Playtime Is Over

The state has barred a child psychologist from using adult sex toys in therapy sessions.

Dallas is sitting on the larger of two blue leather couches in Dr. John Dicke's office, quietly eating a chocolate chip cookie. The little boy seems content and comfortable here, but there is something unfamiliar in the room this week, and its presence intrigues him. "Why are we taking pictures?" he asks, looking directly into the video camera.

"Because you're such a handsome boy," answers the psychologist, who joins him and his mother on the couch.

Satisfied, Dallas gets up and runs out of view, leaving Dicke and his mom to chat. Karen talks about the progress Dallas has made since he started therapy and about how he's finally calming down and behaving like a normal five-year-old. It is February 27, 2001, the boy's eleventh session with Dicke. Karen tries to talk to the therapist about using anatomically correct dolls to help her son open up about whether he has been sexually abused. Dallas himself seems oblivious to the conversation as he runs around, laughing and playing with his toy laser gun. Distracted by the boy's hyper behavior, Dicke and Karen drop the topic and watch Dallas.

John Dicke believes he's found a way to help children who have been victims of sexual abuse.
John Johnston
John Dicke believes he's found a way to help children who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Karen believes Dr. Dicke's therapy was helping her son, Dallas.
John Johnston
Karen believes Dr. Dicke's therapy was helping her son, Dallas.

"So how come you didn't touch Dr. John's winkie today?" Dicke asks the boy.

Dallas ignores the question and asks his mom what day it is. The therapist asks the boy if the question embarrassed him and if he gets upset when they talk about "winkies." Dallas kicks the psychologist.

"You get mad, don't you? Is Dallas going to get scared when we start talking about winkies?" Dicke asks in the baby-talk voice adults use when addressing children.

"I bet you never touched my winkie," Dicke says, challenging him.

Dallas laughs and shoots him with his toy gun. "That's funny," he says.

Dicke presses on. "I bet you never touched your dad's winkie."

Dallas shoots the doctor again and runs around, in and out of view of the camera, laughing. Soon he's back and jumping on Dicke's lap. The therapist puts his arms around him and asks Dallas if the toy is his "winkie gun." Dallas points it at Dicke's lap and pretends to shoot. "Did you shoot me in the winkie?" Dicke asks playfully.

The boy resumes his laps around the room and then, from out of view, apparently points his gun toward the camera. "Are you going to shoot the camera with your winkie gun?" Dicke asks.

Dallas laughs. "It's not a winkie gun."

He jumps back onto Dicke's lap, then off again and starts screeching. Dicke picks him up and holds him in his lap. Dallas is wired and growing increasingly anxious. "Get off, Dr. John," he says. "Stupid fucking."

"Fucking," Dicke shouts back. "Stupid fucking."

Dallas hands Karen his gun and asks her to shoot Dicke. "I want to sit in my mom's fucking lap."

Karen, who so far has observed the session in silence, asks her son who taught him to say that.

"Fucking bitch," Dallas says.

The brown-haired, slightly overweight boy, who's dressed in jeans and a red shirt on this day, takes off his socks so that Dicke can tickle his feet. "Remember what we talked about last time?" Dicke asks him.

"I don't want to talk."

Dallas now starts screeching each time Dicke questions him.

"Remember what you told me last time? About winkies? And about how your dad used to touch your butt with his winkie?" Dicke asks.

Dallas, who's lying down with Dicke bent over him on the couch, starts spitting in the therapist's face. Unfazed, Dicke wipes the saliva off his cheeks and smears it all over the boy's face. "Remember what we talked about that happened on Christmas Day?"

Dallas answers with a high-pitched screech.

"Did you go in the room with Daddy when I was taking a shower?" Karen asks.

"What happened on Christmas?" Dicke demands.

As the questioning continues, Dallas gets more and more agitated, blowing air in Dicke's face and spitting. But Dicke doesn't give up; he tries to trick Dallas into opening up by accusing him of being too scared to talk about what happened, but the reverse psychology fails.

"I want my gun," Dallas whines before saying, "Ow, ow, ow."

"Did you get hurt when Mommy was in the shower?" Karen asks.

Dallas screeches, then laughs.

"You're scared today," Dicke tells him.

"Butthead," Dallas responds.

Dicke persists in his questioning, but Dallas keeps ignoring him, then blurts out, "Fucking bitch!"

"Your dad doesn't say that, does he?" Dicke asks.

"My butt's itchy," Dallas says.

The boy can't sit still, and his mom tries to hold him. "I want you to stop!" he screams. "I hate this!"

"When Mommy was in the shower, where were you?" Karen asks.

"We were in my room still," Dallas answers. Thinking they'd finally achieved a breakthrough, Karen seizes the opportunity and asks what happened in his bedroom, but the door closes as soon as it opened.

"I want my gun, I want my gun," Dallas cries.

"Let's pretend this is a winkie," Dicke says, referring to the toy gun. "Is this Dallas's winkie or Dad's winkie?"

"Dad's," Dallas answers.

As Dicke presses further, Dallas spits and blows in his face again. "I want to go home. Fucking. Stop hurting me," he says, even though Dicke and Karen are just holding him gently now.

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