IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former psychiatrist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has agreed to surrender his medical license to settle a complaint that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female patient, state regulators said Tuesday.
The Iowa Board of Medicine released its settlement agreement with Sergio Paradiso, 49, who was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with the mental health patient and violating professional boundaries for physicians.
The board filed its complaint against Paradiso in July, one year after a 30-year-old woman filed a civil lawsuit against Paradiso in Johnson County. The board last week formally accepted the settlement with Paradiso, who had practiced in Iowa since 2000.
The board's complaint alleged Paradiso encouraged the woman to drink alcohol even though she had a history of alcohol abuse, contacted and met with her repeatedly outside of treatment settings, gave her gifts, and ultimately engaged in a sexual relationship. The woman had been getting treatment from Paradiso for an eating disorder and alcoholism.
Hospital spokesman Tom Moore confirmed Paradiso resigned Aug. 4 from his $144,000-per-year job. He declined further comment.
Paradiso's attorney for employment and regulatory matters, Marc Mills, declined comment on the decision to surrender his medical license, which was made in September before a board hearing on the allegations against him. Mills said that Paradiso, who was also an associate university professor, was not on paid leave before his resignation.
The woman's lawsuit against Paradiso is pending, and he is not being defended by the hospital or state. An insurer that covers malpractice claims against university physicians, Iowa Medical Mutual Insurance, obtained a court order in July saying that it has no obligation to defend Paradiso or to cover any damages he might be ordered to pay in the case.
The woman alleges in her lawsuit that she went to Paradiso for treatment in 2008 and 2009 before they started the relationship in early 2010. She claims Paradiso "used her for his own sexual gratification," taking advantage of his knowledge of her mental health history to pursue the relationship and causing her to relapse into abusing alcohol.
The woman's lawyer, Mike Carroll, said he is continuing to investigate details of the case, which is scheduled for trial next year.
"She is sad that this all happened. She's grateful for the medical board's action, and she's working to piece her life back together," he said. "It's a very unfortunate ending, at least to this chapter, that a doctor had to surrender his license because of engaging in egregious misconduct."