Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento social worker arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting patients

A licensed social worker who previously held contracts with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Child Protective Services now stands accused of sexually assaulting two female patients at his private practice, according to authorities.

Sheriff’s detectives on Thursday arrested and booked Marvin Dennis Todd, 71, into jail on suspicion of battery, sexual battery and sexual exploitation by a psychotherapist, all misdemeanors. He posted $5,000 bail.

The charges stem from encounters with two patients earlier this year, authorities said. A third patient interviewed by detectives and a fourth who filed a complaint with the state in 2001 described unprofessional – but not criminal – behavior by Todd, according to court documents filed in Sacramento Superior Court.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman said detectives believe there could be more victims and are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Todd did not return a phone call from The Sacramento Bee.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, according to jail booking records. On behalf of the Board of Behavioral Sciences, which licensed Todd, the attorney general’s office is expected to ask the judge overseeing that hearing to suspend Todd’s license until the criminal case is finished, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The investigation into Todd’s behavior began Feb. 20, when a patient called the Sheriff’s Department to report her therapist had touched her breast during a visit a few days earlier. When she asked what Todd was doing, she said he told her “he thought it would be more comforting for both of us,” according to a transcript of the woman’s comments contained in a detective’s request for an arrest warrant.

Although she was uncomfortable, the woman stayed for the remainder of her appointment “because I had some issues that I had to resolve, hence the reason why I called him in the first place,” the woman reportedly told investigators. “But during that time I was also confused and trying to figure out what he really wanted.”

The woman had been seeing Todd for three years, and had never before experienced a sexual advance by him, according to the warrant request. But in thinking back to previous visits, she said she saw “signs that would indicate why he did this.” He had regularly hugged her, kissed her on the cheek and told her he loved her, she reportedly told investigators.

“He has also said numerous times during our counseling sessions that the biggest challenge for him would be that he liked me so much it would be hard for him to do his job,” she said, according to the warrant affidavit.

The woman’s allegations led to the charges of sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a victim by a psychotherapist.

In addition to calling the Sheriff’s Department, the woman reportedly confided in a close friend, who also was a patient of Todd’s. That friend told investigators Todd once kissed her on the lips, but didn’t try again after she said it made her uncomfortable. She, too, reported hugs and kisses on the cheek. But she told detectives she was most concerned about her friend being taken seriously and filed a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs to draw further attention to Todd.

A sheriff’s detective learned of two other complaints made with the state about Todd: by another woman this year, and a third by a woman in 2001.

The other recent complaint came from a woman who had been seeing Todd for about three months. She sought help dealing with “grief and boundary issues” after her husband’s death left her raising two boys on her own.

During one appointment, Todd “went to hug me goodbye and tried to stick his tongue down my throat,” according to the detective’s warrant request. When she protested, he did it again, she said. That allegation led to the battery charge against Todd.

The woman who filed the complaint in 2001 said Todd interrupted one session with her and, according to the detective’s transcript, said, “Let’s stop all of this nonsense. We can move this table to one side, take off all of our clothes and go to it on the floor.”

She left, but returned for her next appointment “believing I had misunderstood his intent,” she said, according to the warrant request. He “renewed his offer” and she left, never seeing him again.

Todd carried out his private practice in a clinic on Fulton Avenue. But documents obtained by The Bee indicate his work also included contracts with the Sheriff’s Department to provide “police psychological services” in the fiscal years 2003-04, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. In at least three of those contracts, his rate was $110 per hour with a cap of $35,000.

A sheriff’s spokeswoman said the department’s records indicate Todd was paid a total of about $35,000 over the years. A spokeswoman with Sacramento County said she could not obtain information about Todd’s contracts with the county by The Bee’s deadline.

But the contract with the Sheriff’s Department, approved in 2003, detailed Todd’s credentials and experience, including time doing social work for CPS and the UC Davis Psychiatric Crisis Clinic. That contract indicates Todd had subcontracted work with the Sheriff’s Department through another therapist for the previous two years.

According to that contract, Todd had a bachelor of arts in sociology-psychology from La Sierra College, a master’s in social work from California State University, Sacramento, and a doctorate of philosophy degree from the California Graduate School of Psychology in Corte Madera.

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