Hanna’s Counselor – Part 6

Texas v. Munsen – The Complaints

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBEPC) had been given two complaints against Ada Dixon early in her counseling career (the first was closed with a “No Violation” status, the second was closed by issuing her a Warning Letter). The Texas v. Munsen trial generated a third complaint.

During Lynch’s trial, the defense attorney asked her if she had shared documentation and information with any investigators. She said she had shared some with the local sheriff. He asked her how often she had been in contact with the sheriff, and she said, “A lot of times,” adding that she had faxed him that information. He asked her if the sheriff had asked her to do that or if she had volunteered the information. She said, “You know what? I can’t even — I can’t honestly say how that happened.” He then asked her if her role was that of an investigator. She said, “No, sir.”

Did Dixon go beyond her role as a counselor? Toby Billings, a Central Texas business consultant, who often takes on a cause that he feels is just, thought she did. Billings worked on the Munsen case as an investigator and advocate, with a special emphasis on Ada Dixon’s role in the trial and the investigation. He filed an extensive complaint against Dixon in 2013, accusing her of “a serious breach of her fiduciary duties,” and said she had “unleashed a personal vindictive crusade” against Alan Munsen, which “resulted in an unjustified arrest, trial and verdict for indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child.” Here are some of the points he included in the complaint.

Dixon became a counselor for Alan Munsen and his wife, Hazel, when they saw her about the troubles they were having in their marriage, but Dixon apparently only saw them together one time. When the marriage failed a couple of years later, Hazel made allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband after a disagreement over custody of the girls by reporting him to Child Protective Services and to an advocacy center in the area. Both CPS and the advocacy center didn’t find anything worth investigating, though. According to the complaint, Ada Dixon was told by Hazel that one of the girls had complained that Alan, their father, had had sexual contact with her. Soon after that, Dixon reported the contact (as required by law) to the sheriff in the Munsen’s town. Her job should have been done at that point, other than continuing to counsel Hazel and the girls, but she also continued to funnel information to the sheriff, adding to his investigation as she continued counseling the girls.

The complaint also covered Dixon’s role in the trial, attempting to hide records, claiming that she lost most of her files in a computer crash. Billings, in the complaint, posed the question, “Are we to believe that a professional counselor, who is expected under Texas laws to maintain her files, that she would never have a backup copy?” He added, “Additionally, if this statement is true, then Ms. Dixon lost the files for all her clients?” He went on to ask where the copies of all of her notifications to the twenty-one years’ worth of her clients were. He said that Alan Munsen hadn’t received any notification from her that all of his files had been lost, and he wondered — if Dixon actually had lost all of those files — why she hadn’t sent out “notifications to state and federal agencies who provide funding” for those clients whose files she had lost.

In the trial, Dixon was asked when she had provided a summary of her sessions with the girls, and she said it had been earlier (presumably after Alan’s arrest), but added that she had “not been able to retrieve anything from that laptop within the last month or two weeks.” She also said that she did provide some information to the DA during the first six months after Lynch’s arrest, adding that “at that time I was able to retrieve them.”

Let’s think about that for just a second. Dixon knew for some time that she would be a witness in this trial. In fact, she said something during her interrogation on the second day of the trial about also having another trial to prepare for. She must have known that both trials would require access to her records. She must have also needed her records for a variety of other reasons. When her computer crashed, why didn’t she attempt to get it fixed right away? If it really contained all of her materials from her “whole 21 years of practice,” wouldn’t she need some of those materials for other cases?

And let me just speculate about something for a moment. Subtract 21 from 2013. You get 1992. Dixon said on her website that she opened the Dixon Center for Counseling in 1994 (19 years before 2013, not 21). Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say she practiced elsewhere for a couple of years, but how many of you have owned a laptop that lasted for 21 years. Laptops that came out in 1994 would have been lucky to have 30 MB of RAM, would have been running something like Windows 3.1, would have had tiny screens and very small hard drives. To believe that, we would have to believe that a circa early 1990’s laptop would be capable of storing that much data. What do you think? Is that possible? Right, I don’t think so either. If she did have more than one laptop during that period (I’ve probably had ten or so), she would have had to back up her materials in order to transfer them to each new computer. If her computer did crash (and they do), she should still have had the backups from previous computer incarnations.

Personally, I don’t think hers did crash. I think she was just trying to avoid letting the defense find something they could use to disprove her client’s case. As she said under oath, she would willingly keep records from a defense attorney, and “fight to protect those records” because she didn’t want to make it “easier for a defense attorney to come up with stuff to say that, you know, this didn’t happen,” in spite of the fact that the law requires her to do otherwise.

Before Toby Billings finished his complaint (which included nearly 200 pages of documentation) he said, “Ms. Dixon is in violation of the Code of Ethics…She placed herself in a conflicting role playing therapist, investigator, judge and jury.” He then listed a series of ten code sections that he believed Dixon violated, including maintaining a non-therapeutic relationship with Hazel Munsen (by acting as a friend and advocate instead of a counselor); and by going beyond her duty to inform law enforcement (thereby actively investigating and pushing Hazel’s version of events). Billings asked that Dixon’s records be seized and investigated. They weren’t. After Billings’ complaint was filed, Dixon filed a response to the board of examiners, and they dismissed the complaint. State bureaucracies do tend to protect their own.

I know that was a lot to take in, but it really only scratches the surface. I hope it gives you a clearer picture of how Dixon seemed to approach these two trials — Munsen’s and my brother’s. She was apparently convinced that her clients (who she referred to as “my victims” in Steve’s trial) were telling her the truth. In Steve’s case, I’m convinced that her “victim,” Hanna, wasn’t a victim, and wasn’t telling the truth.

We’ll look at the subject of truthfulness in the next post.

Michael Sirois

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