Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ann Arbor prosecutor pleaded for release during drunken driving arrest, video shows

Posted: 9:00 a.m. Today
56 Comments. Comment Now

Senior assistant city attorney Robert West
An Ann Arbor city attorney pleaded with a Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputy to release him after he failed a preliminary breath test during a traffic stop in October, records show.

But the deputy refused because he feared criminal charges himself, according to a Sheriff’s Department video of the stop obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act.

Robert William West, 57, who was responsible for prosecuting drunken drivers at the time, was later charged with first-offense operating while under the influence.

If convicted of the misdemeanor, West faces up to 93 days in jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in 14A-3 District Court in Chelsea.

His driver’s license was destroyed, and West was issued a temporary driving permit after his arrest in Scio Township, records show.

West, a senior assistant city attorney, had no comment when reached by phone at his office Wednesday

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Police: Detroit girl, 3, killed when playing with handgun

A 3-year-old girl fatally shot herself in an upstairs bedroom of a house while playing with a handgun, a Detroit police spokeswoman said this evening.
Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens said the shooting occurred at about 6:15 p.m. in the 18900 block of Rockcastle near Canyon on the city’s east side. The girl was at home with her 42-year-old grandmother at the time.
“We believe she was possibly playing with the gun,” Stephens said. “Somehow it went off.”
The girl was alone in the bedroom in an upstairs bedroom when she found the gun, she said. Stephens did not know where the gun had been stored at the time the child found it.
Detroit police will provide free gun locks to any one who needs them, Stephens said. They can stop at any police district or precinct to pick up one.
Contact CECIL ANGEL : 313-223-4531 or
My daughter survived this incident twice that I know of. Once because her brother and then second time is when her sister saw her with a loaded weapon left around by an idiot. My daughter called Judge Nancy C. Francis herself to tell her and the judge punished me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I ask of one thing for you to do...

To all those who receive this message, I ask of you one thing to do one day this week. If you believe a judge who protects a parent who would allow their child/ren to be sexually abused is wrong then take the time to call Brian L. Mackie, Prosecuting Attorney of Washtenaw County (734) 222-6620. If he does not answer then leave a message. Please feel free to mention my name (Charles Wright). I have nothing to hide.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Son Killed, Father in Police Custody

Son Killed, Father in Police Custody
Updated: Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009, 6:18 PM EST
Published : Monday, 16 Nov 2009, 10:35 PM EST


HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. ( - The story first broke on Tuesday evening. Now, we're learning more about a father accused of shooting and killing his own teenage son.

"I don't know what to tell you. It's rough," said Thelmon Cherry. The grandfather of 15-year-old Jamar Pinkney, Junior stood just a few feet away from where his grandson was shot and killed in front of his family, including his own grandmother, who watched the boy's father just seconds after the shooting.

"He politely just walked to his car like nothing happened, got in it, then he pulled up in front of my house, rolled his window down... looked at me and drove away," said Leola Cherry, the victim's grandmother.

This all apparently started when the father's girlfriend accused Jamar Junior of acting inappropriately with her three-year-old child.

"Got him all upset that he came over here to chastise his son for whatever had happened, and he beat on him already and snatched his clothes all off and then shot him," Thelmon Cherry said.

Jamar's mother got a phone call from the suspect, Jamar Senior, but she believes he meant to call his girlfriend instead.

"After he did it, he called my phone... He didn't realize he was calling my phone. He said, 'Baby, I took care of this," said Lazette Cherry, the victim's mother.

Jamar Junior begged for his life as did other family members watching nearby.

"He put the gun to his head and he shot him," Lazette Cherry said.

Jamar's family hopes his father, the suspect now in police custody in the murder, hears this message:

"He (isn't) going to forget this for a long time," said Thelmon Cherry.

"God will handle you... You're going to pay for this," said Lazette Cherry.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sarah Kruzan: Sentenced to Life Without Parole at Age 16

Another reason why father's should not be alienated from their children.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Are you aware that the US Department of Justice ...

Are you aware that the US Department of Justice has investigated very, very few civil or Constitutional rights cases in almost ten years? A few police departments have been investigated for misconduct and the findings are almost identical as though no investigation was really done at all. These briefs may be found online if you Google…. “Recent Justice Department investigations.” What does this mean to you?
Over fifty solid, credible, American citizens have dared to speak-up about various injustices in this country. They have found their lives destroyed. The only avenue of recourse for us when we cannot receive help from local law enforcement is our US Department of Justice. When the Justice Department refuses to help us, we are left to suffer unbelievable cruelties, harassment, illegal wire taps and financial ruin.
This group consists several educators, a politician who was falsely arrested, a female veterinarian who was falsely arrested several times, several attorneys who were disbarred because they dared to represent unpopular cases, a millionaire developer who has been denied custody of his children because he challenged a police department, several government whistleblowers who paid with their jobs, media individuals who expressed unpopular opinions, and several law school graduates who were informed that they did not pass the bar but have been denied any opportunity to verify their scores.
This group crosses all cultural, ethnic, and racial lines. It is evenly divided between males and females. Please note that the children of these individuals are now being subjected to many atrocities. I have only scratched the surface about what is taking place in our lives. Fortunately, all accusations are verifiable and documented.
We are angry and disappointed that the Justice Department is not doing its job. We want to file a class action lawsuit demanding that DOJ open an investigation of some of the most notorious of these cases, compensation because the Department of Justice failed to protect our civil and Constitutional rights, and that they do the job that the taxpayers expect of them.
We are seeking an attorney who will file this lawsuit on a contingency basis with the knowledge that several of the plaintiffs have the ability and are willing to do all of the research and compile the complaint. Please call: (786) 991-9062 or e-mail: for more information.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The Michigan Child Protection Law requires certain people to report their suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protection Services at the Department of Human Services. These people are mandated reporters and have established relationships with children based on their profession. Mandated Reporters include:

Physician's assistant
Registered dental hygienist
Medical examiner
Licensed emergency medical care provider
Marriage and family therapist
Licensed professional counselor
Social worker
Licensed master's social worker
Licensed bachelor's social worker
Registered social service technician
Social service technician
School administrator
School counselor
Law enforcement officer
Member of the clergy
Regulated child care provider
Specific staff members of the Department of Human Services also have a legal mandate to report suspected child abuse or neglect. These staff members include:

Eligibility specialist
Family independence manager or specialist
Social services specialist
Social work specialist
Social work specialist manager
Welfare services specialist
When a mandated reporter suspects child abuse or neglect, he or she is required to make an immediate verbal report to DHS Child Protective Services and follow with a written report within 72 hours. Telling a supervisor, manager, or another employee does not fulfill the legal reporting requirement.

The Child Protection Law protects the identity of the person who makes the complaint unless the individual waives that right or the court orders the name to be released. Likewise, a person making a good faith report is protected from civil and criminal prosecution and cannot be penalized for making the report or cooperating with a CPS investigation.

The verbal report can be completed by calling toll free (800) 942-4357 or calling the local county DHS office's child protective services unit.

The individual who had contact with the child must complete the call and provide as much detail as possible about the following information:

The child's primary caretaker, including name and address.
Names and birth dates for all household members.
Birth dates and race of all members of the household.
Whether the alleged perpetrator lives with the child.
Address where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
What makes the person suspect the child is being abused or neglected.
The law also requires that a mandated reporter follow up with a written report by using DHS-3200 Form, Report of Actual or Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect.

If a mandated reporter is dissatisfied with the response by the CPS intake worker, he or she may contact the Mandated Reporter Hotline at (877) 277-2585.

Mandated Reporter's Resource Guide

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Amendment 14

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State
wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any
State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the
provisions of this article.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Have some judges and prosecutors gone too far?

