Second civil suit filed against Beckley therapist

Jessica Farrish, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.
·2 min read

Apr. 15—A second woman has filed a civil suit against the owner of Life Strategies Counseling.

Filed March 24 in Raleigh County Circuit Court by Beckley attorney Stephen New, the suit alleges that a woman identified as K.T. visited Life Strategies counselor Crystal Knight and had counseling sessions with both Knight and Hamlet Smith II, owner of the counseling service, to prepare for a bariatric "sleeve" surgery for weight loss.

The suit alleges that Smith made inappropriate and degrading comments to K.T. about her weight in March 2019, during a pre-operative evaluation for the gastric bypass surgery.

"Let's face it, sis, you're big as a house, big as Jabba the Hutt," the suit alleges Smith remarked to K.T. when she visited, referring to a "Star Wars" character.

A requirement of pre-surgery counseling was for K.T. to take photos of herself naked or partly disrobed. According to the suit, K.T. alleged that Smith urged her to "do them completely nude or in her bra and panties so that I could actually see how big I was."

Smith had a woman who worked as an intern take a large mirror from the wall and set it on the floor and then asked K.T. multiple times if she was going to do the pictures nude or in her undergarments, the suit alleges. When K.T. told Smith she wanted her mom or husband to take the pictures at home, the suit alleges, Smith allegedly "pushed" her to take the photos in his office.

"When Plaintiff refused, Defendant became very agitated, according to the suit.

According to the suit, K.T. had been a previous patient of Smith's for depression but had stopped seeing him because Smith had allegedly asked unprofessional questions about her sex life with her husband and said that her depression stemmed from a "lack of male attention" at home.

She had visited him because pre-surgical counseling was suggested by her insurance company, and she was unable to get a timely appointment with other counselors.

New has also filed a civil suit on behalf of a Mercer County woman who reported that Smith had sexually harassed her during an emergency counseling session on the day after her husband died in March 2018.