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My Experience with Insidious Misogyny and its Relationship to Current Politics

10 Oct

I have reflecting on and been disappointed by Trump’s misogynistic attitudes towards females, especially women and other people of color, and also in his cohorts i.e., complicit cronies, (sorry can’t pass up and obvious opportunity for alliteration.) And I realized I have experienced similar treatment in my professional, which resulted in my eventually resigning and moving to Spain. (Photos are a sample of some of my new life experiences.)

I worked as a reputable, and highly-regarded Forensic Psychologist in California for over 25 years. I started working in the largest forensic psychiatric hospital (Atascadero State Hospital) at that time in the world, which I did for about eight years while beginning my private practice, (while starting a family.) As I was becoming increasingly successful in my private practice, the clinical “head” of the Psychology Department, Dr. David Plate, attempted to sabotage me by saying I had not submitted my paperwork on time for the annual review. I don’t remember exactly what he tried to do, but I think it was to get me disciplined or set the path for firing. I spoke to my female administrative boss and gave her all the data, and she advised me to take it to the Medical Director of the Hospital. I had no idea what might happen, but after presented my information to him, the issue was dropped.

I should note that the Dr. Plate seemed to have issues with minorities and women, which was one of the reasons I became involved in the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Committee, eventually being a co-chair on a sub-committee and chairperson of the committee. When I started working at the hospital, I was shocked at the disproportionate number of white staff compared to the patient population which was much more made of various minorities, e.g., brown, black, etc., so I got involved to try to increase staff to be comparable for better patients’ receptivity to a variety of staff and better treatment outcomes.  To be clear, this committee simply sat in on interviews and tried to assure everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or having a relative working at hospital, had the same fair shake at a position. I am and was data-driven, so I would always present the facts.

I had an excellent reputation with regard to my forensic psychological interviews, written reports, and testimony, well perhaps not counting a Judge who made me come to court to testify when I had only given birth to a baby about a week earlier, (the same Judge who after I testified the father had molested his child by digital penetration, the Judge said he knew what was and was not molest, and that was not, and that I was wrong.) This Judge also made other outrageous rulings, mostly in favor of fathers in child custody cases, and in favor of male expert witnesses.  In retrospect, every time, I was ever treated horribly, like tricked to show up for a court case that was already resolved, being subject to scurrilous and untrue accusation while testifying, it was almost always by men, never substantiated.

There were other similar experiences, but I just moved on. I was working a ridiculous number of hours and raising three sons, some with special needs, by myself, and I was making enough money to raise them and have a decent lifestyle.

I was recruited by the Department of Mental Health (now department of State Hospitals) to start working at the newly passed Sexually Violent Predator Program in March 1996. Over time, how they structured our pay ranged from hourly, to a Department set fee for evaluation, to bidding for how we were paid. Two very interesting and informative things happened. First, during the contract bidding a group of male evaluators said we could not communicate about our big with other evaluators, which my other colleagues and I did not, but when the bids were published, it was clear that this subset of male evaluators had colluded because all of their bids were basically the same, and the people with the lowest bids could take large numbers of referrals and only the relatively small remaining number went to the rest of us with higher bids. They also tried to blame ME for the contracts going to bid because I made so much money. The money I made during the time prior to contract bids was set by the Department per evaluations and testimony. I did the second most work, so I earned the second most money. Interesting, another male colleague had earned 50% more money than I did prior to the implementation of contract bids, and he was never blamed. Later, a female colleague told me their blaming me had to do with my being female, but I ignored that.

Then the SVP Department hired psychiatrist Ronald Mihordin, M.D., J.D. who had a history in forensic evaluations and administration of programs. He was known for advocating his evaluators not make a connection between mental illness and violence under the Mentally Disordered Offender. Instead of allowing seasoned evaluators to independently form their opinions, as is the standard and the law, he would call and try to cajole evaluators to change their opinions that there was no connection between the individual’s mental illness and violent conduct. He fired numerous evaluators from that panel including me, after I told him I could not testify to his opinion. During his stint with MDO, he said anal digital penetration of pre-pubescent child was not sexual violence.

When he later was made the director of the Sexually Violent Predator Program (SVP), he quickly called the law “The Gulag.” He did things to undermine the law, including “training” that was not consistent with the state of the art to us experienced SVP experts, even though he had never done an SVP evaluation. He told us to ignore the “gold standard” for predicting risk of sexual re-offense. He hired people not considered to be fair, experienced and neutral experts, to advise our panel on how to do evaluations. He put up samples of my reports as what not to do at trainings, such as being too detailed about the crimes. Really?  No attorney complained of my quoting the details of the crimes.

He started communicating and helping defense attorneys to get their dangerous patients released, which was totally in contrast to the intent of the law the people who supported it. He was undermining public safety. When I would testify and was asked what I thought about his guidance, I would give my honest opinion that he was undermining public safety. I think that, my being female, but also his comment to me once while testifying at Court that I was making too much money, were his motivations. Interestingly, he advocated for hiring State Contracted employees to do evaluations, and they were being paid over $100,000 a year and each only doing an average of one evaluation a year. I was being paid a few thousand dollars per eval, and my annual wages were based on the amount of work I did.

I did what I could to protect public safety. But he and the Department black-balled me and I wasn’t getting any new work. When I called the Department to ask why I wasn’t getting new referrals, the male administrator at the time, who I did not know, greeted me by asking, “Is this Starr Wars?” (Starr is my last name.) It was clear there would be no transparency or corrective action.

Fortunately, because I had done so much prior work, I was still getting sufficient business with updated reports and court testimony, and I also did private fair consultation and evaluations for both defense and prosecuting attorneys for SVP. Mihordin had it out for me I was told by colleagues. He was the same type of misogynistic, arrogant, threatened by women person as is Trump, and other similar men, malignant narcissists who have particular issues with competent and successful women, like recent comments about Trump’s comments about Kamala Harris being a “monster, unlikeable, and a communist;” calling Michigan Gov, Gretchen Whitmer names and whistle-calling his base which contributed to plans to kidnap her, kill her, and start a race war; disregard and contempt for some females testifying about sexual assault including about Supreme Court nominations; referring to women as “nasty” even though he has sex outside of marriage and with call girls; and too many more to mention. His vitriol is also bad with people of color.

Mihordin took a sudden retirement when the Attorney General was informed of his plan to testify for the defense in favor of a repetitive child molester who Mihordin had never even evaluated and was not qualified as an expert to testify on.

I was done, last son graduated from high school, sold my house and all my belongings, and moved to Europe where I am much happier. However, it wasn’t until recent consideration of Trump’s and other similarly-oriented males that I realized I had been subjected similar attitudes and behaviors; none of their behaviors or scurrilous comments had any basis in reality or were ever substantiated, but had long-lasting negative consequences.

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