Omaha psychiatrist sues over firing in Nikko Jenkins case

2014-03-04T10:05:00Z 2014-03-04T22:35:55Z Omaha psychiatrist sues over firing in Nikko Jenkins caseThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 04, 2014 10:05 am  • 

OMAHA — An Omaha psychiatrist says he was wrongly fired by the Douglas County Corrections Department for testifying that he thought a man accused of killing four Omaha residents was "crazy."

Dr. Eugene Oliveto contends in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Omaha that the department retaliated against him for his courtroom candor. He's seeking $1 million and a preliminary injunction to protect him from any future retaliation.

Mark Foxall, the department's director, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Oliveto served as a psychiatrist for the corrections system in Douglas County. He testified over the objections of prosecutors on Feb. 12 at a hearing to determine whether Nikko Jenkins was competent to stand trial. Oliveto said he re-evaluated Jenkins on Feb. 10 after being subpoenaed by Jenkins' lawyers.

Jenkins is charged with killing four Omaha residents within weeks of his release from prison on July 30. He has pleaded not guilty.

Oliveto diagnosed Jenkins with schizophrenia and a post-traumatic stress disorder in 2010 and 2011. Oliveto is not a forensic psychiatrist and didn't testify to Jenkins' competency to stand trial. But he said that when re-evaluating Jenkins on Feb. 10, he determined that he was still schizophrenic and "one of the most dangerous people I have ever evaluated."

Another psychiatrist agreed with Oliveto's diagnosis, but three state psychiatrists said they think Jenkins is faking mental illness.

A judge subsequently ruled Jenkins is competent to stand trial.

Oliveto's attorney, Tom White, says he was fired for telling the truth.

Oliveto alleges that after he testified, Foxall "verbally abused" him and accused him of being unethical and unprofessional. He says he was given three choices: resign, be fired or be placed on leave with a potential severance package.

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