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Most scams, such as sub-prime mortgages and email scams, victimize adults. But custody scams victimize children. When government fails to protect children it throws open the doors to private contractors—lawyers and clinicians—who enrich themselves at the expense of children. (More about this child and the mother who tried to protect her appears below.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why don't custody courts consider evidence? Part 1

This story by Natasha Chen appeared on Channel 25 in Hillsboro, Texas, on Tuesday, June 9, 2009. To see the news video, click on the title above or paste this link into your browser:

Father stated concern for daughters' safety before murder

The Hillsboro woman who killed one of her two daughters and critically injured the other had allegedly attempted suicide in the presence of the children on May 21, according to petitions from the girls' father.

The father, Lee Jeter, filed for divorce the day after that incident and also petitioned for a restraining order on the mother, Debra Janelle Jeter. He filed for sole custody of the children, and requested that visits from Debra Jeter be continuously supervised.

After the attempted suicide, Debra Jeter was transported to the De Paul Center on a mental health warrant. In a supporting affidavit, Lee Jeter stated, "I am concerned about her possible actions regarding the children."

But during the divorce hearing on June 4, Lee Jeter's attorney did not bring up the filed petitions. In fact, during the hearing, Lee Jeter voluntarily agreed to unsupervised visits from the mother on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month. The night of Debra Jeter's attack was the first of such scheduled visits.

Because the petition for a restraining order and the request for supervised visits did not come up in the hearing, Hill County Judge Harris made his ruling based only on what was presented in court. The judge thus permitted Debra Jeter's unsupervised visits. The transcript of the hearing shows that neither party discussed Debra Jeter's attempted suicide in detail, but did mention that she has been taking prescribed anti-depressants.

When Judge Harris spoke with News Channel 25 off camera, he appeared extremely shaken from the tragic events. The Jeters' divorce is still pending.

Blog Archive

About the mother and child pictured at the top

On February 21, 1992, Rhode Island Family Court's Chief Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah gave this two-year-old to the sole custody and possession of her father despite his history of domestic violence and failure to pay child support. The father, a police officer, brought false charges against his ex-wife, first saying she was a drug addict. (Twenty-two random tests proved she was not.) Then he had her arrested for bank fraud, then for filing a false report, then for sexual abuse, then for kidnapping. None of his charges stuck.

The child remained with her father and stepmother until 2003, when, at 14, she finally realized that her mother had not been a drug addict. The teenager persuaded Judge Stephen Capineri to let her return to her mother. There she began working on the painful issues of lifelong coercion and deception--a tangled knot of guilt and rage. Most painful has been her father’s continuing refusal to let her visit two dearly loved half-sisters, whom she has not seen since 2003.

She is one of countless children in Rhode Island subjected to severe emotional and physical trauma by Family Court when it helps abusive parents to maintain control over their families after divorce. When she turned 18 in 2007, she gave the Parenting Project permission to publish her picture on behalf of all children who have been held hostage by Rhode Island custody scams.

We are using this blog to provide links to stories that will help concerned people, including government officials, become aware of this form of child abuse and legal abuse. We must work together to improve the courts' ability to recognize the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in victims of domestic abuse who are trying to protect their children.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are looking for the story of the removal of "Molly and Sara," please visit

About the Author and the Cause

Parenting Project is a volunteer community service begun in 1996 at Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Providence, RI, to focus on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases. Our goal is to make Rhode Island's child protective system more effective, transparent, and accountable.

The Parenting Project coordinator, Anne Grant, a retired minister and former executive director of Rhode Island's largest shelter for battered women and their children, researches and writes about official actions that endanger children and the parents who try to protect them. She wrote a chapter on Rhode Island in Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues, ed. Mo Therese Hannah, PhD, and Barry Goldstein, JD (Civic Research Institute, 2010).

Comments and corrections on anything written here may be sent in an email with no attachments to

Find out more about the crisis in custody courts here: provides forensic resources to end violence against women

about domestic violence in hague custody cases:

more about domestic violence in law enforcement: