YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsPhotos
(Page 2 of 2)

Child custody expert linked to lewd Web photos

Joseph Kenan was removed from one case and has been challenged in others after posting the photos.

February 27, 2011|By Kim Christensen and Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

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."

kim.christensen@latimes.com

victoria.kim@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|