Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced an agreement with a Molalla internet café operator permanently stopping him from practicing naturopathy or any other form of medicine without a license. The settlement resolves allegations that the restaurant owner used phony diploma-mill degrees and provided unauthorized medical care and counseling. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) filed Wednesday in Clackamas County Circuit Court are Ralph D. Mitchell of Molalla and his business entity, Greenhouse Health & Wellness Center, LLC and Impact Christian Ministries, a non-profit. The AVC admits no law violation.
"Mitchell brought a history of deceptive practices in the medical and counseling fields from California," Myers said. "It is important for the residents of Oregon to know that unlicensed medical care is dangerous and harmful and that patients should do all they can to check out the legal licensure of providers especially when connected with non-traditional medicine."
With the assistance of investigators and personnel from other state agencies including the Oregon Board of Naturopathic Examiners, the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization, and the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners, the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a five-month investigation into the activities of Mitchell.
Investigators found that Mitchell claimed to hold various academic degrees and titles including a doctorate from Shelbourne University, an institution investigators found to be an Internet diploma mill. He also alleged he had earned a degree from a school in the San Clemente area of California and had been the school's president.
While claiming the title as "doctor" at his Molalla-area facilities named in the AVC, Mitchell treated clients for serious medical problems with unproven regimens such as ION footbaths, which he used to allegedly extract toxins from the body. Some clients' medical problems worsened under his care and legitimate treatment was delayed to their detriment.
Investigators also found Mitchell used a so-called galvanic skin response device which measures electrical resistance of the skin, to diagnose or to treat some medical conditions. The device cannot legally be used to do either.
Under the court order, Mitchell must provide any customer who submits to galvanic skin response testing a copy of an information sheet that clearly articulates the following facts: Mitchell is not a licensed health care professional, the testing device cannot be used to diagnose or treat any disease or illness, and important health care decisions should be made by a licensed health care professional.
In addition, Mitchell is restricted or prohibited in his use of certain certificates and degrees, from any deceit in the sale of herbal/vitamin products, from offering college credits, and from claiming he has published pioneering work in the field of "Bio-energetic psychotherapy" unless he has actually done so.
The agreement states that under no circumstances can Mitchell claim an advanced degree from Shelbourne University, Berean Bible College, or the University of Biblical Studies.
Mitchell will provide restitution to consumers who filed complaints with DOJ and pay $25,000 to the state agencies participating in the investigation.
Consumers wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320, (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. DOJ is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org