Psych Crime Reporter

July 7, 2012

California revokes license of psychologist Janis E. Foote, related to negligent custody evaluation

Filed under: Court psychologist,custody evaluation,license revoked — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:53 pm

As of May 23, 2012, the California Board of Psychology revoked the license of Janis Elaine Foote, Ph.D. based on her failure to comply with the terms of an earlier probation order issued by the Board.

On June 21, 2008, the Board placed Foote on five years probation, based on a finding of Negligent Acts and General Unprofessional Conduct, among other things, for providing 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 or observed him directly.

Among the conditions of her probation was the requirement that she file quarterly reports stating that she was in compliance with the terms of her probation.

In August 2001, the Board sought to revoked probation and served appropriate notice on Foote. The documents were returned, unopened with a notice that Foote had moved and left no address. However, the Board found that Foote had signed the certified mail receipt for the package. Foote nevertheless never responded to the Board and failed to file a change of address with the Board, as required.

The Board also noted that Foote engaged in a dual relationship with a minor patient, whom she had spend the night at her house and help with her garage sale and also paid the child to clean her house.

She is also required to reimburse the Board $24,371 for its costs of investigation and enforcement.

Source: Default Decision and Order in the Matter of the Accusation and Petition to Revoke Probation Against Janis Elaine Foote, Ph.D., License NO. PSY 5810.

April 4, 2011

State issues charges against psychologist Michael G. Conner

Filed under: Court psychologist,Divorce and custody — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:09 am

On September 14, 2010 the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners issued a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action on Michael G. Conner, Psy.D., seeking to reprimand him and impose a civil penalty of $5,000, among other things.

The Board’s document states that Conner provided therapy to a mother and her five-year-old child.  The mother was the custodial parent of the child.  The father of the child had sought visitation rights with the child but, due to “significant family conflict and legal action,” the father was ultimately sentenced to five years in jail. His parents (the child’s grandparents) initiated legal action to gain visitation rights with the child and a judge informed the parties that he was inclined to grant the grandparents visitation but directed all involved to conduct a “global assessment” conference.

Two conferences were held and Conner attended both and “unilaterally asserted himself into the discussion” and “continued to interject himself into the discussion between the attorneys without invitation by the attorneys” because he was concerned that the grandparents “might misrepresent and distort the facts.”  In doing so, he departed from his role as a therapist for the mother and child, according to the Board.

Further, Conner “unilaterally placed limitations and conditions on the ability of the grandparents to meet with [the child]” including insisting that they drive 180 miles to meet with him first.

Lastly, Conner informed the mother’s attorney by letter that “evaluation of the family members by anyone other than myself at this time would be negligent and harmful.  I would recommend that any attempt [by the grandparents] to seek visitation without consulting with me be met with strong objection.  I am prepared to testify if necessary in this regard.”

The Board’s document states that Conner lacked the necessary neutrality to step into the role that he proposed as either child custody evaluator or to evaluate family members that were engaged in a legal dispute with the mother.

Source: Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action in the Matter of the License to Practice as a Psychologist of Michael G. Conner, Psy.D., Agency No. OBPE #2009-030, Before the Board of Psychologist Examiners, State of Oregon.

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.

October 5, 2010

California county commissioner acknowledges family court decisions not always in best interest of child

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Gail Steele
Supervisor, Second District

Contact: Supervisor Gail Steele
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
510.272.6692
gail.steele@acgov.org

RENOWNED SAND SCULPTORS WILL CREATE LARGE SAND RIBBON TO PROMOTE AWARENESS THAT “THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD” ARE NOT BEING ACHIEVED IN FAMILY COURT

[Public encouraged to sign THE RIBBON, and share own stories]

Alameda, CA, September 17, 2010 — Archisand Professional Sand Sculptors, a premier team of artists pursuing this craft, will create a significant sand sculpture ribbon for the newly-formed organization “Best Interest of the Child in Custody Cases (BICCC).” Individuals and families who have suffered injustices in Family Court are encouraged to attend the event. There they can sign the ribbon, share their stories, and join a support network to help reform the Family Court system. This event will be held on Sunday, October 10, 2010 in the City of Alameda.

Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, a member of the BICCC, states, “In so many instances the decision of the Family Court is not in the best interest of the child.  This is not just a problem in Alameda County, but across the country as well.” In fact the State of California has approved auditing the Family Courts of Marin and Sacramento. Marin County, however, destroyed its Family Courts records, which are now unavailable for audit by the State of California.

Archisand Professional Sand Sculptors is designing a spectacular sand sculpture to call attention to this issue that affects so many children today.  Divorce can take a significant toll on a child. The impact on children as a result of the current state of the Family Court system is often regrettable, and can be tragic.  In the United States every year, many children die as a result of unresolved family custody cases. This event will give the public a first-hand understanding of the magnitude of bad decisions that are occurring in child custody cases today.

Archisand is the only Masters Level sand sculptor group that allows children to participate in team competition. Teaching, learning, and passing the craft on to future generations are at the heart of Archisand’s philosophies. The Team has won the US Open Sandcastle competition event seven out of the last eleven years.  To learn more about Archisand’s work, including images from the 2009 Long Beach Marathon event, please visithttp://socalsandcastles.com.

The event will be held at Crown Memorial State Beach, in the City of Alameda, Alameda County, California, on Sunday October 10, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Parking will be free in the State Beach parking lot, on 8th Street at the end of Otis.  Please contact Alison Urdan at 510 789-0510 or Gail Steele at 510-272-6692 for more information.

__________________________________________________________________________________

1221 Oak Street, Suite 536    Oakland, California 94612    Telephone (510) 272-6692  Fax (510) 271-5115

HAYWARD DISTRICT OFFICE    Telephone (510) 670-6277

July 15, 2010

Counselor-custody evaluator Stephen Adam cited for lapsed license

Filed under: Court psychologist,Divorce and custody — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:12 pm
Tags: , ,

On April 8, 2010, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences issued a citation order to marriage and family therapist Stephen D. Adam.  The citation states that in July 2009, the Board received a complaint alleging that Adam provided services for which a license was required, while his license was actually in delinquent status.  His license had expired on June 30, 2009 and he did not renew it until August 17, 2009.  The Board ordered Adam to pay an administrative fine of $250.

A Los Angeles Times news item from 1992 states that court justices reverse a decision which dropped Adam from a lawsuit brought by a woman who sued him for approving unmonitored visits to her daughter by her ex-husband, during which time the woman claims her daughter was sexually molested.  The justices’ ruling stated court-appointed evaluators such as Adam do not get “blanket immunity for all negligenct conduct.”

Source: Citation Order No. MF-2010-102 on Stephen Douglas Adam, License No. MFC 6063, April 18, 2010, Board of Behavioral Sciences and Mark I. Pinsky, “Court of Appeal Reverses Verdict in Murder Case, Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1992.

October 29, 2009

Mental health counselor used client’s children’s social security numbers on her own tax return; threatened client with deportation

On August 13, 2009, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) placed registered counselor Sally S. DeLeon on suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for seven years.

According to the DOH’s disciplinary order, DeLeon provided counseling services to a 34-year-old mother of five beginning in October 2007.  DeLeon asked the client if she could use the social security card numbers of two of the client’s children for her own federal income tax return.  The client initially said no, but eventually agreed to allow DeLeon to use them, in exchange for a credit of counseling services of $1,000.

In February 2008, the client gave DeLeon the cards from two of her children–a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl–and DeLeon used the cards to claim the two children as dependents on her federal tax return.  DeLeon returned the cards in September 2008 but did not pay the client per their agreement.

DeLeon threatened the client that she could be deported if she continued to discuss the matter with authorities.

In November 2008, a DOH investigator interviewed DeLeon.  She agreed to provide a copy of her federal tax return but ultimately did not provide the documents requested by the DOH.

The DOH’s document noted the following aggravating factors: DeLeon threatened the client and misled her; she preyed on the client’s limited English proficiency; she did not respond truthfully to the investigator’s question and sought to mislead the investigation; she misused her position as a court-ordered treatment provider.

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