Counselor Sues Wyoming Clinic, Psychiatrist Over Alleged ‘Sexually Charged Behavior’

A former licensed counselor for Wyoming Behavioral Institute is suing the clinic and a psychiatrist there claiming harassment from his “intentional sexually charged behavior.”

Clair McFarland

March 01, 20244 min read

Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper.
Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

A licensed professional counselor is suing the Wyoming Behavioral Institute and one of its psychiatrists claiming the psychiatrist subjected her and others to sexual harassment and made lewd comments about patients.

Former Wyoming Behavioral Institute (WBI) employee Shawna Punteney filed her federal civil complaint Friday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming against UHS of Wyoming, which is doing business as WBI, and against Dr. David Martorano.

“Martorano’s intentional, sexually charged behavior … was outrageous and extreme to a degree beyond all possible bounds of decency, and both atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” says the complaint.

Noting it has not yet been served with the lawsuit and saying it would wait to obtain the complaint from an official source rather than from Cowboy State Daily, WBI declined to comment on the allegations.

Martorano did not respond by publication time to a voicemail at the phone number listed for him.

The Claims, The Ask

Punteney alleges that WBI and Martorano discriminated against her for being female, by creating a hostile work environment from which she felt compelled to resign. She also claims both WBI and Martorano retaliated against her for filing complaints about these issues.

And she’s accusing Martorano of intentionally afflicting emotional harm.

Punteney is asking for a jury trial in the hopes of winning compensation for medical bills from alleged stress-related illnesses, other compensatory damages, money for general damages, for punitive damages (to punish defendants), and to be reimbursed for her litigation expenses.

Allegations Of Sex Talk

Punteney worked for WBI from January 2019 to November 2020, her complaint says.

Martorano sexually harassed and bullied “every female he came into contact with,” Punteney alleges.

Her complaint says he’d offer women private massages at his home, invite female staffers to have private dinners with him, joke about women’s bodies, tell Punteney she has “big boobs” and “everyone stares at” them, and joke about his own genitals.

Martorano talked about his sex life in front of staff and patients, saying he had an “open marriage” and could sleep with whomever, the complaint alleges.

When Punteney told Martorano one female patient had a yeast infection, the latter said he “always wanted to start a yogurt factory,” claims the document.

Martorano allegedly asked female patients how many times per week their partners made them orgasm.

“The female patients felt compelled to respond because they thought it was necessary for their treatment,” says the complaint.

Good Girl

The complaint claims Martorano told Punteney he had access to the records at Wyoming Medical Center and could “hurt someone.” It says he’d tell Punteney to be “a good girl” and do as she was told or he’d “punish” her when she was “bad,” and that she should “fear” him. If she was good, he would “reward her,” the document says.

Punteney couldn’t stand to be in the same room as Martorano, the complaint says.

‘We’ll End Up In Human Resources’

Punteney made complaints about Martorano to UHS and WBI’s human resources department.

She alleges colleagues called her degrading names after she complained, and that one female employee called her a “skank.”

The human resources department reportedly found Martorano was condescending toward members of the clinical staff team and made off-color comments. The CEO of human resources told Martorano to stop making off-color humor and stick to the clinical diagnostic comments — and not to retaliate in any way, says the complaint.

Punteney’s complaint says the alleged harassment worsened after she filed complaints, and Martorano warned her to “fear” him.

He warned others to be careful around Punteney or “we will end up in human resources,” the document says.

Punteney resigned Nov. 1, 2020.

She claims WBI told her new employer that as long as she worked there, they wouldn’t refer patients, presumably to that facility.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter