Christopher Bathum, the founder of 19 sober living rehab facilities in California and Colorado was arrested Thursday after being suspected of sexually assaulting over a dozen female rehab patients in addition to being involved in an elaborate scheme wherein he defrauded insurers of $176 million, authorities share.
HEADLINES: California “rehab mogul” accused of sexual assaults and fraud https://t.co/2tRNbgR5YV
— Talk 1370 (@TALK1370) November 11, 2016
Describing himself as a “rehab mogul,” Bathum was arrested and taken into custody at his home in Agoura Hills while authorities raided 15 of his rehab locations in Los Angeles and Orange County. Bathum was booked on several counts of sexual assaults, as Lt. Todd Deeds of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated. The 55-year-old is the operator of Community Recovery of Los Angeles, also known as CRLA.
Bathum and the chief executive officer of the company, Kristen Wallace, are also accused of stealing patient’s identities to buy health policies without their knowledge of it, as the California Department of Insurance relays. They billed insurance companies for millions of dollars in drugs and alcohol treatment after the services were complete, as the department noted in a news release. An amount of $44 million was paid by the insurance companies before the fraudulent activity was discovered by the department.
Insurance commissioner Dave Jones shared a statement on the fraud case.
“Bathum and Wallace’s alleged conspiracy victimized hundreds of people addicted to drugs and alcohol by keeping them in a never-ending cycle of treatment, addiction, and fraud – all the while lining their pockets with millions of dollars from allegedly fraudulent insurance claims.”
The Sheriff’s Department of Los Angeles shares that Bathum ran six centers in Colorado and 13 drug and alcohol rehab facilities in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Aerial View of the Mega Drug Rehab Center! This is better than Yolanda houses in Tacloban.???????? pic.twitter.com/RMifWiGAXB
— JEPOY (@jefk_rew) November 11, 2016
An investigation of Bathum began in May of this year after a complaint alleging sexual assault was filed. Deeds declined to describe the allegations against Bathum, but did share that more than 12 former patients have also accused the mogul of sexual assault. The said assaults occurred between 2012 and 2016 at various treatment centers.
Deeds also noted that he suspects there may be more victims and has urged any others to notify investigators if this is the case.
“We want every one of them to come forward,” the lieutenant said. “He is in custody right now.”
Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, stated that no formal charges have been filed against Bathum.
After a month-long investigation had been underway, ABC’s 20/20 aired an episode that lasted an hour in length, about Bathum and his treatment centers. Due to the suspect having been the subject of an L.A. Weekly report over the last year that detailed allegations against him as well as the dozens of law suits. The Los Angeles Times shares about one account that the program detailed.
“In the episode, Amanda Jester, one of the women who filed a lawsuit against Bathum, said his Malibu facility appeared to offer the relief and help she needed to free herself from her alcohol addiction. Jester alleged that he sexually assaulted her in a sweat lodge on the massive property and in a hotel room.”
The victim notes how helpless she felt, sharing “I have no credit card, no money, no cellphone – I felt like I had no choice.” However, other recovering addicts have given glowing reviews about Bathum for how he helped them. Bathum has denied all allegations that have been brought against him. He spoke with 20/20 as The Times share.
“You gotta understand something. You’re in a world of accusations that’s amazingly complex and has people saying… all kinds of crazy things… in a trauma-filled world.”
Although the allegations of abuse have yet to be verified, it is clear that the “mogul” was involved in a fraudulent scheme.
[Feature Image by John Moore/Getty Images]