Psych Crime Reporter

July 20, 2011

Clinical social worker Linda Gerdes placed on practice supervision; exceeded role of therapist by testifying in custody matter

Filed under: Divorce and custody — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:12 am

On April 22, 2011, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners placed licensed clinical social worker Linda Gerdes on 24 months of clinical supervision and 24 months of supervised work due to practicing outside the scope of her experience and training, relative to her treatment of a juvenile involved in a divorce and custody dispute.

The child’s mother brought the daughter to Gerdes to help the daughter cope with the pending divorce.  At the time, the daughter’s primary residence was with the father, who was against his daughter receiving psychotherapy. Despite this, Gerdes accepted the patient without the father’s knowledge or consent and did not contact the father to inform him (he found out from the mother).

The Board’s document states that Gerdes’ discussions with the father about the daughter’s alleged ADD and the father living arrangement with the mother’s sister likely further reinforced the father’s belief that Gerdes was not objective and sided with the mother.

In March 2008, Gerdes agreed to testify as an expert witness for the mother during a custody hearing even though she had no experience or training regarding working with high-conflict divorce/custody issues and was not a custody evaluator. In a March 23, 2008 letter to the mother’s attorney, Gerdes made several statements that evidenced a clear loss of objectivity.

On April 15, 2008, Gerdes wrote a letter for the mother’s use in her effort to obtain physical custody of the daughter that contained statements not supported by the clinical record and included the mother’s version of events without identifying the mother as the author of those events. Gerdes failed to limit her role as the daughter’s therapist and instead involved herself in multiple roles (mother’s therapist, expert witness and custody evaluator) which created potential conflicts of interest.

Further, her clinical records did not include required elements; she failed to document communications she had regarding the mother and daughter’s therapy and failed to obtain a signed release of information authorization before releasing confidential client information. She also billed inappropriately for sessions.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form, 2011.

April 4, 2011

Illinois psychiatrist Zabrin Inan charged with felony child abduction

Filed under: Divorce and custody — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:25 am

A doctor was arrested Wednesday morning at O’Hare Airport and charged taking her two children across state lines without the consent of their father, police said.

Dr. Zabrin Inan, 43, was charged with felony child abduction and violating a domestic order of protection, police said. She was also wanted on two warrants.

Police said Inan allegedly took her two children out of the state without their father’s consent from Nov. 6, 2010 to Mar. 2, 2011. She was arrested at 5:10 a.m. Wednesday at O’Hare Airport and is scheduled to appear in bond court later Thursday.

Police said she has no criminal history and the warrants were issued because she missed several court dates regarding the children.

In December, 2010, the children’s father filed a police report that said he applied for an order of protection granting him temporary custody for their two children and on Nov. 6, 2010, Inan texted him, saying that she was leaving the state and moving to California, police said.

The father made an arrangement to fly out to California and retrieve the children, and when he arrived at Inan’s home he found that she and her 47-year-old live-in boyfriend had moved to an unidentified location with the kids, according to police.

According to her website, Inan is psychiatrist whose office is located at 125 S. Wacker Dr. She is an American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of attention deficit disorders, mood disorders/depression, anxiety disorders, stress disorders and eating disorders in children, adolescents and adults, according to the site.

Source: “Gold Coast doctor charged with child abduction,” Chicago Sun-Times, March 3, 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.

March 15, 2011

Your Honor: Please base custody decisions on facts and evidence, not on the opinions of mental health custody evaluators

The recent dismissal of a court-appointed custody evaluator provides one more reason why our family courts need to get back to deciding custody based on facts and evidence—not the opinions of mental health “professionals” who back up their opinions with a diagnostic system which is both unreliable and admittedly irrelevant in legal matters.

On February 27th, the Los Angeles Times published a story about psychiatrist Joseph Kenan, who was removed from a case as child custody evaluator by a family court commissioner after she had been presented with information about questionable content on his Facebook page and other internet postings.  On various sites (using the altered names “Joe Kegan” or “Joe Keegan”) Kenan was found publicly baring his buttocks to the camera and posing with a friend, holding a cake with frosting graphically depicting a sexual act.  Other material which was posted (but which has since been removed) is alleged to have promoted illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.  This material was discovered by a client of whom Kenan requested $35,000 in fees to finish his report—well in excess of the $7,500 the client was required to pay.

Kenan, who is also current president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, has been involved in hundreds of custody evaluations in Los Angeles County in the last ten years.

He is reported to currently be under investigation by the state medical licensing board, relative to four complaints against him.

