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This Whatcom County counselor is accused of bartering cigarettes for ‘intimate contact’

Here’s how Washington state deals with health care provider complaints

The Washington State Department of Health can impose fines, require counseling or re-training and impose practice limitations or suspension from practice on health care providers.
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The Washington State Department of Health can impose fines, require counseling or re-training and impose practice limitations or suspension from practice on health care providers.

The state is accusing a Whatcom County counselor of making inappropriate, sexually suggestive comments to a resident at a Bellingham treatment center where he worked.

Mathew Kevin Kyle Smith has been accused of unprofessional conduct, the Washington State Department of Health announced Tuesday, June 4. He has not responded to the allegations.

The allegations stem from his employment at Lake Whatcom Center, which helps those who are mentally ill.

He no longer works there.

Here are the allegations against him, according to the state agency’s documents online:

While working at Lake Whatcom Center, he “made inappropriate comments to Resident A, including but not limited to bartering for intimate contact with Resident A in exchange for cigarettes.”

He also made “sexually suggestive comments in an attempt to lure Resident A into having intimate contact with him.”

She rebuffed him. When she did, he “used his position of authority as her treatment provider to remind her of ‘her place’ in relation to his more powerful role, causing her to feel demeaned.”

Lake Whatcom Center fired him.

The state didn’t indicate when the alleged incidents occurred.

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His credential expired in September 2018, but Health Department officials said they’re still focusing on him because he could reactivate it easily for up to three years after the expiration date.

On more serious cases, creating a record that could be shared with another state’s agency also would make it more difficult for health care providers to avoid discipline by letting their license lapse and moving to another state, officials said.

Resources

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services: 24-hour Help Line: 360-715-1563, Email: info@dvsas.org.

Lummi Victims of Crime: 360-312-2015.

Bellingham Police: You can call anonymously at 360-778-8611, or go online at cob.org/tips.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.
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