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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, December 7, 2013

Gift of the Mommies, A True Story

A military mom discovers her 2-year-old son has been sexually abused while she was gone.

The Gift of the Mommies
by Anne Grant
Christmas always makes it worse. Pictures of Mary embracing her baby Jesus remind mothers like “Grace” in Rhode Island and “Claire” in Massachusetts of the children they lost to abusers in America’s failed family courts. Their sons were nine in 2009, when they met in a support group I ran. Claire noticed Grace sitting silently across the room in rumpled blue scrubs with dark circles under her eyes.  
That December, for the first time in five years, a judge let Grace keep her son, “Benjamin,” overnight on Christmas Eve. The boy wanted to spend Christmas day with her, too, but the judge said he must return to his father, a troubled man with influential connections who often left the boy home alone.
Grace blew kisses and waved goodbye, then went home in tears to spend Christmas in bed with full-blown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Her phone rang. It was Claire inviting her to Massachusetts. If they could not be with their sons that day, at least they could be together.
Grace climbed out of bed with a bold idea. She looked through Benjamin’s toys and found a brand new one for Claire’s son. What 9-year-old would not adore an archeologist’s tool kit for digging up dinosaurs?
Claire, a veteran of three wars since 1990, flew in Panama, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq. Though she holds a medal for meritorious service, she could not protect her two-year-old son, “Connor,” from the sexual abuse he described in agitated baby talk when she got home from Iraq. Family court resists mothers who introduce evidence of child sex abuse. Claire’s husband and his sister won custody of Connor. Claire had not seen the boy for three years.
It took Grace ninety minutes to drive to Claire’s home and another half hour to convince her it was time to see her son. Claire knew Connor would love the archaeologist tools. She wrapped the present carefully, adding Connor’s favorite stickers and a Christmas card. She included the birthday card she had not been allowed to give him. She put on her prettiest mommy clothes--a red and black fleece jacket, warm pants, and snow boots.
Bundled into Grace’s car, Claire asked quietly: "How are we going to do this?” Grace wasn't sure. Claire had no restraining order against her, just years of legal abuse and abiding fear that if she got close to her son’s father and aunt, she would kill them for what they were doing to her son.        
The father’s house was dark when they got there. Grace drove around it and saw no sign that a child lived inside. They discovered the father’s car parked at his sister’s home. Grace knew they needed a police officer, or they would get blamed for something they did not do.
The mommies searched for a squad car. Grace pulled out her business card and told the officer she was a psychologist. She had tried to contact the father, but he was not home. She wanted the boy to see his mother on Christmas. Shouldn’t every child have that right?
The officer quizzed them and finally agreed to go along. Grace asked him not to stand nearby for fear of alarming the child. He watched from just beyond the next house. By then streetlights were coming on.
Instead of going to the door, Claire stood by Grace’s car under the streetlight looking radiantly beautiful in her mommy clothes. Her prematurely white hair flared out like luminescent angel wings.
Grace took Claire’s present to the back door. She rang the bell and held her breath. A scurry of young feet sounded inside. The door opened, and Connor stood before her.
Grace smiled and handed him the present: "Connor, this is from your mommy. If you look over my shoulder, she is standing there under the light." He leaned forward, his eyes searching.
"That’s my mommy!" Connor exclaimed, and Grace replied: "Yes, that’s your mommy." He waved frantically, and Claire waved back laughing and weeping. No matter what scary things they had told him about her, he was not afraid. Grace felt the enormity of their love and thought of her own son.
"Nooooo!" A screech erupted as the boy’s aunt barreled toward the door. She snatched the box from his hands.
Grace spoke firmly to the woman: "Look over my right shoulder. A police officer is there for us, and I will call him if I need to.”
Pulling the boy away, the aunt retreated into the house.
Grace reached her car and turned to see an unnerving sight. Connor had squeezed behind the Christmas tree by the big window in the living room and pressed his fingers to the glass as if drowning in a submerged car against an unyielding weight of water. He pressed so hard she could see the whites of his hands. He leaned in, pushing his face and his entire body against the window for one last look.
Claire stood under the streetlight waving and weeping. Suddenly the house went dark; the boy disappeared. Claire got into Grace’s car and they pulled away.  
The mommies had delivered their gift.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

John E. McCann III, William F. Holt, John A. Tarantino, and Fraud on the Court

My last post applauded Associate Justice John E. McCann III for finding Attorney William F. Holt had committed fraud on the court. Those of us who have tracked fraud on the court in other cases often notice the "cabals of court" -- those officers who keep showing up together as thick as thieves.

Holt and his attorney, John A. Tarantino, were featured in another case, along with Attorney Patricia K. Rocha, whose father Associate Justice Gilbert T. Rocha ruled on a case (K01-0521M), in which his daughter and Tarantino, representing Textron, persuaded the judge to scare off investigators. On July 13, 2004, a woman stood in the courtroom to denounce them all for insurance fraud, and Holt sent a ream of papers flying into the air -- one of the finest performances of judicial distraction I have ever seen.    

I wrote more about that case, along with another one (K01-0503), here: 

If you want more details (since your tax money is paying for this interminable fraud on the court), check these links: 

As always, I am writing in hope that other judges will use their authority to stop the widespread abuses of Family Court. If I have made any mistakes, I will gladly correct them. Let me know at ParentingProject @ 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bill Holt finally gets caught committing fraud on the court

Thank you, Judge McCann. (This reminds me of the Textron Case a dozen years ago and the glaring areas of dysfunction in Rhode Island's Family Court. More to come.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Shame on the judges who fail to look at the evidence of child abuse

About two dozen protestors held signs and wore neon green shirts that read "Shame on you, Judge Goger" and "Shame on you, Judge Lane" as they marched outside the Fulton County Courthouse Monday.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger came under fire because of a recent order requiring a 10-year-old girl to live with her father, who was twice arrested for abusing her in a recent custody hearing.
CBS Atlanta News is not using the names of the parties to protect the child.
The mother of the girl told CBS Atlanta News reporter Jeff Chirico that she believes the judge did not consider the evidence and was influenced by her ex-husband's attorney.
Criminal charges against the girl's father were dropped for lack of evidence, but according to court records and the mother, five independent assessments supported the girl's story of repeated abuse.
Despite the allegations, the custody evaluator and court-appointed guardian ad litem, recommended the child be placed in the father's home because the mother was subconsciously "re victimizing" the child.
Deb Beacham, executive director of My Advocate Center, a resource group on child custody issues, said this isn't the only case in which a judge has placed a child back with his or her alleged abuser.
She said she believes judges sometimes consider their relationships with attorneys rather than what is in the best interest of the child.
"The judges are loyal to the relationships they have with attorneys and custody experts rather than heeding the evidence of the case and the needs of the children," said Beacham.
According to Beacham, the guardian ad litem in the case of the 10-year-old girl has charged the family $150,000 for his services.
"Why would a guardian ad litem make $150,000 suppressing evidence? Why would a custody evaluator make $65,000 on a case where the evidence is overwhelming?" asked Beacham.
"They don't need to make that kind of money, when they're preventing a child from being protected."
Goger's judicial assistant told CBS Atlanta News that he has no comment.
Protestors also railed Goger's fellow family court judge, Bensonetta Lane, for recent rulings that they said put children in danger and hurt relationships between children and a parent.
One father, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Lane drastically slashed his custodial time given by a judge in another state "to zero. For no reason. I didn't see my children for a whole month."
"It is strictly politics, hidden influence, backroom dealings," said Beacham.
She said she is asking Goger to sit down with the evidence and the experts that did the forensic evaluations. 
"We can't hide evidence. We can't hide damage to children," said Beacham. 
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

What happens to children's brains when DCYF and Family Court give them to their abusers instead of their protectors?

Specific Changes in Brain Structure After Different Forms of Child Abuse

June 1, 2013 — Different forms of childhood abuse increase the risk for mental illness as well as sexual dysfunction in adulthood, but little has been known about how that happens. An international team of researchers, including the Miller School's Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has discovered a neural basis for this association. The study, published in the June 1 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, shows that sexually abused and emotionally mistreated children exhibit specific and differential changes in the architecture of their brain that reflect the nature of the mistreatment.

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Researchers have known that victims of childhood abuse often suffer from psychiatric disorders later in life, including sexual dysfunction following sexual abuse. The underlying mechanisms mediating this association have been poorly understood. Nemeroff and a group of scientists led by Christine Heim, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Medical Psychology at Charité University of Medicine Berlin, and Jens Pruessner, Ph.D., Director of the McGill Center for Studies in Aging at McGill University in Montreal, hypothesized that cortical changes during segments of mistreatment played a role. To study these potential changes, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brains of 51 adult women who were exposed to various forms of childhood abuse.
The results showed a correlation between specific forms of maltreatment and thinning of the cortex in precisely the regions of the brain that are involved in the perception or processing of the type of abuse. Specifically, the somatosensory cortex in the area in which the female genitals are represented was significantly thinner in women who were victims of sexual abuse in their childhood. Similarly, victims of emotional mistreatment were found to have a reduction of the thickness of the cerebral cortex in specific areas associated with self-awareness, self-evaluation and emotional regulation.
"This is one of the first studies documenting long-term alterations in specific brain areas as a consequence of child abuse and neglect," said Nemeroff, who is also Director of the Center on Aging. "The finding that specific types of early life trauma have discrete, long lasting effects on the brain that underlie symptoms in adults is an important step in developing novel therapies to intervene to reduce the often lifelong psychiatric/psychological burden of such trauma."
"Our data point to a precise association between experience-dependent neural plasticity and later health problems," said Heim. Pruessner agreed that the "large effect and the regional specificity in the brain that corresponds to the type of abuse is remarkable."
The scientists speculate that a regional thinning of the cortex may serve as a protective mechanism, immediately shielding the child from the experience of the abuse by gating or blocking the sensory experience. However, that thinning of the cortical sections may lay the groundwork for the development of behavioral problems in adulthood. The results of this study extend the literature on neural plasticity and show that cortical representation fields can be smaller when certain sensory experiences are damaging or developmentally inappropriate.
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Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of Miami.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:
  1. Christine M. Heim, Helen S. Mayberg, Tanja Mletzko, Charles B. Nemeroff, Jens C. Pruessner. Decreased Cortical Representation of Genital Somatosensory Field After Childhood Sexual AbuseAm J Psychiatry, June 1, 2013

University of Miami (2013, June 1). Specific changes in brain structure after different forms of child abuse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from­/releases/2013/06/130601133735.htm
Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Even in France, "Sara" and "Molly" remember that today is their Mami's birthday

The shocking failure of Rhode Island's Attorney General, DCYF, and Family Court to believe "Sara" and "Molly" when they reported their father's sexual abuse and domestic violence makes it all the more important to join EVAWI and its Start By Believing campaign.

Molly and Sara's case has been reported at Rhode Island's Little Hostages blog. Five years ago they were living in a state shelter:

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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Reason for Delays in RI Family Court

Today GoLocalProv published an important article by Stephen Beale about delays in Rhode Island Family Court:

Various people within the system suggest that delays are caused by insufficient funds and judicial vacancies. Don't believe them. 

About fifteen years ago, I sat in a nearly vacant courtroom at Garrahy Family Court, Providence, and listened to a lawyer behind me explaining the strategy of delays to his client in a custody case. 

"After a year or two, she'll get exhausted," the lawyer was saying. "She'll run out of money. She won't be able to afford a lawyer or anything else. Then you'll get the kid, and you can demand child support from your ex-wife." Neither one talked about the emotional turmoil this would cause his child. 

One of the most common ways that lawyers delay cases is by seeking continuances to bring in "experts" who will advocate for their clients. For more than two decades, I have researched domestic abuse custody cases in Rhode Island Family Court, trying to understand how this publicly financed process devastates so many children and families. (Below I am naming only those lawyers, including Kevin Aucoin at DCYF, and physicians who are specifically responsible to protect children.)

First Case: At Hasbro Hospital’s Child Protection Program (CPP), Providence, Rhode Island, in 1997, a 6–year-old girl sat rigid, a blanket over her head. Children often try to disappear when life gets intolerable.

The girl’s father had a documented history of aggression against his first two wives and their children. This child, the youngest and only girl, showed symptoms of sexual abuse by the father. CPP Director Dr. Carole Jenny reported: “There is no doubt in my mind that some event happened because of the child’s clear and consistent disclosure.”

The father harassed those who tried to help his families: a security guard, social workers, therapists, teachers. He took aim at Kevin Aucoin, chief legal counsel at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), for not responding quickly enough after the father appealed DCYF’s findings against him. When he threatened to sue both DCYF and Aucoin, the state agency needed Dr. Jenny to revise her assessment.

She listed warning signs in the father’s behavior, then minimized them in a summary of court documents. Her new "forensic review" freed the father to demand possession of his children. He held them for thirty months, until the eleventh Family Court judge to hear the case denounced his behavior in 2003 and sent the children home to their mother without child support and still subject to their father's emotional harassment. The children grew up in poverty. Their father, a realtor, gave his house to an adult child from his prior marriage and convinced the court he was poor, while their mother worked day and night stringing together minimum salary jobs.

Second Case: In March 2006, attorney Lise Iwon began writing letters to the CPP about a case in which she purported to be a neutral guardian ad litem. She secured a report from Dr. Nancy S. Harper at CPP that lacked medical information and merely summarized court documents Iwon had provided, repeating the conjecture, hearsay, and biased rhetoric in the father’s defense strategy.

Harper’s supervisor, Dr. Jenny, never saw or signed off on her CPP report before Iwon took it to the judge who ordered DCYF to remove two young girls that day from their mother for a “psychiatric evaluation.” Police arrived with a social worker to take them from their schools into “temporary” custody. The children remained in foster homes and a shelter at taxpayer expense for more than sixteen months before the state awarded the younger girl to the father she had accused of sexually assaulting her; the older girl went to yet another foster home. 

Scores of neighbors, teachers, and others wrote letters attesting to the mother’s superb parenting, but Iwon, who is a close friend of the father's defense attorney, never interviewed these people. She began an aggressive search for mental health professionals who would testify against the mother. Dr. Jenny told me the mother’s behavior sounded “bizarre” but candidly admitted she herself might seem bizarre if she believed her children were in danger.  Eventually the father won sole custody of the girls and denied them contact with their mother.

Third Case: A German father, head of a vast multinational corporate empire, retained several law firms in the U.S. and Germany to retrieve his two American sons after his estranged wife brought them here to her parents for one to have surgery in 2007.

The mother told me she had confronted her husband in Germany with evidence that he was sexually abusing their sons. She said she had walked in on this happening and found disturbing photos on a laptop computer her husband had given her. She related that her sons had pointed out a store where their father got hardcore pornography. They allegedly told her that he forced them to watch it and act it out.

The father hired a former U.S. official at $700 an hour as one of his lawyers, who reached out to Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah, Jr., and paid the chief’s assistant David Tassoni over $2,300 to help. The father’s attorneys met alone in chambers with U.S. District Judge William E. Smith and intervened to end the involvement of Family Court, DCYF, and the FBI. They secured attorney Sharon O’Keefe, who had been assistant child advocate in Rhode Island, to serve as guardian ad litem.

O’Keefe contracted with Dr. Jenny to evaluate some of the father’s photographs and a stack of German legal documents with apparent translations. O’Keefe’s bill exceeded $13,000, including at least $2,000 to be paid directly to Dr. Jenny.

O’Keefe hardly talked with the boys, and Jenny never met them. Both concluded they saw no evidence the father was a pedophile. Judge Smith gave the boys and their American passports to their father, who took them back to Germany in April 2007. 

Judge Smith ordered the father to give the boys plenty of time with their mother. But the father has forbidden her to see or communicate with the boys since 2007. On Mothers Day 2010, one son wrote a plaintive note asking why “these people” would not at least let them Skype her.

It is troubling that Dr. Jenny never talked to the boys, who might have helped her interpret the photos. Nor did she demand an independent search of the hard drive by state police who are specifically trained to examine electronic evidence of child pornography and do not accept private payment for their services.

The delays Beale writes about are a strategic part of adversarial litigation, which should have no place in deciding visitation and custody. Family Court exists for a political purpose – to reward legislative insiders with lifelong judgeships while allowing lawyers and clinicians to profit off of families in crisis.

Clinicians must recognize the motives and pitfalls when officers of the court reach out to them. Lawyers are hired to zealously represent their clients, no matter who gets hurt. Doctors trained to “do no harm” are easy prey for them; children suffer the consequences.

In order to protect children's identities, I am referring only to case numbers.

First Case: P92-4797 in Rhode Island Family Court; Carole Jenny, MD, signed the Child Safe Clinic #0629-23-38 report of January 14, 1997. After an extensive sexual abuse assessment by St. Mary's Home (April 16, 1997), DCYF sent a letter (April 18, 1997) to notify the father he had been "indicated." He appealed and a year later threatened to sue DCYF and its senior counsel Kevin Aucoin for failure to schedule a hearing. DCYF asked Dr. Jenny to review her records. Her report (July 29, 1998) led to a revised DCYF report (August 6, 1998) and Aucoin's motions (August 6, 1998, etc.) to launch an expedited trial. DCYF investigator Edward J. O'Donnell sent a letter (August 18, 1998) to the father stating that the findings against him "are hereby overturned . . . pursuant to . . . a forensic review of the investigation and all associated material conducted by Dr. Carole Jenny" (DCYF Administrative Appeal of SCR 425142 I/6).

Second Case: N04-0106 in Rhode Island Family Court and 1676-86-32 AC 000119896231 at Rhode Island Hospital. Before Lise Iwon asked Judge John Mutter to seal the court file, I found her Motion (March 31, 2006) regarding her communications with Nancy Harper, as well as Iwon's Motion (April 5, 2006) asking to release clinical reports and court documents to Harper, whose report (March 21, 2006, signed April 5, 2006), shows that Harper already had those documents. Iwon's bill documents her search for mental health professionals. I interviewed the mother and secured documents from her as well as the court file until Judge Mutter imposed a gag order forbidding all parties to disclose anything further about the case and sealed both the divorce and DCYF files, on or about August 16, 2007.

Third Case: 07-46S in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, which holds transcripts, including the ex parte chamber conference of January 31, 2007, and court orders, including the decisive order of March 28, 2007; Jenny's report to O'Keefe (March 15, 2007); and the father's documentation of payments to Tassoni and others. The mother provided scores of documents, including the rental list from the German video store (October 2005), an initial DCYF report by Paul Ventura (January 31, 2007), O'Keefe's bills (March 12 and 28, 2007), hundreds of photographs from the laptop, and her son's letter (Mother's Day 2010). I met with state police, who confirmed that these photos included child pornography. 

 Anne Grant ( writes several blogs, including and others. Her chapter on Rhode Island appears 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).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Government Agencies Perpetuate the Incest Problem

The Atlantic has published an important article, "America Has an Incest Problem," by Mia Fontaine: 
Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC's Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann's faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech. 
Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover. 
Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.*

In Rhode Island, the Parenting Project has been researching the systemic ways in which DCYF and Family Court allow and sometimes encourage this abuse to continue by refusing to believe children who protest sex abuse in the home and even giving these children to the sole custody of parents who have been indicated as perpetrators. 

We are focusing specifically on the ways defense lawyers, guardians ad litem, and judges have enabled a small pool of clinicians to produce biased "evaluations" that vilify good parents and assign custody to parents who litigate aggressively, some of whom have been indicated as abusers. This occurred in the case of "Molly" and "Sara" at, where significant evidence was never considered, including the sisters' graphic drawings of erect and ejaculating penises, scores of letters from neighbors, teachers and others attesting to the mother's excellent parenting, and official reports riddled with bias. 

