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, June 11, 2016

Author, ex-prosecutor, urges New York to stop protecting abusers

There is no class of people more vulnerable to sexual predators than children. In the overwhelming number of cases, the perpetrators are people who have betrayed the trust of children in their care — relatives, foster families, educators, coaches, clergy and health care professionals — who are far more likely to commit the traumatizing acts than strangers our children are brought up to fear.
The greatest damage has been done to child victims whose voices have long been silenced — first, by their abusers, and then by the senseless laws that have placed arbitrary limits on the time they have to seek justice. We cannot save many who have come before this, but we can change the outlook, the possibility of justice — both in criminal and civil court — for the thousands more who have suffered at the hands of predators and those whom we know will come next. The time to pass the Child Victims Act is now.
There is no reasonable opposition to this argument. What is it opponents fear? Some have raised the concern of false reporting, but the statistics are abundantly clear that this problem represents a small fractional proportion — less than 2% of all claims. For example, California saw about five false claims out of 850 against the Catholic Church. False reporting occurs in every category of crime and it is certainly an issue in cases which fall within the statute of limitations. It is part of the job of every prosecutor to identify those complaints and get them out of the system. They are rare, and they should never be a barrier to the overwhelming number of valid complaints that deserve to be investigated.
Is it the ease with which some critics say the reporting occurs? That is terrifically unfair and absurd. One must only meet with, listen to, experience the moment when an adult survivor discloses the torment of her or his youth. In most instances, the first telling of the facts is made after an agonizing period — years and years — of self-doubt, of denial, of wondering whether the listener will blame or believe. To look in the eyes of the individual is to understand immediately the depth of the pain and the searing imprint the criminal conduct has imprinted in the heart and on the soul of the victimized child. I can think of few things more difficult in one’s life than deciding when and to whom to reveal the abuse. That alone makes me understand that only a small number of survivors ever choose to tell their stories. We are not opening the floodgates when we change these laws. Do not be misled by that kind of argument. The inherent difficulty in reopening the wounds caused by sexual abuse prevents victims from ever reporting these crimes.
Another issue of how predators are expected to defend against such charges so many years after the fact — the basis in law for all statutes of limitation. Three things come instantly to mind. First is the specificity of the complaints made by so many of the survivors, especially in cases of ongoing episodes of abuse. These children experienced conduct and heard language that most kids of their age (especially in the pre-internet days when much of the abuse now being reported happened) had no reason to know. In the retelling, the excruciating detail of what the predator said and did is a compelling piece of the case. Second, with the training of Special Victims detectives and prosecutors, it is now possible — much as we do in cold case homicides — to go back and seek evidence that corroborates the accuser’s story. I have had a survivor tell me about the painting over the dresser in the perpetrator’s bedroom — the one she stared at every time he demanded that she come inside, the one she stared at to distract herself from the pain and the horror of what she was being forced to experience. She had no reason to have ever been in the bedroom of her best friend’s uncle and yet 20 years later she could recall every piece of furniture and art, down to the detailing of the swirling pattern in his rug. In some cases, that bedroom will be exactly the same when investigators go back to view it.


Fairstein says there's no reasonable opposition to the Child Victims Act.

