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Lawsuit: Alcoholism counselor preyed on client

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A Manning Family Recovery Center counselor is accused of cultivating a “predatory” sexual relationship with a man who sought help for alcoholism in January after his third drunk driving arrest.

That accusation is the subject of a lawsuit the man brought recently against the recovery center, two of its employees and its parent organizations. He claims the conduct derailed his recovery and that he has suffered “significant emotional distress and has lost 25 pounds,” according to the lawsuit. He seeks an unspecified amount of money.

The man was arrested about a year ago in Shelby County for his third operating while intoxicated charge in the past five years.

The man sought in-patient treatment at the recovery center, which is part of the Manning Regional Healthcare Center, on Jan. 27. He alleges his counselor, Kristal Lake, began making sexually suggestive remarks to him during one-on-one sessions in Lake’s office, which eventually led to a “virtual” sexual relationship of exchanging images, videos and text messages.

The man was ashamed of the relationship, ended it in August and had an alcohol relapse a week later, according to the lawsuit.

It is illegal in Iowa for counselors to have sexual relationships with clients, but no criminal charges have been filed against Lake, according to court records.

Another recovery center employee was aware of Lake’s sexual interest in the man and should have intervened, the lawsuit says.

Linn Block, the healthcare center’s chief executive, declined to comment about the situation. The defendants in the lawsuit have not yet filed their formal responses to the allegations in court.

The man is being represented by Roxanne Conlin, a high-profile Des Moines attorney.

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