Mental health practitioners who work in the Los Angeles County family court system in particular are reportedly only required to submit a sworn declaration detailing their training and experience; it is acknowledged that the court does not verify practitioners’ credentials.  The same may or may not hold true for other states.

One could argue that the state should fund the salary for a background checker to verify practitioners’ reported credentials.  This would not be a solution because, as we see with the case of Joseph Kenan, one can have the appropriate degree and experience and still have a private (or public, in Kenan’s case) life that calls into question their fitness to be making decisions which affect the lives of others.

But even more importantly, mental health/psychiatric custody evaluators, “qualified” or not, leading questionable social lives or not, are an expensive and unnecessary complication to the already turbulent divorce/custody scenario.  Our family courts need to remove this complication, reclaim full authority in custody matters and base their decisions solely on evidence, free of psychiatric opinion.

What is a psychiatric/mental health opinion based on?  What is it worth?

It is based on the evaluator’s opinion and “legitimized” by use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association.  DSM is the book which mental health practitioners use to “diagnose” people.

With regard to legal matters and psychiatric diagnoses (such as rendering custody decisions based on one parent’s alleged psychological fitness/unfitness) its authors admit:

“The clinical and scientific considerations involved in categorization of these conditions as mental disorders may not be wholly relevant to legal judgments….”[i]

A later edition of the manual addresses “[The] imperfect fit between the questions of ultimate concern to the law and the information contained in a clinical diagnosis”[ii] (which is just another way of saying that law is far more scientific a discipline than psychiatry).

“…there is still not a single multi-site study showing that DSM is routinely used with high reliability by regular mental health clinicians.  Nor is there any credible evidence that any version…has greatly increased its reliability beyond the previous version.”

Why is our legal system relying on an admittedly flimsy “science” to influence decisions which could adversely impact the lives of innocent children and well-intentioned parents?

And what of the diagnoses themselves?  The DSM is candid about that, too:

“For most of the DSM-III-R disorders…the etiology [cause] is unknown.”[iii] (“Most” is actually about 99%.  The only mental disorders they claim to know the cause of are the “organic” disorders such as drug withdrawal or “paranoid delusions” such as that caused by amphetamine abuse.  However, an understanding of the cause leads to an immediate realization that they are not mental disorders but are reactions to physical conditions.)

So, to summarize, a DSM diagnosis is not entirely relevant to a legal decision and is not consistent with the concerns of legal procedure and psychiatrists don’t even know the cause of any mental disorders.

How reliable then could a psychiatric opinion or evaluation be?

Not very.

A 1994 study to determine the reliability of the DSM concluded that “…there is still not a single multi-site study showing that DSM (any version) is routinely used with high reliability by regular mental health clinicians.  Nor is there any credible evidence that any version…has greatly increased its reliability beyond the previous version.”[iv]

The judge/commissioner/magistrate is without question more qualified to render a just decision by his/her own direct examination of the evidence (fact) than relying on the “results” of a mental health evaluation (opinion) which is based on a system which admittedly has no place in a court of law and which has been shown to be of low reliability.

As for Joseph Kenan, he is but the latest, albeit most flamboyant, example of a long and growing list of custody evaluators who have been called out or publicly disciplined for misconduct and/or negligence.  A few other recent examples:

In May 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners revoked the license of professional counselor Linda Bennardo for, among other things, recommending limiting a father’s access to his son based solely on information provided by the mother and daughters; in another case, Bennardo concluded that a three-year girl was highly traumatized by her visitation with her father—without having gathered any information on the matter from the father, parenting coordinator, best interest attorney or other entities.[v]

Texas psychologist Melody M. Potter, Ph.D., was fined $3,000 for providing testimony in a custody case which contained insufficiently substantiated opinions.[vi]

In July 2009, the Washington State Department of Health fined licensed mental health counselor-social worker Sara Ellingson $1,250 for, among other things, recommending a court-ordered psychological evaluation of a parent whom she had not observed in more than two years.  Ellingson was disciplined in 2006 for providing opinions on parenting and custody in a case in which she failed to include information provided by an in-law which was relevant to one parent’s fitness to parent.[vii]

Colorado clinical social worker Joanne Baum was placed on probation for one year for writing a letter that contained judgments concerning a person she had never met and publishing recommendations regarding child custody issues without having full knowledge of the facts necessary to make such recommendations.[viii]

It’s time our family courts operated free of the arbitrary and ultimately destructive psychiatric/mental health system.

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.

