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Monday, March 9, 2015


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 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.

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