Bookmark and Share

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.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What Kentucky should teach Rhode Island's Attorney General and Judges

Click once to enlarge photo. Video is posted at 

On July 24, 2012, WKYT reported that Kentucky Judge Charles Hickman sentenced former social worker Geri Murphy to five years in prison after she admitted she had lied about sexual abuse cases involving children. She pleaded guilty to nine counts of falsifying documents. Though she had been living in Florida, Judge Hickman said she must serve her time in Kentucky.  
Prosecutors said that Murphy left children in homes where they were being sexually assaulted, that she never looked into the claims, and that she then lied to the state. Among the more disturbing cases listed in her indictment is the sexual abuse of a three-year-old by the biological father. 

A state official testified that abuse continues because of Murphy's actions."The fact that these children could be left in the hands of possible abusers is particularly disturbing to the court," said Judge Hickman, who denied probation, saying it "would diminish the seriousness of these offenses."

Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley commented "I feel like it sent a message---the system meant to protect children cannot be breached without serious consequences."

I wonder whether Rhode Island's Attorney General Peter Kilmartin will ever prosecute anyone involved in the case reported at where DCYF contracted with the Providence Center to have licensed social worker Haven Miles "reunite" two sisters with their biological father despite their terror of him, as Miles described in her own reports. The case illustrates why allegations of child sexual abuse and domestic violence--often felonies--do not belong in a civil courtroom where adversarial litigation fails to investigate the most obvious evidence.

The case of Jerry Sandusky at the University of Pennsylvania has brought new insights to the methods used by pedophiles. Last Sunday, Jenifer B. McKim, reported in the Boston Globe how diligent prosecutors search for evidence to use against those who target infants and toddlers because these children have no words to describe the crimes committed against them. Her article, "Photo emailed from Mass. man led to vast child pornography network," is posted online at

How do young children disclose horrific sexual crimes to adults who would rather not understand what they are saying? In the Little Hostages case, social worker Haven Miles admitted that she had no way of knowing whether the sisters had been sexually abused by their father. But once DCYF hired Miles to reunite the girls with their father, she probably never saw their graphic artwork. The younger sister was three when she allegedly expressed her fear of her father's "sausage games" to a home child care owner, day care staff, hospital staff, and others. The girl drew her father like this, showing the multiple fingers and shaded, enlarged genitals that are common in drawings by genuine sex abuse victims:

I saw her older sister's drawing of a huge erect penis in scorching red, which was so graphic I did not dare publish it on the Little Hostages blog. Both drawings would show how farfetched the father's claim was when he blamed their mother for putting those ideas into their daughters' heads, as if she were capable of demonstrating male erection and ejaculation in such a memorable manner. And yet, DCYF became complicit in the father's defense and delivered the girls to him using federal "reunification" funds. Whether DCYF even bothered to search for evidence may never be known, since Family Court Associate Justice John Mutter imposed an unconstitutional gag order and sealed both the divorce and DCYF files. 

Since DCYF appears to be so readily manipulated by defense attorneys,  Rhode Island prosecutors must aspire to at least as high a standard as Kentucky's Office of Attorney General, and Family Court judges must begin to feel disturbed when apparent crimes against children are reduced to civil matters. 

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: