State seal of the State of Vermont
The State of Vermont
The Office of the Attorney General

Home » Press Releases

Press Releases

Psychologist Convicted Of Sexual Abuse Of A Mentally Ill Vulnerable Adult And Medicaid Fraud

CONTACT: Linda A. Purdy, Assistant Attorney General,

October 2, 2009:
A psychologist was sentenced to three years in prison for the sexual abuse of a mentally ill vulnerable adult and for Medicaid fraud. Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that Dr. Donald E. Sanborn, age 67, of Bellows Falls, Vermont, was sentenced on September 30, 2009, in Vermont District Court for Windham County, on one count of Sexual Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult, a felony, and on one count of Medicaid Fraud, also a felony. Judge Karen Carroll sentenced Sanborn to the maximum allowed under the plea agreement: a three to seven-year sentence on the sexual abuse charge, with three years to serve, and a zero to seven-year sentence, all suspended, on the Medicaid fraud charge. Sanborn must also pay restitution in the amount of $5,000 to the Vermont Medicaid Program for his fraudulent billing. In addition to prison time and restitution, the Court ordered the standard conditions of probation along with several special conditions, including: successful completion of designated sex offender programs, no contact with certain individuals, including the victim; the permanent surrender of his license to practice psychology; submission of a DNA sample; submission to periodic polygraph examinations, and the defendant must not view or possess pornography. The judge said the time Sanborn is in jail will give the victim a sense of security she now lacks. “It will provide her with a period of time so she can heal,” the judge said. Carroll also emphasized that she was sentencing Sanborn to jail to protect this victim and the general public, noting the former therapist had been victimizing patients for more than 30 years.

The charges stem from Sanborn’s employment as a Licensed Psychologist practicing in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Dr. Sanborn admitted to committing the sexual abuse during a mental health treatment session in his office with a patient who had been diagnosed with dissociative identification disorder, a debilitating mental illness. Sanborn also admitted to filing false claims to Vermont Medicaid for individual therapy sessions with a patient for sessions that never occurred. Dr. Sanborn’s license to practice psychology in the State of Vermont has been revoked and he began serving his sentence immediately. Pursuant to the Vermont’s Sex Offender Registry Law, Dr. Sanborn must register as a convicted sex offender.

“Preying on the vulnerable and stealing public health care funds - what an outrageous violation of the public trust. Now he will have years in prison to reflect on the shameful way he ended his career,” said Attorney General William Sorrell.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.