WI: Judge jails mother over daughter's refusal to visit father NOWPublicMedia

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



WI: Judge jails mother over daughter's refusal to visit father

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by randijames | November 13, 2009 at 06:57 am

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Yesterday, Marinette County Judge David Miron sentenced a mother to 30 days in jail for her daughter's repeated refusal to comply with court ordered visitation with her father.  Loraine Tipton was immediately taken into custody following the contempt hearing. 

During the hearing, Tipton presented evidence to support reasons why her 11 year old daughter should not be forced to proceed with visitation based on the actions of the father, Craig Hensberger.  Tipton also testified that it was her daughter who refused to go, and that she was not withholding visitation from Hensberger.

There are some in Wisconsin that are already familiar with Hensberger.  Earlier this year, he was publicly admonished for a scandal involving illegally transporting live fish and having his daughter lie about it in a competition.  This incident, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Apparently, Hensberger has a problem with alcohol consumption and had been ordered by this same court to remain sober in relation to child visitation because of previous reports of driving drunk with the child.  But as recently as last week, he was seen at the local bar--a bar that his daughter can identify.

This 11 year old child reports having to sleep on the floor when visiting her father because there are no accomodations for her in the small location in which Hensberger resides with his mother, after recently losing his own home.  In addition, his mother has also been accused of abusing the daughter in an incident where she tried to force feed the child her own vomit.

Thus far, Judge Miron has refused to allow the child to testify even amidst all the evidence on record.  Tipton's husband reports that, unbeknownst to Tipton, Judge Miron has further ordered that for every 30 days that the child does not visit the father, another consecutive 30 days of jail time will be served by Tipton.  The child is committed to defending herself and remains in the custody of her step-father.

We must ask ourselves:

Should parents be held accoutable for their children's actions?

Can contempt be held on a parent who cannot force their child to act?

Should children be required to have a relationship with someone who was/is abusive?

At what age should a child be able to participate/have a voice in his/her own legal proceedings?

Does a [pre-adolescent] child have any rights which supersede the rights of the parents?

More information will follow as the story is updated.

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Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



November 19, 2009

Irene Weiser                     
Stop Family Violence


(Oconto Falls, WI) Today an Oconto County family court judge sentenced a mother to jail because she was unable to force her daughter to court mandated visitation with her abusive father.  The daughter will be sent to foster care if she refuses to live with her father while the mother serves her sentence.

Circuit Judge David Miron sentenced Lorraine Tipton to 30 days in county jail for contempt of court, for her failure to follow the custody order requiring her daughter to live every other week with her father, Craig Hensberger.

“She’s terrified of going;  she has night terrors and severe anxiety” says Tipton, who admits her daughter hasn’t visited with her father since August. 

“I thought the court was supposed to look out for the best interests of the child, not the best interest of the father,” Tipton continued.  “I thought once I got out of the abusive relationship everything would be fine.  Instead, my abuser is continuing his abuse of me and my daughter with the help of the court.” 

Over the course of their on and off 8 year relationship Hensberger was arrested three times for domestic violence and once for child abuse.  Since their separation in 2005, Hensberger has been arrested twice for DWI, including once while the daughter was in the car. 

Although the court has ordered Hensberger into alcohol treatment and ordered “absolute sobriety” when having visitation, the daughter claims he continues to drink to excess when she is visiting.   The father told the court he had stopped drinking completely.  The mother recently had a private investigator follow the father, who found that the father drank heavily on a night he was scheduled to have visitation.  In court today the father admitted to his continued drinking; nonetheless the judge still sentenced the mother to jail. 

Hensberger achieved his local 15 minutes of fame in Oconto in March of this year, when he forced his daughter to enter 3 different fishing tournaments using the same fish so that he could collect the money - a story covered widely by local news.   While the local media angle related to his transportation of fish against DNR regulations,  Ms. Tipton’s concerns were for the well-being of her daughter, who was  being taught to lie, cheat and steal by her father.  Since this incident, the daughter’s relationship with the father has deteriorated, Tipton claims.

Additionally, the father’s employment is irregular, his house is in foreclosure and he currently resides with his mother.  The daughter claims she is forced to sleep on the floor in the living room or in the unfinished basement since there is no bed or private space for her in the small 2 bedroom house.

“Sadly, this case typifies the problems we are seeing in Family Courts nationwide,” says Irene Weiser, executive director of StopFamilyViolence.org. “Family court judges are failing to recognize signs of abuse, and are placing children in harms way.  Even worse, instead of investigating the abuse allegations, they accuse the parent making the allegations of being vindictive and punish them for taking actions to protect their children.  Often judges seem more concerned with maintaining the child’s relationship with the father than ensuring the child’s safety.”


StopFamilyViolence.org is a national activist organization that works to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for victims of family violence.   Irene Weiser coordinates the Family Court Reform Coalition, a coalition of advocates, professionals and organizations formed in response to the national crisis in the custody court system, where all too often, judge’s order children to live with abusers and punish, silence, or jail the parent who tries to protect the children from harm.

Irene Weiser

Executive Director


331 W. 57th St #518

New York, NY 10019


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Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.





Sponsored by: 



                Lorraine Tipton is a concerned and caring mother who has tried for the past three years to obey a court order even though it meant forcing her daughter to go and stay with her sexually, and otherwise, abusive father.  Michaela (now 11 yrs old) says that she is absolutely terrified of going to her father%u2019s, that she is not safe with him, and now insists that she simply can and will not go. Lorraine has spoken with her daughter, but can no longer find it within herself to force her daughter to willingly accept further abuse. 

Today, Judge Miron of Marrinette County, Wi, sentenced Lorraine to 30 days in jail.  She was taken immediately and will not be let out unless Michaela goes with her father, and Lorraine%u2019s jail sentence will continued to be renewed until Michaela agrees.  This is not a position an 11 year old should be put in, nor is jail a place for her mother.  Michaela has asked for a chance to speak with the judge and have her own voice heard.  The judge has denied her this right.  Respected and concerned mental health professionals have met with Michaela and believe she is telling the truth.  Child Protective Services interviewed Michaela and substantiated a report against her father for sexual abuse.  Why won%u2019t Judge Miron give Michaela the same courtesy and listen to her desperate pleas for help?!

                Despite attempts to reach out to government officials, this outrageous injustice has been allowed to be cast down upon Lorraine and Michaela.  Lorraine is now on a hunger strike, her family is devastated, and Michaela is torn in pieces.  This is no way to look out for the best interests of a child!  There are men and women all over the country who have been watching as this horrific case of %u201Ccourt-ordered%u201D abuse has unfolded.  We are asking that this case be looked into, that this egregious injustice be dealt with, and that Lorraine, Michaela, and their family be put back together.  We are asking that Michaela is given a chance to be heard once and for all.  This grave misuse of power cannot be stood for!  If Judge Miron is going to continue to put this child in harm%u2019s way and punish her mother for protecting her than he has become part of the problem and should be held responsible for continuing to traumatize this innocent and defenseless child!

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Packers Fan Mommy Jailed

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Family 'Lawless' Court Whores.


Judge David G. Miron

1926 Hall Avenue

Marinette, WI 54143-1717

(715) 732-7655

Oconto County

Case # 99-PA-06



This Judge Jailed the below mother for not sending her child to the sexual predator. The 15 year old daughter refuses to go with abusive dad.. Mom will stay in Jail until sexual pedophile dad can have his 15 year old daughter over night. Where the relapsed alcoholic pedophile does not even have a separate bed (Daughter MUST sleep  in daddy’s bed)

Both Mother and daughter are  die hard Packers Fans and they both need your help in writing and calling and emailing the below authorities and local states and county reps.  15 year old daughter requested protection from cps and asked to go into foster care for her protection. She was a denied.



Judge David G. Miron

Judge David G. Miron

1926 Hall Avenue

Marinette, WI 54143-1717

(715) 732-7655

Oconto County

Case # 99-PA-06

Case is heard by Marinette County due to conflict of interests from other judges, recused.



“Children say that people are hung sometimes for speaking the truth.” St. Joan of Arc ST. JOAN OF ARC & MAMA LIBERTY







“My child and I have been threatened and intimidated by the possibility that I may go to jail and be held in contempt due to my child refusing to have visitation with her abusive father and she may go to foster care.” Her father has told her this over and over again, as well as Judge David Miron.

This is not the first time that this mother has had to protect her child from the father. Oconto County CPS did substantiate sexual abuse allegations against the the father, he found a loop hole and had the recused Family Court Commissioner, Frank M. Calvert unsubstantiated the sexual abuse allegations.

The system has failed my child, from Oconto County and its CPS worker, Carrie Silbernagel-Burke to Marinette County Circuit Court Judge, David Miron.

This father does not have the means to care for her. She has no bed or a bedroom due to the fact he lives with his mother who only has two bedrooms.

The 11 yr old child is given the choice to sleep either on the floor in the living room or down in the basement. She has no privacy or space to call her own while she is in her fathers care. She is continually tormented and tortured by both her paternal grandmother and father, this is nothing new.

This child has been exposed to domestic violence by her father towards her mother several times. She was also a passenger in his car when he was arrested for driving drunk in the middle of the day. The CPS worker, Carrie Silbernagel-Burke told the mother:

“drinking and driving with his daughter did not make him a bad father, he made a bad choice.”

This was nothing compared to the sexual abuse my child endured and other court ordered abuse.

My child has taken her stand against her abuser, the court ordered abuse and threats of foster care by Judge David Miron.

My child is not an empty vessel, she KNOWS where she is safe. She has not lied to social workers, even with her father prodding her to.

All her needs are provided by her loving Mother and she knows that

“I am not going to shut up, give up or go away!”

“My only wish is for my daughter to be safe and sane.”

If this mother is jailed for doing what any mother would do for her child

the consequences to my accusers and judges will be as follows.

There will be a hunger strike (Troscadh), and all the battles up until now were training for we intend tow in the war and expose the dirty little secrets of family court and the criminals that run it.

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Maternal Deprivation

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.


ok so we know that maternal deprivation is bad on rats so we keep doing it on mothers and children in court


Int J Dev Neurosci. 2009 Nov 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Ontogeny of the HPA axis of the CD1 mouse following 24hours maternal deprivation at pnd 3.


Enthoven L, Schmidt MV, Cheung YH, van der Mark MH, de Kloet ER, Oitzl MS.

Division of Medical Pharmacology, Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

One of the striking characteristics of the developing neuroendocrine system of rats and mice is the stress-hypo-responsive period (SHRP), i.e., low basal corticosterone secretion and the inability to increase corticosterone in response to mild stressors during the first two weeks of life. However, immediately after 24hours of deprivation from maternal care the response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to mild stressors is enhanced. This study examines in CD1 mouse pups the recovery pattern of markers of HPA axis (re)activity from maternal deprivation (once for 24hours from postnatal day (pnd) 3 to 4). As expected, deprivation induced a profound corticosterone response to novelty immediately after deprivation. In contrast, one day after reunion with the mother (pnd5), this effect was abolished, lasting for at least three days. Basal corticosterone remained even below control levels. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) mRNA expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) was suppressed for two days, exceeded control levels at pnds 7 and 8, and subsequently followed the gradual decline observed in controls until pnd 12. Delayed and rather short-lasting changes were found for adrenocorticotropic hormone (low at pnd5), and glucocorticoid receptor mRNA expression (decreased in the PVN at pnd 4, and in the hippocampal CA1 area at pnd 5). Hippocampal mineralocorticoid receptor mRNA expression was unaffected. From pnds 9-13, both deprived and control pups gradually emerged from the SHRP in a similar temporal pattern. In conclusion, maternal deprivation at pnd 3 augments hypo-responsiveness of corticosterone secretion to mild stress for several days, but does not affect the duration of the SHRP. Whether CRH and glucocorticoid receptor changes are cause or consequence remains to be established.

PMID: 19897026 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

LinkOut - more resources

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Painfully Precious

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



http://corresponden ts.theatlantic. com/ed_koch/ 2009/11/painfull y_precious. php

Ed Koch

Mayor Ed at the Movies

Nov 10 2009, 1:38PM

Painfully Precious

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=b5FYahzVU44&feature=player_ embedded

This is an extraordinary story with an exceptional cast.  The painful life burdens of the movie's main character, a teenager named Precious, will cause you to weep.

In the beginning of the film, an extremely obese teenager, Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), is caring for her Down Syndrome baby whom she has named Mongol.  She is soon to deliver birth to a boy who will be named Abdul. The horror is that both children were fathered by Precious's own father who is the boyfriend of her mother, Mary (Mo'Nique), with whom she lives.

Mary, who has stood by and allowed the raping of her child, has only ill-will approaching hatred towards her daughter. One of the most poignant and dramatic scenes in the film depicts a meeting at the office of a social worker, Ms. Weiss (Maria Carey), where the mother states why she resents her daughter. I was pained by the plight of both mother and daughter and wept for both of them.

Precious is shown in a classroom with a half-dozen other girls who become her substitute family. Without the positive interaction of her social worker, Ms. Weiss, her teacher, Ms. Rain  (Paula Patton), and her classmates, I have no doubt she would have been living on the streets.

The performances of Sidibe and Mo'Nique are extraordinary and spellbinding. In fact, the entire cast, including Lenny Kravitz in the role of Nurse John, does a wonderful job.

I believe everyone in the audience must have felt the way I did: how could God allow this to go on and what can our schools and society do to address the problem? The obvious answer is to provide more educational and training programs as well as money for programs to care for those in need who may never work, notwithstanding the prodding of their social worker. Clearly, however, we are not doing enough. The ending of this film, while conveying the possibility of change and a better outcome down the road, does not leave the audience with an unrealistic expectation and happy ending.

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime:

"Incest has been cited as the most common form of child abuse. Studies conclude that 43 percent of the children who are abused are abused by family members, 33 percent are abused by someone they know, and the remaining 24 percent are sexually abused by strangers (Hayes, 1990). Other research indicates that over 10 million Americans have been victims of incest.

One of the nation's leading researches on child sexual abuse, David Finkelhor, estimates that 1,000,000 Americans are victims of father-daughter incest, and 16,000 new cases occur annually (Finkelhor, 1983). However, Finkelhor's statistics may be significantly low because they are based primarily on accounts of white, middle-class women and may not adequately represent low-income and minority women (Matsakis, 1991).

Victims of incest are often extremely reluctant to reveal that they are being abused because their abuser is a person in a position of trust and authority for the victim. Often the incest victim does not understand - or they deny - that anything is wrong with the behavior they are encountering (Vanderbilt, 1992). Many young incest victims accept and believe the perpetrator's explanation that this is a learning experience that happens in every family by an older family member.  Incest victims may fear they will be disbelieved, blamed or punished if they report their abuse."

I saw the picture at the Regal Union Square Stadium Theater on 13th Street and Broadway which I like very much because of its stadium seating. The audience was made up largely of young black women. This film concerns problems affecting both blacks and whites and should be seen by every racial group in our country. It took enormous courage to make and participate in this film. Those who did should be rewarded with the honors of the industry and the applause of the nation.

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Aaron Thompson receives 114-year sentence in missing daughter case

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



Aaron Thompson receives 114-year sentence in missing daughter case

By Carlos Illescas
The Denver Post

Posted: 11/11/2009 01:00:00 AM MST

CENTENNIAL — Aaron Thompson had several chances Tuesday, but he refused to answer the last unresolved question in the case of his missing daughter.

"It isn't too late to reveal where Aarone's remains are," said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, fighting back tears as he asked Thomp son to provide closure in what has been a four-year search for the child. "Help us find Aarone's body."

Arapahoe County District Judge Valeria Spencer, too, gave Thompson several chances Tuesday to speak on his own behalf and reveal where the body was buried before she sentenced him for his role in the child's death.

Each time, Thompson shook his head and said "No."

Spencer then sentenced him to 114 years in prison and jail

At the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Lynette Thompson, mother of Aarone, wipes away tears as Judge Valeria Spencer describes the abuse the children suffered in Aaron Thompson's home. At left is Aarone's sister Shaunterius Johnson. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

for Aarone's death and for the abuse of the seven other siblings living in their Aurora home.

"These children will recover from the physical injuries, but they will not recover from the injuries to the soul," Spencer told Thompson. "You have failed as a father. You have failed as a man."

Thompson, convicted of 31 counts, including child abuse resulting in death, was sentenced to 102 years in prison and 12 years in county jail. He will get about 900 days of that reduced for time already served.

It was almost four years to the day that Thompson reported Aarone missing on Nov. 14, 2005, telling police the child ran away from home over a cookie. A massive police hunt ensued for the little girl, but authorities quickly focused on Thompson, now 42, and his live-in girlfriend, Shelley Lowe, as suspects in her disappearance.

Aarone would have been 6 years old at the time, but police believe she died two years earlier and that Thompson and Lowe buried her in a field far away.

After three days, Arapahoe County human services took custody of the other children living in their home on East Kepner Place and police began a lengthy investigation.

Lowe died of natural causes in 2006.


Aaroné Thompson. (Special to The Denver Post)

sentencing hearing was the most dramatic day in the weeks-long trial. Several children living in the Thompson home spoke to the judge, as did their foster parents and others involved in the case.

"I hate you, Aaron," said Aarone's sister Shaunterius Johnson. "You are nothing but a coward."

Spencer noted how Thompson lied repeatedly when he was questioned by police. She recalled reviewing the taped interview recently. At one point, police left the interview room and Thompson looked up and said, "Aarone, where you at?"

"It was Oscar caliber, Mr. Thomp son," Spencer said.

Thompson's wife, Lynette Thompson, traveled from Detroit for the hearing. She said she was happy with the sentence but said it pains her knowing

Slide Show

she cannot give her daughter a proper burial.

"It hurts so bad," she said.

Vickie Kearney, a therapist who worked with several of the children, read a letter to the judge written by one of Lowe's daughters, who is developmentally disabled.

"You go to jail, Big A," the girl, now 13, said in the letter. "You go to jail and you'll never whoop me again."

Later, Judge Spencer recalled the testimony of the children living in the Thompson home, calling it a "torture chamber" where beatings were so frequent they became matter-of-fact to the kids.

She recounted their testimony, in which they said they were beaten with almost anything Thompson and Lowe could get their hands on — a belt, bat, extension cords.

Then Spencer glared at Thomp son for beating Lowe's disabled daughter.

"You beat a disabled child," she said, almost in disbelief. "You beat a disabled child."

During his trial, defense attorneys acknowledged that Thompson lied to police in the coverup and tried to pin Aarone's death on Lowe, but said he was not responsible for her death. Thompson did not testify during his trial.

Defense attorney Jim O'Connor on Tuesday urged the judge not to hand out a sentence that would incarcerate Thompson "for much more than the rest of his life."

"This man is not a monster," said O'Connor, who plans to appeal the verdicts.

But jurors saw it differently. On Sept. 28, after deliberating for nine days, they convicted Thompson on 31 of 55 counts. Thompson also was found guilty of conspiracy to commit child abuse resulting in death and accessory to child abuse resulting in death.

"We're satisfied with the outcome," prosecutor Bob Chappell said. "It's been a tough case for everybody."

Carlos Illescas: 303-954-1175 or cillescas@denverpost.com


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Judge’s Association Warns: “Parental Alienation Syndrome” and Claims of “Parental Alienation” Have No Grounding in Reality

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.


Judge’s Association Warns: “Parental Alienation Syndrome” and Claims of “Parental Alienation” Have No Grounding in Reality

Filed under: Child Custody Battle, Child Custody Issues, Child Custody Mediation, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Dr. Richard Gardner, Family Court Reform, Family Courts, Family Rights, Non-custodial Mothers, Noncustodial Mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome,fathers fighting for custody, parental alienation — justice4mothers @ 9:51 pm

Here is the new Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department.  Again the fake, so-called “Parental Alienation Syndrome” and the use of “parental alienation” is warned against and the Council tells the courts they should not accept this BS.

The only entities that do believe in this fairy tale syndrome are father’s rights groups who are fronted by abusive violent men and the Whores of the Court that sustain themselves by use of these false syndromes.

2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

Page 12:

C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

To read the entire report, “A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases (2009)” by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department, please click here.  This report should be very useful to both moms and dads who are under attack by claims of PAS against them.

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“Parental Alienation Syndrome” Pusher Richard Warshak Makes $40,000 a Week per Inmate per Week at His “PAS Treatment Centers”

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.


“Parental Alienation Syndrome” Pusher Warshak Makes $40,000 a Week per Inmate per Week at His “PAS Treatment Centers”

Filed under: Best interest of the child, Canada, Child Custody, Child Custody Battle, Child Custody Issues, Child Custody Mediation, Child Custody for mothers, Child custody for fathers, Children's rights, Civil rights, Corrupt bastards, Custody Evaluators, Custody laws,Desperate men, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence by Proxy, Dr. Richard Gardner, Dr.. Richard Warshak, Family Court Reform, Family Courts, Family Rights, Getting Screwed by the Whores of the Court, Judicial Immunity, Legal abuse, Non-custodial Mothers, Noncustodial Mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, custody evaluations, parental alienation — justice4mothers @ 10:38 am

No wonder he is pushing it so hard, along with the other Whores of the Court that make a very nice income off of this. They are incapable of having a good practice, so they chase after the blood money in family courts.  From the Law Times:

Judge reverses parental alienation ruling
Controversial trend continues because opposing parents lack funds: lawyer

By Heather Capannelli | Publication Date: Monday, 09 November 2009

In another case underscoring the controversy over parental alienation workshops, Justice Thea Herman of the Ontario Superior Court struck down part of an arbitrator’s award earlier this year that would have removed two teenage boys from the custody of their father and sent them to Texas. The decision follows a series of judgments in which Ontario courts have ordered a change in custody and sent the custodial parent along with the children to participate in the workshop.

In S.G.B. v. S.J.L., the court set aside part of an award concluding that the workshop was in the best interest of the boys because the arbitrator relied too heavily on an assessment of them prepared by Richard Warshak, who admitted he hadn’t met them personally.

In his testimony and written evidence, the psychologist and author explicitly declined to make recommendations with respect to the children because he had never observed them before.

Yet the arbitrator ordered that the remedy was “necessary for the children in this case and completely consonant with their best interests.” Herman, however, decided that in making such a finding, the arbitrator’s order amounted to a “fundamental error.”

Another issue arose prior to the hearing when the father asked the arbitrator to order an assessment to determine the appropriateness of the workshop for the children.

The arbitrator declined to do so, instead relying on his own experience as a custody and access assessor. But Herman rebuked that decision, saying “the arbitrator’s experience can only be brought to bear on the evidence. The arbitrator cannot create evidence.”

In addition, Herman said the arbitrator failed to consider the psychological impact the workshop would have on the younger boy. He suffered from Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder that, among other things, caused a language delay.

The facts of the case were as follows. The applicant, the father, and the respondent mother entered into the arbitration to help resolve issues surrounding their two sons L.B. and J.B., aged 17 and 14 respectively. The parents had been divorced since May 1999 and since then, the mother experienced an estranged relationship with both of her children.

After several attempts to resolve disputes about custody, access, and raising the children, both parents agreed to what turned out to be an unsuccessful arbitration in August 2007.

The proceedings were due to continue on Nov. 20, 2007, but the father brought a pre-hearing motion to prevent the arbitrator from making an order that might result in the children leaving the province given that the mother had been in consultation with Warshak for several years despite the fact that he had never met the boys. The motion was denied.

The arbitration took place in February and March 2008 and, based on Warshak’s report that the children were suffering irrational alienation towards their mother, the arbitrator awarded sole custody of both children to her and ordered that they participate in the workshop to help to restore their ties with her.

Logistically, this meant no contact with their father for the three months that the boys were in the program. Once the workshop concluded, communications could resume as long as those in charge authorized them.

The order also allowed the mother to use transporting agents to take her children to the workshop in Texas if they were unwilling to go on their own volition.

“The work of Dr. Warshak has been submitted for peer review so it’s not as controversial as the media hype may lead some to believe,” says Jaret Moldaver, counsel for the mother. “Dr. Warshak has successfully worked with children who have been alienated, and in cases where conventional approaches don’t work, it’s the only viable option to save the child from abuse.”

A larger issue, however, is that often these cases come down to a battle of costly expert evidence, says the father’s counsel, Jan Weir.

“My concern is that in most of these cases, it appears that one parent has the financial means to retain high-end counsel and experts like Dr. Warshak, but the other parent seems to have modest means and never retains an expert, meaning that they can’t lead evidence against the findings or methodology of Dr. Warshak.”

A week at the workshop costs about US$40,000.
According to Warshak, parental alienation syndrome is “a child’s unjustified campaign of denigration against, or rejection of, one parent, due to the influence of the other parent combined with the child’s own contributions.”

It is recognized as a form of emotional abuse that happens when parents get so caught up in their own problems that they lose sight of their children’s needs.

In an interview in 2008 with Maclean’s magazine, Warshak said the workshop “teaches children how to stay out of the middle of adult conflicts and how to maintain a compassionate view toward each parent” and that it helps the child “recapture a major part of his identity.

When the child no longer feels the need to pledge allegiance to one parent by rejecting the other, that’s enormously liberating.”

But Weir says the test in law for admissibility of expert evidence is whether it’s generally accepted by the profession. That’s because courts don’t interpret the evidence of experts on their own. “Is this a method that’s generally accepted by the profession at large?” says Weir.

“This kind of evidence is getting in because the parents who are on the receiving end just don’t have the funds to retain an expert to say that it’s not, that it’s untested.”

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