Ashland resident James Auchincloss may be suffering from a brain disease or injury, defense medical experts testified Tuesday.
Medford — Ashland resident James Auchincloss may be suffering from a brain disease or injury, defense medical experts testified Tuesday.
The two experts discussed Auchincloss' family history of dementia, his tendency to embellish stories and an inability to "stay on track" as possible explanations for Auchincloss' failure to follow treatment requirements stemming from his child pornography conviction.
"The man can talk a much better game than he can play," said Robert Stanulis, a psychologist.
The testimony came during a hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court on whether to revoke Auchincloss' probation and send him to prison for up to 18 months.
The 64-year-old half-brother of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis pleaded guilty last August to two felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse for having images on his computer of naked boys. Auchincloss already has been sent to jail twice in an effort to persuade him to cooperate more fully with his treatment program.
Judge Tim Gerking said he would rule in open court Thursday after hearing final arguments from defense attorney Carl Caplan and Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.
Hoppe countered the medical experts' assessment of Auchincloss as a victim of illness or injury. The man is a self-described trust-fund baby with narcissistic tendencies who thinks "the rules shouldn't apply to him," Hoppe said.
"(Auchincloss) has stashed pornography for future use after his probationary period ends," Hoppe said. "And he consistently talks about his years with the Kennedys during treatment time."
Tuesday's hearing followed the May 24 testimony of Pennie Farrell, a psychologist who runs group therapy sessions for people convicted of sex crimes. Auchincloss refused to acknowledge he has a problem with child pornography and was not ready to move into court-ordered treatment following his conviction for keeping pictures of naked boys, she said.
Auchincloss regularly refused to answer direct questions, sought sympathy, viewed himself as a victim and tried to blame others for his problems, she said.
Auchincloss grew up "amongst the political elite in America," and considers himself a living historian of that time, said Stanulis. But psychological testing shows he does not process information like a normal person, he added.
"His excellent verbal skills hide his dysfunction," Stanulis said.
Auchincloss' flawed memory causes him to embellish or add information to his stories. But he is not necessarily willfully refusing to cooperate in group therapy sessions and other elements of his rehabilitation. He needs "special treatment," said Stanulis.
Dr. Kevin McGovern, a forensic psychologist for the Washington Attorney General's Office, said group therapy sessions are less costly and that "group confrontation" can be a valuable part of therapy for many sex offenders. But interviews with Auchincloss have changed his mind about the benefits of group therapy in this instance.
"He does not seem to be doing well in a group setting," McGovern said, adding that Auchincloss would do better in private therapy.
In earlier testimony, Farrell stated that Auchincloss expressed no desire to stop using pornography, and he reportedly told her that he had shrink-wrapped the portion of his collection that was not seized by police and put it in a storage unit.
Hoppe pressed McGovern, who interviewed and initially recommended Auchincloss in 2009 as a good candidate for the out-patient relapse prevention treatment program, for his opinion about the stashing of pornography.
"That's not a very good sign," said McGovern.
Shame, guilt, notoriety and denial could be part of why Auchincloss is suffering from depression, anxiety, elements of post traumatic stress and engaging in self-defeating tendencies, said McGovern.
"He has a tendency to shoot himself in the foot," said McGovern.
Auchincloss remains under house arrest at his home in Ashland while the judge considers the issue. Gerking will announce his ruling at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Sanne Specht is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.