Last week, Daniel Durward Staats, a counselor from Dalton, Georgia, was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from one of his clients. He appeared to be heading in that direction with another client, too.
The first victim was on probation and said Staats fondled her breasts and coerced her into performing oral sex on him. The other was ordered to see a counselor by a judge to handle her anger management problems and chose Staats because he was the cheapest option on a list provided to her; she said Staats friended her on Facebook using a pseudonym, then asked her to send him (presumably illicit) pictures.
The Times Free Press notes that Staats has denied the charge.
Maybe you’re wondering how the hell Staats had a counseling license when he clearly had no respect for the boundaries.
The answer is: He didn’t. He never had that stamp of approval from the government. And yet he was able to maintain a practice — to the point where judges were including his “Helping the Hurting” practice as an option for patients — all because he ran it under a Christian umbrella.
Staats is not a licensed professional counselor, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, but he was still able to practice because he held a master of divinity degree. In Georgia, counselors do not need approval from the state government if their work features “a specialty in accordance with Biblical doctrine.”
That mandated lack of government oversight may have allowed Staats to get away with this abuse (and charge lower rates to draw in more clients) all while state officials had no way to keep tabs on him. We don’t yet know why his name was included on a list provided to people in the courthouse.
We’ve seen this sort of abuse happening in the past with Christian day cares, too. By wearing the cloak of religion, and therefore not being subject to usual regulations, these religious businesses are allowed to break the law to the detriment of the people they’re supposedly trying to help.
Counselors like Staats have no business getting business, and the state shouldn’t be recommending them to anyone. Without religion getting in the way, Staats may have been caught much sooner, before he could hurt even more women.
(Thanks to Alex for the link)