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?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Captives: 1,144 Days & Nights

"Sara" and "Molly's" maternal grandparents, who live in Switzerland, nearly died this year. Almost 90 and heartsick, both were hospitalized and not expected to recover. But they pulled through and came home to care for each other once again.

Sara and Molly are their only grandchildren. The girls' mother took this picture during their last visit with their beloved Nona and Non in 2003. The State of Rhode Island has not allowed the children to visit their maternal grandparents since then.

But astonishingly, DCYF permitted the girls' father to send 8-year-old Molly on a plane alone to visit his mother in France for Christmas--even though his mother did not protect him and his siblings from incest by their father in the 1960s and 70s.

What kind of state agency would do this? What kind of father would send an 8-year-old on such a trip alone instead of letting her spend Christmas with her own mother and sister?

There are many questions that need to be answered in this case. And in other cases, too.

As we observe Memorial Day, remember the children held captive in Rhode Island, who never should have been removed from healthy, protective parents.

When Sara was free to talk, she spoke of being "tortured" by the people assigned to take them from their mother and to "reunify" them with their father.

This Memorial Day marks the girls' 1,144th day and night in state custody.

As we uncover the answers to our questions, we will find out why Rhode Island scored only 25 out of 100--the lowest of all fifty states--for our failure to assure children genuine legal representation. http://www.firststar.org/documents/FIRSTSTARReportCard07.pdf

We will find out what the girls' court-appointed guardian ad litem, Lise Iwon, did or failed to do to protect them and whether she had any conflicts of interest.

We will find out how the State at every level of government failed to protect them.

Maybe we will find out why the State of Rhode Island lost $215,266 in federal funds for not meeting basic standards of child protection and foster care--in a review that monitored only a sample of cases from merely 6 of more than 37 months that Sara and Molly have been held in State custody.

What Rhode Island has done to Sara and Molly will be exposed for many years to come. But the friends and family who sold and mortgaged all they could in a futile attempt to protect these children from Americans are now wondering whether Non and Nona will ever again embrace their granddaughters.

On Memorial Day, we honor those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom. But our patriotism rings hollow if we do not struggle against Americans who abuse their power by suspending the rights and freedoms of others.


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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/

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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: