Psych Crime Reporter

February 28, 2011

Psychiatrist-child custody evaluator busted for lewd pics is only the latest; profession is full of dishonest, negligent practitioners

The Los Angeles Times’ story about psychiatrist-child custody evaluator Joseph Kenan (“Child custody expert linked to lewd Web photos,” February 27, 2011) may be the most sensational example of the lack of ethics, morals, competency and credentials that have been found to exist in the divorce-custody evaluation practice niche.

The Times reported that Kenan was “thrown off one recent case and has been challenged in at least two others” after a client, of whom Kenan demanded tens of thousands of dollars for his evaluation, discovered explicit photos on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, in which he allegedly promoted “illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.”

Kenan, who is president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, is also under investigation by the Medical Board of California relative to at least four complaints by parents who hired him to do custody evaluations, according to The Times’ report.

It’s the most sensation, but it’s not the first.  While it’s hard to say what action the California board might take against Kenan, the reports of medical and mental health practitioner licensing boards show that numerous custody evaluators, nationwide, have come under state investigation with resultant disciplinary actions for dishonesty, negligence and incompetence:

  • May 14, 2009: Colorado clinical social worker Joanne Baum was placed on probation for one year, for writing a letter to the court that contained judgments concerning a person she had never met and published recommendations regarding child custody issues without having full knowledge of the facts necessary to make such recommendations.
  • October 16, 2008: the California Board of Psychology revoked Diana M. Elliott’s license for failure to comply with the terms of an earlier disciplinary order against in which she was charged with gross negligence, dishonesty and repeated negligent acts related to her testimony in a divorce matter in which she reported the results of psychological tests according to her memory, which was later discovered to be faulty.  Additionally, in response to a court order for her to send the original answer sheets to the father’s expert, she sent copies which were altered to make the father look more disturbed and mother look healthier than the actual answer sheets did.
  • August 6, 2008: The Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners publicly admonished E. Robert Lacrosse for making custody recommendations without doing complete evaluations or interviewing all parties.
  • June 21, 2008: The California Board of Psychology placed Janis Foote on five years probation for negligent acts and general unprofessional conduct.  Foote provided a custody recommendation to the court after having interviewed her patient’s three children without the knowledge or consent of the other parent (who shared joint custody of the children) and made evaluations against the other parent without ever having met him or observed him directly.
  • In March 2008, Ohio psychologist Meryl A. Orlando was suspended for 30 days and placed on 24 months of restricted practice, during which the court prohibited her from providing testimony in any cases involving custody or parental rights.  Orlando was found to have engaged in negligent conduct by rendering a legal opinion regarding a father’s continued involvement with his children, despite having not observed the father’s interaction with the children and for recommending that the father be named legal custodian of the children, based in part on her opinion that the mother had sabotaged the childrens’ relationships with the father, among other things.

More cases here.

What’s worse is that, in some cases, the people doing the evaluations may lack the qualifications and/or credentials that entitle them to do court custody work.  For instance, a story ran August 6, 2010 in the San Bernardino Sentinel about California custody evaluator Roy W. Bradbury, who admitted under oath that he was unqualified to perform the such evaluations, for which he was paid $10,000-$15,000 for each.  The exposure of his lack of training and his fraudulent licensing (he was reportedly unable to pass the state exam for a psychologist’s license) has thrown into question the validity of the determinations he made in hundreds of divorce cases.  There won’t be any disciplinary actions taken on Bradbury however as he committed suicide, after news of his fraud began to spread.

The bottom line is that anyone facing such an evaluation owes it to themself to research their appointed evaluator.  Sources of such information are state medical (for psychiatrists), psychology or behavioral health (for counselors and social workers) licensing boards and the internet.



  1. I followed your advice (reviewed the credentials of my court appointed child custody evaluator) way back in 2007. The Psychiatrist’s name is Dr. Gary Chase, Santa Monica California. After he was appointed by Judge Scott M. Gordon, I looked at the courts web site of Court Evaluators. The advertisement stated that Dr. Chase had never had his Medical License revoked in California, or any other state.

