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Showing posts with label DR. ERIC FRAZER. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DR. ERIC FRAZER. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2017

COURT WATCH ALERT: POWELL V. ALEXANDER CASE, CHILD ABUSE ALLEGED!

CONNECTICUT COURT WATCH ALERT
Foundation for the Child Victims of Family Court

WHAT: Federal Civil Rights Case of Scott Powell 
Suing the New Canaan Police and Maternal Grandparents for Protecting their Grandchildren from Abuse and Harm 

WHEN:    March 28, 2017 at  3:00 p.m. 

WHERE:  Bridgeport District Court
WHO:    Powell v Alexander Case #:3:16-cv-01654, Judge Underhill

WHY WATCH:

This Fairfield County federal case being heard tomorrow in Bridgeport District Court involves two young girls who have been traumatized and have suffered years of Adverse Childhood  Experiences ACEs:



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HOW CAN WE UNDERSTAND IT WHEN GALS REFUSE TO LISTEN TO THEIR CHILD CLIENTS!

A friend of mine recently told me her GAL story.  Let's call her Sally.  According to Sally, it was getting to the end of her custody evaluation and her son, John, came to her and said that he wanted to stay in Connecticut and didn't want to be with his father out of state.  

Sally would like to be able to say this was because of her wonderful parenting skills, and that he preferred to be with her marvelous self.  In fact, what primarily influenced John was his attachment to his home and his community as well as his strong relationship with his friends.  Simply put, John was a homebody who liked to hang out with the same kids he always hung out with and didn't want any changes.  

In response,  Sally told John to sit down and write a letter to his GAL and explain how he felt.  John went ahead and did that and gave the letter to his GAL.  In response, the GAL said that she could not take John's views into consideration and that she was going to make her decision independent of his wishes.  

When Sally heard this reaction from the GAL, she immediately went to the custody evaluator in the case and made an appointment for John to speak directly to the doctor.  In a session that was often very tearful, John explained how he felt.  When the final custody evaluation came out, not only did Sally end up with residential custody, there was a special section in the doctor's recommendations that specifically addressed John's wishes and made sure they were respected.  

When I listened to Sally's story, my question was directed towards the GAL.  Why didn't the GAL respect John's wishes?  

Clearly, the psychiatrist in the case felt that John's concerns were important, so why didn't the GAL think that it was in the best interests of the child to take in account his expressed wishes?  This is not unusual in many custody cases--frequently, GALs will simply refuse to listen to or respect what their child clients have to say.  

A similar situation occurred in the case of Karyn Gil v. John Gil where Attorney Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett, LLC was the Guardian Ad Litem for the child.  When Attorney Barrett was first appointed to the case, he met with the child--Ashley--who was too intimidated by him in their first meeting to really speak to him.  

The second time they met, there was a more positive interaction and at the end of the visit, Attorney Barrett gave Ashley his business card and said that he would return her call if she ever reached out to him and called him even if all she wanted to talk about was Harry Potter.  

However, when the time came and Ashley called Attorney Barrett with a question, Attorney Barrett couldn't be bothered to call her back.  

Continuing to reach out to Attorney Barrett, Ashley then had her therapist Dr. Ginther call on her behalf asking that he call her back.  Still, Attorney Barrett didn't call her back.  Finally, Ashley wrote a note to Attorney Campbell Barrett asking him to call her and giving him specific times to call, but still he didn't bother to call her back.  

When Karyn Gil's attorney asked Campbell Barrett why he didn't call Ashley back his response was that he was too busy with other cases and didn't have time.  Does that truly make sense as an answer?  If you have so many cases that you are unable to meet the needs of your child clients, shouldn't you resign and let someone else on the over 1000 list of qualified GALs have a chance at employment?  

As a side point, not only did Attorney Campbell Barrett completely disregard his client, Ashley Gil's, requests, he also felt comfortable gossiping about her in the open where everyone could hear his remarks.  Specifically, during the break in one of the hearings in the case, he engaged in a gossip session out in the corridor with Attorney Emily Moskowitz and Attorney Jeff Mickelson (Karyn's prior attorney in the case) about Ashley's private business, apparently stating that he was going to "spin" the testimony of Ashley's therapist in the case so the outcome of the hearing would go his way.  (We know the conversation took place because the maternal grandparents, whom Attorney Campbell Barrett had not yet met, were sitting nearby and heard every word.)  

This is hardly the kind of behavior anyone would expect of a family court professional.  No wonder none of these cases get resolved properly!  

The same situation occurred with the Kathi Sorrentino case in regard to her son, Storm.  The Court stated that it wanted to hear Storm's voice and so it appointed Dr. Eric Frazer as the GAL.  Storm repeatedly told the Court, told Dr. Eric Frazer, told everyone both verbally and in writing that he wanted remain in the residential custody of his mother.  

Nonetheless, his expressed wishes were simply ignored, he was placed in the full custody of his father against his wishes and so eventually he went AWOL and disappeared for a month only returning when his mother was jailed.  When the Court asked Dr. Eric Frazer, the GAL, if he had met with Storm, "Have you talked to him at all?", Dr. Frazer's response was, "I haven't been having conversations with Storm..."  Well, why not?  Aren't you his Guardian Ad Litem?  Aren't you supposed to be speaking to the child so the Court can listen to his voice and hear his perspective?  What is it with GALs who think they can act with complete independence and disregard of their child clients?

The bottom line is that the GAL system was put into place as a result of a shift in understanding regarding children.  It reflected a recognition that the old adage that "Children are to be seen but not heard" fails to acknowledge their equitable right to some measure of self-determination in regard to their lives.  

