Grand Forks therapist sentenced for sexually exploitative relationship with client
David Bialik will serve 30 days in the Grand Forks County Correctional Center and can spend the rest of his 180-day sentence on electronic home monitoring. He also was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to register as a sexual offender.
A Grand Forks therapist who had a sexually exploitative relationship with a client has been sentenced to one year and one day with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with all but 180 days suspended.
Licensed clinical social worker David Harris Bialik, 64, will serve 30 days in the Grand Forks County Correctional Center and can spend the rest of his sentence on electronic home monitoring. He also was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to register as a sexual offender.
Restitution has not yet been ordered, but will be left open for 60 days. Bialik's malpractice insurance is expected to cover the cost of any restitution, but Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Gereszek noted that payment would still be appropriate because the victim is still undergoing therapy from the sexual relationship.
In the sentencing hearing held Monday, June 15, Judge Jay Knudson acknowledged receipt of multiple letters testifying to Bialik's character, which stated that Bialik is intelligent, a good person and a good doctor.
"I have no reason to doubt any of that," he said. "But I am a little bit concerned that there is some representation here you made that you didn't really know it was wrong, or you didn't know it was against the law, and I find that to be a little bit ridiculous. I think you did know it was wrong, the reason being that you tried to hide it and forge the record. And so I think you know full well that you know what you were doing was illegal and, if not illegal, then immoral and unethical."
Bialik pleaded guilty in February to engaging in an exploitative sexual relationship with a client, who sought therapy for a prior sexual assault. The victim told investigators that her sessions with Bialik began to include "a lot of touching," which escalated to kissing and sexual contact, including one session where Bialik made arrangements for them to meet in a hotel. He entered the client as a "no-show" in his records for two of those appointments in an attempt to cover up their activities.
According to court documents, Bialik also instructed the victim that if anyone asked about their relationship, she should say it was an "emotional affair" and a "transference thing," referring to when patients project feelings onto their therapist.
Bialik encouraged the victim not to seek another therapist, because she would likely seek therapy in Minnesota, where therapists are mandated reporters and would be required to report the sexual relationship if she disclosed it.
"The fact of the matter is your role is to help people," Knudson said. "Or if you don't help them, then at least to do no harm, I believe is the Hippocratic Oath, and really you've done the opposite of that in this particular case."