Non-licensed psychologist runs afoul of state board
Regulators have issued a cease and desist order against a St. Louis psychologist believed to have practiced in Colorado without a state license, as he also faces local scrutiny for reportedly being a registered sex offender in Missouri and Michigan.
The Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners issued the order against Dr. Stephen Gerard Viola, who Aspen police investigator Walter Chi believes is a sex offender who has consulted with parents and children in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Chris Lines, spokesman for the state Department of Regulatory Agencies, said the department acted as soon as it learned that Viola might have practiced without a license in Colorado.
The state order says there is credible evidence Viola was practicing in Colorado between May and November 2008. It says Viola waived his right to a hearing and voluntarily agreed to abide by the order not to practice without a Colorado license.
It doesn’t refer to his reported sex-offender status, which stems from offenses committed Feb. 18, 1998. Michigan’s registry says Viola, 44, was convicted July 24 of that year on two counts of accosting children for immoral purposes. Missouri’s registry indicates the victims were boys, ages 9 and 10.
The two states say Viola is a compliant offender, which Missouri defines as one who is registering as required. His registration requirement ends in 2023.
Chi said he is consulting with the official Viola registers with to determine whether Viola’s work with local families violates his registration requirements. But Chi doesn’t believe at this point that such a violation occurred.
“I think the point of what I would get out to parents is be cautious of who you would trust with your children,” Chi said.
Administrators with local schools sent notices to parents when they learned a registered sex offender might be practicing psychology in the area.
“We felt that it was the ethical and responsible thing to let them know,” said Chelsea Brundige, president of COMPASS, the operator of the Aspen Community School, Carbondale Community School and the Early Childhood Center.
Judy Haptonstall, superintendent of the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District, which stretches from Glenwood Springs to Basalt, said in her notification letter to parents that Viola never had been employed by the district but has been a guest speaker and consultant in the area during the last few years.
Colorado Mountain College spokeswoman Debra Crawford said a man named Stephen Viola previously had taught short workshops in the Roaring Fork Valley and Eagle County for area teachers, parents and counselors.
The workshops were about the neurology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and related topics. Viola hasn’t taught at CMC in at least two years, she said.
She said the college doesn’t have Social Security numbers to compare and doesn’t know for certain whether he’s the same person registered as a sex offender.
The man who taught those workshops worked at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Crawford said. A Stephen Viola currently directs that school’s Transition to Teaching Program, which helps people with bachelor’s degrees in other fields become special-education and secondary-school teachers.
A resume obtained by Haptonstall for the psychologist who reportedly practiced locally shows he heads that program and is a psychologist with the same address as the registered sex offender. The resume says he made presentations at CMC.
Viola and his attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday.