James Holmes' sanity is already an important issue in the Aurora movie theater shooting trial. And now the alleged shooter's mental health is at question in another lawsuit against his psychiatrist. The Denver Post's Tom McGhee reports that Chantel Blunk—the widow of a man killed in the shooting—filed a suit in Denver's U.S. District Court on Monday claiming that University of Colorado Denver psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton should have had James Holmes locked up when she had the chance. Fenton—seen to the right in an early Holmes trial hearing—had contact with Holmes before the shooting. As a neuroscience grad student at the University of Colorado, Holmes had turned to Fenton for psychological help. We already know that Fenton warned University officials about Holmes' violent fantasies, and there's evidence suggesting Holmes tried to call her on the night of the shooting.
But Blunk doesn't think Fenton did enough to stop Holmes from allegedly carrying out the mass shooting at Century 16's midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Her lawsuit claims that campus police offered to apprehend Holmes based on Fenton's warnings, but she "rejected the idea." But before we rush to blame Fenton for failing to let Holmes be taken into custody, we should consider that research shows as much as 47 percent of undergraduates have violent fantasies. Thirty percent of men report having violent thoughts frequently. Should every one of them who discuss such violent thoughts with their therapists be taken in by police? A UC Denver spokeswoman told The Denver Post that the school has "nothing but sympathy for the victims, but in the initial review of this case the university believes the lawsuit is not well-founded legally or factually."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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