Ft. Riley therapist charged with stalking soldier

February 1, 2011 4:57:57 AM PST
A therapist who was treating a Fort Riley soldier for post-traumatic stress was accused of stalking her patient in a case that culminated in a high-speed chase after she breeched the gates of the military installation. Rachelle Santiago, 43, of Manhattan was charged Monday in a federal criminal complaint with stalking the sergeant she was counseling for PTSD and marital issues. She also was charged with attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Santiago is a clinical social worker who was working as a contract employee at the Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley.

Her defense attorney, Ron Wurtz, could not be reached for comment Monday because the federal public defender's office closed early due to inclement weather.

An affidavit filed by Special Agent Lisa Medrano of the 78th Military Police Detachment at the base details her investigation into a complaint filed last week by a sergeant alleging he was harassed, stalked and sexually assaulted by his therapist. The Associated Press is not naming the sergeant because he is the alleged victim of sexual abuse.

The sergeant told investigators that his counseling sessions began in December, with the first sessions going well. But during a Jan. 22 encounter, Santiago allegedly groped him and told him she wanted to have sex with him. The sergeant said he did not reciprocate the fondling and left.

The following day he received 15 text messages and missed calls on his phone, including a photo of a pink lingerie. He texted his therapist to stop sending him messages and to stop calling him. But that only generated more messages, according to the affidavit.

On Jan 23, the sergeant and his wife found footprints in the snow leading to his door after someone rang the doorbell and left. A car matching the description of the therapist's car was spotted adjacent to their home.

The investigator's affidavit said the sergeant said he was becoming more alarmed with the situation, feeling as though he was losing his sense of security in his home and for his family. He said he felt "like he did during his deployment, edgy with a need for a heightened sense of security to protect his home and his family."

He asked his therapist to meet him at the Burger King Restaurant to ask her to stop calling, texting and harassing him. She gave him a white envelope with the words, "My Master" written on the front. He returned it without opening it. Santiago removed her wedding ring and allegedly told the sergeant was now "her man," the affidavit said.

On Jan. 24, the sergeant confided in a fellow soldier and was advised to report the matter. On the way home, the sergeant and his wife saw the therapist sitting in the car outside their home. The sergeant told investigators he was scared for his family because the therapist had threatened to go to the Child Development Center attended by his children or to his wife's workplace and hurt them if he did not come see her.

The text messages became increasingly threatening: "I don't want to hurt you, you are hurting me," "I will eat your lunch . the only way you can protect your boys," "You come talk to me or I will jack your world 6 ways to Sunday and don't doubt my ability to do this," "You want a crazy bitch, I will be your crazy bitch."

On Jan. 25, Santiago was issued a notice barring her from entering the Ft. Riley military installation. But later that same day she tried to get in and was issued a citation for criminal trespass, according to the affidavit.

The following day, she sped through another entrance at a high rate of speed. Military police began a 50-minute-long pursuit which reached 110 miles per hour. Police backed off and pursued from a safe distance until Santiago eventually stopped.

She was transported to the Geary Community Hospital and placed under police guard. She allegedly tore things off the wall in the examination room and had to be restrained. Emergency room staff reported she was "completely out of control, manic, profane, and delusional and was screaming, yelling and flailing around on the cart," the affidavit said.

Four hours later, she was transported to Osawatomie State Mental Hospital for treatment. A physician there stated Santiago had a "psychotic break" due to heavy doses of a steroidal medicine she was taking for a breathing and bronchial disorder.

Meanwhile that same day, the sergeant found the envelope with the word "Master" printed on the front beneath the seat of his car. The envelope was seized as evidence and opened, according to the affidavit. It contained a card with Santiago's hand-written declaration of her love for him.

Santiago also left the sergeant a pair of perfumed panties.

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