An Irritating Woman

Susan Diamond learned that it doesn't pay to annoy your kids' psychiatrists, even if you're a doctor

On February 9, 1999, Diamond, after attending an HIV/AIDS conference, was met at the airport by her husband, Rick San Soucie, who announced he wanted a divorce.

Diamond felt blind-sided. That night, after Diamond announced the news to their four children--then ages 2 through 10--San Soucie left the house and has rarely spoken to her since. (San Soucie and his attorney Robert Sullivan declined to speak to the Dallas Observer. Their point of view is represented through extensive court filings.)

They'd been together 16 years, married for nearly 10. San Soucie's unhappiness had been building for a while. In 1998, San Soucie had told his wife he and the kids needed more attention from her; though she made a few adjustments in her schedule, little changed.

A judge called the divorce between Diamond and Rick San Soucie the most acrimonious she'd seen in 34 years on the bench.
Mark Graham
A judge called the divorce between Diamond and Rick San Soucie the most acrimonious she'd seen in 34 years on the bench.

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San Soucie also was unhappy with his wife's desire to have a fifth baby. When Diamond learned she was pregnant in 1998, San Soucie was furious, feeling she'd tricked him by taking a fertility drug. Diamond admits she'd taken Clomid earlier in the year but says she'd stopped.

Despite the warning signs, Diamond says she was devastated when her husband walked out. Asked if she wished they were still married, Diamond, in a rare moment of unguarded emotion, seems unable to speak for several moments, as if fighting to maintain control. Her eyes flicker in pain, but she answers in an even tone, "yes."

Diamond tells her story in a lawyer's conference room. She dresses in simple knits, a thick gold chain around her neck and matching bracelet on one wrist. Though her explanations of events are sometimes convoluted, Diamond speaks of wrenching events in analytical terms, seldom showing emotion.

Diamond and San Soucie met in high school in New Jersey but went their separate ways in pursuit of Ivy League educations. Diamond attended the University of Pennsylvania undergraduate and medical schools; San Soucie went to Dartmouth, then Wharton business school to get an MBA. They reconnected periodically. Diamond moved to Dallas in 1980 to train at Southwestern Medical School; San Soucie followed her here in 1983.

The couple married in 1989, and their first child, Stephen, was born a year later. Stephen was followed by Daniel, Justin, Rebecca and Mark.

"They were the perfect intellectual couple," Candy Evans says. Her husband, Dr. Walter Evans, knew San Soucie from Dartmouth and delivered all five of their children. "He was devoted to her."

By the late '90s, the family seemed to be doing well. Diamond had sold her ownership in a home health-care business for $5 million and was working 45 to 50 hours a week in a small but demanding practice. San Soucie managed their finances. Though they had full-time help at home, San Soucie was a hands-on father, spending lots of time at Akiba Academy, where the children were enrolled as soon as they hit preschool.

San Soucie, who was raised Catholic, and Diamond, a conservative Jew, agreed to give their kids a Jewish education. Akiba devotes half the academic day to Orthodox Jewish religious studies beginning in first grade.

The Dallas Orthodox Jewish community consists of about 300 families. Most live in one of the two eruvs in North Dallas, and until Torah Day School opened two years ago, they sent their children to Akiba. As their kids grew and brought home questions, San Soucie made a huge effort to learn more about Judaism, even studying Hebrew and learning to conduct the Passover Seder.

After losing so many young patients to AIDS in the early '90s, Diamond found increasing solace in her faith and moved toward being an observant Jew, at first through simple things such as buying kosher food. San Soucie, who felt subtle discrimination against non-Jews at Akiba, was increasingly uneasy about her immersion into Orthodox Jewish culture. But he said nothing to his wife.

Their children were delightful and well-mannered. But both parents were worried about their second son, Daniel.

From the day he was born in 1991, Daniel had been a difficult child--irritable, hard to console, impulsive--but the real problems began when he started at Akiba, Diamond says. "We used to say to him in the morning before school: no hitting, no biting, no kicking, no fighting." At age 4, he punched another child and knocked out a tooth. Though usually affectionate, another Daniel would emerge to terrorize his siblings or choke a playmate. By first grade, Diamond suspected he was bipolar.

In 1998, Daniel began telling his parents and his nanny, "You don't love me; you hate me. I want to die; I'm going to kill myself." At one point, Daniel threatened to throw himself over the banister. Diamond, thinking he was just seeking attention, tried to ignore the behavior.

San Soucie suspected that his son was depressed. In December, without his wife's knowledge, San Soucie took Daniel to Dr. Judith Samson, a clinical psychologist. "He feels the upset talk and threats are a cry for Dr. Diamond's attention and that he himself [San Soucie] feels much the same way about her lack of time and attention," Samson wrote in her report.

Samson saw Daniel three times: Cute and very bright, the boy was a whirlwind of activity, clowning, interrupting and ignoring instructions. "He was strikingly oppositional and willful," Samson wrote.

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