Posted 8:05 pm

by Charles Wright | Ypsilanti Thursday January 01, 2009, 9:31 AM

Re: "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh seeking the "truth:" Closure seems to be such a beautiful word to use when the truth comes out. The more John Walsh searched for the truth, the more time passed, but he never stopped seeking the "truth" of who was responsible for his son's death. It is good to hear he has finally received some closure, with police closing the case and blaming a now-deceased convicted killer. Adam's parents have gone through a lot like other parents who have lost their child to an untimely death. Other parents have sat by and watched their children slowly slip away from them because of some terminal illness. I wonder which would be more painful. Both sets of parents would wonder why it happened to their child. The "truth" can be a beautiful thing for parents seeking justice for their child or their children, if it is ever found. But what if the "truth" could send one parent to prison - would the "truth" be a good thing or not under this circumstance? Our court system is supposed to be set up to seek the "truth" but can manipulate because our legislators are not enforcing judges to honor the law in the family courts. Now children suffer throughout this country because the system has failed them.

If you believe a judge who protects a parent who would allow their child/ren to be sexually abused is wrong then take the time to tell Brian L. Mackie, Prosecuting Attorney of Washtenaw County (734) 222-6620.

Charles Wright

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In The Best Interest Film (I Love My Son) Poem by Lamont Carey

Do not be afraid to speak out loud and tell the truth, you should be fighting for your civil rights with every breath you take... Charles Wright

Monday, August 24, 2009

Single dads in recovery deserve equality

August 23, 4:12 PMLouisville Parents in Recovery ExaminerAngeline Davis

Let's face it: sometimes men make better single parents than women. Some researchers even believe that this is almost always true, as single men are better able to impart such things as empathy to their children than women (Father and Child Reunion). With all of the hooting and hollering for women's rights that has gone on over the last few decades, the time has come for the lack of consideration of the rights of men to be noticed and changed. Recovery is definitely one of these areas, at least in the city of Louisville, and single dads need to be afforded the same opportunities to parent as women.

Volunteers of America, for instance, has the only halfway houses in Louisville for women with children: Maude Boothe, Grace House, and Freedom House. There are no such places for men. Why is this? Don't men deserve the same chance to care for themselves and their children as women? How many of you know a single man in recovery with sole custody of his children because their mother chooses to drink/drug instead of parent her kids?

Kentucky has among the highest rate of CPS removal of children and foster care placement. A lot of men choose to "trudge the road to happy destiny" (AA "The Promises"), so they deserve all of the aid needed to regain/retain custody of their children. Poverty and the entrance into recovery often go hand in hand, especially for those with children, and men, like women, should have at least one halfway house in this city so that they, too, will be better able to keep custody of their children without having to fret over money, shelter, and simple survival. Quite frankly it is a ridiculous travesty to men, children, and society, which is burdened with this additional cost of unnecessary foster care.

There are regular cases of family courts placing children into the custody of their mothers because these women were able to get into one of VOA's halfway homes, as the courts typically otherwise would not have done so. One can only wonder at the number of children unnecessarily placed in foster care because CPS felt uncomfortable with placing them with their fathers, often due to poor living situations, as there is no such home for these men. The seemingly simple solution is to right this wrong and create at least one halfway home for men with children. Not to do so is an injustice to all.

Other suggestions for male equality in recovery include having childcare provided in at least a few of the "men only" meetings and having day treatment as an option. Those who choose to utilize a 12 step program for their recovery tend to benefit from attending gender specific meetings, and currently there is no meeting for men with childcare in Louisville. JADAC also has the only sliding fee scale outpatient treatment in the city, but offers it during the day for women only. In addition, there are shelters for abused women with children, but no such place for men. (Alcoholism/addiction and domestic violence are often closely related). Women are not the only single parents in recovery, and men deserve the same rights here as elsewhere.

With all of these suggestions, many questions are left unanswered. Why haven't these changes been made already? Why aren't men speaking up about these issues (more)? Where would the money for such a halfway house come from? Should there be a domestic violence shelter for men? The list goes on and on. The only thing that appears certain, at least to me, is that there are changes which must be made, as in the interim it is not just men, but also their children, being harmed in the process.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and opinions!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cox Announces $26 Million in Child Support Has Been Collected for More Than 3,000 Kids

Cox Announces $26 Million in Child Support Has Been Collected for More Than 3,000 Kids
Contact: Rusty Hills or Nate Bailey, Media Contacts 517-373-8060
Agency: Attorney General

June 6, 2006

LANSING - Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that the Child Support Division, which he initiated in April 2003, has collected more than $26 million in child support, providing help to more than 3,000 Michigan children.

"First and foremost, this is much needed support going directly to the children and custodial parents who rely on this money," said Cox. "More than 3,000 children have benefited from this program. It is impossible to calculate how important this is to families that are struggling to make ends meet."

"Second, it represents that in the State of Michigan the attitude toward the responsibility to pay child support has changed. A very clear message has now been sent: if you can pay child support and refuse to meet your responsibility, we will come after you."

To date, Cox's Child Support Division has collected $26,056,659. A total of 3,007 children have received monies owed to them since Attorney General Cox created the Child Support Division. The largest payment received, to date, was $250,000 in a 2004 case arising from Kent County.

"Third, this program has virtually paid for itself. The division's efforts have not only produced tremendous results for Michigan's children, but they have also produced tremendous results for Michigan's taxpayers. This is one government program that works and works well."

The federal government pays for 66% of the cost of operations, while the State picks up the remaining 34%. The State has spent $2,387,980 since the division was created. The division, however, has returned $2,377,323.95 to the State in reimbursements for State-borne costs. Thus the cost of the program to taxpayers is $10,656.08. That cost yielded $23,679,335 million dollars in support paid to children ($26,056,659 in collections minus $2,377,324 in State reimbursements). In other words, for every dollar spent, the Child Support Division returned $2,222 dollars to Michigan children and custodial parents.

"One of the most important aspects of our program is that once the Child Support Division has contact with a non-custodial parent, they are far more likely to continue making their payments on a regular basis. This means Michigan's children will be paid what they are owed both from the past and on into the future."

"Finally, this represents the fulfillment of a promise I made to Michigan's citizens. When I formed the Child Support Division, the first statewide child support enforcement unit in the United States, I pledged to collect $25 million during my first term. We have shattered this goal after just three years in operation."

The division was created in April 2003, fulfilling a pledge Cox made to the people of the State of Michigan. It was the first statewide felony non-support enforcement effort in the United States.

The Child Support Division receives case referrals from county prosecutors, Friend of the Court offices, custodial parents, and law enforcement agencies. An important component of the investigation of these cases is the analysis of available information relating to the suspect's financial circumstances. If the investigation indicates that the person can pay, but won't, charges are initiated.

"I am very pleased with the efforts of the Child Support Division, particularly with their dedication on behalf of our deserving children," Cox added. "I am even more pleased to have played a part with all the professionals within the court system and the Office of Child Support who work so diligently on behalf of our children. It should go without saying that parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their kids. We stand ready to ensure that obligation is being met."

Mr. Cox urged those parents who are not receiving their support to contact the Child Support Division at (866) PAY-KIDS, or the Attorney General's website

For more information, contact Rusty Hills or Nate Bailey, Attorney General's Office, at (517) 373-8060.,1607,7-164-17334_34799-144769--,00.html



Sunday, August 16, 2009


CPS under fire in death of Emma Thompson
Aug. 15, 2009, 4:39PM

The death of 4-year-old Emma Thompson has enraged the Houston community. According to news reports, Emma's mother ignored the abuse of her own child, denied it to the authorities and attempted to hide it by super-gluing her baby's skull together. This “gifted nurse” claimed Emma's injuries were self-inflicted and that she had contracted genital herpes from a dirty toilet seat. Neighbors and others who suspected abuse should have notified the authorities, something required of all Texans over the age of 18. But, judging by their comments on the story on the Houston Chronicle's Web site, Houstonians have reserved their strongest criticism for Child Protective Services. The agency, which was fully aware that Emma had contracted a sexually transmitted disease, failed to remove her from the home.