Then there is actual evidence. Predators — just like in film and crime novels — often keep souvenirs to revisit the excitement of their actions. Armed with search warrants today, investigators will all too often find photographs of the adult witness — then a child — naked on a bed, or retrieve letters and diaries that document when each victim visited and what occurred. One of my perps seduced young boys by starting at a fast-food restaurant, and he kept lists of what each child liked to eat and drink — burgers and fries, nuggets and shakes. Those lists were still on his computer many years later. Occasionally, the all-powerful tool of DNA helps confirm the case, when clothing or bed linens or a stuffed animal — often saved for a reason that is entirely emotional — which was present for the criminal conduct still carries the evidence of the sexual contact.
For 26 of my 30 years in the Manhattan DA’s office, I was in charge of the country’s pioneering Special Victims Bureau. When I joined that great office in 1972, our state’s laws were so archaic that the word of an adult survivor of sexual assault was considered “incompetent” in a court of law. My colleagues and I were unable to prosecute rapists unless there was independent evidence of the commission of the crime.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, prosecutors, survivors, advocates, and enlightened legislators lobbied for reform when societal attitudes finally allowed us to discuss these dark subjects in public. New York lagged behind almost every state in the nation, then as now, in addressing this long-overdue reform. While that effort was underway, I continued daily to interview women who had been raped — mothers, sisters, daughters, students, secretaries and executives — sitting with them as they tried to understand why our legal system would not allow them to confront their attackers in the courtroom. Despite great opposition from the legislature at the time, the law was finally changed to allow adult sexual assault victims to have their day in court.
When DNA became a reliable scientific tool that revolutionized the criminal justice system in the 1990s — used both to identify offenders and to exonerate the innocent — we fought again to eliminate the statute of limitations that prevented victims from testifying in cases solved long after the statute had expired. There was vociferous opposition from the legislature, until at last its members removed the impediments of 17th century law and applied 20th century reason. Sadly, the reforms only applied to adult victims of sexual abuse.

New York lawmakers need to give survivors a chance to seek justice. 

New York lawmakers need to give survivors a chance to seek justice. 

In too many cases, after the adults present themselves to disclose childhood abuse, a quick check about the offender shows the predatory nature of his being. It is the private school teacher who has been transferred from one institution to another after suspicions were confirmed, but never reported. It is the football coach who had too many skiing weekends with his favorite boys at his weekend cabin until a parent finally trusted the instincts of his child to forego the trips.
We need to recognize the pervasive nature of the crimes of child sexual abuse by passing the Child Victims Act. We need to arm our survivors with a chance to do justice, just as we need to end this epidemic of victimization and restore dignity to our children, whenever they have the strength and courage to speak out.
Fairstein is a best-selling author and former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office

Monday, November 16, 2015

University of Georgia Law Alumnus Funds New Child Sex Abuse Legal Clinic

Marlan Wilbanks, son of a survivor of sexual abuse sets up the first center to help survivors know their legal rights. 

by Meredith Hobbs, Daily Report 11/06/2015
The University of Georgia School of Law is launching the first legal clinic in the nation to assist victims of child sexual abuse, thanks to a gift from an alumnus, Atlanta plaintiffs lawyer Marlan Wilbanks.
Wilbanks declined to say how much he is donating, but he said it's a "substantial gift" that will be ongoing. He also plans to be personally involved in the clinic. "This is going to be a lifelong commitment for me," he said.

The clinic, called the Wilbanks Center for Child Sexual Assault and Exploitation Survivors, will both assist adult survivors of child sexual abuse in filing civil suits and help children to gain protection from their abusers, he said.

Wilbanks is a longtime advocate for preventing child sexual abuse and helping survivors because his mother is a survivor of sexual abuse by her father. He said she was able to disclose her abuse only when she was well into adulthood, in her late 40s, which is common for many survivors.
"She has gone from being a victim to being an unbelievable advocate," Wilbanks said. "She is my hero, and I want to continue her legacy."

His mother, Marilyn Motz, helped to start the Habersham County chapter of Prevent Child Abuse and Wilbanks is on the board of an Atlanta advocacy group, VOICE Today.

Both pushed for new Georgia legislation that went into effect July 1 extending the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil suits—an impetus for the new clinic, which will open in the spring semester.

Wilbanks said the clinic will also help children gain injunctive relief—for instance, by helping victims secure protective orders to get abusers out of their home.

"This is not just helping people bring lawsuits for dollars," Wilbanks said. "I want to create a system that creates safety for people—and make sure predators get prosecuted."

The dean of UGA's law school, Peter "Bo" Rutledge, said the new law, HB 17, known as the Hidden Predators Act, makes it particularly appropriate for a public law school to step in. "The General Assembly wants to open the courthouse doors to these type of claims," he said.

