, comfortable and subdued as in the waiting room. To my left, in the corner, was a grandfather clock that marked time with an easy, calming tick-tock and a soft, unalarming chime appropriate for each quarter hour. I thought this would be a perfect room to retreat from the world, relax in a comfortable chair, put on classical music, pour a glass of sherry, and curl up with good book.
If you have ever read a transcript of an FBI wiretap, you find that 99 percent of it is banal, uninteresting, too cryptic to be understood, and sleep inducing. No one speaks in complete sentences, nor do they use proper grammar. A great deal of normal conversation, face to face or by telephone, is largely idiomatic. Then comes that one moment for which you've been waiting, and the words stand up and salute you. You cannot predict the actual words, and you have no idea what will actually be revealed. It's never what you expect, but, when it pops up in front of you like a Jack-in-the-Box, the recognition and satisfaction are instantaneous.
I left my brief case on the floor to my right, sat back in the chair, unbuttoned my suit coat, and parted my coat front to bare a lot of my white shirt. This would give the least encumbered access to sound for the microphone. Before Dorsey had a chance to say a word, I apologized and said I was actually here for a different reason. I was deliberately polite, deferential, and nervous. I said that I needed to talk about my friends and neighbors, Nathan and Gertrude Kossik, and that I understood they were seeing him for more than two years. “Oh yes,” he said, “Nate and Gerti. I'm trying to help them as best I can. What's on your mind?” I told him that this was difficult for me, but that I had to speak directly to him about a serious matter. “How serious?”, he asked. I told him that Nate and Gerti confided in me that he was having a sexual relationship with Gerti during her sessions for about two years. Dorsey might as well have been Santa Claus with a jolly laugh the way he quickly intruded into my words with an “Oh Ho Ho, Oh No. Maybe in Gerti's mind, but, no, nothing real or of the sort.” He was amused, and I should perish the thought that it would ever happen. I went on to tell him I spoke to them both, that they were very upset about it, they didn't know what to do, and asked me to help them. He and I went back and forth, with me doing most of the talking and explaining, and Dorsey trying to reassure me with a repetitive succession of “Oh Ho Ho, Oh No?” I pressed him on it, and said I was inclined to believe them. All the while I was apologetic, and deferential. He became more and more detailed and elaborate in his characterization of Gerti as a very disturbed woman, prone to sexual fantasy, and believing that her own made-up stories were real. “It's all in her head,” he assured me. Eventually, he started to discredit Nate, as well. I don't remember the exact words, anymore, but it was along the line that Nate was insecure and prone to be manipulated by his wife.
Things started to turn in the tenor of our discussion. I was persistent and started to ask him, “Why don't you just acknowledge what happened? This way we can bring this to a close and Nate and Gerti can get on with their lives.” I decided long before that I would not broach the matter of Dorsey having sex with his other patient, Janice Wines. I wanted to keep this as circumscribed as possible in the hope that he might be more forthcoming. Dorsey dropped the Jolly Ole St. Nick routine and started to talk about Gerti in more solicitous terms. He talked about how unhappy she was in her marriage, that she was needy and craved affection. Again I asked, “So, why don't you just acknowledge you had sex with her and the matter will be closed and we can both go home?” Each time we repeated this conversational cycle, he became, little by little, more explicit about close physical contact with Gerti. Each repetition described Gerti as more needy, more starved of affection, wanting someone to hold her, and Dorsey trying to be as helpful and sympathetic as possible. After a long time of this progression, I asked, “So what did you do with her?” Dorsey replied, in a pleading and apologetic voice “Well, I was trying to help her, and it was everything short of intercourse. But, we didn't have intercourse.” “GOTCHA!”, I said to myself.
I learned a technique and expression from a friend of mine who used to be an IBM sales rep and Sales Branch Manager. It's called, “Get the order, and get out!” Once your client signs the purchase order for a $2,000,000 computer, get the hell out of his office and completely off his company's property. If you hang around and engage in chit chat or go to dinner, there's always the chance that new questions will be raised and the sale could be jeopardized. I got the order and now I have to get out. I put my eyes down, my right arm over my chair, and picked up my brief case. I no longer maintained eye contact with Dorsey. I remained polite, deferential, and apologetic. I said I was disappointed because I thought he wasn't completely forthcoming. I said I'm sorry about the whole thing for him and the Kossiks, and that I hope they can put it all behind them and move on with their lives. Dorsey said nothing to me. I let myself out. It wasn't until I was out of sight that I dropped my sad, disappointed, dejected, and stooped demeanor, and pulled off the road. I finished with my closing annotations for the recording. “I left Dorsey's office about three minutes ago...I am parked in my car at...The time is now...I am turning off the tape recorder.” Of course, I was able to verify that the entire conversation was recorded. There is another expression I learned from a friend at IBM, “NIGYYSOB”. You pronounce it phonetically, except you do so as if there is only one 'Y'. It means: “Now I Got You, You Son Of a Bitch!”
I didn't go back to my own office. Instead, I went home. It was Friday and I spent the entire weekend transcribing the tape. I had no transcribing equipment or ear phones. So, I did the entire operation manually on my dining room table. I would PLAY a few seconds, STOP and write down the words. Often I would REWIND, PLAY, STOP if the words were not very intelligible. More than a few times, that weekend, the thin tape would be jammed and entangled, from all the STOP, REWIND, PLAY, STOP. Several times I had forty feet or more of the tape pulled outside the cassette, and trying to untwist tissue thin spaghetti and rewind it into the cassette reels. Here's another expression: “Trying to put toothpaste back into the tube.” Eventually, I got it all transcribed. I gave copies to Nate, Gerti, and Jan, and sent copies to Marino and Cohen. John Froman, the investigator from the New York State Department of Education, lived in Lagrange, not far from me, so I drove over to his house to deliver the tape and my transcript. He took the tape but refused to take my transcript. He said, “We work only from our own professional transcriptions, and nothing else.”
It took a couple of years for Dorsey to be stripped of his New York State Medical License. Sometime later I drove by his house to check on his doctor shingle. “Joseph R. Dorsey” was still displayed, prominently, along with “Psychotherapy and Counseling”. Gone was “M.D.” and “Psychiatry”. After submitting the tape to Froman I was no longer involved in the matter with either the Department of Education, or with the attorneys for the Kossiks and Janice Wines. For a time I stayed in contact with Froman, because I wanted to follow the process. He told me that the African American physician on the board was the most outraged at Dorsey's behavior when he first listened to my tape. Neither of us knew what would be the effect of Dorsey's important part in the history of housing desegregation in New York State. The existence of my tape recording was not made known, immediately, to Dorsey, his attorney, and his insurance company. Until that time, Dorsey's defense was that Nate, Gerti, and Jan were all loony. One was sicker than the other. Dorsey acknowledged that he met with me but made no admissions to me. In fact, I was added to his list of crazy, delusional conspirators. I wish I could have seen his face when confronted with the transcript of our meeting. NIGYYSOB!
Legal papers were served on Dorsey by the attorneys for the Kossiks and Janice. Eventually, they discontinued the suits but reserved the right to refile. Gerti and Jan didn't want to go through depositions and trials and put everything on the public record. I came to learn that neither wanted to file a complaint in the first place. They only did so because of Nate's insistence.
Nate and Gerti continued for a while with therapy. Gerti stopped her therapy and continued to show a decline in her mental health. However, she was somewhat functional, completed her nursing degree, and began work as a psychiatric nurse at the V.A. Hospital in Montrose, NY. She was drinking heavily, and stealing drugs from her hospital. Not infrequently, Liz or I would get a call from Nate to say Gerti never returned from work in time to pick up their kids from their after school sitter. One of us would pick up the kids. Several times Nate got a call from one of Gerti's friends from work, saying that a few of them went out for drinks, Gerti had a little too much alcohol, was not in shape to drive home, and one of her friends would take her home for the night. Before Nate told me he was going to divorce Gerti, he told me she contracted an STD outside the marriage, and got pregnant outside the marriage. At first, she tried to convince him it was his child. She kept changing her story about long she was pregnant. After having an abortion, she was committed, voluntarily, to a psychiatric ward in a local hospital for one week. Eventually, Nate figured out who the father was – a coworker at the hospital. Janice Wines, eventually, got her act together, met a decent guy, married, and had another child.
When I started this writing, I thought I would close with a discussion on the idea of Justice. I intended it much the same way as when I opened with a discussion of Justice in Part 1 of this story. I find it is impossible for me to say anything about Justice that does not speak for itself in the facts of this unfortunate story. The only comment I can make is in the form of a few questions. What if Dorsey was not a predator psychiatrist? What if he was a compassionate and talented healer? What if the politicians in New York City had referred Dorsey for discipline with the medical licensing authority instead of letting him relocate to a different county? I'm glad I told this story. You will have to draw your own lessons from it. Why don't you comment on them, below.
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