|Thomas J. Fiscus, 14th Judge Advocate General
United States Air Force
May 27, 2006
State of Arizona
Board of Psychological Examiners
1400 West Washington, Suite 235
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Re: Complaint against Dr. Linda S. Estes
I hereby request that the Arizona Board of Psychological Examiners immediately suspend the license of Dr Linda S. Estes, a psychologist
licensed in the State of Arizona, Arizona License # 3151, in accordance with the provisions of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Section 32-2081-E,
until such time as an appropriate investigation can be completed into the facts stated below. Dr Estes, a member of the APA, is employed by
the U. S. Air Force as a psychologist at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
In brief, Dr Estes has engaged in unprofessional conduct as defined in ARS Section 32-2061, subsections A-13-(e), A-13-(g), A-13-(k), and A-13-
(o). Though I will concentrate on the Arizona violations, Dr Estes has also violated the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles
and Code of Conduct as to Beneficence and Maleficence, Fidelity and Responsibility, Integrity, Justice and Respect for People’s Rights and
Dignity. She has violated APA Ethical Standards 1.01 – Misuse of Psychologist’s Work; 1.03 – Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational
Demands; 2.01 – Boundaries of Competence; 2.04 – Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments; 3.04 – Avoiding Harm; 3.07 Third Party
Requests for Services; 3.09 Cooperation With Other Professionals; 3.10 Informed Consent; 3.11 Psychological Services Delivered to or Through
Organizations; 4.02 – Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality; 4.04 Minimizing Intrusions on Privacy; 4.05 – Disclosures; 5.01 Avoidance of
False or Deceptive Statements; 9.01 -Bases for Assessments; 9.02 – Use of Assessments; 9.03 – Informed Consent in Assessments; 9.06
Interpreting Assessment Results; and 9.10 – Explaining Assessment Results. As will be outlined below, Dr Estes’ unprofessional actions have
had a devastating effect on my life and that of my family. Allowing her to continue to act in the same way as she did in my situation poses an
immediate and grave risk to the lives and well being of many other people who may be harmed by similar unprofessional and illegal actions.
Background: At the time this matter arose, I had served more than 32 years on active duty with the U.S. Air Force and had achieved the grade
of Major General. I was then serving at the Pentagon, as The Judge Advocate General, the senior uniformed lawyer in the Air Force. I was
responsible for the provision of all legal services to the Air Force worldwide. On August 15, 2004, an anonymous complaint was filed against
me claiming that I had improper relationships with numerous civilian and military women who were not my wife. None of the women named
in the complaint was the complainant. The complainant, who was never named, had gained extensive access to my email account. In
September 2004, the Air Force Inspector General (IG) conducted an investigation into that anonymous complaint. Although my case has the
political subtext of my objections to Guantanamo detainee torture immediately prior to the anonymous complaint and investigation, I cannot
say that Dr Estes was aware of it or should have been. So, for the purposes of my request to the Board, it is not relevant.
General Statement of the Complaint: On September 23, 2004, Dr Estes was called upon by the IG investigators to testify about me regarding
my female relationships. The substance of the investigators’ discussions with Dr Estes, prior to her testimony is unknown, but the
investigators cannot have provided anything to her that would have included scientific method or psychological rigor. Based on nothing more
than reading some of my emails and discussing my case with the investigators, Dr Estes concluded that my actions were “very predatory in
nature” and she diagnosed me a “sexual predator” without any qualification or explanation as to the psychological meaning of that term or
caution about the lack of rigor applied in arriving at it. Her testimony ran 45 pages (Atch 1). At no time did Dr Estes speak to me, interview
me, assess me, test me, or see me. Neither did she read the testimony of or speak to any of the women who were involved with my case. She
made no request that I be tested or evaluated in any scientifically accepted manner, though the military retains that power over its members.
She did not review my medical records or determine if I was then or had ever been in the care of a mental health professional. I was unaware
of Dr Estes’ evaluation of me until mid December 2004, well after the completion of the investigation. I first learned of her part in the
investigation when I was furnished with several hundred pages of investigation report and testimony, including hers. From the time I
received her testimony until I was forced to present my defense, was five working days. I had no opportunity to submit anything that could
have countered her reckless evaluation.
Though at no time was anything more than consensual adultery alleged, Dr Estes’ pronouncement that I was a sexual predator turned the
investigation of my case into a crusade by the investigators to rid the Air Force of a sexual deviant. Her assessment was circulated around the
Pentagon to senior members of the Air Force and the Department of Defense even before the investigation was concluded. On September 24,
2004, the day following her testimony, the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff demanded I relinquish my position pending
completion of the investigation, without telling me the reason. One can understand why they felt they must remove me. Thereafter, Dr Estes’
assessment was leaked by unnamed sources to the Washington Post and New York Times newspapers. Both alluded to Dr Estes’ assessment,
using some of her terminology without citing her as the source. I am not suggesting she leaked the information. However, Dr Estes’
evaluation prejudiced my superiors and the resulting news coverage made a fair process impossible. As a result, my colleagues and superiors
judged my case and ostracized me before I even learned the precise nature of the behavior of which I was accused. By the time I did learn of the
specifics, the psychology of a closed loop organization had already solidified behind Dr Estes’ diagnosis. Every aspect of the IG Report was
written to justify and support her assessment of me.
This is not the case of a poor unsuspecting psychologist who attempted to provide a statement of possible explanations that were misinterpreted
by the investigators and used in some way she never intended. In fact, Dr Estes was shown the intended use of her testimony as part of the IG
Report (Atch 2) and specifically approved it after her review (Atch 3). Despite being given a chance to reflect on her overreaching evaluation
and to mitigate some of the impact of her diagnosis on the investigators and their report, she nonetheless approved of the use of such phrases as
“sexual predation” and “sexual predator” in the report.
The result was catastrophic for me and my family. I lost my job, was disciplined with a fine and reprimand, was retired early in a lesser grade
(which will cost me nearly $900,000 in retirement benefits), was subjected to ridicule and humiliation on a national and international scale.
Internet commentators endlessly repeated the “sexual predator” diagnosis (Atch 4). Dr Estes’s reckless diagnosis not only ruined my career, but
humiliated my wife and put her into depression, alienated my children, turned lifelong friends away from me, and ruined nearly all my
friendships. The publication of the IG report on the internal AF internet, including Dr Estes’ assessment that I had systematically “targeted”
female colleagues and acquaintances, made even those women who had the merest interaction with me, or to whom I had extended some
kindness or courtesy, believe they had been the “target” of a sexual deviant. In fact, my only relationship that has not been adversely affected
by Dr Estes’ evaluation is the one I have with my dog. As a result of Dr Estes’ misconduct, my future employment prospects are nearly nil in
any executive type position for which I am qualified. The effect on my wife has been similarly shattering; as she has been branded the “wife of
a sexual predator” – a horrific label for someone whose profession is obstetrics and gynecology.
During the year following the IG Investigation, I underwent psychological counseling with Dr Barry Burijon, PhD, a psychologist in
Virginia. Dr Burijon did conduct a full assessment, using testing, interviews with me and my wife and reviews of my medical and
psychological history. While my actual psychological profile is irrelevant to determine Dr Estes’ malpractice, I am prepared to execute any
release necessary to have Dr Burijon share his findings with you, if that will assist in any way.
The actions of Dr Estes simply cannot be something which the Arizona Board of Psychological Examiners condones. As I shall detail below, Dr
Linda S. Estes committed psychological malpractice of a grievously unethical sort, with spectacularly destructive consequences for people she
never met or assessed properly before or after her pronouncements. I ask the Board to impose the strongest sanctions within its power on Dr
Unprofessional Conduct: ARS 32-2061-A(g). Engaging or offering to engage as a psychologist in activities not congruent with the psychologist’s
professional education, training and experience. In Dr Estes testimony, she claimed to be an investigative psychologist, consulting on
“investigations involving sexual improprieties and sexual assaults.” Her testimony gave no indication as to the extent of her training or
experience related to her claimed expertise. Her vitae list shows no training of any sort having to do with the investigation, diagnosis or
treatment of sexual offenders (Atch 5). Her expertise and her only writings appear to be concentrated in the study and treatment of eating
disorders. She apparently consulted with no one of greater skill or experience than herself in preparing her evaluation of me.
Unprofessional Conduct: ARS 32-2061-A(o). Providing services that are unnecessary or unsafe or otherwise engaging in activities as a
psychologist that are unprofessional by current standards of practice. Even a cursory review of Dr Estes’ testimony reveals she abandoned her
position as a disinterested expert and gave over control of her testimony to the investigators. In the transcript, the investigators speak at least
twice as much as she. In the main, beyond her pronouncements about me being a sexual predator, she merely confirms the opinions of the
investigators. Neither during her testimony nor upon reviewing that portion of the investigation report which utilized her opinions did she
ever seek to clarify what the term “sexual predator” meant in that context. At no point did she caution the investigators that more stringent
evaluative methods should be applied to such a diagnosis. Hence, she drew no distinction between a violent psychopathic criminal, who has
committed or is prone to assaultive sexual behavior and any lesser degree of sexual behavior such as someone with loose personal boundaries.
The implication of her pronouncement was clear that I was a danger to others, a theme the investigators either readily embraced or perhaps had
suggested to her. This was her conclusion despite several times in her testimony specifically confirming she found no evidence of coercion and
nothing hinting at assault. Neither the complaint nor any witness claimed any coercion or assault.
When reading Dr Estes’ testimony, it is not clear who is actually testifying. Her transcribed testimony shows that in 104 instances, Dr Estes’
response to the investigator’s statement (not question) was a head nod. She simply acceded to the investigators’ views. Possibly, the fact that
both investigators were much senior in rank caused her to be intimidated; though the testimony indicates she was more co-conspirator than
pawn. However, as the expert, she had a duty not merely to accede to their lay psychology.
Dr Estes labeled friends and associates, including some that I had known for 20-30 years, as “victims” and “targets” simply on the basis that I
maintained email correspondence with about 40 women acquaintances and friends and, in some instances, we used terms of endearment and
mutual flattery in that correspondence. None of the email discussed sexual matters beyond kissing. Dr Estes’ sexism was front and center as
she never asked about the 150 men with whom I also corresponded regularly with similar familiarity or about any of my male relationships.
By analogizing me to those who prey on children she turned nearly a dozen women, mostly over 40 and attorneys, into helpless children,
incapable of free will or their own aims. With no compunction, Dr Estes explained the motivations of many of those women, with nothing
more than a few email as her basis. Some she labeled as “vulnerable,” “lonely,” and “low self esteem”, etc. Despite her limited fact base, Dr
Estes totally dismissed other possible explanations such as long term friendships, former relationships, mutual attraction and platonic, paternal
or avuncular feelings towards those she labeled my “targets.” In the world Dr Estes created around me, every woman was my victim and no
woman who interacted with me could possibly have had any agenda, motive to associate with a powerful man, shade the truth, or lie.
Dr Estes went so far as to advance the notion that the personal strengths, skills and attributes which had carried me to the top of my profession,
were instead sinister tools, used to support an undefined (but implicitly dangerous) sexual predation. She ruled out sexual addiction apparently
because the “evidence” was that I didn’t stalk those who rejected my “advances.” That rubric apparently allowed her to assert that I had a
systematized “targeting” routine that relied on those above mentioned interpersonal strengths. According to her, if my “target” didn’t accede, I
simply looked elsewhere or filed that “target” away for a future attempt. At no time did Dr Estes seek to balance the views of the investigators
by requesting more information or the opportunity to interview any witness or even read witness testimony. In fact, beyond her reckless
diagnosis, Dr Estes’ major contribution in the testimony, was to consider with the investigators the possible “ambush” interview of the teenage
daughter of a purported “victim” who in fact had been my colleague and friend for 20 years.
Unprofessional Conduct: ARS 32-2061, Sect A-13-(k). Violating any federal or state laws or rules that relate to the practice of psychology or to
obtaining a license to practice psychology. The Military Mental Health Evaluation Protection Act (MMHEPA) (National Defense Authorization
Act of 1993, Section 546, 106 Stat at 2416-19 (1992) and implementing Department of Defense Instruction 6490.4) prohibits the preparation and
use of psychiatric and psychological evaluations against a military service member without the application of certain enumerated safeguards
designed to prevent the punitive use of mental health evaluations. Nonetheless, without any objection by Dr Estes as to the propriety of and
procedural correctness of a requested evaluation of me, and without the application of any of the above mentioned safeguards, she consulted
with military investigators, read selected portions of my email, prepared an evaluation of my mental health and behavior, gave testimony,
then reviewed and approved the investigators’ treatment of that testimony in the Inspector General report. The MMHEPA places a legal
obligation on the practitioner to comply with the procedural requirements of the law or to object for the record when they are required to
violate the law’s procedural provisions. Dr Estes did neither.
Unprofessional Conduct: ARS 32-2061, Sect A-13(e). Gross negligence in the practice of a psychologist. Under the ARS Title 4, Chapter 26, (R4-
26-1-1-16), “gross negligence” means “. . . a psychologist knows or has reason to know of facts that would lead a reasonable psychologist to
realize that the psychologist’s act or failure to act creates an unreasonable risk of harm and involves a high degree of probability that
substantial harm may result.” Dr Estes’ testimony clearly shows she understood that her evaluation would have a major impact on the tenor
and direction of the IG investigation and possible subsequent actions. That she so callously ignored the potential consequences of her actions
casts grave doubt on her appreciation of the APA’s ethical guidance and the laws of Arizona. In IG interviews subsequent to Dr Estes’
testimony, female witnesses were told that they were helping rid the Air Force of a “sexual predator” and that they themselves were likely
“targets.” Upon being told that any kindnesses, expressions of concern or efforts to serve as a mentor I extended to a woman was a pretext for a
romantic advance, what woman would not be repelled and what man not feel outraged and protective?
Prior to the IG investigation, no person had ever made any complaint against me for any reason. In fact, I had served for three years on a
Congressional joint civilian military Task Force on Domestic Violence and had been a champion of the advancement of women into leadership
positions within the Air Force. While I had more female acquaintances than most men, I also had many more male acquaintances than female
and more individuals I called friend than most people. At one point, Dr Estes opined that the fact I had retained emails in my files from my
female friends was evidence that I was collecting “trophies” of my sexual prowess; this despite the fact that none of them discuss sex. Dr Estes’
training apparently did not include the fact that all lawyers are pack rats – my files contained approximately 15,000 emails of every sort. It also
neglected to consider that the investigators had gained most of the email by resurrecting my email messages from previously deleted files
which remained on Air Force backup tapes.
As mentioned above, Dr Estes and I have never met, spoken or corresponded. Her entire study and evaluation of me was made over the course
of a few hours, the same day she testified. I could have been invited to be interviewed or even perhaps forced as a military member to undergo
a psychological assessment, in accordance with the MMHEPA provisions cited above. One has to wonder why, if I was a dangerous sexual
predator as Dr Estes claimed, I was not ordered to undergo a full diagnostic work-up for possible treatment. If Dr Estes believed I was a
dangerous sexual predator, would she not have had a professional obligation to recommend such action? Would not such a pejorative labeling
have required some form of professionally written evaluation? Her written evaluation (Atch 6), created immediately before she testified,
consists of two thirds of a page of hand written cryptic notes which mostly identify the traits which made me successful in my career, now used
to demonstrate why I was such a danger. Every one of my personal and professional strengths was turned around to prove I was just a smart,
Discussion: My request that Dr Estes’ license be immediately suspended has not only to do with her actions towards me. It is that such a
reckless practitioner may well be doing the same to others at this very moment. She is still in her position with the Air Force at Andrews Air
Force Base. There is no way to know how many others she has “diagnosed” between September 04 and now or how many she may harm before
the Board can act.
I want the Board to know that, as a former government prosecutor, I do not quarrel with psychology in general or the study of past behavior to
serve as a possible predictor of future behavior. Neither do I object to the use of general psychological evaluative tools as they may assist in
searching for an unknown perpetrator or attempting to reconstruct the mental state of a person who is otherwise unavailable, such as a criminal
fugitive, suicide or murder victim. In the abstract, the use of such tools can be of great benefit to law enforcement authorities and investigators
looking for leads and suspects. That said, the reckless application of these general principles to a specific case, when there is a vast amount of
data available for the asking and the subject of the evaluation is alive, present, not a fugitive and subject to specific rigorous scientific testing
and formal evaluation, is the height of unprofessional behavior. It would be undisputed malpractice for any lawyer to perform any legal
service for a client they had never met and based only on the attorney’s review of some limited portion of that person’s personal
correspondence. Can it be less malpractice for a psychologist to label someone a sexual predator, without caveat or caution, based on very
limited information, when extensive information, including the actual presence of the one being evaluated, is readily at hand?
Dr Estes’ did not stop with me. She made diagnoses and pronouncements as to many of the women with whom I was alleged to have had
inappropriate relationships, without knowing a thing about them save what she was told by the investigators or what may have been gleaned
from a few email messages. In one instance, Dr Estes’ permitted the investigators to conclude, based on a single joking line in an email,
received from a close friend of nearly 30 years, that she was an “over 40 widow and worried about her attractiveness” – which, according to the
investigators, abetted by Dr Estes, were vulnerabilities which I exploited to have a sexual relationship with her – one that she specifically
Clearly, Dr Estes made no effort to follow the APA’s important general ethical principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence, by insuring that
she was careful to guard against misuse of her influence. In my case, her influence became the dynamic driver of the entire matter. In the
wake of her pronouncement, my 32 years of dedicated military service, the life and friendships I had known, and my excellent future prospects
lay in ruins. I was punished formally only for sending out “overly intimate” email to civilian friends and for having friendships with women
subordinates that violated military rules of protocol. But, inside the Pentagon, Dr Estes’ words ruled the day - that I was actually a dangerous
person. The press was fed a sound byte that came to define my case that I “engaged in more than a dozen affairs over the last 10 years.” Only
one witness testified about a sexual relationship with me and she repelled the investigators repeated invitations to describe herself as a
Conclusion: With no more than a few email messages as the basis, Dr Estes sanctioned the use of the most horrendous, emotionally loaded,
provocative terminology used in our society, apparently without any compunction as to the ramifications such terminology carried for me and
my family. The label sexual predator, hung on me by one trusted to be a trained, ethical professional, is, in the age of Google, a life sentence
without possibility of parole. The image conjured by this searing label is permanent and indelible. People trust psychologists to “get it right”
and they are entirely unlikely to question the nature, amount and quality of the training and experience of the psychologist, the
appropriateness of the methodology used to arrive at the psychologist’s conclusions, the amount and reliability of the evidence supporting or
refuting it and, most important, the very choice of the terminology used.
Had she acted ethically and professionally, Dr Estes could have helped the Air Force achieve some sense of balance in this matter. Parts of the
case might have been handled similarly, but the matter would have had an entirely different tenor. Instead, her recklessness and
unprofessional action has shattered my life. Several times in her testimony, she commented upon the small amount of information made
available to her, but never once suggested that the process stop and allow her to receive more detailed information and consider it. Had she
conducted a reasonable evaluation, the total destruction of my career and future employment prospects, the near ending my marriage, the
subjection of my wife and family to unimaginable suffering and humiliation, and the termination of nearly all of my friendships might have
been avoided. Now, our lives are spent in grief and depression. My wife and I both feel completely unsafe, are extremely guarded in meeting
new people, have to rely on sleeping pills and routinely have nightmares. Our economic prospects are grim. There may come some point of
relief, but it is not yet in sight. Our wounds and the scars they have left are permanent.
I beg the Board to stop this person from carelessly destroying others as she has me. Others already may be paying the price for similar
recklessness and gross negligence. If Dr Estes is not relieved of her psychologist license, others probably will pay that price.
I apologize to the Board if this complaint seems delayed. The last 18 months have been an endless nightmare. I hope the Board can appreciate
that I simply couldn’t muster the strength to make the complaint before now, try as I might.
I am prepared to make any further statement the Board requires or to appear before the Board if that will assist it in any way. I request I be
kept informed of the progress and ultimate disposition of this case. Thank you for considering this request for action.
Thomas J. Fiscus
1. IG Testimony – Dr. Linda S. Estes, 09/23/04 – IG Exhibit 39 – 45 Pages
2. IG Report, pp 83-90 – Social and Psychological Aspects – 8 Pages
3. IG Report, Exhibit 78, pg 7, Email Correspondence – 1 Page
4. Internet Page, Sexual Predator Gets Off Easy – 1 Page
5. IG Report, Exhibit 78, pp 2-6, Curriculum Vitae – Linda S. Estes – 5 Pages
6. IG Report, Exhibit 78, pg 1, Dr Estes’ Notes, 23 Sept 04 – 1 Page