Santa Barbara Shooter's Therapist Has Ties With Hollywood

Elliot Rodger, left, and Dr. Charles Sophy
Elliot Rodger, left, and Dr. Charles Sophy
 

A version of this story first appeared in the June 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

High-profile and controversial Beverly Hills psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy was treating Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger during a key period within the year leading up to the May 23 massacre that resulted in seven deaths (including his own), as well as 13 injuries -- according to Rodger's own 137-page manifesto.

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Sophy, a prominent Southern California physician who has served as the medical director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services for more than a decade, has in the past been criticized for continuing with his busy role at the troubled mental health agency (where systemic breakdowns contributed to deaths) while maintaining a lucrative private practice and frequent media appearances. His client list is said to have included Paris Hilton, former Spice Girl Mel B and the late Russell Armstrong (whose suicide after battering wife Taylor was central to an early season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). At the same time, he has provided on-air expertise on programs ranging from Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to Flipping Out.

Sophy, one of a number of therapists Rodger met with over the years, did not respond to a request for comment about his care for the 22-year-old, who grew up in the celebrity-studded suburb of Calabasas to parents involved in the film industry. (Father Peter Rodger was an assistant director on the first Hunger Games film, while mother Li Chin, an on-set nurse, once dated George Lucas.)

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Rodger's manifesto, "My Twisted World," describes sporadic ongoing treatment sessions, which ended shortly before the fall 2013 school semester. Sophy, after having unsuccessfully paired the patient -- who his family has said was diagnosed on the Asperger's spectrum -- with a series of socialization counselors in the Santa Barbara area, suggested "prescribing me a controversial medication, Risperidone," Rodger wrote. Risperidone is an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. "After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take," he wrote. (Growth of male breast tissue has been among the reported side effects.) "I refused to take it," he went on, "and I never saw Dr. Sophy again after that."

Rodgers explains that, soon after, he began to make specific plans for "the final dark chapter of my life."

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