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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, May 16, 2013

Dominique Buccafurri Goes To Washington

Last weekend, Dominique Buccafurri, 24, of Cranston, Rhode Island, went to Washington, D.C., and met other young adults whose lives have been turned upside down by family courts that fail to protect them from abuse in their own homes.   

One of those at the conference, Damon Moelter, was six, when he first accused his father in San Diego ten years ago of sexually abusing him. Authorities were unwilling to believe the boy and gave him to his father’s sole custody. Damon eventually escaped and went into hiding.  At 14, he posted videos online protesting the courts’ refusal to protect him. Recently, at 16, with his mother’s permission, he got married in Reno as the only way he could win legal emancipation from his father.

Dominique and Damon went to Washington, D.C., last weekend with scores of others for the Tenth Anniversary of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference at George Washington University Law School. On Mothers Day, several dozen joined the Mothers of Lost Children in front of the White House before that group lobbied Congress to establish and ensure due process for children when they become victims of crime in their own homes. Yet state courts persist in giving them to the sole custody of abusers.

A Dutch Embassy official accepted an award honoring the people and government of the Netherlands for granting amnesty to Holly Collins and her children in 1994, after they escaped Minnesota, where domestic violence had left one child with a fractured skull while the court kept returning them to their assailant. The family’s Dutch attorney, Els Lucas, also received an award and was featured in Garland Waller’s documentary, “No Way Out But One.”

University of Bridgeport psychiatry professor Liane J. Leedom shared her research on the “parasitic and predatory lifestyle” of psychopaths and the family courts’ difficulty understanding the impact of this disorder on children and non-offending parents. Donna Anderson’s workshop, books, and website,, offer resources to help victims of sociopaths and psychopaths.

Camille Cooper spoke about the work of the National Association to Protect Children. Cooper spearheaded two successful acts of Congress along with state legislation that has rescued thousands of children ( White House Advisor Lynn Rosenthal described the recently reenacted Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and its new recognition that non-offending mothers are often subjected to legal abuse when they try to protect children from court-ordered visits with abusers.

Dominique Buccafurri encouraged those at the conference not to give up on their children. For twelve years, her father, a police detective, held sole custody of her and claimed that her mother was a “dangerous drug addict and a whore.” In 2003, at the age of 14, Dominique realized those words were lies, and she appealed to the twelfth family court judge to hear the case. Associate Justice Stephen J. Capineri finally let her go home to her mother, but then sealed the file that Dominique now wants to see.

In the decade since then, she says, her father has denied her any contact with the two half-sisters she still loves. He refuses to put her on his medical insurance. “I know the lies he told about my mother when he used to say he only wanted my ‘best interest,’ and I wonder why all those judges chose to believe him.”

Her parents’ family court case, that started 24 years ago, the year she was born, illustrates the way judges in family court allow mental health experts to harass and endanger victims of domestic violence.  A workshop focusing on their case showed how mental health experts were used:
1. to authenticate lies by reporting hearsay as if it were true,
2. to accuse victims of crime as if they were the perpetrators,
3. to harm vulnerable children and adults by forcing them to meet with their abusers, and
4. to delay resolution and healing.  

 The case demonstrates that:
1. Domestic violence is a crime that cannot be resolved in a civil court.
2. These crimes should be heard by a jury.
3. Domestic violence is a criminal matter, not a mental health matter.
4. Victims of crime should not have to hire lawyers and psychologists to protect themselves and their children from abuse.

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: