Department of Justice Seal


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CRM
APRIL 14, 1998
(202) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOV
TDD (202) 514-1888



PRESS RELEASE - INFORMATION AND PLEA AGREEMENT


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Department of Justice announced today that Barbara Ann Battalino, 52, of Los Osos, California, has pleaded guilty to an information charging her with one count of obstruction of justice.

Battalino served as a staff psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Boise, Idaho from February 1991 to October 1991. She was assigned to the VA's psychiatric in-patient and out-patient units where she provided treatment to the hospital's patients who, in most cases, were combat veterans. In May 1991, Battalino was assigned a patient named Edward Arthur, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, who sought treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition from which he suffered as a result of over four years of combat.

On October 31, 1992, Arthur sued Battalino and the VA in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, alleging that Battalino committed medical malpractice when she engaged in sexual relations with him during an office visit on June 27, 1991. Battalino requested, through the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho, that the United States "certify" her under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). The FTCA provides that the United States will substitute itself as a defendant in a tort suit brought against a federal employee when the alleged tortious conduct occurred within the scope of the defendant's federal employment. If a defendant is granted full substitution, or "certification," she would not be liable for damages.

In December 1992, attorneys from the United States Attorney's Office interviewed Battalino about Arthur's allegations. She denied to them that she had engaged in sexual relations with Arthur in her office on June 27, 1991. Based on her denial, the United States Attorney decided to certify Battalino for her conduct through June 27, 1991, the date of the alleged office incident, but not thereafter. To the extent that Battalino was certified, she would not have been liable for damages to Arthur.

On July 13-14, 1995, Chief Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams conducted a hearing to determine the scope of Battalino's employment at the VA. During the hearing she testified falsely under oath about what had happened between Arthur and her during his visit on June 27, 1991. In so doing, she violated the obstruction of justice statute, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1503. She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20, 1998 at 9:30 A.M. before the Honorable Edward J. Lodge.

This case is being prosecuted by Jonathan Mitchell, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice. It was investigated by Special Agent Thomas Summers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

For further information please contact John Russell, U.S. Department of Justice, (202)514-2008.

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