Psych Crime Reporter

February 28, 2011

Beverly Hills child custody evaluator thrown off case for lewd photos, allegations of promoting drug use, etc.

A prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist who has helped decide hundreds of child-custody disputes was thrown off one recent case and has been challenged in at least two others after posting lewd photos of himself on Facebook and allegedly promoting illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.

Dr. Joseph Kenan, president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, is also being investigated by the Medical Board of California on at least four complaints by parents who hired him to do custody evaluations, according to records and correspondence reviewed by The Times.

Among the postings on Facebook and other websites under the slightly different names of “Joe Kegan” and “Joe Keegan” were photos showing Kenan baring his buttocks to the camera in public and another of him posing with a friend holding a cake that explicitly depicted a sexual act, court records state.

The litigation over Kenan’s fitness sheds light on a highly influential, but lightly regulated, group of experts — the evaluators who advise family courts in contested custody cases. Evaluators can earn fees of tens of thousands of dollars for assessing parents’ fitness.

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Critics of the system say the courts do a poor job of overseeing the work of people who often play pivotal roles in the lives of vulnerable children. A recent state auditor’s report faulted two courts in Northern California for how they vet custody evaluators’ qualifications and training.

Kenan’s detractors have been particularly vehement.

“This man should not be allowed to determine whether any father or mother is a good parent,” said Deborah Singer, who persuaded a court commissioner to remove Kenan from her child-custody case last year after she discovered explicit postings on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

Singer and another parent who sought to disqualify Kenan, Deborah Zolla, say their concerns were sparked, in part, by his demands for tens of thousands of dollars, which they considered excessive fees, to develop custody plans for their children.

Kenan declined to be interviewed for this article. In a written statement submitted in Singer’s case, he said the Facebook page was never meant for public viewing. He closed it and asked other websites to remove photos of him, Kenan wrote.

“Ms. Singer misunderstands the bawdy humor I occasionally present to my friends, as evidenced by some of those pictures. I do NOT promote what she is concerned I promote. My comments are entirely in jest. In fact, my comments serve to educate the community’s problems through satire.”

Kenan’s lawyer, Donald S. Eisenberg, said the doctor’s private life had no bearing on his professional performance. He said Kenan’s detractors were unhappy with his evaluations or trying to avoid paying his fees. In court papers, he called the allegations inadmissible hearsay, conjecture and innuendo.

“His entire livelihood is being crushed by information … that is quite irrelevant to the work he does,” Eisenberg said. “These allegations show what lengths, in some litigation, that people will go to try to unwind unfavorable opinions expressed by qualified experts in their child custody cases.”

Singer and Zolla, who also cited the Internet postings, made their objections to Kenan before he completed evaluations in their cases.

At a hearing last Aug. 3, Family Law Commissioner Steff Padilla dismissed Kenan from Singer’s case after reading descriptions of Facebook photographs in her disqualification motion.

In at least one other case, however, a court commissioner in Pasadena ruled the other way, denying a mother’s request to remove Kenan from a case involving the custody of her 11-year-old daughter.

“You’re saying Dr. Kenan should be disqualified because of a goofy Facebook page. What on earth does it have anything to do with this court?” Commissioner Mary Lou Katz asked in denying the removal motion.

State law sets requirements for evaluators, but county courts oversee their appointments and handle any complaints. The Los Angeles County Superior Court requires private evaluators like Kenan to submit sworn declarations detailing their training and experience, including at least three years of working with families in custody disputes, but does not vet the information or conduct background checks.

Court records show that Kenan, 41, has been involved in at least 250 custody cases in the last 10 years. Kenan began working with the court’s custody evaluations office as a medical intern in 2002 and was a part-time employee there from 2004 to 2009, said Margaret Little, Superior Court family law and probate administrator.

“This man should not be allowed to determine whether any father or mother is a good parent,” said Deborah Singer, who persuaded a court commissioner to remove Kenan from herchild-custody case last year after she discovered explicit postings on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

When he became a private contractor, his name was added to a directory posted on the court’s website, Little said. The list is for the convenience of parents seeking a private evaluation and is not meant to be an endorsement, she said.

Court officials told The Times they had received no complaints about Kenan.

Unlike evaluators on the court’s staff, who work at a fixed rate, private evaluators set their own fees, which can be more than 10 times as much, sometimes leading to clashes with clients.

Singer paid Kenan a $7,500 retainer last May, court records state, and she and her lawyer said they were taken aback when he later asked for tens of thousands of dollars more to finish his report.

