Thursday, 4:30 PM
Ex-stripper found guilty in fraud psychology case
(George Rizer/Globe Staff)
Louise Wightman (right) conferred with her attorney, Katie Cook Rayburn, at the start of her trial earlier this week in Suffolk Superior Court.
By Megan Tench and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
A jury today found the former Boston stripper known as Princess Cheyenne guilty of fraud and larceny for posing as a licensed psychologist for seven years and treating clients at two South Shore clinics.
Louise Wightman, 47, was found guilty of 19 of 25 counts in Suffolk Superior Court. The jury deliberated for less than two days before reaching a verdict this afternoon. Wightman, of Hull, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 14. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Wightman testified that she never claimed to be a licensed psychologist when she treated hundreds of patients at South Shore Psychology Associates.
Wightman acknowledged that she advertised as having a doctorate in psychology despite withdrawing from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology after completing five years of course work without earning a degree. Wightman, who has a master's degree in counseling psychology from Lesley University, told the jury she dropped out of the doctoral program when a dean whom she did not identify confronted her about her storied career as a stripper in Boston's Combat Zone in the 1970s and '80s.
Feeling she earned her doctorate, Wightman told the jury she turned to the Internet and paid about $1,300 for what she thought was a bona fide degree from Dominica-based Concordia College & University. She said she later discovered the online degree was bogus.
Under cross-examination, Wightman acknowledged that the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology began proceedings in March 2001 to kick her out for operating what a school official described in a letter as an "independent private practice" without a license. She also conceded that she applied to the state for a license as a mental health counselor in August 2005, six months after a local television program, "Fox 25 Undercover," aired a report about her past as Princess Cheyenne and her educational background.
During the trial, there were few mentions of Wightman’s celebrated past as a stripper, which included an engagement to pop singer Cat Stevens. She kept an unassuming appearance in the courtroom, wearing eyeglasses, slacks, and modest sweaters.