A Spokane doctor is suing her marriage counselor for stealing her husband.
Dr. Linda Hole, 42, said months after she started going to Susan Quackenbush with her husband, he left her, their four children and the South Hill family practice the couple shared for nearly 10 years.
Benjamin Hole, 58, also a family physician, moved in with Quackenbush, 43, and opened up a new practice with her in 1993.
“What happened in this soap opera is real betrayal,” said Linda Hole’s attorney Marcia Meade, who filed the malpractice complaint against Quackenbush in Spokane County Superior Court this week. “It’s outrageous and devastating and it has harmed (the Holes’) children.
“My client was being counseled about her marriage by a woman who was sleeping with her husband.”
Benjamin Hole said his wife’s claim is simply the result of a “disturbed woman’s revenge.”
The couple never went to Quackenbush for marital counseling, he said, and Linda Hole was never one of Quackenbush’s patients. He admits he and Quackenbush are romantically involved and living together near Everett, but said he’s been trying to divorce his wife for years.
“She keeps delaying the process,” Benjamin Hole said. “She is just a scorned woman, an unhappy woman, and I’m sorry she’s so upset but it’s time we got on with our lives.”
Quackenbush refused to comment.
Both Quackenbush and Benjamin Hole became targets of an investigation by the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission soon after they opened their joint practice in Spokane.
Now, neither is allowed to practice.
When Benjamin Hole started working with Quackenbush, commission officials said he referred patients to her for treatment.
The referrals were illegal because Quackenbush is an unlicensed, unregistered counselor, officials said. Benjamin Hole told patients she was a biofeedback therapist.
When insurance companies refused claims filed by Quackenbush because of her illegal status, Benjamin Hole rebilled them as if the patients were treated by him, not her, the medical commission found.
“You can’t do that,” said commission supervisor Betty Elliott. “It’s dishonest. It’s fraud.”
The commission gave Benjamin Hole a choice: retire or face charges. He retired Oct. 6.
The state also ordered Quackenbush to stop counseling patients until she completes the required registration process.
Linda Hole said she met her husband while they attended a medical conference on a Greek island nearly 15 years ago. They got married on Valentine’s Day 1983 and moved to Spokane.
“It was a romantic story for us, really,” she remembered. “In the beginning.”
She said they decided to go to marriage counseling in the summer of 1992, and were referred by friends to Quackenbush. The couple separated by Thanksgiving, but continued their sessions with Quackenbush, she said.
They usually went every other week, sometimes together and sometimes separately, Linda Hole said. She attended sessions with the counselor until May 31, 1993, when Benjamin Hole opened a practice with Quackenbush and the affair was exposed.
“I was devastated, of course,” Linda Hole said. “Everyone else knew about them. My children had met her. I can’t describe the loss I felt, the heartbreak.”
Her attorney said Quackenbush should have known having an affair with her patient’s husband would be harmful. The counselor broke laws that prohibit therapists from having such relationships with patients, Meade said. Even though Quackenbush was not registered, she was passing herself off as a counselor so she was subject to the same rules, the attorney said.
“This is a matter of trusting a health professional and having it turn into a nightmare,” Meade said.