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Friday, November 12, 2010
THE LINDA WIEGAND CASE, PART I
I am presenting the Linda Wiegand case on this blogsite because it has had very profound implications, I am sure, on how cases in Connecticut are handled in which sexual abuse has been alleged by the protective mother.
In bringing up this case, I am interested in hearing reader views on this subject and I would love to know whether anyone in Connecticut has additional information that I have not discovered as a result of my research regarding this case.
Also, because this case was so long--it was in the court system for almost a decade--there is no way I will be able to report on this case in one blog, so I anticipate that there will be several parts to this blog.
Briefly, this is how the Wiegand case began. In January 1986, Linda Wiegand had a son, Jon, after a brief marriage which was annulled after ten months. Later she met Tom Wilkinson and had a son with him, Ben, who was born on January 3, 1989. In January 1991, Linda married Mr. Wilkinson. In September 1992, Tom Wilkinson filed for divorce seeking joint custody of their child, Ben. Linda did not want joint custody. Both of the parties then lived in the state of Connecticut and so the divorce was originally filed in Connecticut.
After the filing for divorce, Linda Wiegand moved to Stowe, Vermont. Later on in 1992, because the two boys were acting out, Linda Wiegand took her children to a Dr. Steven C. Balsam, a licensed psychiatrist then practicing in Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Balsam concluded that Mr. Tom Wilkinson had sexually abused the boys, perhaps in the context of devil worship.
Both Linda Wiegand and Dr. Steven Balsam reported the situation to the child protective services in Vermont known as SRS, and the case was handed over to their offices in Morrisville. SRS sent out a social worker Mr. James Adams and a Stowe police officer, Bruce Merriam to investigate the case. As a result of the investigation, SRS substantiated the report of sexual abuse against Mr. Tom Wilkinson.
On January 25, 1993, Wilkinson was arrested and charged with sexual abuse. He denied the charges, pled not guilty, and was released on bail with the condition that he have no contact with his son. Tom Wilkinson appealed the determination by the SRS, but on May 12, 1993, Ms. Carolyn S. Russell, the SRS District Director at Morrisville, reaffirmed the determination. SRS agreed to put on hold any followup to this determination until the conclusion of the criminal and divorce litigation in connection to the case which was now underway in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut family court appointed Tom Wilkinson's sister, Karen Wilkinson, as Ben's guardian. Believing that this put her son at risk, Linda Wiegand disappeared with the children.
My intention in writing this narrative is not to state that I consider Linda Weigand more credible than Tom Wilkinson or vice versa, but only to comment on what would strike anyone who was familiar with the family court system. So, what do I find striking here.
Well, first, my understanding is that according to the automatic orders item #5 in a case where a party in a marriage has filed for divorce "Neither party shall permanently remove (a) minor child or children from the state of Connecticut, without written consent of the other or order of the court." My understanding is that Linda Wiegand was served with the subpoena for the divorce just as she was backing her car out of the driveway on her way to Vermont. Did she then park the car, go back to the house, contact a lawyer and make sure that she didn't violate the automatic orders by taking the children out of state without permission? I would really like to know that answer to that question.
Second, disappearing. I totally understand disappearing when you believe the injustice of the court will expose your children to either physical or emotional harm. On the other hand, don't I know how much doing so will absolutely anger the Court. It is my personal opinion that any person who flagrantly thumbs his nose at the Court will bear the very severe consequences later on, rightly or wrongly. So immediately, right at the beginning of this case, Linda Wiegand showed herself ready to act outside of the law in order to achieve goals that I sympathize with, if it is true that her children were sexually abused. And, as I have stated, I take no position in that regard.
Third, if I were looking at an inflammatory case in which sexual abuse and devil worship had been alleged, with all due respect to the Court, I would not make the sister of the alleged perpetrator guardian. That was like an FU right in Ms. Wiegand's face. Wasn't there anyone else available to act as guardian who could play a more neutral role in regard to both parents and send the message that the rights of both parents as well as the children would be respected?