A former psychologist at Travis Air Force Base pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual battery charges Friday in what Solano County prosecutors call one of the most egregious cases their courts have ever seen.
Heath Sommer is accused of raping and sexually assaulting at least three patients, including Air Force veterans suffering from PTSD and who had already survived sexual assaults.
"This man is a monster," Iraq War veteran Kelly Shufeldt-Rodriguez said about Sommer.
"These are women who sacrificed their whole well being for their county who served on deployment and were assaulted, and had terrible things happen to them and were seeking help," Shufeldt-Rodriguez said.
Shufeldt-Rodriguez, who is a sexual assault survivor, said she went to see the Travis Air Force Base doctor for a PTSD panic attack in 2015, but instead of addressing her anxiety she said Sommer had something else on his mind.
"He just wanted to talk about sex," she said. "He wanted me to talk about my personal sexual experiences and he tried to make me feel ashamed when I had a negative reaction to that."
Shufeldt-Rodriguez said she ran out of Sommer's office, but prosecutors said three other patients endured so much more.
Court documents said Sommer made them engage in "exposure therapy," insisting they "re-enact the victims sexual trauma" with him. The alleged victims eventually came forward to police.
"Had they not come forward, who knows who the next victim would have been," Prosecutor Sharon Henry said.
Schufeldt-Rodriguez is grateful things did not go any further in her case. She said she is proud of the women who found the courage to tell their stories and hold Sommer accountable.