The leader of a Kentucky agency that licenses psychologists said Wednesday that its actions against parenting advice columnist John Rosemond were not intended to block publication of Rosemond's nationally syndicated column.
Rosemond sued the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology and Attorney General Jack Conway's office in federal court in Frankfort on Tuesday, seeking to halt the board's efforts to stop him from labeling himself a psychologist and engaging in "the practice of psychology."
"We have no interest in shutting down his column," said Eva Markham, chairwoman of the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology.
Conway's office, which provides legal services for the psychology board, issued a cease-and-desist affidavit to Rosemond in May. It threatened legal action if Rosemond refused to stop practicing psychology in the state without a Kentucky license.
In the May 7 letter, Assistant Attorney General Brian T. Judy told Rosemond that a column published Feb. 12 in the Lexington Herald-Leader violated state law because "your response to a specific question from a parent about handling a teenager was a psychological service to the general public, which constituted the practice of psychology. ..."
Rosemond, 65, is a licensed psychological associate in North Carolina whose weekly column appears in more than 200 newspapers nationwide, including the Herald-Leader. A note at the end of each column identifies Rosemond as a "family psychologist."
Markham said Wednesday that she would be satisfied if Rosemond simply changed his title to "North Carolina psychologist."
Rosemond, however, said an attorney representing him offered in May to change Rosemond's title to "family psychologist in North Carolina," but that idea was rejected by an assistant attorney general handling the case.
"We were willing to compromise back in May," Rosemond said Wednesday morning after holding a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Lexington. "At this point, we are not willing to compromise. The Kentucky psychology board threw down the gauntlet. We did not pick this fight."
A spokeswoman for Conway's office was not immediately available to comment Wednesday.
Markham said she is uncertain how the psychology board will respond to Rosemond's lawsuit, which seeks a restraining order against the psychology board and a preliminary injunction that would allow Rosemond to continue publishing his column without fear of punishment until the lawsuit is resolved.
The Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning law firm based in Arlington, Va., filed the lawsuit on Rosemond's behalf.
Rosemond's anti-pampering approach to parenting has been the target of controversy for years.
Retired Lexington clinical child psychologist T. Kerby Neill wrote to the psychology board in February, asking it to stop Rosemond from presenting himself as a psychologist in Kentucky. Neill complained that Rosemond's Feb. 12 column offered "unprofessional and unethical" advice.
In the article, Rosemond offered advice to a reader seeking help with a 17-year-old son who was a "highly spoiled underachiever."
"As you now realize, your son is in dire need of a major wake-up call," Rosemond wrote. "Start by stripping his room to bare essentials, taking away any and all electronic devices, and suspending all of his privileges, including driving."
The psychology board, which meets Thursday, does not take issue with the content of Rosemond's column, Markham said, but rather Rosemond's use of the title psychologist.
"There are a lot of egregious columns out there that we don't police," Markham said.
Herald-Leader Editor Peter Baniak said the newspaper has published John Rosemond for at least 30 years and has no plans to stop running his column. Rosemond's column appears every Tuesday in the Herald-Leader.