So, backing up, how is it that after a full investigation and a determination by SRS, the Vermont child protective services, indicating that the father, Tom Wilkinson, had sexually abused the children, that the Connecticut Court ended up giving custody of both children--Ben and Jonathan--to the person who was said to have abused them?
Apparently, what happened is that on July 7, 1993, not long after SRS had made its determinations, Judge Herbert Barall, the presiding judge in the child custody dispute between Tom Wilkinson and Linda Wiegand in Connecticut, ordered Mr. Paul Shanley of Connecticut child protective services (DCF) to ask the Vermont's services (SRS) "what is going on?" SRS again provided information to DCF indicating that Tom Wilkinson had abused the children. Confirming this, Ms. Caroline Russell of SRS wrote a letter to DCF on July 15, 1993 indicating that abuse allegations had been substantiated indicating that Tom Wilkinson had abused both Ben and Jonathan. In the letter, Ms. Russell indicated to the court that giving custody of the children to Tom Wilkinson's sister, Karen, would put the children at risk of harm. Mr. Shanley presented this letter, along with a report of his investigation, to the Connecticut Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office, in turn, forwarded these materials to Judge Barall.
After receiving Shanley's material and before making any final decision regarding custody, Judge Herbert Barall appointed Dr. Kenneth Robson to evaluate the situation. Dr. Robson met with Tom Wilkinson, Linda Wiegand, both children, Dr. Balsam, and others. He also reviewed the transcripts of various interviews with the children, looked at drawings the children had done and other written material. He finished his investigation around December 1993. He concluded that he did not consider the allegations of abuse against Tom Wilkinson credible and he indicated his concern that the interviews with the two boys were leading and that Linda Wiegand had coached the children to lie. Apparently, one or both of the boys had made statements which appeared to indicate that Linda Wiegand may have coached them; however, to be honest these statements were ambiguous enough to make it unclear what the children actually meant by what they said. However, in Dr. Robson's view, the results of his investigation indicated that the initial investigation by SRS was "suggestive of possible coaching." Not that there was coaching, but that it was suggestive, and there might possibly have been. OK. In his conclusion, Dr. Robson concluded that the reported abuse was "unlikely"--not that it didn't happen, but that it was unlikely that it happened.
After Dr. Kenneth Robson filed his report with the Connecticut family court in January 1994, this was when Linda Wiegand disappeared with the children, as I stated she had in my previous discussion regarding this case. Here is where I get confused because there are different versions of the events I am describing. My understanding of the article I based my first blog on was that Ms. Wiegand disappeared when Tom Wilkinson's sister received custody of the children, but this other article I'm basing today's blog on states that Ms. Wiegand disappeared after Tom Wilkinson received custody of the children. Whichever way this occurred, what we have is the fact that Ms. Wiegand disappeared with the children. Still, Judge Herbert Barall continued on with a hearing and awarded custody to Tom Wilkinson and denied Linda Wiegand visitation rights. Subsequently, over two years later in July 1996, Wiegand was arrested in Las Vegas and both of the children were placed in Tom Wilkinson's custody.
So, what do I conclude from all of this? Well, to be honest, I've read the descriptions of the abuse Tom Wilkinson is accused of (I will discuss them in a later blog) and I don't know what to make of them. I'm on the fence about what I believe and or don't believe. Perhaps I will make up my mind during the course of writing up these blogs--maybe something will strike me that will shift me in one direction or another. But one thing I will say is that I have read a few reports written by Dr. Kenneth Robson here in Connecticut and the guy simply isn't that bright. His entire generation wasn't that bright overall. The contents I've read and analyzed in reports by doctors of his kind are rambling and loquacious, and generally heavy on personal prejudices, general impressions, gut intuitions, glossed over by a megalarge dose of psychobabble and extremely weak on the science. And, give me a break, what is this, the battle of the titanic psychiatric experts? What do these guys do in cases like this, go from psychiatrist to psychiatrist until they find the one that agrees with them? What does a psychiatric opinion matter if you can go from one to another and get results like "suggestive of" or "possible" or "likely" and "unlikely". Come on, people, these are the lives of vulnerable, frightened children and their parents we are talking about. Can anyone afford this kind of vague, careless, and ill considered language?
With this kind of voodoo psychiatry, if Tom Wilkinson is innocent, Dr. Balsam is a criminal for not getting it right, but if Linda Wiegand is innocent, there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Robson is the criminal. Because it is criminal to apply a science that is fraught with false positives and negatives and present it as a certainty to the Court and other government agencies put in place to protect the interests of children and their parents.