State banned sex offender from counseling in April
ASPEN – An anonymous complaint made to the state spurred regulators to launch an investigation in March into Dr. Stephen Viola, a psychologist who allegedly counseled local children and is a registered sex offender in two states.
A cease-and-desist order by the Colorado State Board of Psychological Examiners was issued March 15 against Viola for practicing without a license between May and November of 2008. The anonymous complaint was made March 9, according to Brian Pritchard, program director of the health services section of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Viola appealed the March 15 cease-and-desist order before signing it April 28, Pritchard said.
“This stipulation does not mention his sex offenses, and that was intentional on his part,” Pritchard said Monday. “That was part of his negotiating point: He didn’t want that in there and he agreed to sign it, and that served our purposes from a consumer protection standpoint.”
Viola’s name came under the scrutiny of Roaring Fork Valley school administrators after it was revealed that he is on the sex offender lists in Michigan and Missouri. Earlier this month e-mails were sent out from the Roaring Fork School District, Aspen School District and COMPASS, which oversees the community schools in Carbondale and Aspen, as well as the Early Childhood Center.
Administrators said they felt it was important to notify parents about Viola’s history because he is believed to have counseled children in the area.
Viola was placed on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry in August 1998, less than three weeks after he was convicted on two counts of accosting children for immoral purposes. Both victims were boys, aged 10 and 9, according to the Missouri Highway State Patrol website, where he is also listed as a sex offender for the same charges. Viola, 44, was 32 years old at the time of the offenses.
The Aspen Police Department also is looking into Viola’s local dealings to see if he violated any sex offender registration requirements in Colorado.
“At this time we have not determined any specific violations, nor have the Aspen police received any direct complaints from citizens, though we encourage the community to contact us or their local law agency if they have concerns regarding Mr. Viola,” said APD spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro.
According to the University of Missouri-St. Louis website, Viola is the director of the school’s Special Education Transition Program, the Special Education Innovative Certification Program and the Transition to Teaching Program.
A specialist in autism research, Viola, who also has had speaking engagements in the valley, has published two books – one on sensory integration dysfunction and the other on the approach and treatment of attention disorders. His contact information also is listed on the Roaring Fork Autism Network’s website. Additionally, he has taught classes at Colorado Mountain College.
He declined to comment when contacted at his office last week. His attorney said he is not practicing in Colorado and is not a part-time resident like school administrators alleged.
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