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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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New Jersey Psychologist Loses Her License For Coaxing Child’s Account of Sexual Abuse

The State of New Jersey has revoked the license of a court-appointed psychologist who was found to have coaxed a three-year-old girl into accusing her father of sexual abuse and to have mislead the Family Court judge. The psychologist, Marcia Kleinman, of Highland Park, New Jersey was appointed by an Essex County Superior Court judge to give counseling and therapy to a three-year-old child whose father was accused of molestation.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office initiated an investigation and administrative case to suspend the license of the treating psychologist. After a lengthy court hearing, the court found that Kleinman (the psychologist) questioned the child in a coercive manner likely to implant false memories of abuse. The psychologist asked the child leading questions and corrected her when the answers did not meet expectations. The psychologist gave the judge distorted accounts of the child’s statements. The psychologist also failed to disclose statements by the child that suggested her mother coached her to accuse her father of committing abuse.

The medical board found that the psychologist crossed appropriate boundaries, failed to take responsibility for her actions and posed a danger, if she continues to practice. In addition to the license revocation, the psychologist was assessed a $60,000 penalty. If Kleinman seeks reinstatement, which she can do after a year, the board said it would consider prohibiting her from treating anyone under 18, or doing forensic work or dealing with sexual abuse issues.

Unfortunately, false claims of child sexual abuse are not uncommon in divorce cases. The false claims frequently lead to serious criminal charges such as aggravated sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child or criminal sexual contact. These crimes carry significant penalties upon conviction which include mandatory state prison and Megan’s Law for life.

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