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.

November 24, 2010

Negligent custody evaluation costs mental health counselor her license

Filed under: Divorce and custody,health care licensing board discipline — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:50 pm

On May 7, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners revoked the license of professional counselor Linda Bennardo for the following reasons, as found in the Board’s report:

  • Bennardo treated a mother and her daughters for six months in 2008 and saw the mother’s son twice during that time.  She recommended limiting the father’s access to the son based solely on information provided by the mother and daughters.
  • In another case, Bennardo concluded that a three-year girl was highly traumatized by her visitation with her father—without having gathered any information on the matter from the father, parenting coordinator, best interest attorney or other entities.

The Board’s report also states that Bennardo failed to obtain informed consent for the aforementioned son and that informed consent for the aforementioned mother and daughters was incomplete, among other things.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form 2010, dated 21 September 2010.

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

August 13, 2010

California custody evaluator Roy W. Bradbury was unqualified to serve in the courts; case now under review

Filed under: Divorce and custody,mental health counselor,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:42 pm
Tags:

The following story ran in the August 6, 2010 edition of the San Bernardino County  Sentinel:

The man who did psychological evaluations of children involved in divorce cases in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties, guiding the courts in determining custody, and whose recommendations controlled the fate of thousands of individuals for over a decade took his own life earlier this year.

The death of Dr. Roy W. Bradbury, who was a court appointed expert for so-called 730 evaluations, has thrown into question the validity of the determinations that were made in hundreds of divorce cases in San Bernardino County.

Bradbury worked with lawyers, known as minor counsels, who were appointed by the court to represent children caught in the middle of the divorce of their parents.

Bradbury admitted under oath that he had lacked the proper licensing updates with regard to domestic violence since 2003.

Those minor counsels would recommend interviews with and reports on the children, known as 730 evaluations, to determine the child’s state of mind, preference toward one parent or the other and to make an evaluation as to which parent should get primary custody of the child.

For his work, Bradbury was paid $120 per hour, or in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 for each 730 evaluation he delivered.

In virtually all cases in which Bradbury was brought in as an expert witness, the court made a custody decision in accordance with his recommendations.

Bradbury was deemed so credible, that judges routinely overlooked contradictory opinions rendered by other psychologists or evaluators brought in on the same cases.

For years, however, critics have alleged that Bradbury was capricious, arbitrary or biased in his findings and that he in fact lacked the requisite training and licensing to function in the role of an expert psychological  witness.

Within the last 12 months, evidence to undergird those accusations emerged. In September 2009, according to court records, Bradbury admitted under oath that he had lacked the proper licensing updates with regard to domestic violence since 2003. Such a lack of credentials rendered him unqualified under the family law code to serve as an evaluator.

Despite Bradbury’s possession of a PhD. in psychology from USC, he was unable to pass the state of California’s licensing exam as a psychologist.

Earlier this year, as information about his lack of training and his fraudulent licensing spread, rumors were rife that Bradbury was on the verge of departing the United States and seeking some form of refuge in Costa Rica.

A little more than two months ago, he died by his own hand. His action in taking his own life brings into question his own mental stability, and by extension, the validity of the thousands of conclusions he provided about the mental state of others.

On Saturday May 29, according to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office, Bradbury who resided in Walnut, drove to an industrial park in the city of Industry. There, at 21508 Ferrero Parkway, a spot secluded by railroad tracks and relatively isolated and remote buildings, Bradbury shot himself while in his vehicle.

According to the coroner’s office, Bradbury expired from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Two years ago, a website,  http://courtlawabusers.blogspot.com/2008/11/dr-roy-bradbury.html, was set up for the purpose of chronicling complaints with regard to Bradbury.

Since that time, questions about his level of competency, his bias and his tendency to make findings that were considered damaging to children have mushroomed. That adverse publicity may have played a role in the more recent revelations about his lack of accreditation.

Despite those revelations, San Bernardino County Superior Court has maintained Bradbury on its experts list for psychologists.

In one case, an eight year old girl was removed from the custody of her mother. Subsequently, tapes of Bradbury’s sessions with the girl surfaced in which Bradbury could be heard screaming at the child. One counseling professional who has heard the tapes told the Sentinel the tapes demonstrated Bradbury was mocking a child under stress and was not engaged in a therapeutic relationship with his client.

In the aftermath of his death, dozens of Bradbury’s 730 evaluations are due for consideration in various courts in Southern California. Motions to strike several of those evaluations as evidence are now being prepared.

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
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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.

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