GERMANTOWN, TN (WMC) - A Germantown psychiatrist had her license suspended for whipping patients and comparing them to mules.
Tennessee Department of Health suspended Valerie Louise Augustus' medical license due to her actions with multiple patients in 2015.
Augustus practices at Christian Psychiatrist Services in Germantown. The practice's website states Augustus took personal leave starting June 2, 2018.
"I'm very shocked. I never would have expected it. I see her out working in her yard. She seems like a very peaceful person," neighbor Kaye Borgognoni said.
According to the website, Augustus takes a holistic approach to mental health. "Dr. Augustus emphasizes a healthy diet and regular physical activity, while optionally integrating her spiritual beliefs and principles into each patient's healing process."
The health department found that Augustus whipped mental health patients with a riding crop, whips, and other objects.
In one complaint, a patient said Augustus hit her in the buttocks with a riding crop during a 2015 appointment. The state noted that Augustus also kept a whip and riding crop on display in her office.
The state characterized Augustus' use of riding crops and whips as "a desire to exert dominance over her female patients and her inability to accept personal responsibility."
At least one of the patients came to Augustus with major depression as a result of a history of physical abuse.
The health department said there is no evidence in any psychiatric literature to support the use of whipping patients for treatment.
Augustus' license will be suspended for no less than 60 days. She must then enroll and complete a two day medical ethics course. If her license is then reinstated, she will be under probation for three years.
No one answered the door at Augustus' home or Germantown office when Janice Broach stopped by.