2006

Rhode Island's Little Hostages

Rhode Island taxpayers have contributed an enormous sum to wage a war that most of us know nothing about. The systems our state established to protect children have instead subjected many to danger and trauma that will profoundly shape the rest of their lives. Who will help to build public awareness and political consensus to protect children from those who prey on them or who profit from their abuse? How should government respond in ways that are transparent and accountable?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sir Peter Hayman, diplomat and child abuser

The British Establishment hid one of their own. Now Members of Parliament demand an inquiry into the covering-up of a VIP child abuse ring protected by the powerful.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Anne Stevenson and Communities Digital News dare to report on courts promoting child sex abuse

A growing number of journalists and publications, like Anne Stevenson at Communities Digital News, are reporting on the proliferation of courts giving custody to parents identified by children as their sex abusers:

ATLANTA, June 26, 2014 — According to court records, throughout 2011-2012, “Jane’s” children (then ages 2 and 7) repeatedly insisted and showed credible evidence to child psychologist Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D and Ann Shannon, LCSW, that that their father made suicidal and homicidal plans with them, that he routinely watched child porn with them and sexually assaulted them during overnight visits.
Read more here:http://www.commdiginews.com/life/georgia-court-may-have-given-sex-predator-custody-of-child-victims-19453/

Anne Stevenson told me: "This was not a case of lack of evidence or a judge in need of a little training who made a blunder. The family court professionals walked away with their pockets well-lined." The evidence she decided not to include is "pretty sickening" and "the most egregious part of this story is that the professionals all went on vacation together at resorts in Florida and may have paid for it with the money they made off the kids who they left in danger" -- much like the cabals we have documented in Rhode Island.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Woody Allen and DCYF have in common: Children Who Remember


Thanks to Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times for publishing an open letter from Dylan Farrow about her famous adoptive father, Woody Allen, and the sexual abuse she remembers from more than two decades ago, when she was 7:


Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) washed their hands of two sisters, "Sara" and "Molly," after taking them from a devoted mother when they were 9 and 5. DCYF held them in foster homes and separated them in a state shelter for more than a year, before giving them to their father -- even though the girls had accused him of kicking their mother down the stairs and playing "sausage games." 

I have seen the huge red erect penis the older child drew years ago. It was unforgettable and too graphic to post. I have posted the younger girl's portrait of their father grinning as he ejaculated. It is hard to imagine how their mother could have brainwashed these images into her daughters as their father's lawyer argued. A cabal of women lawyers and mental health experts earned tens of thousands of dollars in their campaign to take these girls from their mother. The father had money; the mother did not.

It's too bad the case now being heard in federal court against DCYF http://www.providencejournal.com/news/courts/20140201-rhode-island-seeks-dismissal-of-lawsuit-against-department-of-children-youth-and-families.ece could not have included Sara and Molly and the case documents referenced throughout our LittleHostages blog, including http://littlehostages.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-did-lise-iwon-do-it.html  

DCYF worked hard to rid its system of this case and these children. I believe the girls now live in France with their father. I do not know whether they see their mother at all. 

But I know this: they are growing up. "Sara" will turn 18 this year. I hope that she and "Molly," like Dylan Farrow, will know how many of us always believed they were telling the truth. From my interviews, police believed them. I have scores of letters written by neighbors who knew and believed them. The relatives of their child care provider believed them. Some staff at DCYF believed them, but feared for their jobs. 

We will keep confronting the system that failed Sara, Molly, and countless children as well as the parents who tried to protect them. 






Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Similarities between the Roman Catholic Church and Family Court


Father Lawrence Murphy, a predator priest, groomed children for sex at a Roman Catholic school for the deaf in Milwaukee. After five of those boys came to grips with this in adulthood, they started a movement that forced the church to release documents that showed how top Vatican officials had covered up for priests who targeted children. Some monsignors minimized sexual aggression as normal behavior in all-male enclaves.

The Church upheld omertà, a code of silence. Ironically, pedophile priests groomed and assaulted deaf children around the world precisely because their victims could not speak. And yet, the eloquence of these five men telling their stories in vivid sign language launched a resounding battle that helped force Pope Benedict to resign this year, the first Pope to do so in 600 years.

I watched the powerful HBO documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God while I was writing “Gift of the Mommies, A True Story” that shows the generational fallout from a pedophile priest. Suddenly the connection between the two provided another insight to what is happening to children abused in family court.

For more than two decades, I have followed custody cases in Rhode Island, the most Roman Catholic state in the nation. I’ve wondered what kind of culture could have given rise to obvious abuses of power. Why did judges, like clergy, often fail to accept the simple truth spoken by children protesting abuse?

I saw how the judiciary resembles the Church, with its all-powerful, black-robed judges, using inscrutable Latin words and assuming divine authority, “So help you God!” while people sit silently in pews awaiting judgments that seal their fate and their children’s.

The case of “Molly and Sara” described in this blog had a different twist. The girls’ father and his brothers had grown up in a sexually aggressive culture. The boys’ own father abused them with impunity and later went to prison for molesting two mentally disabled children who were his psychotherapy patients.

Molly and Sara’s father hated the Church and said it was “dumb” – an ironic term when contemplating “silence in the House of God.” Molly had pleaded with him to let their mother take her and Sara to church on Christmas Eve.

After Molly disclosed sexual abuse, police removed their father from the house while the state investigated and lodged a finding against him. Once he was out of the house, the children and their mother eagerly went to church, where they met a remarkable group of townsfolk who supported them for years afterward: writing letters, holding meetings, raising money for a lawyer, pacing the marble corridor outside the courtroom as they prayed the rosary, while the father fought and won sole custody of the girls. The court-appointed guardian ad litem, Lise Iwon, who was close friends with the father’s defense attorney, had orchestrated the children’s removal from their mother. Iwon also hated the Church.

The family’s church friends contacted the Parenting Project and asked us to investigate this case. One of the important lessons we learned is that we cannot judge others on their creeds or their credentials, but only on the integrity of their character.

You can see:
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God  

“Gift of the Mommies, A True Story”

Lise Iwon’s role in Molly and Sara’s case:
http://littlehostages.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-did-lise-iwon-do-it.html




Monday, May 27, 2013

Even in France, "Sara" and "Molly" remember that today is their Mami's birthday

The shocking failure of Rhode Island's Attorney General, DCYF, and Family Court to believe "Sara" and "Molly" when they reported their father's sexual abuse and domestic violence, makes it all the more important to join EVAWI and the Start By Believing campaign.

http://www.evawintl.org/Default.aspx

http://www.startbybelieving.org

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lise Iwon could help to right a great wrong


Seven years ago, Lise Iwon was the guardian ad litem who oversaw the removal of "Molly," then age 5, and "Sara," age 9, from their lifelong home. She did it through a marathon search to hire mental health experts who maligned the children's mother, accusing her of neglect, though other experts found her fine and fully attentive to her children's needs. Scores of neighbors and teachers wrote letters attesting to the close and healthy bond between mother and daughters. 


The girls' graphic allegations of abuse by their father, whose defense lawyer was Iwon's friend, led to a long and protracted legal case, described in posts below and elsewhere. 


"Molly's" drawing of her father's "sausage games"

Eventually their mother ran out of money and could not pay the many thousands of dollars that Iwon and others demanded.  



For Iwon to use government this way to separate children from an excellent parent is cruel and ironic, for she knows that government bias does enormous harm to loving homes and relationships. She and I are both committed to winning marriage equality for same-sex couples, whose children need the stability that legal marriage can provide. 


Iwon recently testified at the State House about her late partner's encouragement for her to take pro bono cases at their law office. Perhaps she will recognize the suffering this case has inflicted and will devote herself to pro bono work challenging Family Court's abuse of psychotherapy in custody litigation.  


APRA Request 

The Parenting Project filed a request under Rhode Island's Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and found that Family Court has no written policies and procedures regulating the work of independent mental health experts who advise judges in custody cases. 

Specifically, we asked:


1. What are the qualifications for mental health experts who serve in Family Court?

2. What training, if any, is required in the areas of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, trauma, dissociation, personality disorders, and addiction?

3. What psychological tests are experts permitted to use?
            3a. How is the relevance of these tests established?
            3b. How is the reliability of these tests established?

4. What forms of treatment are permitted by court-ordered experts?
            4a. How is the efficacy of this treatment established?
            4b. How is this treatment monitored
            4c. How is this treatment evaluated

5. What professional supervision does the Family Court require for professionals serving in these capacities?

6. What is the relationship of court-ordered experts to private therapists?
            6a. Are they required to consult with a subject's private therapist? 
            6b. Are they permitted to displace a subject's private therapist? 

7. Does the Family Court set limits on 
            7a. the fees these experts may charge?
            7b. the duration of their services?
            7c. the number of experts the court may impose on each subject?

