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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.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When authorities do not listen to victims of abuse

New details in case of dad accused of slaying kids
Thursday, September 23, 2010
by Jessica Willey
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HOUSTON (KTRK) -- We've learned that a gun police say a father used to shoot his three children was once handled by investigators. It's new information in a disturbing case.

The gun the father is accused of using was returned to him by the legal system. It was the same gun that was around the children for years, and there's nothing the courts could have done about it.

Mohammad Goher was still at Ben Taub Hospital Wednesday night after surviving what investigators describe as a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. They say he used the same gun to kill his three children, ages 14, 12 and 7, and that gun was once the temporary property of the court.

"It's horrifying," said Steven Halpert.

Halpert has something heavy on his mind. He was the defense attorney for Goher who saw him through a successful deferred adjudication for assaulting his wife.

"This is every human being or every lawyer's nightmare for this to happen," Halpert said. "He was a model probationer."

Halpert also helped him get back the gun investigators say he used to murder his children.

"Had I had an inkling that there was something dangerous lurking or that he would do something improper with these weapons, then I would not have signed my name to that motion," Halpert said.

That motion led to an order on June 13, 2008, from Judge Jean Hughes to return two of Goher's guns taken from him after the 2006 assault on his wife. The two weapons were a 9mm and a rifle.

Harris County investigators confirm that the 9mm was the murder weapon Goher allegedly used early Sunday morning to kill his three children inside the back of his convenience store as they slept.

"There's no fault of the judge for giving back a gun that was used ultimately in a murder here because the judge had no more jurisdiction," KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said.

Androphy says the judge was legally required to return Goher's property. Any opposition, he says, should have come from the state or family court.

Friends of Goher's wife have described a violent past that sent her fleeing to a local Islamic domestic abuse shelter. Halpert says he never saw it.

"He was just a working guy and a very nice guy," Halpert said.

But he still can't help but feel some guilt.

"If I could go back to June 12, of course; it's a nightmare," Halpert said.

Those close to Goher's ex-wife say he should have never had access to any guns and that the children were afraid of him.

Goher is charged with capital murder. The Harris County District Attorney's Office hasn't said whether it will pursue the death penalty.

(Copyright ©2010 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Shelter: Dad accused of killing kids made threats
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

by Miya Shay

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There's new information in the case of a man accused of killing his own children before trying to commit suicide.

Police say Mohammad Goher was afraid of losing custody of the children to his ex-wife, but we're learning more about their split and the unusual demands he made to spend time with his children.

It's such a devastatingly sad story in any way you look at it. Goher is still being treated for a gunshot wound at an area hospital, but he has been charged with capital murder in connection the slaying of his three children. He has a court appearance scheduled on Tuesday, but on Monday, a lot of people who knew about the divorce between him and his ex-wife say this was something they didn't quite expect.

A teddy bear and a few burnt out candles marked the place where three children lost their lives. Attorney Sandra Peake remembers meeting them.

"They were just as cute as they could be, and very loving and affectionate towards their mom," Peake said.

Peake represents Norma Goher, the mother of 14-year-old Saeedah, 12-year-old Saeed, 7-year-old Aisha.

Their birth certificates show the kids were born in America, but Goher, their father, sent them to Pakistan for two years until, family members say, Norma Goher managed to get them returned to Houston this past February.

"She was extremely attached. She was very determined to get the kids back from Pakistan and bring them here so she could raise them," Peake said.

But this past Sunday, the unthinkable happened.

Goher is now accused of killing his three kids during a court-ordered visitation.

"Apparently, someone told him last week that the children would be taken away from him," said Syed Izfar.

Izfar is the attorney who was representing the interests of the children as their parents divorced.

"No one knew this was coming," he said. "This was a bolt out of the blue."

Prior to that visit, Goher had reached out to local Pakistani radio host Manzoor Memon and was willing to go on the radio to talk about his case.

"Our plan was to put him on radio talk show on Sunday at 12 o'clock," Memon said. "And I called him around 11 o'clock to confirm that he will be on the radio, and he didn't pick up the phone and this thing had had already happened."

Norma Goher has been living in a women's shelter for more than a year. She had a restraining order against her ex-husband, who was also arrested in 2006 for beating her.

So why did the children visit every weekend? The women running the shelter An-Nisa Shelter offers some insight.

"Many times, he threatened the children, 'If you don't come back to me, I will kill you. I will kill myself. I will kill myself,'" one of them told us. "They cared about their father."

In fact, the women who run the shelter say the kids often had reservations about visiting their father, but because they loved him and wanted to see him alive and well, they'd often go visit him when he made threats.

Despite these alleged threats, Child Protective Services says not one single complaint had been filed in connection to the alleged mistreatment of the children prior to their deaths. The only records of abuse are between the mother and the father.

Late Monday night, strangers mourned for the three children during a vigil. Kneeling in prayer before freshly lit candles, they also pray most for the mother of the victims.

(Copyright ©2010 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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: