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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.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Steve Hart deserves a great Father's Day

(Click once to enlarge.) 

(More to come . . . . ) 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

PAS to be argued in California Court of Appeals

On June 13, 2012, at 9 A.M., the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District Court, Division 3, at 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, will hear oral argument on the use of Parental Alienation Syndrome ("PAS") in child sexual abuse cases in McRoberts v. Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. B234877.  

Patricia J. Barry, attorney for Sera McRoberts, will present oral argument on the violations of due process and equal protection that Sera McRoberts and her children experienced during the trial on the two daughters' allegations of sexual abuse against their father, Steve Lesserson.  Ms. Barry argued and won the first sexual harassment case before the U.S. Supreme Court in Merritor vs. Vinson.  The Amicae (several national domestic violence organizations and California Senator Sheila Kuehl having signed on) are represented by Erica Reilley of Jones Day who will present oral argument on the lack of scientific validity and inadmissibility of evidence of PAS.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have rejected PAS as both unscientific and failing to meet evidentiary standards. It is not listed in any of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals. Yet, Stan Katz, Custody Evaluator and Expert Witness of the infamous McMartin Preschool Trial and the Michael Jackson molestation cases, used PAS against Sera McRoberts to change custody to Mr. Lesserson, despite the fact that one of the daughters had contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

Some Rhode Island judges still lend credence to PAS, which was featured in the Bar Association's 2004 Guardian ad Litem Training Manual and as recently as the April/May 2012 issue of the Rhode Island Bar Journal. 

For a pdf of the McRoberts Amicus Brief, send an email to ParentingProject@ with "Amicus Brief" in the subject line. 

For further information, contact Patricia J. Barry, Attorney, 213-995-0734,

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: