Local I-Team: Investigation Into Shelby County’s Psychological Testing Scandal

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Local I-Team: Investigation Into Shelby County's Psychological Testing Scandal

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris says it will take more than a month to complete an investigation into a psych test scandal at the county.

More than 200 deputies, 188 jailors, and possibly hundreds of other employees will have to retake a psychological exam that is required for employment, after it was discovered the psychologist doing preemployment testing hadn’t had a license in almost two decades.

A state audit turned up the problem. Dr. Charles Kenny was paid $150 for every exam given.

So, who was the doctor? Kenny hasn’t been a licensed psychologist in Tennessee since 2001.

“I think after the investigation is complete, if some of the facts prove to be true that we’ve heard about, then we will be talking about civil and criminal liability against some of the folks involved in this, but it’s way too early to tell,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.

According to Kenny’s contract, he receives $40,000 a year, and that includes a $150 consulting fee per applicant hoping to get a job with the county.

Kenny was hired in 2013 by the county human resources office. Harris says at the time, it’s believed Kenny notified the state he was not licensed.

“There was communication, as we understand it right now, between the individual hired to perform the testing and state, to notify the state, to notify POST, that he would be administering the psych test under the supervision of someone who was actually licensed,” said Harris.

Dr. Charles Kenny owns a company called Right Brain People. According to the website, they are pioneers in emotional research. He claims to have worked with major corporations’ marketing departments, and consumer buying behavior is one of his specialties. 

Dr. John Johnson was the licensed psychologist who was supervising Kenny. Johnson lives in Greenville, Tennessee, more than 450 miles from Memphis.

Hopefully, the investigation will uncover why human resources gave an unlicensed psychologist a sole-source contract when there are plenty of licensed psychologists in our area who could have done the work.

It was not the county, but the state agency, known as POST that oversees law enforcement, that discovered Kenny wasn’t licensed.

“POST came down and did an audit of our paperwork out at training division so that’s how this was first discovered,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

We went to the address listed as Kenny’s business trying to get answers, but no one would open the door.

Local I-Team Senior Investigator Jeni DiPrizio called Johnson, the licensed psychologist who was supposed to be overseeing Kenny, and he hung up on her.

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