Psychiatrist in court: DHS steps in for wife, records say
A Tulsa psychiatrist who used psychotropic medicine to drug his wife — once a prominent faith healer and evangelist — has been jailed, ordered to wear an ankle monitor and told to stay half a mile away from the woman, records show.
The bizarre court case involving Dr. Carl R. Peterson and his wife, Martha “Vicki” Peterson, began a year ago, when the Department of Human Services took custody of Vicki Peterson in an emergency guardianship. Though such cases are usually sealed under state law, Carl Peterson filed some public court records with the Oklahoma Supreme Court in an appeal of a contempt of court conviction against him.
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Wendell Clark, Carl Peterson’s attorney, said he could not comment on the case.
Carl Peterson, 71, is the former medical director for two Tulsa hospitals — Brookhaven and Doctors’ Hospital — and former president of the Tulsa Psychiatric Society, according to news accounts.
He was a psychiatrist at Oral Roberts University’s City of Faith Hospital in the 1980s and has written about the effects on the brain of speaking in tongues.
Between 1988 and 2004, Carl Peterson operated Christian Psychiatry Services in Tulsa. His Oklahoma medical license was suspended last year after he failed to reapply for it, records show.
Vicki Peterson, 69, was a regular guest on Christian television shows in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982, her one-hour daily show, “Vicki Live,” was broadcast from Tulsa. A 1985 Chicago Tribune story listed her as belonging to “an elite sorority” of female evangelists.
She married Carl Peterson about 23 years ago after the death of her first husband; the two have no children together.
Donna Vorhees, Vicki Peterson’s cousin, said she called DHS last spring after noticing a change in her cousin’s behavior over the past several years. She said her cousin was normally a talkative, social woman but appeared drowsy and “spacy.”
“As things got worse she wasn’t out at all. She was in bed 24/7. . . . She told me ‘Carl gives me medicine to help me sleep.’ “
Vorhees said she knew of no health reason that would require her cousin to take sleep medications.
In a petition filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court in April, Carl Peterson’s attorney states: “Peterson admitted giving some medications to Vicki to help her sleep.”
Vorhees said she called DHS last year and reported that she believed Vicki Peterson was in danger. She said she has since learned her cousin is suffering from physical and behavioral problems possibly caused by repeated exposure to drugs.
Records show Tulsa police were called several times to the Petersons’ home in 2005, including a possible overdose of Vicki Peterson one month before she was taken into DHS custody.
Vorhees said a friend of Carl Peterson’s, Dr. Don King, has since intervened in the case and was recently appointed Vicki Peterson’s guardian. She said family members are willing to serve as guardians and do not support King’s appointment.
King is a doctor at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. His attorney, Andrew Harrison, declined comment.
The case began July 20, 2005, when Tulsa County Special District Judge Sarah Day Smith gave DHS guardianship over Vicki Peterson and her estate, records show. State law allows DHS to take custody of so-called “vulnerable adults” who are unable to make decisions for themselves and are being abused, neglected or exploited by a caretaker.
In a court ruling, Smith states “there was significant evidence that . . . Dr. Peterson takes the drug Seroquel himself and . . . gave Seroquel to Mrs. Peterson against her best interest and against Mrs. Peterson’s physician’s advice.”
Seroquel is a psychotropic medicine used to treat bipolar mania. Common side effects of the drug include drowsiness.
Vicki Peterson was moved to the home of her longtime secretary and friend, Judy Upjohn, records show, while Carl Peterson was allowed eight hours of daily visitation with his wife.
In October 2005, DHS filed motions to cease Carl Peterson’s visitation with his wife. Court exhibits included a sealed envelope of pills and a prescription label for Carl Peterson. Smith entered an order the following month prohibiting Carl Peterson from visiting his wife in the bedroom of Upjohn’s home, records show.
On Dec. 16, Smith found Carl Peterson guilty of contempt of court after evidence was presented that he took Seroquel to Upjohn’s home, records show.
“Dr. Peterson intentionally attempted to circumvent the Nov. 22, 2005, order and past orders of this court with regard to bringing medications to supervised visitation premises,” Smith’s order states.
Smith’s ruling allowed Peterson to have only supervised visitation with his wife in a public setting with 48 hours notice to DHS.
“There are to be no medications brought to the setting of any pre-arranged visitation,” states Smith’s ruling, which prohibited Peterson from visiting his wife in Upjohn’s home.
In January, police were called to Upjohn’s home after Carl Peterson arrived there. He was transported to the hospital complaining of chest pains, reports show.
Later that month, Smith issued an order freezing the couple’s assets and granting DHS’ request for a “full accounting and investigation” of the couple’s finances. In February, she issued an order directing Peterson to restore $88,000 in “marital assets,” records show.
The Petersons’ home near Southern Hills Country Club is worth more than $300,000, land records show. Through a trust, they also own a south Tulsa office building, valued at $200,000, where Carl Peterson worked.
On Feb. 22, Smith again found Carl Peterson guilty of contempt of court for violating rules of visitation. Smith ordered him to wear a GPS ankle monitor and remain at least a half-mile from his wife.
“The court finds that four violations of this court’s order . . . have occurred with regard to the GPS ‘no go’ zone established by this court,” Smith writes in a ruling.
“The court finds the four violations to be willful.”
Smith sentenced Carl Peterson to six months in jail, with all but 10 days suspended, and delayed sentencing on a second contempt of court conviction. She warned Peterson to stay half a mile away from his wife or he would be jailed.
Peterson was booked into jail and released the same day, records show. In an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, he claims the punishment is excessive, that DHS failed to provide proper notice and that Smith made several errors.
At a hearing this week, Smith is scheduled to consider the second contempt count.
Peterson’s petition to the Supreme Court states he is charged with contempt of court due to “brief visits down the hallway of the Upjohn home either to check on his wife’s health, to notify her he was present or to kiss her good bye. No harm to Vicki was threatened, alleged or proved.”