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Counseling with Jan Pletcher?

"The Counseling Center maintains strict standards of confidentiality. We will not release any records of your counseling or discuss your case with anyone, outside the counseling center, without your written permission." --the University Web site
If only that were true. Like a lot of students at Taylor, I took advantage of counseling -- it was free, convenient, non-judgemental, private. Well almost. The *legal* privilege that exists between a client and a counselor is sacrosanct; everywhere but at Taylor.

This is part of the text of a January 2003 e-mail (I'll have the PDF up ASAP), from Jan Pletcher, chair of the communication arts department and my third or fourth academic advisor. She sent it to Bob Neideck, my counselor and director of the counseling center:
"I spoke with ... today concerning some urgent issues with Justin. They suggested I contact you. These issues concern theft, vandalism, an issue with a professor, and possesion of a number of Taylor keys that have not been issued to him. Is there any time that we can talk?"
This raises several issues. I'll address her allegations later. The first problem is that I never told her I was in counseling. I never signed a release that allowed her to be notified that I was in counseling or that any information could be shared with her.

And, I don't know what was shared with her. The school won't tell me. Bob Neideck kept meticulous notes on all contact with me and others who asked about me, but the University has ignored two request to have the records released to me (despite their legal obligation to do so).

More frightening, is that when she wanted information about me, she turned immediately to my counselor. Move this outside of the context of the university and it would be unexecusable. But to her, it was no problem to violate my privacy rights to further her own agenda, what ever that was. This is indicative of the climate of Taylor University -- one that doesn't repsect its student's rights.

In response to learning this and a host of other things, Taylor's lawyer said: ""No one ... has taken any action to harm you."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, you seem to have concerns about your violation of privilege in a counseling session. In general, under Indiana law, you have rights. However, I would like to point you to Indiana statutes.

ยง 25-23.6-6-1 states, in part, "Disclosure of privileged information
Matters communicated to a counselor in the counselor's official capacity by a client are privileged information and may not be disclosed by the counselor to any person, except under the following circumstances:
(1) In a criminal proceeding involving a homicide if the disclosure relates directly to the fact or immediate circumstances of the homicide.
(2) If the communication reveals the contemplation or commission of a crime or a serious harmful act."

Vandalism and possible theft, which you state in your blog, and which I assume was mentioned in the counseling, qualify under the "contemplation of a crime or a serious harmful act" as stipulated in the statute.

Additionally, I would have to side with the attorney in this case and say no harm has been levied against you by the university. You received your diploma? They didn't withold it, correct? They have not brought any formal charges against you, correct? If they have brought charges against you, is it safe to assume they have not held you against your will on their premises without habeus corpus, or had you arrested without habeus corpus? There is no harm levied against you, based on what you have mentioned in your blogs.

With that said, I have several more questions. First, what is your job? Do you have one? You mentioned you are a professional investigative reporter. If so, I recommend you get a new profession since you could not even discover a well-known statute. Either that, or you just ignore parts of the law that are not relevant to your online pleadings. You have provided me with a good laugh tonight, thanks to your ignorance, anger and bitterness.

November 8, 2004 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Well, uhm, that would be all well and good if I said anything to him about this stuff -- but since I didn't know about it until two weeks later, that would've been kind of hard. Jan Pletcher isn't a law enforcement authority of the state or the campus for that matter, so strike two, even if I had said something.

And my point is -- I don't know what she was told -- the problem was that she thought it okay to ask.

The damage comes in here: there are statutes that say accusing someone of an "indicatable offense" is slander per se... That'd defamation and is actionable in Indiana and my state without proving malice or actual damages. I'll leave you to look that one up.

The privilege is sacrosanct and the statute you referred to doesn't allow the counselor to waive it in this situation. But I didn't say he did.

You're from Taylor, and I know it's hard to accept that some people at Taylor would be capable of this kind of stuff -- but they are. They did it to me, and they may do it to others.

And there's more ... keep reading. I have a lot to say.

November 8, 2004 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 8, 2004 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Sorry...duplicate comments.

November 8, 2004 at 6:04 PM  

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