Why Is This Psychologist Still Licensed?

If you thought Keith Ablow was bad (and he is), wait till you hear about Dr. Stan Katz. This forensic psychologist was hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District as an expert witness in a civil suit brought by the family of a 9-year old girl who was sexually assaulted at one of their schools. What he said on the witness stand may make you physically ill:

Court documents obtained by KPCC investigative producer Karen Foshay detailed forensic psychologist Dr. Stan Katz’s 2013 testimony in a trial to determine how much in damages the 9-year-old girl would receive after she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a boy at one of the district’s schools.

The girl reportedly had an IQ between 64 and 70, but the boy was not developmentally disabled.

According to the transcripts, attorney David Ring, who represented the girl, asked Katz to explain what he meant when he said that the girl’s disability “acts as a protective factor.”

“There’s a relationship between intelligence and depression,” Katz replied. “What happens is the more you think about things, you can ruminate, you can focus on things, you can look at the complexities of the matter and become less depressed.”

“So because she may be less intelligent than a general education student, she’s going to suffer less depression because of it?” Ring pressed.

“Very possible, yes,” Katz insisted.

Someone explain to me how this appalling hack still has a license to practice psychology. He should be ashamed of himself. And the school district should be held accountable for hiring him to make that claim.

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  • John Pieret

    What happens is the more you think about things, you can ruminate, you can focus on things, you can look at the complexities of the matter and become less depressed.

    Katz seems to be saying there that more intelligence … the ability to focus on and ruminate about complex realities … leads to less depression. But the other quoted testimony does make it clear that he thought the girl’s low IQ was a mitigating factor.

    Also from the article:

    In the end, the jury awarded the girl $1.4 million in damages, even though her lawyer had only asked for up to $12,500 to pay for therapy.

    “The jury was offended, they were disgusted and they thought it was unbelievable that an expert witness could come in and say something like that,” Ring recalled to KPCC.

    The school has retained him on another child abuse case. Time to rethink that

  • eric

    The school has retained him on another child abuse case. Time to rethink that

    You’re assuming they would be able to find another licenced psychologist who would be willing to downplay the potential effects of sexual abuse on children for money. I would optimistically like to think that the pool of such people is quite limited, and this person may be literally the best they can find. More cynically, maybe the RCC has all such folk on exclusive retainer and so there are no ‘free agent’ credentialed abuse-apologists out there to hire.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    According to the transcripts, attorney David Ring, who represented the girl, asked Katz to explain what he meant when he said that the girl’s disability “acts as a protective factor.”

    That statement alone is fucking appalling, and it’s the LEAST offensive bit of sewage he’s farted in this case. Since when did a MENTAL DISABILITY count as a “protective factor” of any sort? This isn’t psychology; it’s just a restatement of our tired old ideas of innocence, ignorance, naiveté, simplemindedness, and even mental retardation as blissful ideal states of happiness and safety from the dirty, messy, complex and scary real world. It’s nothing but crude pseudo-spiritual anti-intellectualism that glorifies innocence and ignorance and disdains reasoned and responsible adult thought.

  • David C Brayton

    And folks that live in abject poverty often report that they are happy, usually at higher rates than the merely poor. (It’s true, I’m not making that up.) So, it’s oughta be clear that she shouldn’t get a dime in damages because it might make her more depressed. At least according to his logic.

  • bmiller

    David C. Brayton: So American economic policy since about the 1970s has been a good thing! Channelling all the income to a few people shifts the burden of wealth to a few selfless Job Creators, while the rest of us can rest in BLISSFUL poverty. And it is only going to get better. I mean, Greece must be blissful right now.

    All hail the Neoliberal Consensus! We have crearted Utopia.

  • freehand

    Seems like the school district would be better off going into their next child abuse law suit without a lawyer. Just apologize, and describe the steps they have taken to reduce the chance of it happening again.

    .

    It sounds like their primary motivation isn’t to save money, nor to protect the children in their charge. Sounds more like male blame-the-slut* privilege is under fire, and they are willing to spend any amount of (taxpayer) money to protect it.

    .

    * Even one who is nine years old and mentally disabled.

  • spamamander, internet amphibian

    I saw this a few days ago and was physically ill. A developmentally disabled girl might process the event differently but that does not mean it is any less damaging.

    Little known fact: Doctors often gently encourage parents of developmentally disabled girls to place them on hormonal birth control at a fairly young age. Partially to regulate cycles and make hygiene easier, but the often-unspoken reason is the “just in case” factor if they should be sexually assaulted. It’s that common. Especially for women like my daughter with Down syndrome, who tend to be compliant and want to please.

    In short, fuck you, “Doctor”.

  • grumpyoldfart

    He’ll be getting a lot more work now that people know how far he is prepared to go for a win.

  • marcus

    It is reasonable for them to retain a lawyer to represent them in legal proceedings (if only to negotiate their capitulation). What they shouldn’t need, however, is “…another licenced psychologist who would be willing to downplay the potential effects of sexual abuse on children for money.” (H.T. eric)

    This is especially so since it just increased their damage payment by a factor of 100 (and I’m with the jury on this one).

  • pacal

    I am trying understand why the school didn’t settle this one. If the Lawyer was only asking for 12,500 dollars!! No instead the school dragged it into court and now faces a 1.4 million!! in damages. Given how people react to sexual assault and abuse virtually any trial with these facts would have ended up with damages far in excess of 12,500. So just what suburb of stupid did the school’s lawyers come from?

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Best charitable reading? The guy is incompetent, and he confused low IQ with Down Syndrome; IIRC people with Down are abnormally happy.

  • marcus

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ 11 “…IIRC people with Down are abnormally happy”

    Best charitable reading? I think that this is a simplistic generalization and not supported by any evidence.

  • John Pieret

    pacal @ 10:

    I am trying understand why the school didn’t settle this one. If the Lawyer was only asking for 12,500 dollars!!

    I think that was a misunderstanding on the part of the television station. In many jurisdictions, lawyers (both sides) can suggest what damages the jury should award. There are dangers to that. For example, if a plaintiff’s lawyer asks for less that the jury is willing to award, they might go with the lower figure; ask for a lot more than they are inclined to give and you might turn the jury off. Her lawyer might have discussed that $12,500 figure as the out-of-pocket expenses incurred but then asked the jury to give her damages for her physical and emotional injuries in an amount they thought she should get if she was their daughter (or a similar trope). If the plaintiff’s lawyer only asked for $12,500 and the school district’s lawyers (probably from an insurance company) didn’t leap at it, they both have homes in that suburb.

  • Sastra

    Best charitable reading? He was given the wrong data and momentarily confused low IQ with “being in a persistent vegetative state.” Things like sexual abuse bother them less.

    Naw, won’t work.

  • marcus

    John Pieret @ 13 Thanks, makes more sense now.