FAIRFIELD (CBS13) – A psychologist working at Travis Air Force Base is behind bars tonight, accused of sexually assaulting patients he was hired to help.

The doctor worked at the base hospital where they treat Air Force personnel and veterans with PTSD.

Dr. Heath Sommer was arrested earlier this month and pleaded not guilty to multiple felony counts of sexual assault and sexual battery. On Monday, a complaint detailing the allegations was filed.

Prosecutors say Sommer abused his position of power by using a technique called exposure therapy on patients who had been sexually assaulted while deployed, according to court documents.

Sommer's booking photo. (Credit: Solano County Sheriff's Office)

Sommer’s booking photo. (Credit: Solano County Sheriff’s Office)

They also say his victims are now “even more traumatized” because of his actions.

Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears and what they avoid. The American Psychological Association says it involves exposing the patient to their anxiety source or its context without the intent to cause any damage.

The alleged abuse happened between 2010 and 2016. Sommer faces multiple charges, including sexual battery, rape, and oral copulation.

Travis Air Force Base spokesperson Traci Keller released a statement saying, in part:

“The United States Air Force and Travis Air Force Base have zero tolerance for sexual assault. The doctor in question was a contractor at David Grant Medical Center, but is no longer employed there.”

Sommer is being held on $750,000 bail at the Stanton Correctional Facility in Fairfield.

 

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