Children need to have an attorney, it was theorized, in order to defend their best interests, and not only that, they need to have their voices heard despite the fact that they are still minors.  

Unfortunately, the way GALs are currently playing it, they are continuing to maintain this paternalistic attitude of "father knows best" and carrying on as though it is not important to at least consult with how the children involved feel about the crisis that is going on in their lives and what they would like the outcome to be.  

It is important to know that as long as we continue on with the GAL system as it is, children will continue to suffer in silence.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ANATOMY OF A CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEME: THE KATHI SORRENTINO STORY, PART VI!

At the end of the hearing on May 23, 2014, Judge Corinne Klatt stated "I will find that joint legal custody between the two parties no longer works.  Case law  establishes that it only works if the parties are united in -- purpose.  Clearly, that is not the case.  Given the testimony of the parties, the evidence that's been presented today, I will issue -- I will make a finding that sole legal custody of the minor child, Storm, will rest with the plaintiff [father].  Physical residence of the child will change within the next 60 days."  

OK, well, you see this is my problem--we are talking about a change in a final judgment dated November 29, 2007. Where is the case law which allows for such a dramatic change in custody based upon a failure in "united purpose" which existed prior to and subsequent to dissolution? What does the law state about a change in custody on that basis?  

According to Crowley v. Crowley, 46 Conn. App. 87, 92, 699 A.2d 1029 (1997) and Spencer v. Spencer, 71 Conn. App. 575, 481, 802 A.2d 215 (2002) when presented with a motion for modification of custody, a court must first determine as a finding of fact whether there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both of the parties since the date of the judgment.  

As anyone with a familiarity with the Sorrentino case would know Kathi and Sam Sorrentino weren't "united in purpose" before their divorce, particularly since Sam had perpetrated domestic violence against Kathi, and they were not "united in purpose" afterwards" since Mr. Sorrentino continued to legally stalk Kathi Sorrentino through the court system subsequent to dissolution as I have documented.  Further, Judge Klatt's decision was in violation of the law in regard to the modification of a final judgment because it did not make a finding of fact that there had been any change in circumstances since judgment which would justify such a modification.  

On the contrary, what Judge Corinne Klatt observed was that there was an ongoing continuation of circumstances that had always existed prior to dissolution and which continued subsequent to dissolution which is not sufficient to change a final judgment.  As a judge, you can't just say, these two don't get along right now so I'm changing custody; otherwise, the Family Court system would be flooded with post-judgment cases.

Let's hear how Crowley v. Crowley defined this need to establish a change in circumstances before altering a final judgment.  The case states, "Second, if the court finds a substantial change in circumstances, it may properly consider the motion [for modification of final judgment] and, on the basis of the § 46b- 82 criteria, make an order for modification . . . The court has the authority to issue a modification only if it conforms the order to the distinct and definite changes in the circumstances of the parties.”  

Again, I am looking, but I don't see any determination of a change of circumstances in Judge Klatt's order which could then be used to focus the Order of May 23, 2014 on that change of circumstances.  In other words, this is an order for a change in custody which has been issued in complete disregard for and independent of the law.  

But far be it from me to require a Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Connecticut to have some knowledge of and obey the law when issuing custody orders that will have a profound impact on the best interests of a child.  

For those who may not have been following my narrative of this case, let me review the factors that fell into place after the March 28, 2014 hearing such that on May 23, 2014 there was an order for a change in custody.  What occurred was that on March 28, 2014 Judge Corinne Klatt determined that Ms. Kathi Sorrentino had committed Parental Alienation.  The Court ordered Ms. Kathi Sorrentino to address her alienation issues by taking specific steps which included obtaining therapy for herself and also for Storm to address this alienation.  

May 23, 2014 was supposed to be a follow up hearing to determine whether Kathi had obeyed the order and to see how everything was going as a consequence.  The decision to switch custody, though not cited in the final order as it properly should have been, was based on the grounds that Ms. Sorrentino's condition of PAS had not improved and that Storm continued to show symptoms of PAS as well and was, according to the GAL, getting worse.  Again, this would not be in accordance with the law which requires a change of circumstances.  If PAS exists in this case now, it most certainly existed prior to dissolution and would not represent a change. 

Be that as it may, this is the point I would make.  How can any reasonable individual believe that clients in therapy can achieve dramatic changes in mental status within such a limited period of time, i.e. sixty days?  I mean, this is not like getting a tooth pulled, I think we would all agree.  Plus, Storm had a long time history of anxiety which it is only logical became worse when he was required to go for overnights with his father which he had always disliked.  This is where people like me start talking custody switching schemes!

Further, how can anyone believe in the possibility for any kind of significant improvement when the mental health illness we are talking about is not covered by insurance because it is a quack diagnosis that no legitimate insurance company or mental health professional would recognize so Ms. Sorrentino was unable to find a competent counselor who could treat her?  

This was not hidden during the testimony in this case on May 23, 2015.  As Dr. Eric Frazer himself stated, "First, there's very few qualified people who have the expertise on parental alienation that are capable of offering it within the geographical area"  Oh, so what is Kathi Sorrentino supposed to do, grow wings and fly to a place that has them?  Dr. Fraser continues, "Secondly, of the people that are qualified to provide that service none of them are on the insurance panels because it's -- it's, as pointed out, it's not considered a clinical disorder that's billable under health insurance."  

Let me just interpret what Dr. Eric Frazer just said in real terms that we can all understand.  Bottom line is Dr. Frazer is acknowledging that PAS is quack science.  As Ms. Sorrentino stated, "My insurance does not cover parental alienation therapy because according to the American Psychiatric Association it is not a mental illness."  And as she further confirmed in her testimony before the Court, at Yale Primary Care which she contacted for treatment the nurse stated, "they cannot code it because it's not a DSM-5 behavioral issue.  It's not a recognized mental illness--so they can't diagnose it."

Right, it is not in the DSM-5, the compendium of mental health diagnoses for a reason, because it isn't a disorder or a mental health condition for which you can receive treatment.  It is a political invention for political reasons formulated by extremist father's rights groups to disenfranchise and disempower mothers and steal their children.  

It is also important to note that when Kathi Sorrentino tried to point out that based upon the formulations of the people who promote PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome cannot exist in the presence of domestic violence and indicated that there was proven domestic violence in her case, the Court refused to hear it.  


Instead, Judge Klatt insisted that domestic violence directed towards Ms. Sorrentino had nothing to do with the father's relationship with the child.  After drawing that conclusion, the Court then stated to Ms. Sorrentino, since the domestic violence has no bearing on the father/child relationship, "stop talking about domestic violence."  This makes no sense.  When the father stood up in front of his wife and children and threatened to commit suicide, that inevitably affected both Ms. Sorrentino and Storm.  Unfortunately, Judge Klatt preferred to ignore the facts and the evidence, silence a victim of domestic violence, and cover the whole mess up with a false accusation of PAS.  This is standard procedure towards victims of domestic violence throughout the State of Connecticut.

Then, to compound one piece of nonsense with another, Dr. Eric Frazer continued on and stated, "any mental health treatment that's court involved is not reimbursable by health insurance carriers for that fact."  

Well, that is an outright misrepresentation.  There are some conditions where mental health interventions that the Court orders is not reimbursable, but there are many others that are. It depends upon what is being ordered (if treatment is for a recognizable condition listed in the DSM-5) and how the mental health professional presents the treatment to the insurance company for reimbursement.  

Ultimately, Dr. Frazer outright acknowledged that Kathi Sorrentino did not have the money necessary to pay for the kind of mental health treatment he felt she needed stating, "out of the qualified people none...operate and function at a rate commensurate with Ms. Sorrentino's needs."  Further, at another point in the testimony, Dr. Frazer acknowledged that in order to address the so-called parental alienation effectively, members of the family would have to have multiple sessions each week, but again said clearly Kathi Sorrentino couldn't afford that level of treatment.

Dr. Frazer also acknowledged that for Storm's treatment to be successful Storm needed to continue his treatment with Dr. Gruen.  However, he stated that Dr. Gruen was on the verge of dropping out of the case because she wasn't getting paid.  And who was court ordered to pay the bills for Dr. Gruen?  Father was court ordered to  pay them, but surprise he wasn't paying them and the Court, again, did nothing about that--no reprimands, no direct insults from the Court on the level that Kathi had to face repeatedly throughout the hearing.  


Not only that, father was supposed to be paying for health insurance for the children per court order, but he didn't bother to do that either.  Again, he was not held accountable for failing to do so, and Kathi Sorrentino was barred from providing testimony regarding that point because the Court didn't consider it "relevant".

Am I wrong, but to be considered in violation of Court Orders, in order to have a dramatic alteration in long standing custody arrangements, it should at the very least be determined that the losing party was willfully in violation of court orders, not that she just couldn't afford to obey them?  Also, if one party is going to be held accountable for not obeying court orders, shouldn't the other party be held accountable as well?  Clearly, that  wasn't going to happen in this courtroom with Judge Corinne Klatt.  

As Kathi Sorrentino testified, when she was in court ordered co-parenting counseling prior to the hearing, Mr. Sorrentino had no problem announcing to the counselor, Jane Todorski, that "he did not have to abide to these [court] orders because Dr. Frazer said he could do whatever he wanted."  Wow! And he was right too, apparently, but his behavior wasn't considered PAS.

Overall, what is troubling about this case is how the professionals involved from the Judge, to the opposing attorney, to the GAL psychologist, Dr. Eric Frazer, acted with a level of carelessness and disregard for law and for the wellbeing of the minor child, Storm Sorrentino, that I find inconceivable.


Monday, March 9, 2015

ANATOMY OF A CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEME: THE KATHI SORRENTINO STORY, PART V!

For six years subsequent to the Sorrentino divorce, Mr. Sorrentino didn't have overnights with his son, Storm.  Then just before the father filed his motion for contempt which initiated this custody switching scheme, he began to demand overnights for the first time in six years.  All of a sudden, the fact that he'd been denied overnights became the basis for accusations of parental alienation, even though Mr. Sorrentino had been in agreement with not having overnights right up to that point.  

Of course, I can understand why anyone would find a situation like this puzzling.  Why didn't Mr. Sorrentino have overnights with his child? 

My first thought was that ordinarily you wouldn't have overnights in a situation where there is domestic violence. But this was actually not the reason since our Family Courts here in Connecticut rarely acknowledge how serious domestic violence is and rarely act to protect the victims in these cases.

The actual explanation is as follows: After the divorce,  both Mr. and Mrs. Sorrentino scheduled overnights in their parenting agreement of 2007.  However, just in the natural course of events, they eventually changed their agreement in 2010 because they both came to the conclusion that it would be better for their son, Storm, not to have overnights. 

One primary reason for this was that Mr. Sorrentino didn't have a stable living situation he could bring his son to for an overnight.  Apparently, Mr. Sorrentino rented out his house, and often stayed in a home where he was house sitting.  At other times, he was living in a boarding house, or else he stayed with his girlfriend. 

As the parties' former co-parenting counselor, Jennifer Champagne, stated, "At that point in time, Mr. Sorrentino was residing in a boarding house.  And the discussion at the time was that while, again, he was interested in having time with his son, that the accommodations were making it a little challenging at that precise moment."  For instance, there was "no designated space for a bedroom at that time." 

The bottom line is that if you cannot maintain a home for your child, you can hardly complain that you are not having overnights. 

Another issue that stood in the way of overnights was Storm's disability, which father was very well aware of.  As the co-parent counselor reported in her testimony to the Court, Sam Sorrentino fully understood that Storm was not able to manage overnights stating,  "Mr. Sorrentino described [his son] as a homebody.  And it was my understanding that he [Storm] was anxious." 

The end result of the mutual understanding that both Kathi Sorrentino and Sam Sorrentino had regarding their son's anxiety was that they signed a new agreement in 2010 eliminating the overnights but continuing regular father/son contact every weekend.  This was the agreement that was in place until May 2013 when Sam Sorrentino filed a motion for contempt and acted as though the 2010 agreement didn't exist.  Then Judge Klatt manipulated the flow of information during the legal proceedings so that the very existence of the 2010 agreement never made it onto the record so she was not obligated to consider it when she made her decision regarding switching custody.  

So what does this mean that Storm was anxious?  According to Storm's school psychologist and education advocate, Rena Schine, Storm was diagnosed in 2009 by a psychiatrist as having a serious anxiety disorder.  There are more official terms for his condition, but in order to protect his privacy, I will leave it at that.  In essence, the letter stated, Storm has "trust issues, fear of staying overnight anywhere, and a need for predictability and stability."   

Rena Schine further stated, "It can be understood that Storm would be hesitant to stay overnight with his father who, since 2007, has not had stable living arrangements but rather rents out his home and lives in different houses in which strangers come and go."  She then continued on to state, "Storm has anxiety when anticipating having to have an "overnight"... otherwise he is not "alienated" from his father.  He just doesn't want to stay overnight." 

And further, "...teachers have expressed concerns over the years that reflect Storm's natural tendency to be reticent and sensitive to any kind of stress.  Anxiety has been a constant theme expressed by teachers" in regard to Storm.  

Overall, as Rena Schine's testimony confirmed and as Kathi Sorrentino also stated repeatedly in Court, Storm wasn't just reluctant to have overnights with his Dad, he was reluctant to have overnights anywhere, not even with friends.  In fact, Kathi talked about one situation where she'd agreed to have Storm stay overnight with a friend and she had to go pick him up late at night and take him home because he was so uncomfortable. 

Here is a condition that Mr. and Mrs. Sorrentino both have seen and agree exists as witnessed by their co-parent counselor, a condition that has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist, and confirmed by two mental health counselors.  It is a condition that the parties have recognized and accommodated together for six years, and now, all of a sudden father declares that it doesn't exist, that the lack of overnights are alienating him as father, and that the only reason he's agreed to it is that he was bullied by his ex wife and didn't want to make waves. 

Oh, really? 

So how do you eliminate a child's mental health diagnosis from the picture? 

Well, if you are Dr. Eric Frazer, you simply lie about it. 

When Dr. Eric Frazer took the stand to provide his testimony, he stated in outright contradiction of the facts that Storm's anxiety disorder didn't exist any more, and had not been in evidence since elementary school.  In his words, "Your Honor, may I please be heard, to hopefully enlighten the Court just on a few specifics?  So this is based on my conversation with Roger Stebbins, who is the guidance counselor for Storm at the present time.  And Mr. Stebbins informed me that the last time that there was a 504 accommodation [for Storm's anxiety] was in 3rd grade." 

He continued on in this line, "And this was brought to the attention [of the school] in 3rd grade.  It has since been successfully resolved, and Storm is functioning appropriate [ly] academically and socially in school.  And he does not have any special accommodations at the present time pertaining to any special learning needs or behavioral health needs." 

Kathi Sorrentino herself tried to correct this misrepresentation by stating to the Court, "Storm had 504 meetings not just...in 3rd grade.  He had them up to last year."  In addition, in the light of these misrepresentations, Kathi Sorrentino asked permission to put Storm's education advocate, Rena Schine, on the stand to obtain clarification of what was actually going on. 

When asked how old Storm was when he first obtained accommodations for his learning disability of anxiety, this advocate responded by saying "Well, just roughly I'd say about 3rd grade."  When asked when those services ended she stated, "I went to meetings up through middle school..[which is] 6th, 7th, or 8th grade." 

Nonetheless, despite the testimony from two people--Kathi Sorrentino and Rena Schine--Judge Corinne Klatt went along with Dr. Frazer's outright lie, and refused to acknowledge the advocate's testimony stating, "I know you are arguing that he has anxiety, I know that I have not heard any professional opinion that he has anxiety, and I will not allow this witness [the education advocate] to render any kind of opinion on that because she does not have the experience at present, nor does she have the involvement in the case.  In other words, she doesn't know enough about the facts of this case to issue that type of diagnosis." 

However, Judge Klatt's remarks make absolutely no common sense. The bottom line is, the fact that you have been granted a 504 accommodation is evidence enough for the disability.  It's like an American Passport is sufficient evidence that you are an American citizen even if you can't produce your naturalization certificate, or birth certificate, because you can't get the one without the other.

Plus, might I just add that Judge Corinne Klatt has had no problem freely speculating in regard to Kathi Sorrentino's mental health condition without benefit of any valid psychiatric testimony whatsoever.  So I am not sure why she would have a problem with it now.  Basically, it appears as though Judge Klatt only wants to admit testimony that will go along with this pre-set custody switching scheme.

In short, as far as Judge Klatt was concerned, Rena Schine, the advocate, had participated in 504 meetings regarding Storm in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, and yet she wasn't considered qualified enough to reveal the exact diagnosis Storm had for which she was providing advocacy? 

Well, if you say so!  But it should be clear to the Court that even if you don't put a specific label on a diagnosis, the mere fact that you have made the statement that you have one should be sufficient to trigger immediate legal mandates that the unnamed disability receive proper accommodations.

In the final moments of Dr. Eric Frazer's testimony in regard to Storm's diagnosis, Kathi Sorrentino asked why Dr. Frazer didn't believe in the existence of Storm's diagnosis and his answer was solely, "there is no rational explanation for it."  Wow, so a mental health diagnosis can only exist if there is a rational explanation for it?  I am sure that the American Psychiatric Association would find that assessment quite interesting if not outright incorrect. 

Title II of Federal ADA Law, which the Court is required to follow, as are all present attorneys, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities and protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of all state and local governments.  It adopts the general prohibitions against discrimination established under section 504, as well as the requirements for making programs accessible to individuals with disabilities  and for providing equally effective communications to those with disabilities.

The Connecticut Judicial Branch is a public entity under Title II of the ADA.  Title II of the ADA, which applies to public entities, requires that such an entity provide "reasonable modifications" in policies, practices or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of a disability unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity.  The public entity has the burden of proof with regard to fundamental alteration.  See 28 C.F.R. Sec. 35.130(b)(7).

When Dr. Eric Frazer lied about Storm Sorrentino's disability and attempted to suppress all evidence of its existence, he was directly discriminating against Storm in violation of Title II of Federal ADA law and showing deliberate indifference to the consequences of covering up the evidence of that disability.  The same can be said of Judge Corinne Klatt and also of Attorney Kevin Finch, attorney for the father, who was well aware that Storm Sorrentino has a disability.  Further, the Court is in violation of Storm's rights under Title II of the ADA because he had the right to equal access to the legal proceedings which was denied by the discrimination against him perpetrated by the GAL.  This is an issue which should be addressed immediately.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

ANATOMY OF A CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEME: THE KATHI SORRENTINO STORY, PART IV!

Question: Mr. Sorrentino, you and your ex-wife share joint legal custody, correct?

Answer:  Yes.

Question:  And you've also alleged she's violated the spirit of joint legal custody?

Answer:  Yes.

Question:  In other words, she doesn't confer with you about decisions surrounding your son?

Answer:  Yes.

You will note that, Attorney Kevin Finch, father's attorney doesn't ask about Kathi Sorrentino's adherence to the letter of the agreement.  The question might have been much harder for Mr. Sorrentino to answer without lying had the letter of the agreement been in question. 

But how are you supposed to defend yourself about questions in regard to the spirit of the agreement.  What is that, truly?  Either you do or do not confer--yes or no.  Kathi Sorrentino has stated that she did confer and she has the evidence to prove it, while Sam Sorrentino does not.

We have already seen how Mr. Sorrentino misrepresented what was going on in regard to Storm applying to private high school--Notre Dame.  The email record confirms that Mr. Sorrentino was perfectly well informed regarding what was going on with the plans for private school. Where else did he have complaints?

He complained that he was not getting information about school events in a timely fashion, "I would find out after the fact about activities, parenting--parent conferences, things of this nature."  Again, this is simply not true because the evidence Kathi Sorrentino provided indicates that she provided him with full information.  But lets put that all aside.  You see, this is the thing.  You have joint custody meaning that both of you bear equal responsibility for being on top of school matters.  Ms. Sorrentino is not your Mommy.  So if you, Mr. Sorrentino, want to know what is going on in school, you need to speak to the Principal or the secretary in the main office like every other non-custodial parent in the United States so that you receive all of the school notifications.

You yourself were fully aware of this, Mr. Sorrentino, because in your testimony you stated, "I had indicated this to Ms. Sorrentino that I need to be aware of these things.  She--her response was that I need to work it out with the school."  Exactly, you need to work it out with the school!  It is not as if the school system has never ever dealt with a non-custodial parent before!  My ex has signed up with each school my kids have been in and they send him an exact duplicate of every flyer, notification, and school bulletin that they send to me.  They even call him and tell him of every snow day and school delay, even when he is out of state and can't do anything about it.

But this is the spirit of the thing, since we aren't talking about the letter.  If Mr. Sorrentino wants to know what is going on in school with his son, he is well within his rights to obtain the emails of every last one of his child's teachers, the guidance counselor and the principal and he can request regular weekly updates from each one of them.  Furthermore, he has the option to volunteer at the school.  He could actually volunteer to be a member of the local parent teacher organization.  Nothing stops him!  Unless, the point is not to co-parent, but instead to sit on your duff and complain, point fingers at your ex wife, and spend your time legally stalking her through the court system!

This is where we return our attention to Dr. Eric Fraser, graduate of Miami Institute of Psychology, and PAS Tzar. Here we have a GAL who is determined to prove that Kathi Sorrentino was alienating the children from the father. 

But you see, again, here's the thing, I have in front of me a notarized letter written by Ms. Willie Brevard, a mental health professional, stating, "I do not find Kathi to be an alienator."  And also Brevard states, Kathi always encouraged the relationship between Storm and his father and continues to do so.  Storm loves his dad and has always spoken highly of him.  Kathi has always put the well being of her children first." 

This doesn't sound like a person with parental alienation syndrome to me! 

Then there is the problem of the abuse.  At one point, Mr. Sorrentino allegedly threatened to commit suicide in front of his ex-wife and children.  Sounds like, by doing that, he did a good job of alienating himself!

Predictably, at a later hearing Mr. Sorrentino claimed that he had never threatened to kill himself in front of Kathi or his children.  When Kathi Sorrentino pointed out that his testimony was contradicted by a letter of apology he himself wrote to Kathi stating that he was sorry that he had made those threats to kill himself, he denied that he wrote the letter and declared that it was a forgery.  The bad news for Mr. Sorrentino, however, is that a handwriting expert confirmed that he did, in fact, write it. 

In addition to threatening suicide, Mr. Sorrentino was reportedly sexually inappropriate with the older daughter (aged 15 when it happened) to the point that at the time of the divorce she was allowed to visit or not visit her father on her own terms. 

Again, this is the point, even among PAS advocates, it is well recognized that the presence of abuse rules out the diagnosis of parental alienation syndrome. 

Why didn't Dr. Eric Fraser bring up some of these issues in his report to explain where Ms. Sorrentino was coming from?  Clearly, because he didn't want any inconvenient facts to get in the way of his pet PAS theories in connection to this good mother.  Then when Ms. Sorrentino attempted to bring these issues up in court, Judge Corinne Klatt refused to allow the information onto the record even though she didn't have any solid, legal basis for that denial. 

If the court is going to censor all the information that comes before it and edit anything out of the record it doesn't want to hear, then naturally you get the kind of inappropriate ruling that this Court ended up with. 

I also want to point out that not only was there the presence of interpersonal abuse, there was also economic abuse at play in the Sorrentino case.  Again, this would rule out the diagnosis of parental alienation disorder in this case.

Originally, at the time of dissolution, Sam Sorrentino was required to pay $1000.00 per week in child support and alimony with the express intent that Kathi Sorrentino would use that money to pay off the mortgage on her home which was in his name.  However, not long after the divorce, Mr. Sorrentino had his child support and alimony reduced to $204 per week so Kathi was unable to pay that mortgage. 

Then, around 2009 even though the bank was not taking the home to foreclosure yet, Mr. Sorrentino filed a motion for contempt against Kathi for failure to pay the mortgage. While the bank was willing to work out a plan, Judge Gould, who was considering the motion said the process would take too long, ignored the bank and ordered Ms. Sorrentino to pay the back mortgage or else sign an agreement that required her to assume more of her ex-husband's debts. 

When she refused to do so, Judge Gould put her in a maximum security prison in Niantic, CT for a week. 

So this is a case where Mr. Sorrentino has freely taken advantage of his superior legal position in Family Court to bully, harass, and legally abuse his ex wife.  And then he goes around complaining, poor me, my kids don't like me and it's her fault.  I don't know that there are many children who are going to like the kind of father who would put their mother in jail, particularly when they have a mother who is as devoted to their welfare as Kathi Sorrentino is to hers.

Then, to add insult to injury, Kathi Sorrentino tried to defend herself from the Court's threats to put her in jail and impose unwarranted debts on her by going on the Lisa Wexler Radio Show to explain the situation.  Like many victims of family court she hoped that the pressure from local media would force the Court to act properly.  While she was being interviewed, the children were kept in a sound proof room where they were unable to hear the show.  Nonetheless, Dr. Eric Frazer used that situation also as the basis for his claim of Parental Alienation Syndrome stating wrongly that the children were in the room with Kathi when she was being interviewed.  Well, no, the record shows that they were not in the room and, in fact, Dr. Frazer was simply speaking carelessly if not outright lying.

But the bottom line is, this incident took place in 2010 and the hearing on custody took place in February and March of 2014.  That was a whole four years prior and was hardly relevant to the case at present.  In fact, I question the legality of even bringing it up.  In my view, the only reason  the Court allowed information on the Wexler show into evidence along with the inaccurate speculations regarding what happened at the show was to punish Kathi Sorrentino for having the nerve to try to defend herself or speak out publically about her plight. 

This is how the Connecticut Judicial Branch has succeeded in shutting off the flow of information to the public regarding the many Protective Mothers who have unjustly lost custody of their children, by silencing these mothers with threats of jail, loss of their children and other equally vicious punishments.   

ANATOMY OF A CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEME: THE KATHI SORRENTINO STORY, PART II

As you can deduce, the Sorrentino case was very difficult and time consuming for Connecticut Family Court to handle.  In fact, every year, a certain number (10-50% depending on who you are talking to) of CT Family Court divorces end up involving high conflict.  In such cases, the Court usually orders an investigation through a Family Study or the appointment of a GAL, or both.  
With the first approach the parties agree to work with a private custody evaluator who can do a study in order to figure out what is going on and what the problems are.  Litigants who contract for this kind of service are generally people who have money and can afford to pay the exorbitant prices of up to $5,000 - $15,000 or more. 
Often, the custody evaluator can then consult with a psychologist who is a member of the only mental health profession truly qualified to do psychological evaluations.  That usually costs an additional $5,000 per couple.  The results of the psychological evaluation can then be incorporated into the custody evaluation to provide a comprehensive picture of what is going on with a family.  It would be irresponsible to bandy about mental health diagnoses without a complete psychological evaluation (which is exactly what happened in the Sorrentino  case, by the way).
The second option if the parties are indigent or low income is to have the Family Relations Department of the Connecticut Judicial Branch do a custody evaluation at no charge.  Family Relations can also farm out litigants for psychological evaluations at no cost or low cost to be conducted by psychologists who have contracts with the CT Judicial Branch to do such work.  The information from those psychological evaluations can also be included in the final report. 
Of course, I know of many who are extremely well off who have one or the other party earning six figures who end up having custody evaluations through Family Relations at no charge, so I am not exactly sure how that happens.  All I can say is that I have frequently seen it done. 
At the same time, if the Court believes it necessary, the judge can appoint a Guardian Ad Litem who can conduct an investigation as well.  You can pay for one privately at considerable cost or, through the Children's Law Center obtain a GAL and pay using a sliding scale.  Again, a broad range of individuals use the Children's Law Center including a good many middle class, low income, and indigent clients.   
Often the work of a custody evaluator and a Guardian Ad Litem overlap, so in many cases you don't have both, you just have one or the other. 
In the Sorrentino case, on November 8, 2013, Judge Corinne Klatt ordered that the Sorrentino's hire Dr. Eric Frazer as a private GAL at the charge of $250 per hour, with a $4,000 retainer to be paid by both parties 50/50 within 30 days of the hearing date.  That makes perfect sense until you consider the fact that Kathi Sorrentino has no money.   
As Ms. Sorrentino stated during the hearing in response to Judge Klatt's orders,  "I am indigent...I don't have the money."  Further, she stated, "I can bring in my bank statements...I am a full time student...I have not worked in 20 years.  I've been an at home Mom."  Again, "Your Honor, what can I do if I don't have the money."  At another point, Ms. Sorrentino stated that she was received food stamps and fuel assistance and only $204 per week in combined child support and alimony and was ready to submit a financial affidavit to that effect.  Even without one, there is a presumption that a person is in poverty if they are on state aid. The court record shows that Kathi has been on state aid since the divorce. 
But Judge Klatt was not interested in hearing it and refused to allow Kathi to submit the financial affidavit verifying her statements.  Instead, Judge Klatt stated, "I'm ordering you to pay it, ma'am.  I am ordering you to pay it, all right." 
Again, at a later hearing on December 13, 2013, Judge Klatt made it clear to Kathi Sorrentino that if she did not sign the retainer letter and pay her share of $2,000 by December 16, 2013 at 2:00p.m., Judge Klatt would seriously consider the option of putting Ms. Sorrentino in jail.  So what about the rights of litigants to choose their own professionals and establish their own financial arrangements  with those professionals--non-existent, I guess.

What happened in the end is that Kathi Sorrentino went to her church which gave her the $2,000 because church leaders felt it was important to keep the mother of a minor child out of jail.  In Kathi's Church usually, members pray for people to be moved to come forward with contributions in times of trouble. Compassionate, not wealthy, people pitch in expecting that such a request is not going to be ongoing because the church is not equipped to take care of all the people going through divorce. 


But can you imagine a judge bullying the church out of money by threatening one of their members? 

And, of course,  here is the Court using jail and other sanctions as threats directed towards litigants so they are forced to go begging among friends and parents for money.   Make no mistake, these judges know what the consequences are when they confront family court litigants with such ultimatums.  As I recall so clearly Judge Constance Epstein saying to me when I ran out of money to pay my attorney's fees, "Go get the money where you got it the last time" which was, as she knew, from my parents.  I am not sure what she thought gave her the authority to order my parents to pay my expenses, but that is exactly what she did.  The bottom line in Court always is the money one way or another.
What these judges count on is that there are going to be enough people out there who have compassion and who are appalled by the Court's actions that they will contribute.  
You may ask, was there some imperative that Dr. Eric Frazer act as the GAL in this case?  No, of course, there wasn't, except insofar as Dr. Frazer is the "go to" guy in the State of Connecticut for custody switching schemes. 
Was there a much cheaper alternative?  Indeed, there was; there was Family Relations, as I mentioned, which is ready and available to provide services to indigent and low income clients such as Kathi Sorrentino (as well as the many wealthy who are able to slip themselves in there).  Plus, there was the Children's Law Center which Kathi Sorrentino requested in a motion dated December 16, 2013 which provides GALs at no cost or low cost to family court litigants.  Judge Corinne Klatt refused both options. 

In the vast majority of situations where the ex husband has the money, but the ex wife does not, Connecticut statute allows for the Court to order the father to pay for the entirety or at least the majority of these GAL fees, rather than go 50/50.  This is a standard procedure in Connecticut Family Court when there is inequity in terms of income between the parties.  However, the judge, by refusing to allow Kathi Sorrentino's financial affidavit into evidence, side stepped that statute.  Among her many actions and statements, this was among the first that indicated the biased predisposition of Judge Corinne Klatt against Kathi Sorrentino which should have disqualified this judge from hearing the case further.

The following year, during a hearing before the Judiciary Committee  of the Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Regarding the Care of Custody of Minor Children, the GALs on the Task Force--Sharon Dornfeld and Sue Cousineau--insisted that Family Court judges do not force people to agree to any particular GAL or fee schedule.  Clearly, that was a false statement, and not the first one.  More to come in Part III.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

ANATOMY OF A CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEME: THE KATHY SORRENTINO STORY, PART III

In the book "Man's Search For Meaning" Viktor Frankl stated that of all the many sufferings he endured in the Nazi Concentration camps, the worst he had to bear was not the physical privations, but the verbal abuse he had to put up with on a daily basis.  "Why was this so?" he was asked, Because it was so unfair." he answered.

This is no truer than within the context of Connecticut Family Court when, like Kathi Sorrentino, you find yourself a victim of a custody switching scheme, and are subjected to lie after lie after lie in your case where the court demonizes you, ascribes false motives to you, and makes you out to be some awful human being.  The intention is to demoralize you, to break you, and ultimately convince you that you are that terrible person they are describing you as. 

It must have been extremely tough for Kathi Sorrentino to listen to Judge Klatt pretend that she cared about Kathi's children when the judge was in the middle of implementing a fraudulent custody scheme against her.  Witness the following interchange that took place in Court during one of the hearings in this case:

Judge Klatt:  "I watched the torment on [your daughter's] face when she listened to your testimony.  I watched her break down in tears...I am not going to allow your daughter to testify.  You may not care about her well-being and mental health..."

Kathi:  "No, I do."

Judge Klatt: "...but I certainly do and I will not allow her to go through any more torture.  It was horrendous watching her face listening to you testify.  It was heartbreaking..."

Kathi:  "And the reason why she was upset is because she's not being heard."

The real reason Kathi's daughter was upset was because she had to watch the Court bully and mistreat her mother, and yes, she was not being heard.  

Legally speaking, Judge Klatt had no authority to deny Kathi's daughter the right to provide her testimony before the court because she was over 18 and no longer a minor.  Even if she were a minor, she had the right to provide her testimony and were this taken to appeal, my best guess is that Judge Klatt would be criticized for denying the daughter's testimony.  Of course, the problem is Judges do what they do, their victims don't always know the law, and so Judges figure they are quite likely to get away with it, as in this case.

Another legal point that is worth making is that the Court allowed Mr. Sorrentino to provide a broad range of testimony and speak at length complaining about his ex-wife.  However, he never provided one iota of evidence--in terms of documentation or witness testimony--to prove any of his claims. The Court just gave him credit for what he said on face value.  In contrast, when Ms. Sorrentino provided her testimony she backed up everything she said with considerable documentation to prove each one of her points, as well as testimony, but the Court simply dismissed her defense with snide remarks. 

 
Judge Klatt's disrespect and hyperbole was the kind of "blaming the victim" behavior she indulged in through the hearings and which, again, should have disqualified her from the case. 

Did Judge Klatt have the faintest idea what was going on with Kathi's daughter or with the Sorrentinos? 

No. 

The Judge's deliberate misinterpretations and her disregard for any testimony provided to support Kathi Sorrentino's position are exactly what Viktor Frankl found so unfair when the Nazi's did the same thing to him and other Jewish concentration camp victims. 
 
Judge Corinne Klatt was legally obligated to allow Kathi's daughter to provide her testimony.  But she chose not to.  Her words were a disingenuous exercise in hypocrisy, pure and simple--a means to avoid allowing the daughter to testify on the stand and bring the truth out into the open. 

And what is the truth? 

The truth is that in Kathi Sorrentino's case Dr. Eric Frazer produced a report that was grossly substandard and negligent in its content and format. 

The report was simply a tool for  a custody switching scheme, one which I have no doubt that Judge Corinne Klatt was complicit in because she is not a fool.  All the defects that I notice regarding Dr. Frazer's report as a layperson, I have no doubt Judge Klatt was aware of as well. She has seen hundreds of these reports in the course of her work as a family court judge, and she knows exactly how these reports should be written.  So when she saw the piece of trash that Dr. Eric Frazer provided, it would be na├»ve to think she didn't know. 

So what, you ask is the matter with the GAL report that Dr. Eric Frazer submitted to the court in the Sorrentino case? 

The answer is that Dr. Frazer took one only month to conduct the investigation before providing his report, and the report itself is only a single page in length. 

There is no way that a GAL can conduct an adequate investigation in a single month.  In addition, some of that time constituted the Christmas and New Year's season which shaves off at least a week of that time, so he probably spent just three weeks on it.  

Further, in terms of witnesses, Dr. Frazer stated in the report that he consulted only five individuals other than the parties and the child, Storm, himself.  He does not indicate that he spoke to the daughter, although it makes no sense  that he wouldn't.  Even if the daughter disagrees with him, all of that is important data and any fair minded evaluator would have included it.   

One of these witnesses, Diane Safran, a co-parenting coordinator, had not been involved with the Sorrentino's case for over twelve years, and for that reason she simply stated that she refused to discuss the case with Dr. Fraser at all.   Nonetheless, Dr. Fraser cited her as providing the basis for his determination that Ms. Sorrentino was an alienator.  How could he do that without talking to her?  Another co-parenting coordinator Dr. Fraser mentioned had not been involved with the family in three years. 

Ordinarily, in a properly written GAL report, I would expect testimony included from a broad range of individuals--friends, family, school personnel, mental health professionals--the whole gamut--at least up to ten or more, in order to get a full picture of what is going on in a family.  Not to emphasize quantity over quality, but there should be some visible attempt to actually do the job and collect information from a reasonable variety of sources who have actually had recent contact with the family.

I understand this is a GAL report and not a custody evaluation, but I do think I there are minimum standards. 

The majority of GAL investigations take at least three months, and, at least in my case, a final report of seven pages single spaced typed is more what you would expect from a reasonably qualified GAL. 

I have a copy of a friend's custody evaluation through family relations which took six months to complete, and is 20 pages long--again, single spaced typed.  And when I look at my own custody evaluation, it took a year to complete and was 27 pages single spaced typed.  Each of these reports includes input from 15 - 20 witnesses.

How do you take a 14 year old boy who has spent his entire life in the primary care of his mother and remove him from the only home he has ever known based upon a three week investigation resulting in a one page report focused on a single topic:  parental alienation disorder, a diagnosis that doesn't even exist in the diagnostic manual for mental health disorders and which is widely known to be quack science--a report that includes lots of opinion, but no actual facts.  If that isn't a setup, I don't know what is.