    Dr. Chase violated every single standard of AFCC protocol evaluation procedures. He was paid off by my corrupt opposing counsel to write a completely bogus child custody evaluation. In his evaluation report, Dr. Chase falsely accused me (an innocent hands on mother with a 25 year track record of excellent parenting) of being sexually indignant with beautiful fourth child and son Jaymus who at the time was only ten years old. The allegations came out of nowhere. Dr. Chase never even interviewed me with my two younger children. He failed to contact any of the professional collaterals involved in my case and he never even interviewed any of my friends, family or older children who were teen line crisis counselors for Cedars Sinai.

    Dr. Chase simply conferred with a woman who purported to be a Psychologist who goes by the alias of Dr. Maureen King. Judge Gordon knowingly ordered my former co school volunteer, Maureen Goldberg who was a cafeteria worker (referred into my case to impersonate a psychologist) to treat my younger children in a therapeutic setting. When I appeared in court Ex Parte to terminate this fraud psychologist, with my supporting evidence of school directories and California Business & Professions codes violations (2900-2905), Judge Gordon covered up for her, switched full custody to my ex husband and made no contact orders between myself and my little guy Jaymus (then age ten). Both my son and I have been emotionally tortured beyond comprehension. It has been four long hard years now since we have been able to see one another.

    After I received Dr. Chase’s bogus custody report, I researched his license status and learned that he had lost his medical license to practice due to various professional ethic violations and multiple counts of sexual misconduct. The L.A. Superior Courts advertisement regarding his license revocation proved to be false. The L.A. Superior court was guilty of violating California Business & Professions Code 17500. The Medical board would not open a claim for me because they said as an independent evaluator, Dr. Chase was immune from discipline. I proceeded to write to the L.A. Superior Court Evaluations Department. All they did was redact his previously advertised misleading licensing status from his evaluator profile and placed him on probation as a result of my complaint.

    I have been denied all human contact with my two younger children now for four years as a result of the court ordered fraud. Believe it or not, Dr. Kenan was also ordered on my case. He knew my family through Cedars Sinai and he advocated for me. The court ignored his testimony and gladly listened to Dr. Chase’s subsequent report even after he was placed on probation by the court itself. I have letters from the Governor, D.A. Steve Cooley’s Office, the Medical Board, the Board of Behavioral Sciences, the Board of Psychology, the Presiding Judges, Court Counsel, Frederick Bennett, the ACLU and the Commission on Judicial Performance.

    One complaint is still in a pending status with the CJP having to do with the misappropriation of my money by the Judge and my corrupt opposing counsel however, all of my other complaints regarding the fraud psychologist and the unethical Dr. Gary Chase were ignored by all concerned. So far, every consumer agency in the State of California have been complicit with the fraud. In fact, Dr. Chase is still on the courts evaluator directory. I have all of my documentation and nowhere else to go to seek justice. I have never even had a child custody evidentiary hearing. I did have suicidal ideation’s in 2008 because having my younger children legally kidnapped was almost too stressful for me to deal with. Since then, I have become a civil rights activist here in Los Angeles.

    My question is: What do you recommend when a litigant has researched the background of court appointed evaluators and the court ignores all of their legitimate complaints?

    Thank you for any advice or suggestions that you may have!

    Comment by Janette M. Isaacs — March 2, 2011 @ 9:39 am | Reply

    • It bothers me that some psychiatrists are corrupt,it bugs me more that this psychiatrist seems to be above society. But I supposed we can be thankful that some psychiatrists have rightfully been kicked out of their profession and some have even been rightfully arrested (that is of course if they’re involved in crime.)

      Comment by Nadeem Athar — July 1, 2011 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  2. Articles are perfect as they are a matter of fact. Comment is appropriately posted as the poster put her names down. These are ligitimate things worth our time reading them..

    Comment by EMad Tadros MD — April 7, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  3. “Having provided his expertise in forensic psychiatry to over 350 litigation cases, Dr. Joe Kenan is recognized as an expert by both the medical community and legal professionals. ”

    The question remains, of course, just really what is this pervert an “expert” at. It’s time family court justices wake and realize that not everything that glitters is gold.

    Comment by No Sucker — August 9, 2011 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  4. Ms. Janette m. Issacs…please contact me asap …

    Comment by christy — November 2, 2011 @ 11:07 am | Reply

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