Please notify me, Anne Grant, ParentingProject@verizon.net if you have any concerns or corrections regarding this testimony. Thank you.
§ 8-16.1-4 Criteria for selection of best qualified nominees. – The commission shall consider, but is not limited to, the following factors in selecting the best qualified nominees: intellect, ability, temperament, impartiality, diligence, experience, maturity, education, publications, and record of public, community, and government service. … The commission shall also consider the candidate's sensitivity to historically disadvantaged classes, and may disqualify any candidate with a demonstrated history of bias towards any of these classes.[i]Your criteria for selecting nominees includes impartiality, diligence, publications, and sensitivity to historically disadvantaged classes. Barbara Barrow wrote an article for the Rhode Island Bar Journal that disqualifies her for the bench on those grounds. I am posting this testimony with linked references so you can examine the sources for yourself.
Barbara Barrow’s article, “Parental Alienation Syndrome in Divorce”[ii] is simplistic and ignores factual evidence. What she leaves out is significant. She says that Richard A. Gardner, M.D., introduced “Parental Alienation” in the 1980s. She does not mention these facts:
Gardner held that children who claim to be sexually abused by fathers, should not be believed. He hypothesized that the mothers had alienated, brainwashed, coached, and programmed their children. In one of the last interviews Gardner gave, Garland Waller asked what a mother should do when her child accuses a father of sexual abuse. Gardner replied the mother should say: “I don't believe you. I am going to beat you for saying that. Don't you ever talk that way again about your father.”[vii]
In the high-profile custody case of a Family Court deputy sheriff accused of domestic violence, Tassoni tells me he is searching for a psychologist who “understands Parental Alienation.” He finds one in a tiny suburban office. She moves into an elegant suite downtown as the court-appointed therapist who does “co-parenting” and “reunification therapy.” These are catchwords often associated with coercive “parental alienation” defense strategies. I have found them in Rhode Island guardian ad litem reports and court orders that placed children in the sole custody of alleged abusers or sent them back and forth between parents, even when one parent was documented as abusive and the other was protective.
I write an op-ed in the Providence Journal about the “Discredited Parental Alienation Syndrome”[xi] and residents of a Rhode Island town ask me to research a case in which a 3-year-old complained about her father’s “sausage games.”[xii] The guardian ad litem was a close friend of the father’s criminal defense attorney and their “parental alienation” argument persuaded DCYF to give the father sole custody. He eventually took his daughters out of state and then out of the country. The neighbors had helped bring to Rhode Island a nationally recognized out-of-state attorney who specializes in fighting parental alienation cases, but the father’s lawyers successfully invoked Rhode Island’s pro hoc vice rules to block his participation. I later testify about the case and write about it online, giving names of lawyers and clinicians, as well as referencing these sources.
Commissioners, this is not about political correctness. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the American Psychiatric Association have absolutely rejected “parental alienation” on both legal and scientific grounds. They recognize this as a racket in which a small group of lawyers and psychologists can enrich themselves for years at the expense of vulnerable children and families, as we have documented over more than two decades in Rhode Island.
We need this Commission to become well-informed about the racketeering use of “parental alienation” and to discern which candidates have the personal integrity not to allow these schemes to persist in their courtrooms. Please ask all candidates for Family Court -- and in the future, for appellate courts -- what their opinions are of “parental alienation.” See if they understand why coercive strategies for “co-parenting,” and “reunification therapy” can be dangerous for these children and their protective parents.
We need you to do three things:
1. Become well-informed about these abusive rackets by reviewing the sources; [xiv]
2. Nominate prospective judges who recognize and will not tolerate strategies based on the junk science of “parental alienation”; and
3. Do not recommend as “highly qualified” Barbara Barrow or any candidate willing to compromise the safety of children and the rigors of the law to permit courtroom strategies based on “parental alienation.”