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OREM, Utah (AP) -- State licensing authorities have added more accusations to their civil complaint against two Orem social workers who are under fire for their holding therapy and other practices. The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing filed 16 allegations against Lawrence Lee Van Bloem and Jennie Murdock Gwilliam, founders of the Cascade Center for Family Growth.
The complaints are not criminal, but the two potentially could lose their licenses The complaints allege the two violated professional social work practices and had physically and emotionally abused their patients, most of whom are children.
Scott Thompson, spokesman for DOPL, said these allegations are in addition to the 14 counts filed last September and include complaints from at least four more former clients.
Van Bloem, who continues to direct therapy at the Cascade Center, said the allegations are unfounded and stem in part from custody battles over the children.
"What we did we felt was appropriate and helpful," he said. "DOPL stepped into a very divisive situation."
The state alleges the therapists engaged in "deep tissue massage" in which they pressed their hands, knuckles and elbows into children's abdomens, causing them to cry out in pain.
When asked to stop, they purportedly said the child was letting out "emotional pain."
Other alleged actions include lying on the children, restricting their breathing, yelling and screaming at them and wrapping them in blankets for hours at a time to restrict their movement.
Van Bloem said the therapy needs to be seen to be understood.
"If a child during a therapy session has attacked me, I will take control of the child," he said. "Is that lying on top of a child or keeping the child safe? I'm containing their aggression in the safest way possible."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)