I-TEAM update: Another alleged victim comes forward in doctor’s molestation investigation
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The accused child molester at the center of a months-long I-Team investigation is finally set to answer the charges against him.
An Augusta child psychologist has remained free on bond for more than 10 years with seemingly no court date in sight until our I-Team went to work. After digging through a decade of documents and talking exclusively with one of his alleged victims, another alleged victim is coming forward with a powerful plea: “All I ask is that the people in power do their jobs.”
He’s not ready to show his face or use his name yet, but he wants you to hear his story. His mother also shares her pain. “How many other mothers look at their children and feel the guilt of not being able to protect them?”
Dr. Kenneth McPherson was arrested back in 2011 on charges he sexually molested as many as six of his young patients. His trial was finally supposed to start next week, but our I-Team is getting new developments on that timeline.
The court calendar still lists the trial date as March 7, 2022, but the I-Team has learned McPherson is scheduled to be in court on March 1. That could mean a plea deal. If that’s the case, the closure could come earlier than expected.
McPherson spent 156 days as an inmate at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center before he was released on bond in 2011. One of his alleged victims feels like he’s been a prisoner every day since.
“I was 4 years old. Four. It’s not been a few months. It’s been the majority of my life.”
Meredith Anderson: “How do you even begin this conversation?” Alleged victim: “You don’t. You don’t want to, and there’s no disrespect to you, but I don’t want to be here right now. I am not enjoying this. I am revealing a part of myself and who I am that I was perfectly okay with never seeing again.”
Just as he tried to forget about what happened, he believes the justice system did the same.
Alleged victim: “When you tell somebody about it, it’s more than being vulnerable. You feel like you’re giving away a piece of your humanity. It’s embarrassing. It is.” Meredith: “Do you feel forgotten?” Alleged victim: “Oh, absolutely.”
He says that lack of closure has forced him to live with questions for nearly his entire life.
“Did I do something wrong? Why did he do this? And why me? And it’s not until, you know, over 10 years later that I’ve found it wasn’t my fault. That’s the hardest thing to come to grips with.”
He is just one of the six children connected to the case.
In all, two grand juries indicted Dr. McPherson on seven felony counts of child molestation and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor.
That happened in 2011, but the I-Team uncovered it could have happened years earlier. That’s because documents show two of those children first spoke up in 2005. We found both their mothers reported “sexual behavior” during therapy sessions, but at the time, investigators said they couldn’t find any evidence of a crime.
That means Dr. McPherson continued to treat children for six more years. One of those children was Zachary Potts.
“I didn’t have no clothes on. And all I know is he didn’t have no clothes on, neither,” Zachary Potts told the I-Team in his interview that aired in December of 2021.
Zachary’s grandmother, Ruby Vanenkenvoort reported the alleged abuse in 2011. Investigators got a search warrant and found a naked photo of Zachary on Dr. McPherson’s computer.
“I can still see that picture. The look on his face -- it was just pure fear.” Vanenkenvoort told us.
Not long after, the grand jury indictments followed. Dr. McPherson lost his license to practice. Those indictments included the first two cases to surface back in 2005. If Dr. McPherson had been arrested when those allegations were first made, four more children and their families might have been spared what they describe as a decade of darkness.
The mother of the victim to come forward most recently shares her pain of the decade-long wait.
“As a mom, that’s our job - to protect our children. And not being able to do that? And then when the truth is surfaced, and you bring it to the people that are supposed to protect your children, and they don’t.”
They say they also struggle with Dr. McPherson’s bond conditions as they await closure. For more than 10 years, he’s all but remained a free man, except his 10 for o’clock curfew and having to live with his parents.
Alleged victim: “Most people are in their homes before 10 p.m. Nothing changed for him. Nothing. The only difference now is he doesn’t have to pay rent because he lives with his mom and dad.”
During the day, he’s still legally allowed to move about the community. His mother says she still never knows when she might run into him. “After it happened. I ran into him in Walmart, and it was just the most horrific thing. I actually went home and got physically ill.”
In this case, time hasn’t healed these wounds. It’s only made some of them deeper. Alleged victim: “How can you seek out professional help, when the last professional violated you on so many levels?” Meredith: “Do you have a worry that on the 11th hour, there’s going to be yet another delay, and it’s going to be pushed back and not dealt with?”
Alleged victim: “It’s more of an expectation at this point.”
After years and years of delays, the I-Team found the case almost went to trial back in 2018, but even then, it would come upon the trial calendar only to get pushed back. Again. And again. And again. The mother of this recent victim wants everyone to have their day in court.
“I hope that all six children have a voice. That all the families get the opportunity to stay at sit there and say what happened, and for the jury to really hear the truth.” Until this is finally over, it will continue to cast a long shadow, but with closure finally now in sight, this young man says there’s light at the end of a very dark and long tunnel.
“I’ve spoken my truth. I’ve done what I can do. Now, it’s time for others to do what they’re supposed to do.”
The judge in the case has signed paperwork allowing our cameras to be in the courtroom Tuesday. We’ll keep you updated.
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