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Child custody evaluator removed from case over Facebook images

A 41-year-old Beverly Hills psychiatrist who provides professional advice to family courts in child custody disputes, was recently removed from a case after one of his clients found lewd pictures online connected to Facebook account and other websites.

According to sources, the client alleges that the pictures promote illegal drug use, unprotected sex, and male prostitution. Among the photos were a picture of the Dr. mooning a camera in public, and a picture of him standing with a friend holding a cake showing a sexual act.

Dr. Kenan is a member of a group of experts, highly influential but loosely regulated, who advise family courts in contested custody cases. Such experts often earn hefty fees, tens of thousands of dollars in some cases, for evaluating parental fitness.

Dr. Joseph Kenan, who is also the president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, was removed from a case last year after his client found pictures of him online and requested his removal. The woman felt, in light of the pictures, that Dr. Kenan was unfit to offer advice on whether any father or mother is a good parent.

The Medical Board of California is currently investigating Dr. Kenan on at least four complaints by parents who hired him to perform custody evaluations.

Kenan said in his defense that his Facebook page was not intended for the general public, that he deactivated his account and requested that other sites remove his postings.

According to critics of the child custody evaluation system, the courts don’t oversee the work of its experts enough to justify their critical role in determining important issues concerning vulnerable children.

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