WICHITA, Kan. – Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on Tuesday sued two Massachusetts psychologists hired by a state agency to interview BTK serial killer Dennis Rader (search) before his sentencing, accusing the psychologists and their company of profiting from a videotape of a session with the man who terrorized Wichita for decades.
Segments of the psychologists' interview conducted with Rader on June 27, the day he pleaded guilty, were broadcast by "Dateline NBC" five days before his sentencing in August to consecutive life sentences for 10 killings between 1974 and 1991.
Kline filed the lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court against Robert Mendoza (search), a forensic neuropsychologist; Tali Walters, a forensic psychologist; and their company, Cambridge Forensic Consultants, of Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Days after Rader's arrest, the company offered its service to the defense team representing Rader.
The psychologists obtained a release from Rader to allow them to benefit financially from their involvement in his defense. That breached a contract with the state, violated the privacy rights of victims and jeopardized the prosecution, Kline said.
He said the company, which was paid $57,314 for its services, violated its agreement with a state agency — the Board of Indigent Defense Services (search), which represented Rader. The suit seeks a refund along with damages in excess of $75,000.
Kline also wants the court to order the return of all materials, including notes, memoranda, analysis, research and tapes. He also is asking for an injunction to prohibit any further use of property belonging to the indigent defense board that was obtained through the contract with the state and contact with Rader.
"It is unthinkable that anyone would attempt to profit off of the victims of these heinous acts," Kline said. "We will do everything within our authority and the power of this office to protect the victims from further exploitation."
Walters and Mendoza referred calls for comment to Topeka attorney Steve Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh said it would be premature for him to comment on specific allegations in Kline's petition.
"We don't believe all the allegations are accurate and my clients will be filing an appropriate response," he said.
Kline told reporters Mendoza sent two letters to the Board of Indigent Defense Services in which he indicated he would respect the privacy of all involved and acknowledged resources obtained through their efforts were state property.
Asked why he was filing a lawsuit rather than criminal charges, Kline said that the evidence supports that approach. He declined to comment on the possibility of any future charges, saying an investigation is ongoing. He also wouldn't say whether he thought defense attorneys had done anything wrong.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said prosecutors had no information that the tape had been made until NBC began promoting the interview. She said they were focused on the criminal proceedings and asked Kline to investigate the circumstances surrounding the taped interview.
"We just didn't have time to fuss with it," she said.
Rader was arrested in February, a year after resuming communications to police and news media that had stopped years earlier. He had given himself the BTK nickname in his earlier communications, the letters standing for "bind, torture and kill."
In the taped interview broadcast on the NBC program, Rader talked about sexual fantasies that he said motivated him to kill.
"You have to have the control, which is the bonding," he said. "That's been a big thing with me. My sexual fantasy is of ... if I'm going to kill a victim or do something to the victim, is having them bound and tied. In my dreams, I had what they called torture chambers. And to relieve your sexual fantasies you have to go to the kill."
In the tape aired by "Dateline," Rader talked about how he felt like a "star" when he pleaded guilty — a statement that prosecutors pointed to during his sentencing hearing.
Rader, 60, lived in the Wichita suburb of Park Hill, where worked as a city code inspector.