Involuntary Private Parental Rights Termination by a Psychologist
My name is Lauren Walker and I am a parent whose life was devastated by an unethical custody evaluator.
I have a beautiful 6-year old daughter, and we haven’t seen each other since July 2018, when a jury terminated my parental rights. I went from my daughter’s primary caregiver to being removed from her life altogether in a mere 2 years. My family spent over $1,000,000 defending me in this custody battle – 17 hearings in all — that was fueled by the custody evaluator’s continual recommendations to the judge.
I was beaten badly by my ex-husband. I experienced a traumatic brain injury from him kicking me in the head with his boot. My daughter and I, at one point, received a protective order to keep us safe from my ex-husband. When I left him, he continued to use the court system to abuse me. The termination petition was instigated by my ex-husband – not the State. And, the idea to terminate my rights originated from the custody evaluator, who grossly exceeded her scope, and violated rules as well as the code of ethics.
Not once did any other professional recommend that it was in my daughter’s best interest for my rights to be terminated. Yet, that’s what happened … due to the custody evaluator’s actions and ongoing manipulations in the courtroom.
Dr. Johnathan Gould, who is a renowned forensic psychologist, reviewed Dr. Alissa Sherry’s evaluation reports. I have a 27-page report with details of his findings. He concluded that her report was completely flawed and did not qualify as a custody evaluation.
Dr. Gould cited:
Concerns about the information included and excluded from the report
For example, the inclusion of speculation and hearsay opinions, and the exclusion of direct observation of parenting
Failure to assess critical parenting attributes, which was the purpose of the evaluation
Misuse of psychological tests
Use of unreliable methods and lack of scientific-based findings
Notable differences in the treatment of the parents
Dr. Gould recommended that the jury should not use the evaluation as evidence to support its decision.
My daughter’s and my story is terrifying and heart-breaking.
In closing, I plead with this Board to conduct strenuous oversight and investigation of its forensic psychologists involved in family court cases to prevent this tragedy from happening again, and to correct cases that have already ended in tragedies.
This is part of the Expert Opinion Summary from Dr Jonathan Gould::
It is my professional opinion, within a reasonable degree of professional certainty, that Dr. Sherry’s evaluation is seriously flawed. Dr. Sherry provides a robust understanding of the dynamics and chaotic organization of the families.
She does not, however, provide information relevant to answering questions about parenting attributes, abilities, or capabilities.
She does not provide information relevant to answering questions about the nature and quality of parent-child interactions.
She does not provide information relevant to answering questions about the psychological and emotional needs of the child.
She does not provide information relevant to answering questions about the fit between the parenting attributes, abilities, or capabilities of each parent and the psychological and emotional needs of the child.
Dr. Sherry’s interview procedures neglect gathering information about critically important areas of parenting, parent-child interactions, parent-to-parent communication, and child’s perception of each parent.
Dr. Sherry’s information gleaned from collateral interviews was essentially absent of information describing third party observers’ personal knowledge and behavioral descriptions of parenting behavior or parent-child interactions.
None of the parent interview data and none of the collateral interview data were organized around factors identified in the professional and scientific literature pertaining to positive parenting.
Dr. Sherry’s uses of psychological test results were of questionable value. Her use of computer-generated reports raises concerns about use of hearsay and concerns about the admissibility of opinions based upon the computer-generated interpretive reports. She did not integrate psychological test results with empirical knowledge of parenting factors associated with those results that would lead to hypotheses about each parent’s parenting strengths and weaknesses.
Read Dr. Gould’s Full Report Here:
_18.8.22 MEUTH L_Gould Forensic Psychological Report (2)