NEWARK - Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that the State Board of Social Work Examiners (“the Board”) has temporarily suspended the license of a Monmouth County licensed social worker following his arrest for allegedly touching a female client inappropriately during a therapy session.
Cheong “Alec” Park, 49, of Neptune, was arrested by Jersey City police on August 31 and charged with criminal sexual contact stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred during a counseling session in July.
Under an Interim Consent Order with the Board, Park has agreed to the temporary suspension of his license pending the disposition of the criminal charge and further action of the Board.
According to the Consent Order Park had engaged in physical contact with the woman during prior sessions by hugging and massaging her face, neck and shoulders and upper chest, telling her it was “relaxation therapy.” During the session in question, after the victim had shared that she had difficulty setting boundaries, Park allegedly proceeded to massage her chest and breasts inside her bra.
“There is no greater harm a mental healthcare provider can inflict on his patients than to exploit their trust in him to satisfy his own base needs,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Cheong Park allegedly used his role as a therapist to sexually prey on this vulnerable woman, an appalling breach of ethics and professional standards. In addition to resolving his criminal case, he will have to undergo a professional evaluation and be deemed fit to resume practice before the Board would consider reinstating his license.”
“The allegations against this licensed social worker represent serious and harmful acts that victimized a client,” said Sharon Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By obtaining the temporary suspension of Cheong Park’s license, the Board has acted swiftly to protect the public until these very serious allegations are resolved.”
Under the terms of the Interim Consent Order, Park is barred from engaging in the practice of clinical social work, social work, alcohol and drug counseling, mental health therapy and/or counseling, or the provision of social work services in any setting, including those exempt from licensing requirements such as uncompensated or volunteer practice, life coaching, internet counseling and/or non-profit or other exempt settings.
Deputy Attorney General Jodi C. Krugman, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, represented the State in this matter.
Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or (973) 504-6200. Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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