BALLWIN, Mo. -- The founder of the Castlewood Treatment Center for eating disorders is no longer leading the center in St. Louis County, or its facility in California, following lawsuits by former clients.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Mark Schwartz and his partner, Lori Galperin, stepped down from daily operations. Castlewood director Nancy Albus is now CEO.
Four women have filed lawsuits since 2011 against Castlewood and Schwartz.
The allegations made by the former patients include having fake memories that convinced them that they were victims of satanic ritual abuse, that they witnessed murder, and even memories that they had eaten children. During their treatment at Castlewood, these former patients believed the memories were true. Now, they insist these memories are false.
In each case, the former patients say therapists at the center planted false memories that traumatized them and prompted them to stay longer in the facility, spending even more money for treatment. The fourth patient says as a result of her improper care at Castlewood, she spent $180,000 on treatment and care.
The first former patient to file a suit, Lisa Nasseff, alleged that Castlewood wanted to keep her at the facility because her insurance would pay for medical bills totaling $650,000.
The former patients’ attorney, Ken Vuylsteke, provided News 4 with copies of the four lawsuits.
In early 2012, News 4 tried to interview Castlewood’s Clinical Co-Director Mark Schwartz about the allegations.
News 4 travelled to Dallas and found him preparing to talk about his treatment methods at a conference. But he refused to tell News 4 what he was going to share at the conference. In statements released in 2012, Castlewood denied implanting false memories in the women and called the allegations bizarre.
Castlewood released this statement:
Castlewood issued this statement in February 2012:
"Castlewood has not been provided a copy of the litigation that was filed late yesterday by this plaintiff’s attorney, and we are unable to comment on the allegations it makes. We can tell you that previous litigation filed by this same plaintiff’s attorney contained numerous false, absurd and bizarre allegations that we patently reject.
As mental health care providers we hold the confidentiality and well-being of our clients as a sacred trust. Unfortunately now we find ourselves bound to reveal, in the appropriate legal venue, every salient detail and sensitive information related to these clients’ histories and time at Castlewood. It is an unfortunate situation in which to be placed, but we will do so through the legal system.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Therefore we take very seriously the work we do helping clients deal with this life-threatening illness. False allegations of this sort belittle the efforts of dozens of dedicated and trained healthcare professionals who are working every day to help clients address and recover from eating disorders. For more than a decade Castlewood has provided quality care to more than 1,000 clients suffering from severe anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating – among the most complex health conditions. Many clients, who have spent years of their lives in other residential treatment centers, hospitals or other facilities, find healing at Castlewood after having tried many different options."