The new legislation allows victims to file civil claims at a much older age. Before, they only had until they turned 23. "The average median age of victims for when they are psychologically able to deal with what happened to them, like my mother, is over 40 years old," Wilbanks said.

HB 17 initially eliminates the statute of limitations until July 1, 2017, creating an open window in which victims may file claims. After that it allows two years from when "the plaintiff knew or had reason to know of such abuse and that such abuse resulted in injury to the plaintiff as established by competent medical or psychological evidence."

Wilbanks' initial gift, Rutledge said, will help fund a clinic director's salary and fellowships, which could be summer jobs for law students or term-time jobs for law graduates.

The law school is conducting a search for a clinic director. Rutledge said the initial goal is to have six to eight students working in the clinic per term.

The clinic will add to the law school's experiential learning offerings, he said, giving students the chance to serve as advocates for Georgians without adequate legal resources.

Wilbanks said it's insufficient to rely on police, government prosecutors and the state child protective agency to protect children from sexual abuse. "Calling the cops does not immediately get the father or other family member out of the house. You do not get the injunctive relief," he said, and intervention from the Division of Family and Child Services may not be effective.

"Nobody is advocating for the child," Wilbanks said, adding that abuse victims often have very little money to hire lawyers. "Private attorneys need to get involved."

Besides offering legal services, the clinic could serve as a liaison with the private bar, he said.
A child being abused in the home is often afraid to say anything, Wilbanks added. For this reason he envisions the UGA legal clinic partnering with medical providers and social services groups that assist sexual abuse victims.

"We want to connect the victims to their legal rights and identify their sexual predators," he said. "They are falling through the safety net."

The other impetus for Wilbanks' gift was a big win in a whistleblower case. Wilbanks and other lawyers brought a Medicare fraud case against a dialysis chain, Da Vita Healthcare Partners, which resulted in a $495 million settlement earlier this year, including $45 million for legal fees and costs.

Another article here:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I believe you, "Molly" and "Sara".

Not a day passes that I do not think of "Molly" and "Sara" and their Mami and the horrifying ways that Rhode Island Family Court tortured them after Molly described sexual abuse by their father when she was three. I look at their photographs and wonder how and where they are now that Sara has turned 18 and Molly is still in her father's custody. 

I have copies of the graphic drawing Molly made a decade ago to show her father's behavior -- so painful and inexplicable for a child -- to the court's inept psychologist. Her sister drew an enormous red erect penis and got down on the car floor in terror outside the psychologist's office.  A cabal of women lawyers and clinicians accused their mother of coaching the girls to lie, but the cabal's reports reveal their own complicity in a culture of deceit. 
When I read Pamela Jacobs' story, I wanted to tell Molly and Sara once again: I, like many others, believe you. We condemn the clinicians and court officers who robbed your childhood of its loving foundation. We hope you will find the kindness and healing that will finally release you from this Court's legacy of trauma. 

Pamela Jacob's story from the Huffington Post: 
My grandmother had her back turned, her voice was cold. I was 15 years old and had just tried to end my life. After my attempt was interrupted by a phone call from a friend (or divine intervention), I put away the pills and walked into the kitchen, sobbing and shaking. I told my grandmother I needed to tell her something. But, I didn't have to say it, because she already knew.

"Let me guess, he molested you."
He was my step-grandfather. And he had been sexually abusing me since I was 5 years old. What I wanted more than anything was for my grandmother -- the woman who raised me -- to hold me and tell me how sorry she was. I wanted her to believe me. But, instead, she stood coldly, with her back turned, and snarled, "You're lying. I want you out of my house."
Lying. The word stung. It was my worst fear. It hung over me, ran through me, for many years. Of all the horrible words I heard throughout my childhood, that was the most difficult to forget.
My grandmother refusing to believe me was as painful as the abuse itself. It made the abuse my fault. It validated his threats that no one would believe me, that I didn't actually matter to anyone. And it made me feel worthless -- which is exactly what he wanted.
After years of working on my own healing, and working with thousands of sexual assault survivors, I have learned that what we often need, even more than justice, is simply to be believed. And the fact is, we have no reason not to believe survivors. Only about 2-8% of sexual assault reports are "false" -- and many believe the actual number is much lower. The myth that people frequently lie about rape is just that -- a myth. In fact, most sexual assaults are never reported at all, largely due to survivors' fear that they won't be believed.
Our society tells us not to believe survivors. It's easier to live in denial and pretend these horrific things don't really happen. We often don't believe survivors because it's too hard to accept that these otherwise "nice guys" are doing such awful things. (People thought my step-grandfather was a "nice guy" too). And it's even more difficult to accept that we could all be at risk.
But, we have to stop disregarding the truth simply because we don't want to hear it. The more we ignore the truth, and disregard survivors' experiences, the more this epidemic will grow. Every time we refuse to believe a survivor -- the rapist wins.
But with just three words -- I believe you -- we can instill hope and healing. We can change the conversation about sexual assault and encourage survivors to come forward. And we can take power away from rapists and give it back to those who deserve it -- those who have survived.
It has been more than 20 years since my grandmother refused to believe me. Yet still, every time some caring person who has heard me speak reaches out and says "I believe you," every time a friend or loved one tells me they believe me -- I am speechless. Every time I hear those words, I feel empowered, supported, and I heal a little bit more.
If you truly want to help survivors heal, if you truly want your loved ones to be safe, you have to start by believing. When someone courageously shares his or her story with you, say "I believe you" -- and mean it. It is the most powerful and meaningful gift you can give.
If anyone reading this has survived, and has never heard it, or needs to hear it again -- I believe you.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you are not alone. Advocates are available to talk with you 24 hours a day at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
[Pamela Jacobs is an attorney, advocate, and speaker dedicated to empowering women and ending sexual and domestic violence. Find her at http://pamelajacobs.com.] 


Monday, September 22, 2014

End the Nightmare at Family Court

Leora N. Rosen, Beyond the Hostage Child: Towards Empowering Protective Parents

This clear, readable, and affordable update to Dr. Rosen’s 1996 text, The Hostage Child, focuses our attention on the lifelong harm done to children by family courts and the remedies needed. She identifies specific federal funding streams that have done great damage (for example, the “Responsible Fatherhood Programs” that inspired the deadly rampage by Beltway Sniper John Muhammad from West Coast to East and another by Joshua Komisarjevsky in Connecticut).

This book holds validation for those who have been traumatized when courts removed terrified children from protective parents and gave them to the sole custody of abusers. Dr. Rosen shines a light we need to go forward.

She asserts that alleged crimes of domestic violence and child sexual abuse within the family should never be sent to civil courts that are designed for compromise. She briefly describes five proposed models for change and offers more detail on a sixth, composite model, CARCO (Child At Risk Classification Office) that focuses on a public health assessment of the child’s risk of being exposed to violence or abuse. She uses the acronym TRIAL to represent key elements of CARCO: Training, Reporting, Investigation, Adjudication, and Long-term planning – that are woefully absent from the present practice of adversarial litigation in family court.

Dr. Rosen has performed a huge service by focusing those of us who feel numbed by our own inability to protect desperate children and non-offending parents from the lies of lawyers and psychologists who have reduced them to a profit center. She concludes by urging Congress to use its authority and enact CARCO for the District of Columbia, creating a model for the nation. Federal funding incentives can be redirected to inspire other states to follow suit and to end the nightmare that breeds child abuse at family court.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A song for Sara and Molly's Mami

This song touches me deeply because of all the children like Sara and Molly whom I have seen wrestled away by corrupt officers of the court from inspiring moms who had sustained them.


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:

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.



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.


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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: