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Decades of Alleged Abuse and Fraud at Colorado Facility

Families and ex-patients allege that there has been decades of abuse and fraud at a Colorado facility that have been ignored. If you believe that you or a family member has been the victim of abuse and fraud, the wise thing to do is to have your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney at no cost or obligation to you.

The facility being accused of abuse and fraud is the Adolescent and Family Institute of Colorado, which is also known as AFIC. The inpatient treatment center, which is a facility for adolescents with drug abuse problems and mental illness, has operated in Wheat Ridge, Colorado for around 30 years.

Distance-learning school

The president and founder of AFIC is Alexander Panio. Panio received his doctorate in psychology from a distance-learning school in 1979. At that time, the school was not government-approved, and it no longer offers a PhD in psychology.

However, Panio was known as “Dr. Panio” even before getting his doctorate in 1979. Panio was a faculty member at Northwestern University from 1972 to 1978. Officials at Northwestern University say they believed Panio was a medical doctor. The university records at Northwestern show him listed as “Alexander Panio Jr., M.D.”


Public records in Colorado show that complaints of alleged abuse and fraud date back to the mid-1980s. In fact, there have been a minimum of 15 civil suits and 24 complaints that have been made to state regulators against AFIC.

These civil suits and complaints allege sexual and verbal abuse, fraud and unauthorized discontinuance of psychotropic medication. Alleged sexual misconduct included things, such as fondling and measuring genitalia.

Baby Doe

One civil suit regards a 14-year-old girl who is known only as “Baby Doe” because of her being a minor. The civil suit alleges that “Baby Doe was required to bend over and touch her toes while {staff members} stood behind her, evaluating her exposed buttocks and genitalia. Baby Doe was then told to squat and ‘walk like a duck’ across the floor.”

The civil suit goes on to allege that Baby Doe started to cry and was threatened with humiliation. She was told, “she would be labeled as having {sexually transmitted diseases} … and disallowed from participating in certain activities” if she did not permit the exam to be done.

AFIC and staff members deny the allegations of abuse and fraud, as does Panio. In court documents, Panio denies all allegations of abuse and fraud, standing by his credentials.

State records

State records in Colorado indicate that during the approximately 30 years that Panio ran the facility, he was only registered to practice psychotherapy between 1992 and 1998. After this period his registration expired. State records also show that Panio was never licensed as a psychiatrist or psychologist in Colorado.

Hundreds of pages of state records indicate that state regulators were alerted to allegations of abuse and fraud at AFIC, which were investigated. However, again and again, authorities said that the allegations “could not be confirmed.”

Again, if you believe that you or a family member has been the victim of abuse and fraud, you should contact a personal injury attorney and have your case evaluated at no cost or obligation to you.

Article written by James Shugart

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