Her attorney, Dennis E. Braun, said in court papers that Singer already had custody of her daughter, now 5, and supported her financially. Singer’s estranged husband had barely seen the child in two years, was serving a one-year jail sentence for a probation violation and faced additional felony charges upon release, the records state.

When Kenan asked for an additional $35,000 and offered to send a “runner” to her house for a $20,000 check, she became alarmed and researched him on the Internet, leading her to the explicit photos, her court papers say. After he was removed from the case, Kenan voluntarily returned the $7,500 retainer to Singer, who later won full legal and physical custody of her daughter.

Some of Kenan’s Facebook postings — all since taken down — appeared to promote illicit drug use, including a picture of a woman holding a large straw while kneeling on a mirror with lines of white powder. Another was a photo of Kenan with a party banner that read “It’s snowing,” a phrase alleged in court papers to refer to crystal meth or cocaine.

Sheriff’s deputies have been called to Kenan’s home at least twice, records show, once in late 2007 to quell a raucous party and again last Oct. 23 on a report of a possible drug overdose death. The death proved to be from natural causes and no drugs were found in the dead man’s body. But coroner’s investigators found a burnt meth pipe in the room where he died.

“Dr. Kenan has no idea what that is, or where it came from,” his lawyer, Eisenberg, said of the pipe. “He is not a drug user, has never been a drug user and denies any drug use. Period.”

Many of Kenan’s Facebook postings were explicitly sexual and included ads for parties he co-hosted at nightclubs, including some that appeared to promote unprotected sex. One ad promoted a gay porn site and Rentboy.com, which features male escorts for hire.

“If any of my clients were doing what he’s doing, trust me, they would lose custody of their kids,” Braun said. “Yet, he is the one making recommendations to the courts — and which the courts have been following.”

Hours after he was disqualified from Singer’s case, Kenan took himself off the court’s directory of evaluators, although he continued to work on some custody cases and accepted at least one new one — Deborah Zolla’s — last October. Days before a March 2 disqualification hearing in that case, Zolla and her estranged husband settled their custody dispute, rendering Kenan’s involvement moot.

As word of his removal from Singer’s case has spread, however, other clients have complained to the medical board or sought to boot him from their cases.

Some lawyers who have worked with Kenan said he was well regarded.

Anja Reinke, a veteran family law attorney, said that although she hasn’t always agreed with Kenan’s recommendations, she’s had no major problems working with him on a half dozen or so cases. Kenan “quickly got a very good reputation” and was particularly knowledgeable in cases involving complex mental illnesses, she said, adding: “I think he’s competent.”

A volunteer assistant clinical professor at UCLA, Kenan is nearing the end of his term as president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, which has about 250 members.

Dr. Dean De Crisce, the president-elect, said that Singer complained about Kenan to the association but that it lacks the “legal, financial, and investigative power” to act on complaints and relies on investigations by other bodies, including state medical boards.

Kenan “is respected for the work he does” and his fees are in line for someone with his background, De Crisce said. As for Singer’s reaction to the photos, he said: “It’s understandable that those were not pictures of the kind of person she would want to determine the fate of her family.”

Source: Kim Christensen and Victoria Kim, “Child custody expert linked to lewd Web photos,” Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2011.

February 25, 2011

Psychiatrist Douglas Rank, convicted of stabbing patient with sword, surrenders license to state

Filed under: crime and fraud,mental health,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:54 pm

COVINGTON, Ky. – A man who was a practicing psychiatrist in Covington has reached an agreement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure to give up his medical license following an assault conviction.

Douglas Rank pleaded guilty to stabbing one of his patients multiple times with a sword back in February of 2010. The female victim was seriously injured, but survived the attack.

Rank, according to the Board of Licensure, had been disciplined twice previous to his arrest.  He had been charged with engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient and prescribing controlled substances to a female patient with whom he failed to maintain appropriate physician-patient boundaries.

Rank and the Board agreed that he would immediately turn over his license.  The Board will also not consider approval for Rank to resume an active practice until a minimum of two years after he is release from prison or two yeasrs after the date of the Order to Surrender.

Source: Phil Cantor, “Doctor convicted of stabbing woman with a sword loses license,” Kentucky Post, February 25, 2011.

February 23, 2011

Former state psychiatric hospital director gets 248 years prison for sex abuses; courtroom applauds as max sentence handed down

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A former state mental hospital director was sentenced Wednesday to 248 years in prison for molesting his adopted son over eight years as part of what prosecutors claimed was a pattern of abuse that spanned four decades and ensnared a dozen young boys.

Superior Court Judge James B. Pierce called defendant Claude Foulk, 63, a “sick, sick man” and said he should have been the No. 1 patient at the mental hospital he oversaw.

The judge drew applause from the courtroom after issuing the maximum possible sentence.

“Someone was selected out of an adoption book, totally selected at a very young age, and made a sex slave,” the judge lectured Foulk. “I don’t think the word father or dad belongs in the same sentence with Mr. Foulk. A father or dad couldn’t do these things.”

The victim is now 27 and living in Atlanta. The Associated Press is not naming the man because it has a policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Foulk, the former head of Napa State Hospital, was convicted of 20 counts of forcible oral copulation, nine counts of sodomy and two counts of lewd acts for abuse between 1992 and 2001. He was acquitted of two counts each of sodomy and oral copulation for charged acts that occurred after the victim was 18.

“It’s beyond the comprehension of most human beings,” the judge said. “It’s not unlike slavery of old, to go through the (foster) system and obtain a human being and attempt to mold that individual to satisfy one’s own sexual desires. Disgusting. This one has got to be the worst. It’s the worst of the worst.”

Foulk, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, testified at trial that his adopted son had a history of lying.

Superior Court Judge James B. Pierce called defendant Claude Foulk, 63, a “sick, sick man” and said he should have been the No. 1 patient at the mental hospital he oversaw.

Prosecutors said another 11 men came forward to claim Foulk molested them as children dating back to 1965, but only the son’s case could be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

Foulk was fired from his post at Napa State Hospital after his arrest last year.

During a weeklong trial, five adult men testified that Foulk had abused them for years. They claimed the man they knew as an uncle and foster father bought them pizza and took them to a mountain cabin before forcing them to engage in sex acts.

One of Foulk’s two adopted sons told jurors Foulk abused him from the time he was 9 until he was 21, telling him it was how a man shows love.

Foulk worked as a nurse, obtained a master’s degree in business administration and held previous state jobs before working at Napa State Hospital. He was a foster parent to two boys and adopted two sons.

Prosecutor Danette Gomez argued that Foulk used the foster care system to acquire boys to meet his insatiable sexual appetite, knowing they had no parents to turn to.

She said the years of horrific abuse led the boys to turn to alcohol and drugs and to have trouble forming lasting relationships.

Foulk’s attorney Richard Poland argued there was a lack of physical evidence.

The investigation into Foulk began when someone reported sexual abuse to police after learning Foulk was head of Napa State Hospital.

Source: “Former Hospital Director Sentenced to 248 Years for Sex Abuse,” Associated Press, February 23, 2011.

February 18, 2011

Thank you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:34 pm

The Psych Crime Reporter wishes to extend heartfelt thanks our readers and subscribers, for letting us know that they find the information on the blog useful.

This thanks is extended as well to those individuals who post their sad little messages about our impending doom.  Yes, you too are helping to drive up the number of visits the blog gets.

We’re now at more than 200 a day on average.

Thank you one and all!

Sue

 

Psychological assistant placed on probation following drunk driving conviction

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:36 am

On August 12, 2010, the California Board of Psychology issued a Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order on psychological assistant Shana Nicole Garcia, placing her on three years probation with numerous terms and conditions.

According to the Board’s Accusation, Garcia pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, driving with blood alcohol of .08% or more and hit and run with property damage.

The document states that on or about July 24, 2009, Garcia drank two beers with dinner after and then attended a movie, after which she consumed more alcohol, between 9:30 and 11:30pm.  She recalled driving in her car to go home but had no memory of occurrences during the drive until 11:57, when she found herself at the side of the road with a police car behind her.  She was advised that she’d been in a minor traffic collision with another vehicle and had driven from the scene.

She had no memory of the event.  She was unable to perform any of the field sobriety tests.  Field preliminary alcohol screenings produced readings of .212 and .225 blood alcohol levels.

She was sentenced to three years probation, $390 fees and fines and restitution to the collision victim, among other things.

The terms of the probation imposed by the psychology board includes practice monitoring, attendance in an alcohol and drug abuse treatment program and repayment to the Board of $2,670 in investigation and enforcement costs, among other things.

Source: Accusation and Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order, in the Matter of the Accusation Against Shana Nicole Garcia, Psychological Assistant Certificate No. PSB 33230, Case No. 1F-2009-200848, OAH No. 2010040705, California Board of Psychology.

State puts psychologist Laura Jean Petracek on probation for false billings

On August 23, 2010, the California Board of Psychology placed psychologist Laura Jean Petracek’s license on probation with terms and conditions.

The Board’s document states that in March 2006, Petracek was contracted as a member of the provider network of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Plan (ACBHP) of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) to provide services to their clients.

In October 2006, an auditor from ACBHP/ACBHCS visited Petracek’s office and requested she make all of her charts available but she did not comply.  Later that month she produced her complete charts.

In January 2007, the ACBHCS sent Petracek written notice of its intent to revoke her privileges with the provider network.  In March 2007, the Board received a Health Facility Reporting Form from ACBHP/ACBHCS in which it was reported that Petracek’s membership in their network was terminated or revoked March 13, 2007 due to non-compliance, as evidenced by their audit finding.

The ACBHP/ACBHCS audit of Petracek’s claims over a five-month period between April 14, 2006 and September 14, 2007 revealed that she’d billed for clinical services for seven clients that were not actually provided.

It was also found that during that period, Petracek had created false records of therapy sessions for five clients that were not provided, among other things.

Source: Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Laura Jean Petracek, Ph.D., Psychologist License No. PSY 20033, Case No. 1F 2007 185290, OAH No. 2010 060910, California Board of Psychology.

Mental health counselor Mary D. Hein charged with sexual exploitation of client, asking him to kill her husband

Filed under: crime and fraud,mental health counselor,murder and manslaughter — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:00 am
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In October 2010, Wisconsin mental health counselor Mary D. Hein (a.k.a. Mary D. Duncan, who is listed by the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing as holding a professional counselor training license), was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation by a psychotherapist, one count of solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of obstructing an officer.

Specifically, she is accused of having sex with one of her clients and then asking him to kill her husband.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Hein, the client reported that Hein drugged him and had sex with him at his home in November 2009 and again in January and February 2010, during which time she requested he kill her husband.

The client, who had no intention of killing the husband, reported it to police.

According to an attorney who represented Hein, she was cleared of the charges in or around May 2011. See here.

Source: “Mary Hein charged with sexual exploitation,” WISN.com, October 12, 2010.

Massachusetts social worker Wayne Nichols charged with multiple rapes

Filed under: sex offender,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 12:57 am

On September 24, 2010, Massachusetts social worker and grief counselor Wayne E. Nichols was indicted by a Barnstable County grand jury on three counts of rape, five counts of indecent assault and battery and one count of assault and battery.  Nichols is accused of raping a woman numerous times over a two-year period.

Source: Karen Jeffrey, “Yarmouth social worker indicted on rape charges,” The Cape Cod Times, September 28, 2010.

February 17, 2011

Human rights group: Mexican mental hospitals performing lobotomies without consent

Ten years ago a human rights group released a scathing, ground-breaking report on abusive, decrepit conditions in Mexican institutions for the mentally and physically disabled, moving the country to promise change and to take the lead in writing international agreements to protect the disabled.

But in a new report released Tuesday, the group, Disability Rights International, working with a Mexican human rights organization, said a yearlong investigation revealed “atrocious and abusive conditions” that included lobotomies performed without consent, children missing from orphanages, widespread filth and squalor and a lack of medical care.

At one institution here in the capital, which a reporter visited with investigators from the groups, men walked around half-naked, feces littered a yard, bed sheets were missing, the smell of urine permeated a day room, bathroom faucets malfunctioned and patients lay sprawled on several patches of grass.

At another institution here, CAIS Villa Mujeres, elderly women sat tied to wheelchairs, staff members hustled to clean soiled floors as investigators moved through and patients and their caretakers could not fully explain how or why they were institutionalized.

A trembling blind woman said she had been raped by a staff member — who officials said was dismissed during a criminal investigation — and would feel safer.

“I don’t have any hope,” she said. “I don’t have a nickel to get out of this place.”

Eric Rosenthal, director of Disability Rights International, based in Washington, said: “I have witnessed abuses as atrocious as these in the psychiatric facilities and orphanages of some other countries. But only in Mexico have I encountered a system so lacking in protections that children literally disappear and adults remain nameless.”

The Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, which helped compile the report, said the “human rights violations being perpetrated against children with disabilities in Mexico are every bit as serious as any this organization has documented over the last 20 years.”

Mr. Rosenthal said the conditions were particularly galling because Mexico, in response to the earlier report, had championed human rights for the disabled and helped write international standards.

Along with 94 other nations, Mexico ratified the 2006 agreement it is now accused of violating, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mexico’s first report on its progress toward abiding by the agreement is due this year and the human rights groups said it issued their report as a “shadow,” independent assessment.

The Mexican government received the report on Monday, but as of Tuesday morning had made no comment.

Like the earlier report, this one found many of those in the institutions did not need to be there but, as “abandonados,” lacked family members or community-based programs to care for them.

The investigators visited 20 psychiatric wards, orphanages, shelters and other public institutions around the country housing thousands of people from August 2009 to September 2010, interviewing patients and administrators and reviewing records when possible.

At three psychiatric hospitals, investigators found that staff members relied on extensive use of psychotropic drugs in place of other forms of treatment for aggression and other behavioral problems.

Two hospitals, Fraternidad sin Fronteras and Hospital La Salud Tlazo Lteotl, reported sending particularly aggressive patients for lobotomies, the surgical separation of the prefrontal cortex from the rest of the brain. The procedure fell into disrepute internationally in the 1950’s because it frequently caused irreversible brain damage. But it remains legal in Mexico.

A man at La Salud who had undergone a lobotomy sat slumped in a wheelchair, his speech slow and slurred, the report said.

“The director said that the man had been aggressive in the past, but since the surgery, he was entirely passive,” it said.

At orphanages, the team found children were unaccounted for and interviewed residents who had said they had grown up in the facility, though officials had no record of the names they came in with, arrival date or other data.

Human rights and unnamed government officials told them there was no registry or tracking system for children placed in public or private institutions, leaving them prey to human traffickers.

“Due to a failure to provide oversight, children have literally disappeared from institutions,” the report said. “Some of these children may have been subject to sex trafficking and forced labor.”

Mr. Rosenthal said he was stunned to find some of the same people this year as he had found 10 years ago in similar conditions.

In one case, an article in The New York Times Magazine in 2000 on his work included a picture of woman whose entire upper body was tied in restraints. This year, he found the same woman in the same facility lashed to a wheelchair.

Administrators complained of a lack of funds to provide basic treatment and materials like soap and clothing.

“Donors help us,” said an administrator at the Villa Mujeres shelter who spoke on condition of anonymity about the conditions. “But we are the last link. There is no political impact for not helping the abandonados.”

Another administrator, at the sprawling Samuel Ramirez Moreno hospital in Mexico City, said the budget had been cut 40 percent this year, causing “a delay in response to problems and urgent care.” Some patients are given low-cost, outdated versions of medicine that cause excessive tremors and other side effects.

The report recommends a host of changes, including a shift toward more community-based services; establishing a foster care system for children with disabilities, and more independent oversight of the system.

Jose Angel Valencia, an advocate for the mentally ill in Mexico who worked on the report, said the country was slow to adopt changes in part because of a stigma and misunderstanding of people with disabilities.

“People have prejudices and think you are dangerous or do not know how to deal with you,” said Mr. Valencia, who has been treated for bipolar disorder. “But slowly Mexico is recognizing us and it is changing here.”

Source: Randal C. Archbold, “Abuses Found at Mexican Institutions for Disabled,” New York Times, November 30, 2011

Netherlands psych hospital has kept boy tethered to wall for three years

Filed under: crime and fraud,seclusion and restraint — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:47 pm

The Netherlands has been plunged into a debate about how to deal with violent psychiatric patients, after images of a tethered teenager appeared on Dutch TV.

The pictures were taken after a tip-off from a whistle-blower, who worked at the institution where the 18-year-old, known only as Brandon, is confined.

The pictures show him wearing a harness attached to a metal bracket on the wall by a thick leather strap.

He has been confined in this way every single day for three years.

His mother has been quoted saying he lives like “a caged animal”.

Brandon, who suffers from severe learning difficulties, has been confined to institutions since the age of five.

He used to be allowed home at weekends but staff became increasingly afraid of his moods as he grew older and, since 2007, with the permission of a judge, he has been tethered daily.

Mental health experts in the Netherlands say this is not an isolated case, and there may be as many as 40 patients held in similar circumstances.

But a number of Dutch politicians reacted with shock when the pictures of Brandon were shown on television and there was an emergency debate in parliament.

The deputy health minister, who visited the institution where Brandon is confined, described the images as truly harrowing.

She defended the practice of continuous restraint, saying sometimes you need to protect people from themselves, but also promised an urgent review, to see if any other methods could be used.

Source: Chris Morris, “Tethered teenage psychiatric patient shocks Netherlands,” BBC News, 21 January 2011.

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