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Fake psychologist in ex-NFL player’s brain science video treated hundreds, cops say

Former NFL football player Quintus McDonald said he didn’t know Sharonda Avery had fake credentials when he interviewed her for a video on brain science, FOX 5 DC reports. Virginia deputies said Avery posed as a psychologist for hundreds of kids and adults.
Former NFL football player Quintus McDonald said he didn’t know Sharonda Avery had fake credentials when he interviewed her for a video on brain science, FOX 5 DC reports. Virginia deputies said Avery posed as a psychologist for hundreds of kids and adults. Screen grab from YouTube

A Virginia woman pretending to be a psychologist illegally treated hundreds of children and adults, according to local deputies. She even used her fake credentials to land an interview on brain science with an ex-NFL player, FOX 5 DC reports.

Sharonda Avery, a 42-year-old Spotsylvania woman, was charged May 6 with practicing psychology without a license, passing a forged document, obtaining money by false pretenses and perjury, according to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office. Avery is in custody at Rappahannock Regional Jail and is being held without bond.

Quintus McDonald, a former NFL player for the Indianapolis Colts who also played at Penn State, said he didn’t know Avery was lying about being a licensed psychologist, FOX 5 reports.

“It’s very disappointing and I would absolutely venture to say that she’s not the first and she probably won’t be the last and there are probably several others out there,” McDonald said, according to the TV station.

McDonald was far from alone in being misled, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A recent study looked at the donated brains of former football players including professional, semi-professional, collegiate, and high school athletes. Researchers found a change in the brains of former NFL players, known as chronic traumatic ence

Deputies said Avery posed as a legitimate psychologist in Stafford “for several years” until an investigation into her began in October 2018 following complaints questioning her credentials, including some who said she had misdiagnosed their children.

Detectives found that Avery wasn’t licensed in Virginia and that the two doctoral degrees and master’s degree she claimed to have weren’t real, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In fact, deputies said, “she did not have a degree from any college or university.”

Sharonda_Aver_fitted.jpeg
Deputies released this mugshot of Sharonda Avery, 42, when announcing the charges she faces. Stafford County Sheriff's Office

Despite that lack of credentials, a medical practice in Stafford County employed her as a psychologist beginning in 2012, deputies said. While working there, Avery “treated hundreds of children and adults,” deputies said, but she was fired and the practice is “no longer in business.”

Deputies said she’s been charged with perjury because she testified in a juvenile court in 2017, pretending to be a doctor.

McDonald interviewed Avery on a segment of “NittanySports Huddle TV,” which was posted on YouTube in 2016. McDonald said in the 13-minute video that “Dr. Avery” was “one of the doctors on staff here at Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning.”

Authorities said some kids Avery treated were later medicated by actual doctors for conditions she had diagnosed them with, according to The Free Lance-Star. Her most recently listed addresses in court records were in Woodbridge near Washington, D.C., and in Gasburg, near Virginia’s border with North Carolina, according to the newspaper.

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