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Psychologist Charged With Perjury for Testimony in Custody Case

February 8, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Another Marsha Kleinman? We all hope not. But this article about psychologist Sue Cornbluth raises the hair on the back of my neck. It’s the story of a psychologist who apparently went to some remarkable extremes to try to get a father out of a child’s life. And she did that based on claims of child sexual abuse that others involved in the case dismissed out of hand.

Kleinman of course is the former New Jersey psychologist whose license to practice was revoked due to two cases, one in which she browbeat a three-year-old girl in an attempt to get her to say her father had molested her. The transcripts showing the little girl staunchly defending the truth about her father against Kleinman who was bent on slandering him are truly moving. In the second case, Kleinman completely ignored the reason a woman came to her for help and instead attempted to coerce her into leveling a charge of sexual abuse against her ex-husband, an attempt the woman refused. The bottom line on Kleinman: she’d do just about anything, including committing and suborning perjury, to trash a father’s reputation and get him out of a child’s life.

That brings us to Cornbluth.

She has a doctorate in psychology and claims to be a “nationally recognized mental health expert.” She teaches at Temple University and has appeared on television to discuss traumas such as the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

But Cornbluth lacks a state license. And now she is accused of perjury for allegedly lying about it.

The felony charge, filed last week in Bucks County, states that Cornbluth claimed to have a license when she served as an expert witness in a 2013 custody battle. Hired by the grandparents of a 5-year-old girl, Cornbluth testified that the girl’s father had likely molested the girl – an assertion investigators and the judge dismissed.

Expert witnesses are often picked apart in court for their lack of bona fides, but criminal charges for lying about them are rare, said Matt Weintraub, Bucks County’s chief of prosecutions.

“If somebody just puffed up their qualifications, we wouldn’t prosecute them,” he said.

But Cornbluth lied about having a license, Weintraub said, “and she was willing to do so at the expense of an innocent party.”

That sounds eerily familiar.

Cornbluth, through her lawyer, says it’s all just a misunderstanding, a result of “confusion,” and that she’ll be exonerated at trial. But the State of Pennsylvania has already looked into the case and punished Cornbluth administratively.

Her testimony in the 2013 custody case has already led to an admonishment against Cornbluth from Pennsylvania’s Department of State. In December, it fined her $6,000 and ordered her to stop saying she is a psychologist and practicing as one in the commonwealth.

Cornbluth’s work as an expert witness was criticized by the judge who oversaw the custody case, Diane Gibbons, a former Bucks County district attorney.

“The procedures she utilized in conducting her evaluation raised serious questions as to the reliability of the information she obtained,” Gibbons wrote in a ruling that returned the girl to her parents’ custody.

Gibbons noted that Cornbluth lacked training in interviewing children suspected of abuse. She also pointed out that when Cornbluth suspected abuse, she failed to notify the proper authorities until a detective told her to.

Again, that’s eerily familiar. Unlike the Kleinman case though, this one seems to have been nipped in the bud by a judge who saw what was going on, by the Pennsylvania Department of State and by a prosecutor who, for once, isn’t allowing a witness to get away with what he thinks is perjury. If similar things had happened to Kleinman, my guess is that she wouldn’t have even tried, much less gotten away with, the many despicable things she did.

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