Re: Christian Science Monitor, 10/14/09. Author Kathleen Russell
You allowed this author to publish unsubstantiated claims with respect to cases in Marin County Ca, and offering unsupported and erroneous information relating to a theory of abuse of children called Parental Alienation Syndrome.
I am guessing this was offered to the author as an opinion piece and was published without authentication by your editor. You will escape liability for slander on it because she didn't name names but one of the cases she obliquely refers to is well known involving the kidnapping by a so called protective parent of a child. This parent was subsequently arrested, jailed and tried but found to have personality related issues, which is not uncommon. She got a gender discount.
For future reference moms are the largest cohort of abusers and killers of children in the USA. They are also given sole custody of children in 84% of all cases in the USA. Ms. Russell's opinion which states otherwise is no more than that and is factually incorrect. Allegations of abuse are not proven facts of abuse. If allegations were the only criteria of proof most of the country would be in jail. I can easily cite you any number of allegations that are untrue and ought never be used to obfuscate the truth.
I am disappointed in your publication and frankly will have trouble believing anything that appears in it again.MJM
Contact the Christian Science Monitor here: http://www.csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/contactus.pl
They're baaaack. As if they'd ever left.
I refer to the anti-dad crowd whose latest shtick is to oppose children's rights to paternal access by claiming, against all the evidence, that fathers pose a unique danger to children. What actual social science shows is that mothers do far more (about twice as much) child injury than do fathers. That comes from the Department of Health and
Still, that's the main thrust of the recent counter-attack on fathers' rights in Australia. This article is a special riff on the theme, though (Christian Science Monitor, 10/14/09). Author Kathleen Russell co-founded an anti-PAS organization in Marin County. Hers is another claim that family courts routinely ignore a parent's claims that the other parent is abusing a child in order to give custody to the abusive parent. But take even a passing whiff of that claim and it doesn't pass the smell test.
Why would a family court judge ignore well-founded evidence of child injury or sexual abuse and grant custody to the abuser? Uh, gee, I can't think of any reason.
The strong impression these people give is that it's pervasive bias against mothers by family courts. They seldom come right out and say it, but with books entitled "Divorced from Justice: The Abuse of Women and Children by Family Lawyers and Judges," not much is left to the imagination. To suggest that a system that gives custody to mothers 84% of the time and makes little effort to enforce the visitation orders of fathers is biased in favor of fathers, just doesn't cut the butter.
So where do those people get such a bizarre notion?
Well, they usually cite a single source - a study published in the May, 2000 issue of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse by Ann Goetting and Amy Neustein. According to the website Stop Family Violence.com, the authors conclude that,
"In a study of more than 300 custody cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, 70 percent resulted in unsupervised visitation or shared custody with the alleged sexual abuser. And in 20 percent of cases, the nonviolent parent lost custody completely."
Oh. Those would be allegations of sexual abuse. Stated another way, in 70% of cases in which sexual abuse was alleged, family courts found that there was either no evidence thereof or insufficient evidence to deprive the child of its access to the target of the allegations.
But to the anti-dad crowd, all allegations of sexual abuse are true, at least when made against a father. And if they were, the study's findings would indeed be alarming. But neither the Goetting/Neustein study nor its advocates like Kathleen Russell make any effort to sort out whether the allegations were true or not.
The patently false notion that family courts routinely turn over children to sexual abusers, absurd on its face as it is, is rendered all the more so by the fact that its proponents have a hard time coming up with a single case which, on close examination, supports their claim. The Sadie Loeliger case, the Genia Schockome case, the Holly Collins case and others, are all examples, not of abusers getting custody, but of courts taking reams of testimony and concluding that in fact it was the mother claiming paternal abuse who was the dangerous parent. Indeed, study co-author Amy Neustein's is yet another case of exactly that phenomenon. I'll expound on that further in a future post.
If, as the Russell op-ed claims, there are 58,000 examples each and every year of sexual abusers getting custody, shouldn't the anti-father forces be able to come up with one that bears them out?
You'd think so, and to that end, Russell offers for our consideration the case of Jonea Rogers, a Petaluma, California woman who, so her story goes, sought the help of various law enforcement agencies in dealing with her allegedly abusive ex-husband (or maybe his father), only to be rebuffed at every turn. Rogers then fled with their daughter to various foreign countries. Once caught, the child was returned to the father, Ian Stone, and Rogers was jailed for violating the court order setting out the father's rights.
A Marin County jury acquitted Rogers of violating the court's order apparently convinced that she acted without the requisite state of mind necessary for conviction. Astonishingly enough, Russell would have her readers believe that the failure to convict Rogers of the criminal charge means that Stone in fact sexually abused his daughter. Needless to say, the jury found no such thing and their acquittal means no such thing.
And by the way, Stone still has custody.
So far, the nitty-gritty on the Rogers case comes strictly from a few newspaper articles like this one (Marin Independent Journal, 8/10/06) and this one (Marin Independent Journal, 8/8/06). But it's enough to strongly suggest that we can add it to the list of cases in which, contrary to the bleats of the anti-dad crowd, the mother who cries "abuse" and kidnaps the child is in fact just trying to deprive a hated ex of his child.
Consider the ease with which temporary restraining orders are obtained on little or no evidence in custody cases. Did she get one? Did she try? The articles don't say so.
Consider the fact that a variety of law enforcement officials investigated her claims over several months, but found no evidence of abuse.
Consider the fact that Child Protective Services likewise investigated Rogers' claims but found no evidence of abuse.
Consider that what Rogers was doing was so obvious to one of Marin County's sheriff's deputies that he told Ian Stone that Rogers was "setting him up" and that he should hire a lawyer.
Consider that no article makes any mention of medical evidence that the child had been injured or abused.
Consider that Rogers planned the abduction and getaway over the course of many months, secretly selling her house and small business in the process. Are those the actions of a mother who is so panicked about the sexual abuse of her child that she needs to flee immediately?
And finally consider that the child has been living with Ian Stone ever since Rogers was jailed in 2004 and is now at least 12 years old. If he sexually abused her before, he's surely done so since. Where are the charges by enraged law enforcement and prosecutors? Why doesn't Rogers renew her efforts to have him charged and get custody of the girl? And of course, what does the girl herself say?
If Russell and the others who are determined to keep children from their fathers at any cost, even that of the truth, are so sure that Stone is a child sexual abuser, what are there answers to these many questions?
And why was Russell so careful in writing her op-ed as to avoid even naming Ian Stone or making any statement that could be construed as libelous or defamatory?
I think I know. Based on their performance in other cases, their claims in the Rogers case are as threadbare as they've been in countless others. And that pretty much sums up their whole cause against fathers and their children - threadbare.