A mental health counselor from Lake Orion is now in the Charlevoix County jail after she was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a client.
Charlevoix County Chief Judge Roy Hayes said Meaghan Moineau abused her authority when she had a relationship with an extremely vulnerable former client. As he sentenced her to a jail term, the judge had deputies in his courtroom take her into custody after the sentencing.
Johnston was Undergoing Treatment for Anxiety and Depression from Moineau
The 40-year-old mental health counselor from Lake Orion pleaded guilty last month to 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct for having a sexual relationship with Stephen Johnson, 28, of Clarkston. Under Michigan law, it's illegal for mental health professionals to have sexual relationships with clients or former clients if it's within 2 years of treatment.
Johnson says he started treatment for anxiety and depression back in 2018 after he left the military. He says a counseling practice in Clarkston assigned him to work with Moineau. He says in late 2020, they ended their official therapy relationship and then things turned physical at her office.
"She'd invite me there when she was done seeing clients and was alone and we would have sex there," said Johnson. "She told me that she loved me."
Moineau was Married but Traveled with Johnson on Several Occasions
Moineau is married, but Johnson says he traveled with her several times, to places like South Carolina, Chicago, Frankenmuth, and Boyne City. The Boyne City trip resulted in charges from the Charlevoix County prosecutor.
The judge ordered Moineau to spend the next month in jail, in addition to 18 months of probation.
"At face value, the romantic relationship might appear to be a consensual relationship. However, the victim in this case was extremely vulnerable due to the professional counseling relationship," said Judge Hayes. "Physical relationships of this nature are prohibited by law. And it's clear to me the victim felt used, objectified, and taken advantage of by this defendant and her abuse of authority and professional status."
As part of her plea deal, Moineau agreed to give up her counseling license.