Credentials unchallenged in case of man accused of posing as psychologist
Published on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 3:09AM EST
Who knew what about Greg Carter, and when?
One thing is clear, and that's that some people knew or should have known that the 63-year-old criminally charged this week for posing as a psychologist wasn't what he appeared to be.
The Globe and Mail has learned that at least one lawyer involved in a child custody case where Mr. Carter was described as a psychologist soon discovered he wasn't.
The Globe has a copy of a letter that lawyer Elizabeth Saad received from Robert Feldman, an investigator with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, on Sept. 15, 2008.
She had contacted the college that day, asking about Mr. Carter's credentials. Mr. Feldman faxed the letter - telling her Mr. Carter "is not registered as a psychologist with the College" and that he was also not allowed to offer diagnoses - to her Whitby office.
This was almost exactly a month after Ms. Saad, asked by Ontario Superior Court Justice Theresa Maddalena, "then is Dr. Carter also a psychologist?" replied, "Yes he is, Your Honour."
Ms. Saad was representing Mr. S., a father seeking temporary primary custody of his two young sons. It was on that day, Aug. 14, that Judge Maddalena granted the mother, Mrs. S., an order to retain "Dr. Gregory Carter" to submit a critique of a psychologist's report which had strongly recommended Mr. S. get custody.
The parents are identified only by an initial to protect their sons' identities.
The matter continued on at least two dates before Ontario Superior Court Justice Alex Sosna until, on Oct. 16, he delivered a stunning judgment, tossing out the psychologist's report and accepting in glowing terms "Dr. Carter's" recommendation for joint custody.
Judge Sosna also dismissed the psychologist's finding that the mother was suffering from borderline personality disorder and instead accepted Mr. Carter's suggestion that Mr. S. was likely a narcissist - a suggestion he made despite never having spoken to Mr. S. The judge also awarded Mrs. S. exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and assigned about $14,000 in costs to the father.
Mr. S. said yesterday that he believes that, after learning Mr. Carter wasn't a psychologist, Ms. Saad attempted to argue that he wasn't qualified, but that she was cut short by Judge Sosna. Mr. S. said, however, that Ms. Saad did present the letter to the court, though whether the judge ever read it is unknown.
This couldn't be confirmed because Ms. Saad didn't return detailed e-mails or a phone message left with her receptionist yesterday. The receptionist at one point said the lawyer wouldn't comment because of confidentiality, but Mr. S. in fact had waived solicitor-client privilege in an e-mail yesterday.
However, at about the same time, another lawyer in Ms. Saad's small office, Sandra Scovino, was representing a father involved in a battle for custody of a then-nine-year-old girl.
As far back as December of 2006, Mr. Carter had suggested in a letter to Ms. Scovino that he would be willing to act as an independent assessor in the case, though he had already worked with the little girl as a therapist, hired by her grandparents, with whom she had lived for much of her life.
Three months later, in March of 2007, Mr. Carter, or, as Ontario Superior Court Justice Craig Perkins referred to him 32 times, "Dr. Carter," was hired by Ms. Scovino on behalf of the father to do an assessment.
Mr. Carter's report is dated Oct. 22, 2007, and by late October the following year - after Ms. Saad got the news he wasn't a psychologist - he was testifying before Judge Perkins as one.
Indeed, the judge cited Mr. Carter, whom he pronounced "an impressive, thoughtful witness with considerable experience and expertise," and his report and testimony as factors which "tipped the balance" in his decision to give the father custody.
The grandparents had to pay court costs of about $40,000, including $7,000 for the report which saw their granddaughter taken from them.
In the first case, both Mr. S. and the psychologist Mr. Carter critiqued complained to the college. Mr. Carter has been charged with professional misconduct and awaits a disciplinary hearing.
In the second case, the grandfather has also complained to the college, but his complaint is still pending.
The irony is that, though Mr. Carter was being described in family court as a psychologist and addressed as "Dr. Carter," and though for some years his business cards and letterhead identified him as "Dr. Gregory Carter, Practice in Psychology," it appears no one in authority publicly challenged his credentials.
Mr. Carter does have a doctoral degree, which he has described in writing both as "a PhD in psychology" and a PhD in "clinical psychology" and which he has said he obtained either in 1991 or 1992 from Pacific Western University, discredited in a 2004 United States Government Accountability Office investigation as a "diploma mill."
He was charged by Durham Regional Police on Monday with perjury, obstructing justice and fraud.
The Whitby, Ont., man is a psychological associate, meaning his registration is based on a master's degree. Psychologists, on the other hand, have doctoral degrees. And while most of Ontario's 2,700 psychologists and 500 psychological associates can assess, treat and diagnose alike, some, like Mr. Carter, have a limitation on their practice.
According to Dr. Catherine Yarrow, the registrar of the college, the limit on Mr. Carter's practice - that he isn't allowed to offer a diagnosis on his own - was imposed when he first registered as an associate in 2001.
Mr. Carter never applied to the college to have the restriction removed.
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A big wake up call for the courts and for the citizens of Canada who depend on the judicial system to dispense JUSTICE! Incidents like this one discredit our justice system. Our courts have a responsibility to the public and they have failed in that responsibility. Like the forensic "expert" that testified in many children's deaths in Ontario, this only serves to further undermine public faith in the justice system and throw it into disrepute. It's time to clean house!Technorati Tags: Credentials,Court,news,CHRISTIE,BLATCHFORD,Last,Greg,Carter,Globe,Mail,lawyer,custody,letter,Elizabeth,Saad,Robert,Feldman,investigator,College,Psychologists,Ontario,Sept,Whitby,office,Superior,Justice,Theresa,Maddalena,Honour,father,Judge,Gregory,Alex,Sosna,judgment,recommendation,borderline,disorder,suggestion,possession,message,fact,client,Sandra,Scovino,girl,December,assessor,therapist,life,Three,March,Craig,Perkins,times,assessment,October,expertise,testimony,decision,misconduct,disciplinary,complaint,irony,Practice,Psychology,degree,Pacific,Western,Government,investigation,diploma,Durham,Regional,Police,perjury,fraud,registration,associates,limitation,Catherine,diagnosis,restriction,Latest,Comments,courts,Canada,system,children,faith,disrepute,factors,degrees,Incidents,deaths,psychologist,wasn,sons,receptionist,grandparents,whom,doctoral