Woman sues St. Louis therapist for implanting false memories of satanic worship

Friday, February 17, 2012 | 9:51 a.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A second woman has filed suit claiming a suburban St. Louis therapist used hypnosis to implant false memories of cult involvement and convinced her those memories were responsible for her eating disorder.

Leslie Thompson filed her suit Wednesday in St. Louis, naming Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis County and therapist Mark Schwartz. A similar suit was filed in November by another patient, Lisa Nasseff.

Ken Vuylsteke, the attorney for both women, said more suits are likely, though he declined to speculate how many.

Messages left Thursday for Schwartz were not immediately returned. A statement from Castlewood said officials there have not seen the lawsuit but will "vigorously" defend against the allegations.

"We are confident in the care we have provided to all of our clients for more than a decade," the statement said. "Castlewood has treated over 1,000 clients and is a leading treatment center for those suffering from severe anorexia, bulimia and compulsive over-eating. Many clients, who have spent years of their lives in other treatment centers and hospitals, come to and find healing at Castlewood after having tried many different options."

Thompson, 26, was treated for anorexia at Castlewood from December 2007 through May 2010. Thompson and Nasseff, 31, both claimed that Schwartz conducted hypnosis to treat their eating disorders — Nasseff was also being treated for anorexia. Both suits claim that Schwartz convinced them that repressed memories of satanic worship were the reasons behind their disorders.

Both lawsuits claim the women were led to believe they had memories of being sexually abused and raped, and that they participated in horrific activities, including witnessing the sacrifice of babies. Both suits claim the women were led to believe they had multiple personalities.

Both women also claim that Schwartz warned them they would die from their eating disorders if they left Castlewood.

Thompson and Nasseff are both from Minnesota. Vuylsteke said that was no coincidence because Minnesota requires insurance companies to pay for long-term care of eating disorders, while many states don't.

Thompson said she ran up bills of $600,000. Nasseff's suit alleged bills of $650,000.

"It seems the patients who come from areas with unlimited insurance coverage or generous insurance plans, or who have wealthy parents, are singled out for this intensive therapy," Vuylsteke said. "They're the ones who end up with the stories about multiple personalities and histories of abuse."

Neither woman's suit specifies the amount being sought.

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