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I-TEAM update: Child psychologist sentenced in molestation case

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:26 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After being out on bond for more than a decade, the Augusta child psychologist accused of molesting multiple patients agreed to go to prison. However, he did not agree to go to prison for molestation.

Dr. Kenneth McPherson was booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center Tuesday afternoon. His trial was scheduled to start March 7th, but one week before jury selection was set to begin, he struck a plea deal for one count of sexual exploitation of a minor.

That’s a far cry from the seven felony counts of child molestation he also faced after two grand juries indicted him in 2011. Prosecutor Deshala Dixon told Judge John Flythe McPherson would still serve five years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Still, most of the six children connected to the case believe justice wasn’t served.

For years, their names were side by side on court documents, but today, they sat side by side in court. Some were as young as four-years-old at the time, but they are all now young adults. Mira Redman, Madison Redman, James Pennington, and Zachary Potts all read statements in court today, bravely speaking about the impact Dr. McPherson has had on their lives.

For some of them, it was the first time they’ve ever spoken publicly about any of this. It was also the first time they’d seen Dr. McPherson since all of this happened. Some said seeing him made them feel sick. Others said they felt sad. One survivor said she felt “small.”

“I really wanted him to know I wasn’t just going to sit there willingly knowing what he’s done,” said James Pennington after the hearing.

“Even though I wasn’t looking at him, I was confronting him. He deserved to be confronted with his crimes, and I think that I got a sense of peace. I think that I did receive closure. At least closure, if not justice,” said Madison Redman.

Dr. McPherson did not say anything in court today, nor did he admit he did anything wrong. His plea was an Alford Plea. That means he technically said he was innocent, but since he recognized prosecutors would likely prove the charge, he would enter the equivalent of a guilty plea.

Pennington called it “a slap in the face.” Mira Redman wasn’t happy with it either, but she said nothing would ever really make it right.

“How do you serve justice to something like this, you know?” Even with his Alford Plea, Dr. McPherson is now a convicted felon. When he’s released from prison, law enforcement will have to keep tabs on where he lives.

“I mean, at least he’s going to register as a sex offender. That’s what everybody really wanted and really asked for,” said Zachary Potts. “People are going to know what he is,” said Mira Redman. As difficult as today was for the survivors and their loved ones, the survivors showed so much strength.

“They are amazing kids who have been through hell, and they faced their abuser today,” said Mira and Madison’s mother, Jamie Sutton. “That’s something a lot of people can’t do.” “They are beautiful children,” said James’ mother, Jewel Graves. “But they should have had justice today.”

There has been some healing today, though. There is comfort in a newfound community. This is a club no one ever wanted to join, but standing on the steps of the courthouse after the hearing, it didn’t feel like an end. It also felt like a new beginning.

As Dr. McPherson begins his sentence, maybe now Mira, Madison, James, and Zachary can finally be free.

Some of the first children in this case first sounded the alarm in 2005, so some of these families have been dealing with this for 17 years. As you can imagine, they had a lot to say, and we want you to hear it. Our coverage continues Wednesday on News 12 at 6 o’clock.

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