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Child psychologist facing felony lewd acts

Posted: Friday, Sep 6th, 2013

Dr. John William "Bill" Visher makes an appearance in Santa Cruz Superior Court Thursday where he is being held on a $1 million bail for charges of lewd acts with a minor and possession of child pornography. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ — Dr. John William "Bill" Visher, a child psychologist accused of committing lewd acts with a minor, made an appearance in Santa Cruz Superior Court Thursday. Visher, 66, made an arraignment appearance in the courtroom of Judge Paul Burdick. He is being held on a $1 million bail on suspicion of committing lewd acts in 2009 with a minor under the age of 14, who was his client. Additional charges include displaying of harmful matter and of being in possession of obscene matter, Capitola Police Detective Sarah Ryan said.

The victim was an 8-year-old girl at the time.

According to court records Visher is facing 16 felony counts of lewd acts involving minors that possibly span the last decade.

Visher was initially arrested at his La Selva Beach home in September 2012 by Capitola Police following a lengthy investigation regarding suspected sexual abuse. As the investigation unfolded a search warrant was issued and investigators searched Visher’s office on Bay Avenue in Capitola. Visher’s bail was boosted to $1 million because of the severity and quantity of charges against him, which include about 1,200 images of “extreme” child pornography. A search warrant was also conducted on Visher’s residence.

Due to potential patient/therapist privileges that exist, a “special master” was appointed by the court to review all items seized during the investigation, Ryan said. Due to the complex nature of the investigation, members of the District Attorney’s Office and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.

Since Visher is a licensed clinical psychologist the state licensing board that oversees the licensing of psychologists was notified of the investigation and the ultimate arrest.

According to the California Board of Psychology

Visher was first licensed to practice psychology in California on Aug 2, 1982. There are now two suspensions to his license according to the CBP.

On Thursday in court prosecutor Michael Gilman of the District Attorney’s office said he hopes to set a trial date on Wednesday in Department 6 at 8:15 a.m.

If convicted, Visher could face life in prison. He is being represented by defense attorney Doug Fox.

Police are also looking into complaints of two separate incidents involving two boys who were ages 6 and 10 at the time.

Prosecutors ask anyone with additional information about the case to call the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office at 831-454-2516.

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