These are some of the areas that we are investigating in Rhode Island's practice of assigning unqualified clinicians to evaluate child custody cases (whether or not there are allegations of child sex abuse) and the methods these clinicians employ: 
1. What are the clinical presenting symptoms and how are these documented?
2. What is the diagnosis and the science behind that diagnosis?
3. What is the prescribed treatment and the science behind that treatment?
4. Who have been primary providers apart from the court's involvement? Have court-ordered clinicians consulted with them?
5. Do court-ordered clinicians have relevant training in trauma, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, etc.?
6. How is the court-ordered treatment paid for, and does this deplete insurance coverage for more appropriate treatment by primary providers?
7. What new symptoms appear during and after court-ordered treatment and how are these documented?
8. What kinds of coercion and penalties have been imposed related to the involvement of court-ordered clinicians? 
Those who wish to share relevant information may write confidentially to the Parenting Project coordinator, Anne Grant, at parenting project@  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Psychologist attacked for reporting child sexual abuse

In Pennsylvania, Jim Singer, a psychologist who reported child sexual abuse suffered reprisals after workers at the state child protective agency apparently mounted a vendetta against him:

The Parenting Project examines Rhode Island child custody cases that reveal the use and abuse of clinicians by DCYF and Family Court. Our goal is to reform government agencies that place vulnerable children and their protectors in greater danger.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Best Documentary: No Way Out But One
Filmmaker Garland Waller deals in unpleasant facts. Take this one: according to the American Psychological Association, fathers who abuse their families are more likely to win custody of their kids than those who don’t. In her latest documentary,No Way Out But One, Waller, a College of Communication assistant professor of film and television, brings one desperate mother’s custody struggle to the screen—and, she hopes, to living rooms nationwide.
In 1994, Holly Collins ran. Despite her broken nose, her son’s fractured skull, and other terrifying reports of alleged abuse, a judge had awarded her husband full custody of their children. When her three kids—then all under 12 years of age—pleaded with her to protect them, Collins took them and ran. The four unlikely fugitives swerved across the continent and away from the clutches of the FBI before making a dash for the Netherlands. There, Collins blurted out a plea for asylum; after years in refugee camps, she would become the first American woman to be granted sanctuary in the northern European country because of domestic violence.
No Way Out But One is a $40,000 documentary with all the ingredients of a taut big-budget flick. Waller kept the price tag for her documentary about Collins below Hollywood averages by adding her filmmaking students to the production team.
“I picked the students who were politically committed to this kind of issue and really wanted to go the extra mile,” she says. “As a producer, not as a professor, I love working with those people who say, ‘Teach me, show me, and I’ll give you my time and energy.’”
Not everyone—the original family court judge included—has always been as convinced about the veracity of Collins’ abuse allegations as have Waller and her students. Even 18 years later, Waller has faced down doubters at screenings. “I am confident, 100 percent, that we have told the truth,” she says. “We’ve got FBI documents, legal documents, documents from the hearings, and letters from the doctors who saw the children.”
The film’s editor, Erika Street (COM’11), who also put together a 14-minute short of the documentary, shares that confidence. She sifted through a wealth of background information, and when she got lost in the details, appreciated being dragged up for a look at the bigger story. “The project was a good reminder of how important it is to have people watch your edits at various stages,” Street says.
Boston University BU, College of Communication COM assistant professor Garland Waller, Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival, No Way Out but One documentary winner
Garland Waller on the red carpet at the Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival, in Muskogee, Okla., where No Way Out But One won Best Documentary. Waller’s film has garnered several awards. Photos courtesy of Garland Waller
No Way Out But One first aired in late October on the Documentary Channel and has had several subsequent showings. The film will be available for purchase in March, and Waller is optimistic that it will find a wider audience. Her previous documentary on custody battles, the award-winning Small Justice: Little Justice in America’s Family Courts, was largely restricted to film festivals; Waller suspects that was because it was such tough viewing. “I wasn’t able to find one story that had a happy ending,” she says.
Collins’ story is different (we won’t completely spoil the surprise). But there’s a wider tale that needs a happily-ever-after, too. Waller says abused women who want to win custody battles are often advised to keep quiet about the cruelty; it improves their chances in court. It’s a wrong that Waller—and the students who worked with her—are determined to right.

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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).

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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: