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James Holmes

James Holmes (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

James Holmes’ Psychiatrist Contacted University Police Weeks Before Movie-Theater Shooting: ABC Exclusive

The psychiatrist who treated suspected movie-theater shooter James Holmes made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about her patient’s behavior several weeks before Holmes’ alleged rampage, sources told ABC News.

Fenton would have had to have serious concerns to break confidentiality with her patient to reach out to the police officer or others, the sources said. Under Colorado law, a psychiatrist can legally breach a pledge of confidentiality with a patient if he or she becomes aware of a serious and imminent threat that their patient might cause harm to others. Psychiatrists can also breach confidentiality if a court has ordered them to do so.

“For any physician to break doctor-patient confidentiality there would have to be an extremely good reason,” said Dr. Carol Bernstein, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone Medical Center and past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

“Confidentiality is a key part of the doctor-patient relationship,” she said. “It is central to everything we do.”

ABC news and affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported that Fenton had contacted other members of the university’s threat-assessment team about her concerns. The university-wide, threat-assessment team reportedly never met to discuss Holmes after he announced his intent to withdraw from the University nearly six weeks before the July 20 shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured.


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