Child psychologist found guilty of molesting boy

Monitor staff
Published: 6/20/2016 8:33:33 AM

Editor's note: All sexual assault charges against former Concord psychologist Foad Afshar, who was accused of molesting a patient, were dropped by the Merrimack County Attorney's Office in October 2018.

A Concord child psychologist was convicted Friday of molesting a 12-year-old patient during a therapy session last year, according to a prosecutor in the case.

Foad Afshar, 56, of Bow, was found guilty of one felony count of aggravated sexual assault and an alternative misdemeanor count of simple assault, as well as two counts of unlawful mental health practice, both misdemeanors. The boy said Afshar touched his genitals during a session on Jan. 6, 2015. At the time, the boy was wearing a headset that emits light and sound.

“We’re very glad the right thing happened in this case,” said Assistant County Attorney Kristin Vartanian.

Afshar was taken into custody Friday and is being held at the Merrimack County jail, Vartanian said. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Afshar denied the accusations on the stand this week, arguing in part that he was sending emails from another room when it purportedly occurred. 

He had been seeing the boy in Concord for about six weeks, and said he was using touch therapy to help desensitize him to a fear of undergoing a hernia exam. He acknowledged having touched the boy’s arm as part of that process, but insisted it never went beyond that. The headset was a tool to induce conversation, he said, likening it Play-Doh or coloring books.

Initially, Afshar speculated that the boy may have made it up to stop the therapy sessions. He said the child was known to lie, noting that his father had acknowledged as much at the beginning of treatment.

Afshar has specialized in treating children and young adults, and once served as the president of the New Hampshire Psychological Association. He immigrated to the U.S. from Iran as a teenager.

Assistant County Attorney Joe Cherniske told jurors at the start of the trial that Afshar had abused his professional authority and shattered the trust bestowed on him.

“It wasn’t about treatment. It wasn’t about helping,” he said. “This case is about the defendant’s use of a therapy session to sexually assault a 12-year-old patron.”

Vartanian, who helped prosecute, said Friday, “We're very glad the right thing happened in this case.”

Jurors had been deliberating since shortly after noon on Thursday, Vartanian said.

A message to Afshar’s attorney, Tony Soltani, was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

 

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


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