Caspian psychologist arraigned on Dickinson charges

Michael Varney

IRON MOUNTAIN — A 61-year-old Caspian psychologist accused of trading patients opioids, Valium and marijuana for sexual favors has been arraigned in Dickinson County District Court and appeared in Marquette County court this week as well for a preliminary exam.

Michael Wallace Varney faces 50 felony charges in Dickinson, Iron and Marquette counties based on a complaint he engaged in sexual misconduct over the past nine years with 10 patients, many of whom sought Varney’s professional help for substance abuse treatment, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stated in a news release Sept. 21.

Varney obtained his psychologist license in 2009, and owned and worked at Superior Psychological, which has offices in Caspian, Kingsford and Marquette, according to the complaint suspending his license July 6. As a limited license psychologist, he is not legally able to prescribe medication to his patients, Schuette stated.

Varney’s inappropriate behavior with patients included sending sexually suggestive and inappropriate messages, requesting sexually suggestive photos, providing prescription pills in exchange for sexual contact and divulging confidential information about other patients, a news release on the license suspension stated.

In Dickinson County, Varney was arraigned Thursday on four counts of criminal sexual conduct-first degree, 11 counts of delivery of a schedule 2 controlled substance and eight counts of delivery of marijuana.

He will return to Dickinson County District Court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 25 for a preliminary exam.

In Iron County, Varney faces 10 counts of delivery of a schedule 2 controlled substance, eight counts of delivery of a schedule 4 controlled substance and a single count each of delivery of methamphetamine and delivery of marijuana. He has not yet been arraigned in that county.

In Marquette County District Court, Varney has been charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct-first degree and four counts of delivery of a schedule 2 controlled substance.

Two witnesses testified Thursday at his preliminary exam in Marquette, a former patient of Varney’s and Dickinson County Undersheriff Scott Metras.

The next court date in Marquette County has not yet been set.

Marquette County Judge Roger Kangas in September set Varney’s bond at $250,000 per count, for a total of $1.75 million, according to the news release.