8. How are these reports submitted to the court?
            8a. What format is specified for these reports? 
            8b. How are reports disclosed to the subjects or to their parents? 

9. What is the Court's process for monitoring and evaluating experts?
            9a. Who at Family Court is responsible for doing this?
            9b. How is feedback secured from subjects and parents?

10. What process has the Family Court established for subjects or outside professionals to file complaints regarding the performance of experts? 


APRA Response

In response to Questions 1 and 2, above, the Court provided a one-page Vacancy Notice from 2012 (Reference Position Number 2729-10000-#0444, "Pending Availability of Funds") for: 
an Assistant Intake Supervisor who performs screening, evaluation and assessments for juveniles as part of the Family Court's Juvenile Mental Health Clinic.
 In response to Questions 3, 5, and 8, the Court replied: 
the Family Court is currently in the process of updating its Policy and Procedure Manual for the Juvenile Mental Health Clinic which may contain information responsive to this request. 
In response to Questions 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10, the Court replied: 
There are no documents responsive to this request. 

The first two responses apply only to the Court's Juvenile Clinic, and not to independent experts hired by litigants.  

Thus Family Court has no written policies and procedures regulating the work of independent mental health experts hired to advise judges in custody cases. 

This raises significant questions about the liability of the handful of mental health practitioners who report to the Court without adhering to their own profession's ethical standards. 


It also calls into question the practice of medical insurers that reimburse these expenses without requiring proper adherence to medical standards. The Court's abuse of psychotherapy for assessments of questionable value reduces the number of sessions available to insurance clients for genuine therapeutic services. 

When I met with representatives of Rhode Island Blue Cross / Blue Shield in 2010, they assured me that they did not reimburse court-ordered sessions that were not in fact therapeutic. The evidence suggests otherwise. When the insurance company fails to examine conditions under which their clients are being "treated" for court purposes, this lack of oversight subjects their clients to psychological harassment and harm. 


Lise Iwon cannot give back the lives taken from these girls and their mother. I am not in touch with them, but a friend of their family told me the girls remained in state custody from April 7, 2006, for well over a year, until DCYF gave the younger girl to their father. Some time later, DCYF gave the older girl to him as well. Family Court allowed him to move out of the country with them. This picture was taken six years ago during a supervised visit with their mother while the girls were still in state custody.
















Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Government Agencies Perpetuate the Incest Problem

The Atlantic has published an important article, "America Has an Incest Problem," by Mia Fontaine: 
Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC's Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann's faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech. 
Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover. 
Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.*

In Rhode Island, the Parenting Project has been researching the systemic ways in which DCYF and Family Court allow and sometimes encourage this abuse to continue by refusing to believe children who protest sex abuse in the home and even giving these children to the sole custody of parents who have been indicated as perpetrators. 

We are focusing specifically on the ways defense lawyers, guardians ad litem, and judges have enabled a small pool of clinicians to produce biased "evaluations" that vilify good parents and assign custody to parents who litigate aggressively, some of whom have been indicated as abusers. This occurred in the case of "Molly" and "Sara" at http://LittleHostages.blogspot.com, where significant evidence was never considered, including the sisters' graphic drawings of erect and ejaculating penises, scores of letters from neighbors, teachers and others attesting to the mother's excellent parenting, and official reports riddled with bias. 

These are some of the areas that we are investigating in Rhode Island's practice of assigning unqualified clinicians to evaluate child custody cases (whether or not there are allegations of child sex abuse) and the methods these clinicians employ: 
1. What are the clinical presenting symptoms and how are these documented?
2. What is the diagnosis and the science behind that diagnosis?
3. What is the prescribed treatment and the science behind that treatment?
4. Who have been primary providers apart from the court's involvement? Have court-ordered clinicians consulted with them?
5. Do court-ordered clinicians have relevant training in trauma, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, etc.?
6. How is the court-ordered treatment paid for, and does this deplete insurance coverage for more appropriate treatment by primary providers?
7. What new symptoms appear during and after court-ordered treatment and how are these documented?
8. What kinds of coercion and penalties have been imposed related to the involvement of court-ordered clinicians? 
Those who wish to share relevant information may write confidentially to the Parenting Project coordinator, Anne Grant, at parenting project@ verizon.net  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

16 year old uses the EAA to demand justice against his father

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release Contact Kathleen Russell: 415-388-9600 
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 kr@centerforjudicialexcellence.org

TEEN MAKES VIDEO PLEA TO D.A. URGING PROSECUTION OF HIS ABUSER
Damon Asks for Protective Order for his 16th Birthday

Monterey, CA Damon, a boy in hiding, has made a video requesting the Monterey County D.A. prosecute his sexually abusive father and grant him a Protective Order for his 16th birthday, so he will finally be safe and can return home. His video can be viewed at: Safe Kids International.

"It's been 10 years since I first reported that my father was sexually abusing me and the family court is still making me go back with him," said Damon, a victim of sexual abuse who is currently living in hiding to escape the abuse. "I'm using social media to spread the word and let everyone know what's happening. I'm hoping Monterey County DA, Dean Flippo, will give me a protective order for my birthday so that I'm able to go back to my home. I really miss my family and friends." 

Although Damon is from San Diego, he asserts that the San Diego District Attorney and Family Court judges have failed to do a proper investigation, have swept his abuse under the rug, and forced him to live with his father. Damon says that the court and his father have threatened to send him to a lock-down behavioral modification center to be coerced into recanting the abuse. So Damon ran away and went into hiding a year ago to protect himself. That is why, although Damon is from San Diego, he wants the case to be heard in Monterey County, where the abuse first occurred at his grandmother’s house.

Along with social media, Damon has used a novel idea, the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA). Born out of the Drew and Stacey Peterson case (currently at trial), the EAA was created by violence expert Susan Murphy Milano to insure that the victim’s accounts of assaults would not disappear if she did. It combines videotaping of the victim’s words attesting to the abuse coupled with creative witnessed and notarized legal documents that successfully satisfy legal hurdles often faced in these cases. Damon says he wants his EAA to be used in case he is sent to a lock-down facility, disappears, or is murdered. The EAA is a newly released iPad app making it easy for other teens in Damon’s situation to use. 

Former FBI director, Louis Freeh, when describing the Penn State cover up, said, “I want to remind everyone here, and those watching this press conference, of the need to report child sexual abuse to the authorities.” Damon has asked the public in his video to report his abuse to the D.A.

Barry Nolan of the Boston Daily wrote, “In the Wake of Jerry Sandusky”, in which he observes that one of the recurring themes of the victims’ testimony was “Who would believe a kid?” He uses Damon’s case as an example of how sexual abuse reports are not taken seriously or investigated properly in family courts. Nolan says, “If enough of them come forward and enough of us start to listen, maybe one day one day when the question is asked — who would believe a kid? — the answer will be different.” Damon is hoping the answer will be different for him. 

District Attorney Dean Flippo: Office: (831) 755-5070 Email: flippodd@co.monterey.ca.us 
Richard Ducote, Consulting Attorney: Office: (412) 687-2020 Email: info@ducotelaw.com
Damon’s videos to the public and EAA: Safe Kids International

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is Truth and Reconciliation possible for DCYF?

Sunday, May 27th, was the 55th birthday of "Molly" and "Sarah's" beloved Mami (which is the Swiss-German way of spelling Mommy). One day I hope to find out where she has gone and what she is doing, now that Rhode Island has torn away her daughters. 


When the girls refused to visit their father, he blamed his wife. She had never wanted a divorce until the girls said how much they feared him. Now that DCYF has given the girls to him in another state -- and washed their hands of it -- I wonder if he allows the children to see their mother at all. Or has she returned to Switzerland to make the "torture" (her children's word for it) less painful for them? 


In my years of working with battered women, I have seen many good mothers lose children to abusive ex-spouses. Some mothers went on to accomplish important things--though that was no substitute for raising their own children. Two such stories are told in these books by Dr. Jerri Nielsen at the South Pole: 
and by the Peacekeeping Whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac: 




Someday we will learn Mami's story as well. 


Today's Providence Journal has this to say (click once to enlarge): 




If the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) is willing to evaluate its own performance in the case of Molly and Sara -- and many other children -- the state must provide a way for us to question this agency with the evidence of abuse by its own staff. We need a genuine process of Truth and Reconciliation to evaluate the way DCYF has abused its power in the past if we are to trust it with such an important job as protecting vulnerable children. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Healing is a process for survivors of incest


To visit Donna Jenson's website, "What She Knows," and to hear counselors at the Stetson School for Boys tell of the importance of helping children talk about incest, click on the title above, or paste this link in your browser: http://www.timetotell.org/Time_To_Tell.org/Film_Clips.html

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dr. DeFrances to speak at COA Conference


"Molly" and "Sara's" supporters, who convened a community-wide meeting in 2006, wrote scores of letters, and met with the Child Advocate to protest DCYF's handling of this case, never succeeded in bringing the girls back home.

But that case prompted the Parenting Project to meet with DCYF and work with legislators to require the Department to get accredited with the Council on Accreditation (COA). We are delighted to learn that DCYF's director, Dr. Janice DeFrances, will speak at COA's National Conference in August.

COA's mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

For more about COA, go to their website at
www.COAnet.org

Free training webinars are available at
http://coanet.org/training.html

To read the announcement about Dr. DeFrances, click on the title above, or paste this in your browser:

http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/364877/dbdf2b33e4/1471595639/a75e87bcfa/

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who is Norbara Octeau?

Norbara Octeau and her mother celebrate Summer Solstice in 2013, nine years after her 2004 decision as administrative hearing officer for DCYF set the stage for Molly and Sara to be taken from their mother into state custody in 2006, kept in foster homes and a state shelter, and eventually turned over to their father's sole custody, despite the girls' graphic drawings and protests against his "sausage games." 


DCYF headquarters at Friendship Street, Providence.
Attorney Norbara Octeau works for the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) on contract and hears administrative appeals against that Department. Her 21-page "Decision" (AH/04-55, December 20, 2004) found that "there is not a preponderance of evidence to support the finding of sexual molestation" against "Molly's" father.

Octeau said that she based her decision primarily on evidence presented by Molly's father:
1. printouts of three e-mails and a letter he had written in February 2004;
2. the affidavit of a private investigator he had hired to interview his associates;
3. his testimony; and
4. testimony of DCYF's child protective investigator (CPI) Ann Murphy.

Since the father was the "Petitioner" in this appeal against DCYF, the mother was not considered a party. She and her attorney did not even know of the administrative hearing held on October 12, 2004. Octeau had never seen the woman she vilified in her Decision.

The father and his defense attorney, Lise Gescheidt, attended the hearing, but only one person appears to have represented DCYF:
Child Protective Investigator (CPI) Ann Murphy appeared on behalf of the Department; investigative report #375756 was prepared by CPI Murphy, and references by her in giving testimony at this hearing, but was not offered by the Department as an exhibit. . . . No exhibits were presented by the Department. (Decision, pp. 2-3)

Why did DCYF have no lawyer representing it? And why did DCYF accept Molly's father's emails, letter, and private investigator's report "as full exhibits without objection"--the only exhibits introduced at the hearing?

At this time, DCYF's chief legal counsel, Kevin Aucoin, was responsible to "Enhance communication and problem solving initiatives between the Family Court and DCYF" according to DCYF's "Child and Family Service Plan" (November 2005, p. 52). Parents who turn to DCYF and Family Court to protect their children from abuse complain especially about the role of DCYF's legal department.


(Click on photos to enlarge; click "escape" to return to text.)

Norbara Octeau claimed that this hearing "was held in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, R.I.G.L. 42-35-1 Et. Seq. and the Rules and Regulations of the Department for Children Youth and Families" (sic) (Decision, p. 2).

With no one to object, Octeau's Decision set forth fifteen pages of errors, hearsay, and speculation as "Facts" that gained a life of their own. For example, Octeau describes the hotline call that opened the investigation "on or about January 2, 2004" (apparently by a nurse practitioner--though Octeau leaves the caller's identity unclear):
The hotline caller disclosed that the child had been brought to her pediatrician by her mother. . . and while there, the mother had told a nurse practitioner that [her daughter] relayed accounts that the Petitioner came into the child's room at night and exposed himself. (Decision, p. 3)

When I interviewed the mother in 2006, she said she had never reported this to the nurse practitioner or anyone else. The child was always consistent that her father played his "sausage games" during the day when they were home alone, her mother at work and her sister at school, and that these experiences were very upsetting to the child and sometimes physically painful.

So it was irrelevant that the father "denied ever having entered his daughter's room at night to masturbate" or that he "explained that the girls share a very small bedroom and that it would have been impossible for him to have encountered [her] while she was asleep while not also waking his older daughter" (Decision, p. 11).

Octeau's Decision includes warning signs that should have alerted any hearing officer with minimal training in sexual molestation. The father acknowledges to CPI Murphy that he "had been sexually abused by his own father in his native country of Switzerland, and the Petitioner's father had been incarcerated as a result" (p. 3).

(This, too, is inaccurate. The father acknowledged that he and his brothers had been sexually abused by their father. But their father went to prison for abusing disabled boys who were his psychotherapy patients--not for abusing his sons--which apparently remained a family secret. Their father's prison sentence was reported on June 18, 1981.)


In another warning sign that Octeau ignored, CPI Murphy says:
. . . the child had described events with her father using phrases such as "we took a bath together and washed each other all up", "I was in my room playing and Papa came in naked and played with his sausage", "I told him that is not a toy, stop it" and "juice came out of the sausage". [The child] also told the investigator that [she] had complained that "Papa hurt her back and belly and she yelled for her Mom". (p. 4)

Octeau wrote that Murphy "described the child's mimicking of the masturbation act as not something she could have performed unless she had actually witnessed it" (p. 10).

Octeau wrote that the father said he and his daughter "did take a bath together because he wanted to be close to his young daughter" (p. 5, italics added). And that, on the advice of his brother, a lawyer specializing in child sexual abuse, he introduced the concept of "Parental Alienation Syndrome [that] could have accounted for his daughter's disclosure" (p. 14, italics added).

Molly's father had, at first, suggested that either his brother or their father might have molested Molly. The brother, a survivor, and now, a defense lawyer for those accused of sexually abusing children, came to the U.S. to defend his brother. Together they suggested that their father might have molested Molly. Their next line of defense was to blame Molly's mother.

Four years earlier, in 2003, the brother had given Molly's father this article describing the theory of "parental alienation" that blames mothers for coaching their children to accuse fathers of sexual abuse:


Octeau recognizes the Petitioner is on a campaign to find information in his defense on the Internet. She writes that the two brothers' arguments did not persuade the DCYF investigator, the police, or the pediatrician. But she finds them credible.


She focuses on hearsay and speculation that Molly's father presented about his wife and the journals she kept for her children--which the police had examined but did not consider significant.

Nevertheless, without ever seeing the journals herself, Octeau writes:
The journals were apparently a record of information meticulously gathered by the mother about the alleged abuse during the time frame of the investigation. (p. 19, italics added)

The mother had kept journals for each daughter from birth--not to record abuse, but to remind them of good memories.


Instead of insisting on seeing those journals and questioning the wife directly, which Octeau could have done, the hearing officer merely overturned the investigator's finding and made her own remarkable "finding:"
This Hearing Officer finds [the mother's] behavior and conduct . . . to be highly unorthodox and rather suspicious given the marital discontent existing at the time. This maternal behavior casts a shadow over the reliability of the child's statements and, therefore, closer scrutiny of the circumstances surrounding the child's disclosure should have been pursued. (p. 20)


Octeau's Decision offers information that appears ironic in light of the ongoing strategy to vilify Molly's mother. For example, Octeau writes: "CPI Murphy further noted that this multilingual child was hard to converse with because during speech she continually mixed together various languages" (p. 5).

It is easy to comprehend that a traumatized child without even the terminology to describe upsetting sexual behavior would struggle for words. But this, too, became a basis for DCYF staff later to punish Molly's mother whenever she responded to her children in Swiss-German. By then, the entire Department had fallen into line behind Norbara Octeau and seemed to accept the father's defense strategy that his wife used Swiss-German to "coach" the girls against him.



Who is Norbara Octeau? I kept googling her name. In April 2007, I found her online article, "Are the Rhode Island Family Courts against Fathers?"--apparently published to attract fathers to hire her as their divorce attorney .


With not even a pretense of judicial restraint, Octeau sarcastically mocks the “pedestal of holy motherhood.” In another article, she writes that mothers’ “traditional roles . . . elevate their argument to a pedestal which still elicits a knee-jerk reaction to the hallowed image of mother and child.”


I sent a copy of her article with a letter to DCYF director Patricia Martinez on April 20, 2007. Nearly five months later, Director Martinez responded. She ignored the question of Octeau's clear bias, offered no evidence of special training, and defended the hearing officer as “a seasoned attorney” who has conducted more than one hundred administrative hearings for the Department.

According to online state payroll records, attorney Norbara Octeau still works as a hearing officer for DCYF. (The average amount paid to 34 DCYF contractors on December 12th, 2011, was $1,387, but Norbara Octeau received $15,437, by far the largest check of all.)

In 2007, Kevin Aucoin responded to the Parenting Project's Access to Public Records request:



DCYF Administrative Hearing Officer Stephen Morris has not sent any further data from his review of the administrative hearing files. The numbers Aucoin provided do not include findings that were expunged from their records after three years. This rule allowed "Molly's" father to win custody of her in 2007.

Reporting on this, the Parenting Project noted that DCYF:
1. fails to track cases of credible sexual molestation;
2. fails to assure that its hearing officers perform their duties in an objective and neutral manner;
3. uses a nationally discredited, unscientific “theory” called “parental alienation syndrome” (PAS) to overturn credible charges of molestation; and
4. works as a team with privately paid contractors (lawyers, assisted by clinicians) who rely on secrecy, delay, and misinformation to win family court custody cases for their clients in ways that harm children.

The Parenting Project's 2007 "Press Advisory" is posted online here:
http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/therapeutic-jurisprudence-in-Rhode-Island.pdf
(Paste this in your browser.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

WPRI shows how sex offenders win on appeal

Tim White's story at WPRI reveals the way convicted sex offenders are succeeding in getting Special Magistrate Patrick Burke to reduce their status as sex offenders without ever hearing from the victims of their crimes.

This is exactly what happened in the administrative review process at the Department of Children, Youth and Families when DCYF hearing officer Norbara Octeau overturned the finding against "Molly" and "Sara's" father. (An outline of that case appears at the January 12, 2012, post below, "Eight years ago," with detailed information in prior posts.)

Tim White's story is here (click on the title above, or paste this in your browser):
http://www.wpri.com/dpp/target_12/target-12-sex-offenders-winning-on-appeal

I will post additional documents regarding Norbara Octeau and the bias she revealed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cost to Orange County, CA, of lying social workers: $10.6 Million


The total cost to Orange County of a case in which a jury found that two social workers lied to take away a woman’s daughters is $10.6 million, according to a new audit.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year declined to hear the county’s challenge to a 2007 jury award of $4.9 million to the Seal Beach woman, Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick. With interest on that amount plus her attorney fees, the total payout by the county was $9.6 million. In addition, the county incurred another $1 million of its own legal costs in the case.


Photo of Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick

For more on the County's response to this award, go to
http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/01/19/cost-to-county-of-lying-social-workers-10-6-mln/146871/

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eight years ago

Late in 2003, three-year-old "Molly" angrily complained about her father's "sausage games." What the State of Rhode Island did to Molly and her older sister "Sara" in the years that followed outraged their neighbors, who convened a community meeting and asked the Parenting Project to investigate. By 2009, we set a goal that finally began coming to fruition this week, when Governor Lincoln Chafee's new director of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Janice DeFrances, confirmed that DCYF is beginning an assessment as its first step toward getting accredited.

In 2004, DCYF's frontline staff properly helped Molly and Sara by referring them to counselors at Day One.

When DCYF indicated their father for sexual molestation, his defense attorney appealed. The father first blamed his own father, a psychiatrist and convicted pedophile who had sexually abused his own children. But Molly insisted the offender was her father.

Next, he blamed his wife for "alienating" the girls against him--which did not explain how Molly could re-enact male masturbation and draw a graphic portrait of her father.

A year after Molly's complaint, DCYF's legal department flipped the case at an administrative hearing where the father was the plaintiff, and DCYF was the defendant. Since the girls' mother was not a party to this proceeding, DCYF never informed her of it. She was not present when DCYF's administrative hearing officer ruled that the father was credible, while the mother (whom the officer had neither met nor questioned) was not.

She ruled that the mother's alleged demeanor made Molly's complaint unbelievable. (Over a year later, the hearing officer revealed her own strongly worded bias against mothers on the Internet, where she was seeking men as divorce clients.)

The father's defense attorney's friend became guardian ad litem, who orchestrated the case at Family Court, searching for clinicians who would blame the mother in order to remove the girls from her and their lifelong home in 2006. DCYF sent the girls to a foster mother who told them their mother had mental problems, which was completely untrue.

Distraught there, the girls went to their next foster home and then to a state shelter in another city at enormous expense to tax payers.

The father's defense team needed time--three years until his indication for sexual molestation could be expunged. Finally the Court turned the girls over to their father in another state and limited all contact with their mother.

The DCYF legal department's fear of lawsuits has led the agency to fail many other children. Family Court gives enormous authority to guardians ad litem who have close ties to defense attorneys and judges. The Court's confidence in unreliable psychiatric "evaluations" and its use of gag orders to intimidate protective parents has vastly increased the damage, so that the truth is rarely found within this costly system.

As DCYF begins its process toward accreditation, the General Assembly and Family Court are grappling with entrenched problems throughout Rhode Island's child-protective system.

For more about this, paste this link in your browser:
http://custodyscam.blogspot.com/2012/01/praising-architects-of-change.html

While we honor the leaders who are working on these issues, we also must praise the three-year-old who would not be quiet about the behavior that made her feel so angry and frightened.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rhode Island needs the Attorney General’s Child Abuse Unit

"Molly" and "Sara" were harmed by Family Court, DCYF, and Hasbro Hospital's Child Protection Program, as well as their father, his legal team, and the court's clinicians. The sisters needed the kind of protection promised by the Attorney General's Child Abuse Unit.

Click on the title above or paste this in your browser:

http://custodyscam.blogspot.com/2011/12/rhode-island-needs-attorney-generals.html

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mami!


Today is the 54th birthday of "Molly" and "Sarah's" beloved Mami (which is pronounced the same as Mommy). Although I am not in touch with her, I hope this blog will assure their mother that we will never forget or stop writing about what this country and state did to her and her children.

Today, I want to show a page from the picture book Spontaneous! that includes an entry from Mami's journal and photos of the cakes she made to celebrate her daughters' birthdays. (You can enlarge the page by clicking once on it.)


Lise Iwon has been for many years a close friend of Lise Gescheidt, who was hired by the girls' father to be his criminal defense lawyer--if only Attorney General Patrick Lynch had been doing his job when three-year-old Molly angrily protested her father's "sausage games" in 2003.

The two lawyer friends had no qualms about Iwon serving as Guardian ad litem (GAL) on the case, gouging the boundaries of a role that is supposed to remain neutral. Iwon made direct contact with numerous clinicians and many others, including the Child Advocate. Iwon made no secret of her valued role on the father's defense "team." (Iwon is now president of the Rhode Island Bar Association, and Gescheidt chairs the Rhode Island Supreme Court's Ethics Advisory Panel.)

At one point, Iwon and other women lawyers publicly honored Judge Haiganush Bedrosian with an award as a "role model for women," knowing that she was expected to take over this case if Judge John Mutter recused. (Judge Bedrosian is now Chief Judge of Family Court.)

Iwon oversaw the girls' removal from their mother, home and schools more than five years ago. They were forced to live in foster care and a state shelter and forbidden to communicate with their mother.

I do not know where their mother is today, but I know she is profoundly bereaved. I want to honor her on her birthday by telling her daughters what she often told me before Judge Mutter imposed a gag order on her over three years ago.

She said how amazed she was to hear people complain about their children, because her children were always her greatest joy, and they never gave her any problem at all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Five years ago today

On April 7, 2006, Lise Iwon succeeded in removing "Molly" and "Sara" from their mother and life-long home.

The following year, Family Court Judge John Mutter imposed a gag order, threatening further harm to the children if their mother spoke about them or mentioned anything about this custody case-- including its criminal aspects. Consequently, their mother is unable to communicate with me, and I do not know if she and the children are even able to have court-ordered visits.

To date, no one in law enforcement or in the legal community has held anyone accountable for what was done to these children.

Here are two articles that tell part of the history of how that happened:

www.opednews.com/articles/How-lawyers-manipulate-doc-by-Anne-Grant-110327-242.html

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Dr-Gardner-s-ghost-still-by-Anne-Grant-101219-843.html



More is written about the case in this blog and elsewhere.

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About the Author & Purpose

Parenting Project is a volunteer community service provided since 1996 by Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Providence, RI, to focus on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases. The coordinator, Anne Grant, is a retired United Methodist minister and former executive director of Rhode Island's largest shelter and service agency for battered women and their children. We research and write about official actions that endanger children and the parents who are trying to protect them. Our goal is to reform this area of government and to establish an effective, transparent and accountable child protective system.

We first reported on this case at http://custodyscam.blogspot.com/

To read the blog more easily, please reduce the width of your column. Some of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking once on them.

Comments and corrections may be sent in an email with no attachments to parenting project @ verizon.net

About "Parental Alienation"

If you are not familiar with Richard Gardner's theory of "parental alienation" and how it is being used in custody courts, scroll down to the earliest posting, "Junk Science in Custody Courts." For more scholarly research, visit  http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/1.html

For more on the scandal in custody courts, see:
http://www.centerforjudicialexcellence.org/PhotoExhibit.htm