Woman says family received settlement

Lawsuit included claim that a psychotherapist planted false memories in her mind.

Syracuse Post-Standard/June 7, 2002
By John O'Brien

A Syracuse counseling business has settled a lawsuit from a former client who claims a psychotherapist planted false childhood memories of sexual abuse by her parents.

Stephanie Brigham said she got a check last week from the settlement of her lawsuit against Paul Pickett, John Carnevale and Synchronicity Counseling Services. A condition of the settlement was that she not reveal the amount of the payment.

Her daughter, Amanda Brigham, 14, received a separate settlement amount that will start paying out when she turns 18, Stephanie Brigham said. Amanda Brigham claimed Pickett, 45, physically abused her during counseling sessions when she was 8.

Neither Pickett, Carnevale, nor their lawyer, Michael Ringwood, could be reached for comment.

The settlement clears Brigham's parents, Janice and Andy Brigham, for a final time, she said. Andy Brigham is a spokesman for the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency and former Syracuse television newsman. He and his wife also received an undisclosed payment under the settlement, Stephanie Brigham said.

Brigham, 33, said she went to Pickett in 1992 for treatment of anxiety and insomnia.

The county Department of Social Services concluded in 1995 that Brigham's allegations against her parents were unfounded. A year later, she accused Pickett of planting the false memories under hypnosis or "guided imagery" to make her solely dependent on him.

The state Education Department is still investigating Brigham's complaint against Carnevale, according to her lawyer, Michael Law. The state can investigate Carnevale but not Pickett because Carnevale is a licensed social worker. Therapists don't need a license to practice in New York.

Brigham sued the state over its handling of her complaint, claiming the investigator assigned to her case propositioned her for sex. The investigator, David Spencer, resigned in 1997 after the state filed disciplinary charges against him. Brigham also sued Spencer. Both lawsuits are pending.

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