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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.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Father fears losing visitation and kills the kids instead

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39259068/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

A court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) planned to recommend unsupervised visitation for this father, even though he had threatened to kill or hurt himself if he lost visitation. This case exposes the danger of believing that a violent spouse can still be a safe parent. It also shows the danger of courts taking too long to decide custody cases.


msnbc.com news services

updated 9/20/2010 1:37:53 PM ET

A father accused of shooting his three children to death as they slept had previously threatened to kill or hurt himself if he lost visitation rights, an attorney said.

After Mohammed Goher's two daughters, ages 14 and 7, and a 12-year-old son were killed Sunday, authorities said Goher shot himself in the mouth in an apparent suicide attempt. He was in fair condition Monday at Ben Taub Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Goher was charged with three counts of capital murder, said Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Jamie Wagner. It was unknown whether he had an attorney.

He is divorced from the children's mother, Norma Goher, but had court-ordered visitation rights, according to the statement. Records show he was convicted in 2006 of beating his wife, who lived in a shelter for battered women.

The father's visitation rights were to be the subject of a court hearing in Houston later this month. Syed Izfar, appointed by the court to represent the children in the hearing, told the Houston Chronicle he was going to suggest Goher receive standard visitation.

Izfar did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press.

On Friday, as had been the custom since the Gohers' separated, the children went to stay with their father at his apartment, which is attached to a convenience store where Goher worked, about three miles south of Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.

He was to have returned them Sunday afternoon to their mother, who had custody of the children during the week, authorities said.

"By all appearances, this was a man who loved his children. What a nightmare," Izfar told the Chronicle. "He had it in his mind that the children would be taken away from him forever."

The 47-year-old father had threatened to kill or hurt himself if he lost visitation, Izfar said, adding that he was unaware of Goher ever harming the children.

On Sunday morning as the children slept, Goher got out a handgun, authorities said. Harris County Homicide Sgt. Ben Beall told the Chronicle Goher shot one of his girls in a bedroom and his son and other daughter who were asleep in another room. Then, Beall said, Goher shot himself.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's office, Goher was expected to survive.

A family friend visiting from Pakistan reported seeing Goher with a handgun and fled the apartment, the Chronicle reported. Neighbors did not return telephone messages by The Associated Press.

One neighbor, Julio Rodriguez, told the Houston Chronicle that he dialed 911 after he saw a woman screaming when she left the apartment at the time of the shooting.

"I heard her screaming, "Gun! Gun! Shoot! Shoot!' I got scared because I knew there were kids in there," he said. Muhommad Riaz, Goher's co-worker at a convenience store near his apartment building, told the Chronicle that he had spoken with Goher Saturday. He found him to be upset over the upcoming court date and the fear of losing his visitation rights, Riaz said.

Goher said "everyone was lying" about him having a violent temper, Riaz told the newspaper.

© 2010 msnbc.com

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 http://LittleHostages.blogspot.com


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 parentingproject@verizon.net

Find out more about the crisis in custody courts here:

www.centerforjudicialexcellence.org/PhotoExhibit.htm
www.child-justice.org
www.leadershipcouncil.org
www.evawintl.org provides forensic resources to end violence against women

about domestic violence in hague custody cases:
www.haguedv.org

more about domestic violence in law enforcement:
http://behindthebluewall.blogspot.com/



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