This tragedy is not an isolated example of poor judgment but the result of a conscious decision by CPS to leave this child in the home. CPS spokesperson Estella Olguin explained that “a sexually transmitted disease alone is not enough to put a 4-year-old into protective custody.” If Emma's STD and her mother's inconsistent stories about its origin weren't enough to trigger a thorough investigation and removal by CPS, what sort of evidence does it need?

Some historical context. In May 1987, following the murder of 2-year-old Jesse Wheeler, a poster boy for how the system has failed victims of child abuse, Justice for Children was formed by a group of concerned citizens tired of seeing preventable deaths of the very young in our community.

Later that year, these same Houstonians convinced the Texas Senate to conduct statewide hearings into the problems at CPS. The 1989 Senate report stated that “70 percent of the confirmed cases involved children who were left in their homes and who needed ongoing supervision and assistance from the department. In reality, only about half of these cases were assigned to a caseworker. The remaining 49 percent, or 9,800 confirmed cases, were closed immediately after the investigation … ”

In 1991, the Texas Senate Finance Committee found that “[y]ears of studies costing millions of dollars have been devoted to this program without tangible results. The immense problems and substantial improvements required cannot be achieved realistically in an agency with so many competing priorities.”

Also in 1991, a report by the Texas Performance Review Team found: “The mission of the social worker is to rehabilitate and preserve the family.” It went on to say, “on the other hand, the mission of an investigator is to determine if the abuse occurred and remove the victim from the situation if necessary. Maintaining the functions in the same agency makes … a nearly impossible situation in which to maintain objectivity and focus.”

On July 2, 2004, Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring the Office of the Inspector General of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to conduct an investigation of CPS. The inspector general's report noted that: “When abuse or neglect was indicated in the file, only 30 percent of the time did CPS caseworkers implement the appropriate safety steps for the short-term protection of the child, only 71 percent of the time were the steps appropriate to protect the child from further abuse and neglect and only 27 percent of the time, when there was imminent threat to the health and safety of any child in the home, was the child actually removed from the threat to prevent further abuse, neglect, or physical abuse, neglect, or physical harm to the child.”

Twenty-three years after Jesse Wheeler's death, innumerable studies, and adverse reports, we are still fighting the same fight. I could not care less that CPS feels they are damned if they remove a child and damned if they don't. According to the last National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, of the 1 million annual cases where CPS confirmed abuse and neglect, 72 percent were closed without ever removing the children. By comparison, the number of children who have been murdered as a result of being removed from a home subsequently deemed safe is a big fat zero.

CPS is not in a popularity contest. Under federal law, “the child's health and safety shall be the paramount concern” in all child abuse and neglect investigations. The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, written with the help of Justice for Children, states that CPS is not required to use reasonable efforts to keep families together where “the parent has subjected the child to … abandonment, torture, chronic abuse and sexual abuse” or has “committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child.”

No government agency is perfect, but I'd much rather have a police officer investigating a crime against a child than an agency that acknowledges that it doesn't perform criminal investigations. Law enforcement's priority is to protect its complaining witness, the crime victim. Otherwise, it has no case. CPS's priority continues to be preserving the family unit which, in cases like Emma's, is an experiment at the child's expense. If Emma's case had been investigated by law enforcement officers, I believe she would be alive today.

Like Jesse Wheeler, the death of defenseless little Emma is an object lesson in system failure. She compels us to try something new, so we don't read about another tragic, preventable child's death in the newspaper tomorrow.

Burton is the founder of the national child advocacy group Justice for Children and a partner at the Houston law firm of Burleson Cooke, LLP.

Something to view, it is a very expressive and deep video:

"In The Best Interest"....
In The Best Interest - Reality Film
Documentary Film: Family Law

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Title IV D - Rev. Ron Smith

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to Detect It and What to Do About It

How to Detect It and What to Do About It
Yesterday at 3:15pm
THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAL, VOL. 73, No. 3, MARCH 1999, p 44-48

Parental Alienation Syndrome:
How to Detect It and What to Do About It

by J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh

Although parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a familiar term, there is still a great deal of confusion and unclarity about its nature, dimensions, and, therefore, its detection.(1) Its presence, however, is unmistakable. In a longitudinal study of 700 "high conflict" divorce cases followed over 12 years, it was concluded that elements of PAS are present in the vast majority of the samples.(2) Diagnosis of PAS is reserved for mental health professionals who come to the court in the form of expert witnesses. Diagnostic hallmarks usually are couched in clinical terms that remain vague and open to interpretation and, therefore. susceptible to argument pro and con by opposing experts. The phenomenon of one parent turning the child against the other parent is not a complicated concept, but historically it has been difficult to identify clearly. Consequently, cases involving PAS are heavily litigated, filled with accusations and counter accusations, and thus leave the court with an endless search for details that eventually evaporate into nothing other than rank hearsay. It is our experience that the PAS phenomenon leaves a trail that can be identified more effectively by removing the accusation hysteria, and looking ahead in another positive direction.

For the purpose of this article the authors are assuming a fair degree of familiarity with parental alienation syndrome on the part of the reader.(3) There are many good writings on PAS which the reader may wish to consult now or in the future for general information. Our focus here is much more narrow. Specifically, the goal is twofold. First we will describe four very specific criteria that can be used to identify potential PAS. In most instances, these criteria can be identified through the facts of the case, but also can be revealed by deposition or court testimony. Secondly, we wish to introduce the concept of "attempted" PAS; that is when the criteria of PAS are present, but the child is not successfully alienated from the absent parent. This phenomenon is still quite harmful and the fact of children not being alienated should not be viewed as neutral by the court.


Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.

The criteria described below are fairly easy to identify separate and apart from the court file. When there is uncertainty about any of them, these criteria can be used to guide the attorney in the deposing of witnesses as well as in their examination in court.

Criteria I: Access and Contact Blocking

Criteria I involves the active blocking of access or contact between the child and the absent parent. The rationale used to justify it may well take many different forms. One of the most common is that of protection. It may be argued that the absent parent's parental judgment is inferior and, therefore, the child is much worse off from the visit. In extreme cases, this will take the form of allegations of child abuse, quite often sexual abuse. This will be addressed in more detail in Criteria II, but suffice it to say that often this is heard as a reason for visitation to be suspended or even terminated. On a more subtle and common level, an argument heard for the blocking of visitation is that seeing the absent parent is "unsettling" to the child, and that they need time "to adjust." The message here is that the absent parent is treated less like a key family member and more like an annoying acquaintance that the child must see at times. Over time, this pattern can have a seriously erosive effect on the child's relationship with the absent parent. An even more subtle expression of this is that the visitation is "inconvenient," thereby relegating it to the status of an errand or chore. Again the result is the erosion of the relationship between the child and the absent or "target" parent. One phenomenon often seen in this context is that any deviation from the schedule is used as a reason to cancel visitation entirely.

The common thread to all of these tactics is that one parent is superior and the other is not and, therefore, should be peripheral to the child's life. The alienating parent in these circumstances is acting inappropriately as a gatekeeper for the child to see the absent parent. When this occurs for periods of substantial time, the child is given the unspoken but clear message that one parent is senior to the other. Younger children are more vulnerable to this message and tend to take it uncritically; however, one can always detect elements of it echoed even into the teenage years. The important concept here is that each parent is given the responsibility to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. When this principle is violated in the context of blocking access on a consistent basis, one can assume that Criteria I has been, unmistakably identified.

Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations

The second criteria is related to false or unfounded accusations of abuse against the absent parent. The most strident expression of this is the false accusation of sexual abuse.(4) It has been well studied that the incident of false allegations of sexual abuse account for over half of those reported, when the parents are divorcing or are in conflict over some post dissolution issue.(5) This is especially the situation with small children who are more vulnerable to the manipulations implied by such false allegations. When the record shows that even one report of such abuse is ruled as unfounded, the interviewer is well advised to look for other expressions of false accusations.

Other examples of this might be found in allegations of physical abuse that investigators later rule as being unfounded. Interestingly our experience has been that there are fewer false allegations of physical abuse than of other forms of abuse, presumably because physical abuse leaves visible evidence. It is, of course, much easier to falsely accuse someone of something that leaves no physical sign and has no third party witnesses.

A much more common expression of this pattern would be that of what would be termed emotional abuse. When false allegations of emotional abuse are leveled, one often finds that what is present is actually differing parental judgment that is being framed as "abusive" by the absent parent. For example, one parent may let a child stay up later at night than the other parent would, and this scheduling might be termed as being "abusive" or "detrimental" to the child. Or one parent might introduce a new "significant other" to the child before the other parent believes that they should and this might also be called "abusive" to the child. Alternatively one parent might enroll a child in an activity with which the other parent disagrees and this activity is, in actuality, a difference of parental opinion that is now described as being abusive in nature. These examples, as trivial as they seem individually, may be suggestive of a theme of treating parental difference in inappropriately subjective judgmental terms. If this theme is present, all manner of things can be described in ways that convey the message of abuse, either directly or indirectly. When this phenomenon occurs in literally thousands of different ways and times, each of which seems insignificant on its own, the emotional atmosphere that it creates carries a clearly alienating effect on the child.

Obviously, this type of acrimony is very common in dissolution actions but such conflict should not necessarily be mistaken or be taken as illustrative of the PAS syndrome; however, the criteria is clearly present and identifiable when the parent is eager to hurl abuse allegations, rather than being cautious, careful. and even reluctant to do so. This latter stance is more in keeping with the parent's responsibility to encourage and affirmatively support a relationship with the other parent. The responsible parent will only allege abuse after he or she has tried and failed to rationalize why the issue at hand is not abusive. Simply put, the responsible parent will give the other parent the benefit of the doubt when such allegations arise. He or she will, if anything, err on the side of denial, whereas the alienating parent will not miss an opportunity to accuse the other parent. When this theme is present in a clear and consistent way, this criteria for PAS is met.

Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation

The third of the criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative "success." By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past.

Most notably, if a careful evaluation of the pre-separation parental relationship is not made, its omission creates an impression that the troubled or even alienated status that exists since is more or lees an accurate summary of what existed previously. Note that nothing could be further from the truth! An alienated or even partially or intermittently alienated relationship with the nonresidential parent and the children after the separation is more accurately a distortion of the real parental relationship in question. Its follow-through is often overlooked in the hysterical atmosphere that is often present in these cases. A careful practitioner well knows that a close examination is warranted and that it must be conducted with the utmost detail and scrutiny.

If this piece of the puzzle is left out, the consequences can be quite devastating for the survival of this relationship. Also, without this component, the court can be easily swayed into premature closure or fooled into thinking that the turmoil of the separation environment is representative of the true parent-child relationship. Once this ruling is made by the court, it is an exacting challenge to correct its perception.

In a separate but related issue, a word should be said about the use of experts. First, it must be understood that all mental health professionals are not aware of nor know how to treat the PAS phenomenon. In fact, when a mental health professional unfamiliar with PAS is called upon to make a recommendation about custody, access, or related issues, he or she potentially can do more harm than good. For example, if the psychologist fails to investigate the pre-separation relationship of the nonresidential parent and the children, he or she may very easily mistake the current acrimony in that relationship to be representative of it, and recommend that the children should have less visitation with that parent, obviously supporting the undiagnosed PAS that is still in progress. If that expert also fails to evaluate critically the abuse claims or the agenda of the claimant, they may be taken at face value and again potentially support the undiagnosed PAS. If that professional is not also sensitive to the subtleties of access and contact blocking as its motivator, he or she may potentially support it, thereby contributing to the PAS process. When these things occur, the mental health professional expert has actually become part of the PAS, albeit unwittingly. Alarmingly, this happens often. Suffice it to say, if PAS is suspected, the attorney should closely and carefully evaluate the mental health professional's investigation and conclusion. Failure to do so can cause irreparable harm to the case, and, ultimately to the children.

Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children

The fourth criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is admittedly more psychological than the first three. It refers to an obvious fear reaction on the part of the children, of displeasing or disagreeing with the potentially alienating parent in regard to the absent or potential target parent. Simply put, an alienating parent operates by the adage, "My way or the highway." If the children disobey this directive, especially in expressing positive approval of the absent parent, the consequences can be very serious. It is not uncommon for an alienating parent to reject the child(ren), often telling him or her that they should go live with the target parent. When this does occur one often sees that this threat is not carried out, yet it operates more as a message of constant warning. The child, in effect, is put into a position of being the alienating parent's "agent'' and is continually being put through various loyalty tests. The important issue here is that the alienating patent thus forces the child to choose parents. This, of course, is in direct opposition to a child's emotional well being.

In order to fully appreciate this scenario, one must realize that the PAS process operates in a "fear based" environment. It is the installation of fear by the alienating parent to the minor children that is the fuel by which this pattern is driven; this fear taps into what psychoanalysis tell us is the most basic emotion inherent in human nature--the fear of abandonment. Children under these conditions live in a state of chronic upset and threat of reprisal. When the child does dare to defy the alienating parent, they quickly learn that there is a serious price to pay. Consequently, children who live such lives develop an acute sense of vigilance over displeasing the alienating parent. The sensitized observer can see this in visitation plans that suddenly change for no apparent reason. For example, when the appointed time approaches, the child suddenly changes his or her tune and begins to loudly protest a visit that was not previously complained about. It is in these instances that a court, once suspecting PAS must enforce in strict terms the visitation schedule which otherwise would not have occurred or would have been ignored.

The alienating parent can most often be found posturing bewilderment regarding the sudden change in their child's feelings about the visit. In fact, the alienating parent often will appear to be the one supporting visitation. This scenario is a very common one in PAS families. It is standard because it encapsulates and exposes, if only for an instant, the fear-based core of the alienation process. Another way to express this concept would be that whenever the child is given any significant choice in the visitation, he or she is put in the position to act out a loyalty to the alienating parent's wishes by refusing to have the visitation at all with the absent parent. Failure to do so opens the door for that child's being abandoned by the parent with whom the child lives the vast majority of the time. Children, under these circumstances, will simply not opt on their own far a free choice. The court must thus act expeditiously to protect them and employ a host of specific and available remedies.(6)

As a consequence of the foregoing, these children learn to manipulate. Children often play one parent against the other in an effort to gain some advantage. In the case of PAS, the same dynamic operates at more desperate level. No longer manipulating to gain advantage, these children learn to manipulate just to survive. They become expert beyond their years at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. One must, however, remember that these are survival strategies that they were forced to learn in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by the residential parent. Given this understanding, it is perhaps easier to see why children, in an effort to cope with this situation, often find it easier if they begin to internalize the alienating parent's perceptions of the absent parent and begin to echo these feelings. This is one of the most compelling and dramatic effects of PAS, that is, hearing a child vilifying the absent parent and joining the alienating parent in such attacks. If one is not sensitive to the "fear-based" core at the heart of this, it is difficult not to take the child's protests at face value. This, of course, is compounded when the expert is also not sensitive to this powerful fear component, and believes that the child is voicing his or her own inner feelings in endorsing the "no visitation" plan.


All the criteria listed above can be found independent of each other in highly contested dissolutions, but remember that the appearance of some of them does not always constitute PAS. When all four are clearly present, however, add the possibility of real abuse has been reasonably ruled out, the parental alienation process is operative. This does not necessarily mean, however, that it is succeeding in that the children are being successfully alienated from the target parent. The best predictor of successful alienation is directly related to the success of the alienating parent at keeping the children from the target parent. When there are substantial periods in which they do not see the other parent, the children are more likely to be poisoned by the process. Another variable that predicts success is the child's age. Younger children generally are more vulnerable than older ones. Also, another variable is the depth and degree of involvement of the pre-separation parent-child relationship. The longer and more involved that relationship, the less vulnerable will be the children to successful alienation. The final predictor is the parental tenacity of the target parent. A targeted parent often gives up and walks away, thus greatly increasing the chances of successful alienation.

The question remains: What if all four criteria are present, but the children are not successfully alienated? Should this failure at alienation be seen as nullifying the attempt at alienation? The answer to that should be a resounding "No!" It should be, but often it is not. It is very common to read a psychological evaluation or a GAL's report that identified PAS but then notes that since it was not successful, it should not be taken very seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood, which is to promote and encourage a positive and loving relationship with the other parent, and the concept of shared parental responsibility.

It is our feeling that when attempted PAS has been identified, successful or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement.

1 PAS syndrome applies and relates equally to the nonresidential, as well as the residential parent. D.C. Rand, The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome. 15 Am. J. Forensic Psychol. No. 3 (1997).

2 S.S. Clawar and B.V. Rivlin, Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children, A.B.A. (1991).

3 M. Walsh and J.M. Bone. Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Age-Old Custody Problem, 71 Fla. B.J. 93 (June 1997).

4 N. Theonnee and P.G. Tjaden, The Extent, Nature and Validity of Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Visitation Disputes, 12 Child Abuse and Neglect 151-63 (1990).

5 National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services, 2998, Contract 105-85-1702.

6 The appointment of a guardian ad litem, the appointment of an expert to conduct a psychological evaluation of the child and the parents, the employment of make-up or substitute access and contact, or an enlargement of same to the nonresidential parent, and as previously suggested by the authors in their last article, a consideration for entry of a multidirectional order. Walsh and Bone, supra note .3

J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., is a sole practice psychotherapist and certified family law mediator in Maitland. He concentrates in divorce and post-divorce issues involving minor children, and has a special interest in PAS. He has served as on expert witness on these and related topics and has been appointed by the court to make recommendations involving PAS and families.

Michael R. Walsh is a sole practitioner in Orlando. He is a board certified marital and family law lawyer, certified mediator and arbitrator, and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For more than 20 years, he has been a frequent lecturer and author for The Florida Bar.

This column is submitted on behalf of the Family Law Section, Jane L. Estreicher, chair, and Sharon O. Taylor, editor.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Child Protective Services in Montgomery County & all of New York state needs reform

July 20, 6:11 AM
Comment ShareThisRSS Email Print When Child Protective Services in Montgomery County says, "Jump!," you are supposed to respond by asking, "How high?" If you don't, they will try to make your life miserable. I know because I just ended a five year battle with them. I was reported to Child Protective Services three times. The first time the investigator said there was no credible evidence to support a charge of neglect. The second and third times, she said there was, but she was overturned by an administrative law judge at fair hearings held by the Office of Children and Family Services.

Never in my life have I encountered the level of rudeness, deception, abuse of power and outright lying that I experienced in my dealings with Montgomery County Child Protective Services. Nevertheless, people continue to write letters to the editor of this newspaper accusing columnist Carl Strock of exaggerating and being unfair when he exposes Child Protective Services. I can tell you from experience that Carl Strock has yet to sound the bottom of the child protective cesspool, if indeed there is one.

The final insult from Child Protective Services came at the first part of my last hearing which occurred in April of this year. When administrative law judge, Susan Preston, asked each side to turn over the evidence they would be presenting at the hearing, Montgomery County's Senior CPS investigator, Marsha Benjamin, handed over material that was part of my last hearing, material which had been sealed by the state. The distribution of sealed material is, if I understand the law correctly, a Class A misdemeanor.

My lawyer wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services notifying them that the material was from a sealed case. The Department quickly withdrew from the hearing, and we received a letter from the State a few weeks ago notifying us that we had won the hearing.

I've written about Child Protective Services a couple of times in the past few years, and the conclusion that I came to in the past still remains, namely that CPS needs to be overhauled. I'm not alone in that conclusion.

Buried deep in the enormous bowels of the internet, I found a New York state appointed organization, the Citizens Review Panels of Child Protective Services. I was amazed to find that there are three panels that regularly hold hearings about CPS, review CPS agencies and make recommendations to the Office of Children and Family Services. I read several of their annual reports and was pleased to find that many of their recommendations to New York State were in line with mine.

Their recommendations include eliminating anonymous reporting, letting school districts deal with educational neglect, focusing on prevention, and revising civil service requirements for investigators. I highly recommend an article in the 2007 Annual Report which asks, "Is it time to rethink our child protection system?" It essentially argues that in 1979 the Child Protective system was cobbled together in a hurry, changes over the years have made the situation worse, and only systemic reform will make a difference. Much of the article is summarized in the following paragraph.

"Today, Child Protective Services is a system to receive, investigate, and make determinations of reports of suspected child maltreatment. Originally conceived as a way to protect children by helping families to take better care of their children, the system has increasingly failed to achieve that goal. We pour billions of dollars into our child welfare system. And yet the deaths still come; after four decades, the number of deaths of children due to abuse has hardly changed. Indeed, experience has shown that highly-publicized deaths lead to more reports and more removals. Some observers have noted that greater removals, rather than making children safer, leads to more deaths."

The panels state clearly that we don't need anymore band-aid solutions, such as laws named after dead children that make legislators look good but don't answer the fundamental questions which are as follows:

"Are New York’s children and families better off because of contact with Child Protective Services? For far too many, the answer is no. We call for a fundamental review of statute, policy and practice. Can a structure such as CPS really keep children safe? Can families needing help and engagement possibly be served by a punitive, criminal-justice model system? How can we mobilize other institutions to improve the lives of families and reduce maltreatment? And finally, how can we conscientiously separate the good elements of our current system from those that need improvement, and build upon the good?"

It is not just obscure people like me, or columnists like Carl Strock, who are asking these questions. The panels issuing these reports are made up of social workers, lawyers, educators, non-profit child welfare agencies and the like. Each panel is about as close to a blue ribbon panel as you can get.

They are asking the right questions. But is anyone in New York State's Office of Children and Family Services or in the New York state legislature listening?

If you enjoyed reading this article, you may enjoy these:
NYS Comptroller reports CPS non-compliant with laws more than 50% of the time
Child fatalities from abuse and neglect continue to rise in NYS inspite of CPS
What should you do if Child Protective Services knocks on your door?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fundamental legal right often denied parents

Fundamental legal right often denied parents
BY VIVEK SANKARAN • July 5, 2009

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Ronald McBride, a father whose parental rights to his three children were permanently terminated despite the fact that the juvenile court denied him the right to a lawyer throughout the entire case.

The Department of Human Services admitted that the trial court made a mistake. The Michigan Attorney General's Office conceded that the father's statutory and constitutional rights were violated and that reversal was required. National groups, including the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Public Counsel Project, urged the court to correct the injustice. And Justice Maura Corrigan, joined by Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, wrote a powerful dissent providing compelling reasons why the court should hear the case.

All for naught. The court's one-sentence response: "We are not persuaded the questions presented should be reviewed by the court."

With that, the court endorsed the permanent severance of the parent-child relationship -- often characterized as the "civil death penalty" -- without affording the Bay County man the most fundamental of procedural rights: the right to a lawyer.

The McBride outrage was no fluke. But even though the Michigan Juvenile Code and court rules explicitly provide poor parents the right to an attorney in all child protective proceedings, much work remains to be done to implement this right and to ensure that parents receive effective representation.

In 2005, the American Bar Association concluded with respect to parent representation in Michigan that "what was reported to evaluators ... and what was observed in court hearings fall disturbingly short of standards of practice." More recently, Justice Corrigan observed a "disturbing and recent pattern of trial court's failures to appoint counsel and untimely appointments of counsel to represent parents in child protective proceedings."

How lawyers help judges
Justice Corrigan's observations match anecdotal evidence documenting wide variation across the state in the quality of representation provided to parents. Each county sets its own standards for how parents' attorneys are appointed. Compensation rates, training requirements, and the timing of appointments vary widely. The quality of counsel parents receive often depends on the county in which they reside.

(2 of 2)

And quality counsel matters. Without zealous advocates, parents face an uphill battle navigating the child welfare system. Far too many children are needlessly removed from their homes, and frequently parents feel overwhelmed by a complex system governed by an array of interrelated federal and state laws, controlled by sophisticated professionals who are the only ones who know the rules.

Alone, parents lack the tools to tell their stories or challenge governmental overreaching.

The assistance of a zealous advocate not only reassures the parent that he or she is not alone in navigating the child welfare labyrinth, but also improves the quality of decisions that courts make. By challenging unreliable information and producing independent evidence of their clients' strengths and supports, attorneys ensure that courts rely upon only the most accurate and complete information available prior to rendering life-altering decisions.

Additionally, these lawyers expand options available to courts by proposing creative alternatives, such as guardianships or other custody arrangements, intensive in-home services to preserve a child's placement in the home, or extensive visitation between parents and children supervised by family members, friends or neighbors.

Without zealous parent representation, courts lack an important perspective -- that of the parent with whom reunification is sought -- which increases the likelihood that courts will reach an erroneous decision.

In the child's best interest
Not surprisingly, national studies strongly suggest that strong advocacy for parents dramatically improves outcomes for children. Studies from Washington, New York and California demonstrate that strengthening parent representation leads to fewer children being removed from their homes, shorter stays for children in foster care, and fewer terminations of parental rights -- exactly the types of results the system should strive for.

And ensuring that only those children who truly need foster care enter the system would result in significant public cost savings. As evaluators in the State of Washington concluded, "the enhancement of parents' representation has the potential to save increasing millions in state funding on an annualized basis."

Fortunately, child welfare leaders across the state recognize the need to strengthen the quality of parent representation, and important discussions will begin in upcoming months to fix the system.

For the sake of our children, we can only hope those talks bear fruit soon.

VIVEK SANKARAN is a clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In My View: Dad deserves better deal in Illinois law

In My View: Dad deserves better deal in Illinois law

By Staff Report

Jun 19, 2009

Father’s Day focuses our attention on the importance of the role of fathers in children’s lives. As perennial as the traditional Father’s Day gifts, pronouncements on the virtues of fatherhood by elected officials such as Barack Obama are offered to reinforce its value. When tied to proposed legislation, these statements have often included a suggestion that many fathers need to act more responsibly.

Likewise, the current presumptions of Illinois family courts that ensure divorced fathers’ access to their children influence our perceptions of the value of father engagement. Their minimum standards for the parenting roles of separated fathers underwrites the value by which all fathers, married and separated, are measured.

The de facto minimum parenting schedule used by Illinois courts is “every other weekend” with a weekly non-overnight “visit.” This is what most fathers have to contend with. This minimal number of overnights with their children is, according to at least one national child development specialist, a “child-unfriendly” schedule befitting of only “disinterested” fathers.

Illinois judges, family court protocols and many legislators have continued to acquiesce over the past decades to this inadequate standard that can be a barrier to fathers acting more responsibly.

Our courts’ presumed parenting schedule prevails regardless of the father’s close geographic proximity and track record of responsible fathering. It is a cookie-cutter presumption that states, in effect, “fathers need not put their children to bed, help them with their homework, nor help get them ready for school” — the very activities associated with being a responsible father.

The Children’s Rights Council (CRC) of Illinois provided new minimum guidelines to reform judicial protocols at the Illinois Family Law Study Committee in Waukegan on Jan. 26 of this year. The directors of the CRC of Illinois also listened to the testimony of child development and parenting experts, including prominent psychologists Dr. Alan Ravitz of New York University and Dr. William Pinsof at Northwestern University, at the committee’s hearing in downtown Chicago.

The expert testimonies provided to the Illinois Family Law Study Committee offer Illinois’ judges, attorneys and legislators the academic research and examples needed for serious reform. They need only the willpower to create new child-friendly parenting time standards, to demand mandatory parenting agreements, and to adopt other reforms that have met with success in other states.

Along with reforms to court protocols, respected clinicians at the Family Institute at Northwestern University have developed alternative processes that would help redirect vengeful, sociopathic and uncooperative parents away from corrosive litigation which is ill-suited to family dissolutions, and toward constructive co-parenting solutions. Rather than children’s future lives with their parents being steered by overworked legal professionals who often lack the “special training to deal with ... these disputes” (Firestone and Weinstein), processes such as Integrative Family Therapy could provide a system of intermediate-term counseling blended with mediation to help parents “put the kids first.”

The benefits of updating Illinois family court protocols are many. They include decreased transfers of children between separated parents, greater father involvement in their children’s schooling, fewer animosity-generating court battles, greater communication and incentives for parents to cooperate with each other, more father engagement, fewer “Disneyland dads,” improved post-divorce adjustment, fewer outcomes that scar children, less elevating of one parent into a monopolizing role and clearer signals to all parents that children in Illinois need a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Illinois is poised to place fatherhood onto a more solid footing. Adoption into law of recommendations from the Illinois Family Law Study Committee would send a positive signal that promotes fatherhood as a value. But will our legislators go far enough in adopting significant improvements to current Illinois family law? Do they have the political fortitude to revise our statutes so that Illinois family courts become significantly more child-friendly?

All of these reforms and alternatives to judicial processes could be put into law. But like all changes to the status quo, there will be resistance. Concerned citizens will need to advocate that legislators should provide Illinois children of separated parents the opportunity for the responsible fathers they deserve and set a positive example for all families.

Mike Doherty is chairman of the Children’s Rights Council of Illinois ( He can be reached at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Speaking Out

I was born in Windsor Canada and came to the states in the early 70's. My family was the first bi-racial family in Belleville Michigan and we dealt with fighting for our civil rights for many years. In current years, I have been disappointed with the politics which has a lot to do with the family courts today and the buddy system needs to stop for the children's best interest. I have learned the courts can ignore the abuse by one parent's gender. One can have all the proof in the work then the judge can ignore the evidence despite the best interest of the children. The same judge can make the rules but can also admonish you for following those same rules.
It is fair for the court to be run by an opposing attorney? Is the court looking in the best interest of the children or hiding the crimes of one of the parents? When does a judge become a judge in the best of the children and not in the best interest of the criminal and the politics? Judge Nancy C. Francis out of Washtenaw County has done everything she can to keep me separated from my children. Judge Nancy C. Francis has been protecting a mother who has greatly abused and neglected her children, while allowing other individuals to do the same. Judge Nancy C. Francis's sister is State Rep. Alma Wheeler. Politics and the best interest of the children do not mix; instead it has destroyed the future of good children and has tried to break the spirit of a father who wanted to protect his children. I'm Charles Wright and I'm willing to testify before Congress about the corruption in the family court of Washtenaw County by Judge Nancy C. Francis. For Judge Nancy C. Francis to call herself a "civil rights activist" is a slap in the face to every civil rights activist who has lost their lives for our civil rights.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Catholic Social Services Covers Up but Lary Holland responds

Dear Mr. Garvin,

It has come to our attention that Catholic Social Services has been withholding records upon request from non-custodial parents. It is imperative that Catholic Social Services follow the law the Child Custody Act of 1970 and not obstruct legitimate requests from parents to have access to records involving their children, even when that parent is not the "residential parent."

I am supplementing this email with a section from the Child Custody Act of 1970, see MCLA 722.30.

722.30 Access to records or information by noncustodial parent.

Sec. 10.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent shall not be denied access to records or information concerning his or her child because the parent is not the child's custodial parent, unless the parent is prohibited from having access to the records or information by a protective order. As used in this section, “records or information” includes, but is not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, day care provider's records, and notification of meetings regarding the child's education.

If Catholic Social Services is in possession of any medical and similar records, it should provide them to parents upon request, unless there is a protective order in place PREVENTING such disclosure. Certain notes may be of a confidential nature, however those can be properly redacted and if requesting parents are not satisfied can move the court for additional disclosures by your agency.

I am currently soliciting other parents requests associated with Catholic Social Services, and would like to know more about the procedures that are being implemented within your organization.

Lary Holland

Host and Producer of Get Your Justice Live

Every Wednesday and Sunday Night Live at 8PM EST

Visit Children Need Both Parents

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed by three foster children

10:44 AM PDT on Saturday, April 28, 2007


Related Content
Photos, videos confiscated

Blog: 10 Years of Red Flags
SEATTLE - Three young girls just filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Washington State, saying caseworkers didn't work hard enough to get them out of a foster home where they were allegedly raped, fed drugs, and beaten.

Now, for the first time, we're hearing from the 12-year-old girl, Monica, left behind after the state took her foster sisters out of the home.

She's the most vulnerable of the three girls involved in this horrific case.

Monica, the youngest, is developmentally delayed.


Monica is developmentally delayed.
Complaints and warnings about her adoptive father, Enrique Fabregas, span a 10-year period.

But after the older girls got out of his house, it took a year-and-a-half and the Redmond Police Department to get Monica to safety.

Last week, there was a rare reunion for two foster sisters who are now separated after years of alleged abuse in Kirkland and Redmond at the hands of their foster dad, Enrique Fabregas.

They seemed like two normal girls catching up on the latest: clothes, make-up, and Monica's favorite class -- choir.

But these sisters' lives aren't anything close to normal.

Monica was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

She had a drug-addicted mother with a boyfriend - Enrique Fabregas - who worried social workers from the beginning.

As a toddler Child Protective Services recommended Monica be taken from her home, in part, because the boyfriend was a cocaine addict and put Monica in hazardous situations.

The state had evidence, including a videotape of him putting the toddler in dangerous places: a freezer, a washing machine, alongside a busy highway in a cow costume.

David P. Moody, with the law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, represents Monica and her foster sisters.


Estera Tamas
"It's appalling," he said. "It's unbelievable why DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services) then proceeded two years later to license this man to care for young girls."

Despite a criminal history for drugs, theft, and assault and that strange tape, the state gave Fabregas a foster license to care for Monica, by himself when she was four.

"I think it's just disgusting," said Estera Tamas, Monica's former foster sister, who is now 20 years old. "So, no, they should have never given Monica to him."

Fabregas eventually adopted Monica, and took in two more foster girls: teenagers Estera and Ruth Tamas.

Red flags piled up. KING 5 analyzed 10 years worth of complaints, Department of Social and Health Services reports, and letters written to the state and found roughly 60 separate warnings of abuse or neglect.

Teachers reported that they saw Fabregas kissing Monica like a girlfriend at school. Estera reported that Fabregas had raped and fed her drugs since she was 12.

Ruth reported he slapped and hit her.


Ruth Tamas
But DSHS found no evidence that any of it was true.

Estera and the other teen were finally taken away from Fabregas after he refused to take a sexual deviancy test.

His foster license was revoked.

Yet Monica, the foster child he adopted, stayed behind.

"But even then, they forgot about Monica, and allowed Monica to stay with this pedophile, this sexual victimizer for 16 additional months," Moody said.

In that time, more warnings of abuse came into the state through citizen letters and from Monica herself.

"And we weren't there to see if she was OK or not, so God knows what was happening," Estera said.

When asked why the child remained, DSHS issued this statement:

"Monica continued to deny any concerns and denied any abuse in her home."

The statement goes on to say that Mr. Fabregas was interviewed by Kirkland police and claimed that no abuse had taken place. Police believed him.

This is what finally got Monica to safety: Redmond police confiscated hundreds of photos and videos of child pornography, and obscene images of Fabregas posing in women's lingerie, some with guns.

Police identified him having sex with two of his daughters in the evidence.

Monica's been in a loving foster home in Eastern Washington for a year. She says she feels safe there.

"Because I know they're not going to do anything bad or something," she said. "I know it's like OK to live here and I'll be loved and stuff."

She also says she's ready for normal adventures.

"I would like to go places I've never been before like Silverwood, Disney Land, Wild Waves."

She wants to be a kid.

"Yeah, because I wasn't able to be a kid before," she said.

All the girls are working on healing, getting a piece of that childhood back.

"It seems like our lives changed a lot," Estera said to her sister. "I'm glad that you're doing better."

"I'm glad that you're better too," Monica said.

Monica is now in a safe foster home in Eastern Washington.

Enrique Fabregas is in the King County Jail, awaiting trial on charges of sex crimes.

Related Content
Tamas v. State of Washington lawsuit

DSHS Child Abuse Hotline
Complete response to KING 5 from State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services:

This is in response to your question posed to DSHS about the removal of a child from her home following allegations of abuse.

The short answer to your question is that MF was removed from her home by Kirkland Police Department at the request of DSHS and placed in foster care from July 29, 2004 through August 18, 2004 due to allegations that Enrique Fabregas was abusing foster child ET (not MF).

The foster child was removed from the home as well. Only these two youths were iving with Fabregas at that time. To assist with the investigation, Mr. Fabregas agreed that MF would remain in foster care pending law enforcement and DSHS investigations. MF was returned to her home on August 18, 2004.

Kirkland Police and DSHS investigated allegations of child abuse, including conducting interviews of the children and of Mr. Fabregas to determine if the allegations were true (for criminal purposes) and whether MF was at risk of abuse and/or neglect (for child welfare purposes). No allegations of abuse or neglect were made as to MF by anyone and she denied any concerns at home.

Mr. Fabregas was interviewed by Kirkland Police and claimed that no abuse had taken place. Police believed him. No charges were filed and no search warrant for the Fabregas home was executed - criminal proceedings which DSHS could not control. Since no allegations were made or uncovered in these investigations, the legal basis to permanently remove MF (by initiating a dependency action) was not met. In our state, to remove a child from his or her home, there must be sufficient facts to meet this burden:

(a) the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody;

(b) an affidavit is filed by the department setting forth specific factual information showing grounds that the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody. At least one of the grounds must demonstrate a risk of imminent harm to the child.

(c) the court finds reasonable grounds to believe the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody (see full text of RCW following close of this letter).

Absent proof of abuse or neglect, MF was returned home. MF continued to deny any concerns, and denied any abuse in her home. No other information was available to DSHS until 2006 when a referral was received about MF. Police investigated and got a warrant to search the Fabregas home. Child pornography was discovered. MF was removed.

This case demonstrates the rare, but grievous, result of one of the greatest challenges in child welfare: how to provide safe homes for children while balancing the legal requirement of producing evidence that a child has been harmed in the home and should be removed.


Mike Tornquist

Administrator, Division of Licensed Resources

Department of Social and Health Services

Children’s Administration

Full text of RCW 13.34.050

(1)The court may enter an order directing a law enforcement officer, probation counselor, or child protective services official to take a child into custody if: (a) A petition is filed with the juvenile court alleging that the child is dependent and that the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody; (b) an affidavit or declaration is filed by the department in support of the petition setting forth specific factual information evidencing reasonable grounds that the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody and at least one of the grounds set forth demonstrates a risk of imminent harm to the child. "Imminent harm" for purposes of this section shall include, but not be limited to, circumstances of sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation as defined in RCW 26.44.020; and (c) the court finds reasonable grounds to believe the child is dependent and that the child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custody.

(2)Any petition that does not have the necessary affidavit or declaration demonstrating a risk of imminent harm requires that the parents are provided notice and an opportunity to be heard before the order may be entered.

(3)The petition and supporting documentation must be served on the parent, and if the child is in custody at the time the child is removed, on the entity with custody other than the parent. Failure to effect service does not invalidate the petition if service was attempted and the parent could not be found

RCW 26.44.050 states in relevant part “Upon the receipt of a report concerning the possible occurrence of abuse or neglect, the law enforcement agency or the department of social and health services must investigate and provide the protective services section with a report… A law enforcement officer may take, or cause to be taken, a child into custody without a court order if there is probable cause to believe that the child is abused or neglected and that the child would be injured or could not be taken into custody if it were necessary to first obtain a court order pursuant to RCW 13.34.050….”

Former CPS director sentenced to 10 years for child molestation

The Daily World
Saturday, June 6, 2009 1:16 AM PDT

JACOB JONES | THE DAILY WORLD Gary E. Anderson, a former supervisor with Child Protective Services, was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to first-degree child rape and molestation.

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Judge rejects recommendation of 1 year in jail and treatment

Gary E. Anderson leaned into the podium, his head lowered and the blue jail jumpsuit draping off his thin frame.

The 67-year-old former Child Protective Services director told the court he did not understand how he could spend 36 years of his life defending children, including his own, and now stand guilty of raping a 9-year-old girl and molesting another girl of the same age.

“I’ve broken a sacred trust not only with these children, but those who love them,” he said Friday. “I broke their hearts. ... I am sorry for what I’ve done.”

Anderson pleaded guilty to first-degree child rape and first-degree molestation last year for “numerous” times when he touched the two girls inappropriately, according to court records. He admitted his conduct in a plea agreement recommending an alternative sentence of one year in jail as well as sex offender therapy and supervision upon release.

Superior Court Judge Mark McCauley rejected the recommended Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative on Friday, saying Anderson deserved prison despite pleas from the victims’ families to grant treatment.

“I have really struggled with this decision,” the judge said. “There was such a trust. There are multiple victims. His conduct went on for years.”

McCauley sentenced Anderson to a minimum of 10 years to life in prison with annual reviews to determine whether he can ever be released.

Anderson’s eyes dropped to the table. His supporters in the audience wept softly.

“These crimes, from my point of view, are horrific crimes,” McCauley said, noting he had given substantial prison sentences to other offenders who never even touched a child.

The judge said the victims and their families have to live with the consequences of Anderson’s actions for the rest of their lives. He said he is also concerned about any chance Anderson could re-offend, despite his age.

“I just can’t in good conscience grant a (sentencing alternative),” McCauley said.

Court records stated Anderson first acknowledged he had touched the girls inappropriately when confronted by their parents in January of 2008. He was charged with raping one girl and molesting the other.

The state Department of Social & Health Services said he worked for Child Protective Services for 36 years and retired in 2000. He supervised social workers, but rarely interacted with children.

Anderson was arrested in March of 2008 and unanswered questions about other possible victims delayed his sentencing for months.

Deputy prosecutor Katie Svoboda said everyone involved should be better off with the long case finished.

“It took a lot of work,” she said. “This is a hard case and a hard call (by the judge).”

Svoboda had joined the defense in recommending the alternative sentence with therapy, but said a prison sentence was “well-warranted.”

Defense attorney Brett Purtzer called a polygraph examiner and a psychotherapist to the stand Friday to testify about Anderson’s chances of benefiting from treatment.

“If Mr. Anderson is not an individual that qualifies for (the alternative sentence),” Purtzer argued, “then that person does not exist.”

The attorney presented several letters of support for Anderson and one of the victim’s parents asked the court to allow for treatment instead of prison.

Anderson said he had taken full responsibility and wanted the chance to understand why he had done such things. He believed the alternative sentence and treatment would give him that chance.

“This (sentencing alternative) truly is a privilege,” McCauley told him. “There’s no right to go through this treatment.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Know parental rights

It's time to tell of two facts as they relate to the Friend of the Court Citizens Advisory Committees, as defined in the Friend of the Court Act:

1. The CAC is limited to an advisory nature only under MCL 552.504(a)(1).

2. The CAC must review each grievance that alleges gender was used as a determining factor in the custody of the children rather than the best interest of the children per MCL 552.526(5).

Given the two items above, why/how did Ingham County's CAC just spend more than $700 on lobby furniture for the FOC office?

If you believe that you were discriminated against in your children's custody, be sure to review 552.526(5), and use the language from that when filing your grievance to ensure the CAC reviews your grievance.

Also, if you have filed a grievance previously citing gender bias, contact your county clerk and request a copy of the annual report specified in 552.504(a)(1)(d) to ensure that your grievance was included in the annual report to the Legislature.

Robert Kerr

(Title IV of the social security act specifically Title IV-D and Title IV-E are the most counter productive sections)

37.8% of single mothers are divorced, 41% never married, and only 6.5% widows. Brookings Institute, “Assessing the Impact of Welfare Reform on Single Mothers”, Part 2, 3/22/04

“The strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison, is that they were raised by a single parent”. C.C. Harper and S.S. McLanahan, “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration”, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Assoc., San Francisco, CA, 1998

In 1996, 70% of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long sentences, were raised by single mothers. Wade Horn, “Why There Is No Substitute For Parents”, IMPRIMIS 26, NO.6, June, 1997

72% of juvenile murderers, and 60% of rapists came from single mother homes. Chuck Colson, “How Shall We Live?” Tyndale House , 2004, p.323

70% of juvenile delinquents, and 70% of Child murderers, come from single mother homes. Richard E. Redding, “It’s Really About Sex”, Duke Univ. Journal of Gender Law and Policy, Jan.1, 2008

“After controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rates disappeared.” Progressive Policy Institute, 1990, quoted by David Blankenhorn, “Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem,” New York, Harper Perennial, 1996, p.31

71% of all adolescent chemical/substance abusers, 80% of all prison inmates, came from single mother homes.
Bob Ray Sanders, “Hey Y’all, Let’s Fill The Hall (Of Fame), Ft. Worth Star Telegram, Oct.28,2007 Mona Charen, “More Good News Than Bad?”, Washington Times, Mar.16, 2001 (citing Bill Bennett, “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators: American society at the end of the 20th Century., New York, Broadway Books, 1994)

Children brought up in single mother homes are:

9 times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances,
14 times more likely to commit rape,
20 times more likely to end up in prison, Chuck Eddy, “The Daddy Shady Show”, Village Voice, Dec. 31, 2002

"(I)n a recent study by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation. Comparing statistics for its Kids Count report, the organization reported that Detroit ranks No.1 in unmarried births among the nationĂ¢€™s 50 largest cities. Of the 16,729 babies born in Detroit in 1997, 13,574 were black, 1,679 were white and 817 were Hispanic. Seventy-one percent were born to unmarried mothers. This compared with a state average of 33 percent and a 50-city average of 43 percent."

Detroit is the worst offender on our list of America's most dangerous cities, thanks to a staggering rate of 1,220 violent crimes committed per 100,000 "

In 2003, there were 1.5 Million unwed births, and less than 1% were put up for adoption. Fagan and Fitzgerald (above)

Only 4% of college graduates have illegitimate children, and only 16% of college graduates get divorced, compared to 46% of high school dropouts, who marry in smaller numbers to begin with. Dr. David Popenoe, “The Future Of Marriage In America; “The Frayed Knot – Marriage in America”, The Economist, May 26, 2007

50% of single mothers are below the poverty line, their children are 6 times more likely to be in poverty than children with married parents. Chuck Colson, “How Shall We Live”, Tyndale House.

The illegitimacy rate went up more than 300% since 1970. House Ways and Means Committee, Nonmarital Births to Adults and Teenagers and Federal Strategies to Reduce Nonmarital Pregnancies, appendix “M”, 2003