Thursday, February 6, 2003

2 Butler County commissioners dismiss allegations of perjury



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - After reviewing documents and talking to judges and attorneys, two of the three Butler County commissioners have found no basis for allegations that the county's Domestic Relations and Juvenile courts tolerate perjury.

Commissioners had raised the controversial question last month after several divorced parents told them they believed they had lost custody and visitation battles because of false testimony by a Butler County psychologist whose license to practice was recently revoked by the state.

But after looking at some of the voluminous documents provided by Domestic Relations Judge Sharon Kennedy, Commissioners Courtney Combs and Chuck Furmon said they don't believe perjury occurred in the cases of those who complained.

"From everything I've read and seen, there doesn't appear to have been perjury," Combs said. "I don't feel the courts have violated anything."

Commissioner Mike Fox, a longtime critic of the way Domestic Relations and Juvenile courts operate, said he is still reviewing documents and hasn't reached a conclusion.

The perjury issue first surfaced when the state recently removed the license of Dr. Roger Fisher, a Butler County psychologist, because of accusations that he submitted psychological evaluations in four cases without interviewing the subjects.

Kennedy and Toni Pagano, director of administrative services for Juvenile Court, said they're glad Combs and Furmon have concluded that perjury is not a problem.

"I would thank them collectively for vindicating the courts publicly and acknowledging that there are no perjury issues in Domestic Relations and Juvenile courts," Kennedy said. Mark Dildilian, one of the four parents whose complaints caused the Ohio Board of Psychology to revoke Fisher's license, said the U.S. Department of Justice or an independent investigator should review the cases involving Fisher.

He said there are other issues besides perjury that need to be examined.

The Ohio Board of Psychology said it had evidence that Fisher issued psychological opinions in violation of professional standards of care, risked the loss of objectivity by blending evaluation and treatment roles with people in the same family and risked violating terms of an agreement with the state in 2001 that restricted him from offering his services in Domestic Relations Court cases for custody, parenting or visitation issues.

"Those are the main issues that still need to be discussed," Dildilian said.

Combs and Furmon defended their right to raise questions about perjury and the courts' treatment of parents who complained to them.

"We had a responsibility to follow through and investigate the truth of the matter," Combs said. "We brought it out into the open, and now it's up for public debate."

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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