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Thursday, June 21, 2012



On February 15, 2011 eight year old Max Liberti's behavior was so extreme that his mother, Sunny Kelley, had become desperate. All the evidence indicated that Max was being raped and tortured. At the time, Dr. Eli Newberger, M.D., an expert in child abuse who teaches at Harvard Medical School, heard that Max was having suicidal thoughts. Dr. Newberger was seriously concerned for the boy's life.

Furthermore, Max had become increasingly psychotic and uncontrollable, running around groping adults' privates, singing songs about killing himself, or dissociating, staring off, lost in space, unreacheable by his mother or the other women trying to protect and care for him. Max was hitting himself in the face, and talking about death.

Similarly, Lori Hanrahan faced her own nightmare. Her daughter, Mila, was being raped by her husband. As she explains it, in June 2009 her daughter, Mila, came home with a shredded vagina and experts concluded that her husband, Igor, had raped her.

Both Sunny Kelley and Lori Hanrahan are well respected members of their community. Sunny is a white, middle class, affluent, 38 year-old professional sound engineer living in Southern Connecticut.

Lori Hanrahan is a Professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. Her credentials are impeccable: Over 20 years of work in international development and human rights all over the world. She was a guest on CNN and her op-eds about human rights and sex trafficking were often published in The New York Times.


"I spent two years in Maine, from 2008 to 2010, where by court order I was forced to traffick my daughter and deliver her to her father." Lori breaks down and sobs over the phone. "They made me traffic my daughter or go to jail."

In Sunny's case, there was a divorce trial which was held over the course of fourteen days in August 2011 with four additional days in October. The end result was that the Judge in the case, Lynda Munro, gave full custody of Max Liberti to his father on a silver platter. Since that time, Sunny has been denied access to her child.

Instead of the protection that they deserved from the legal system, that system delivered both Lori Handrahan's daughter, Mila, and Sunny Kelley's son, Max, to their sexual abusers. Both of these abusers were supported by the courts and appear to be part of sex crime networks. Both mothers are fighting for their children's lives at the expense of their own. They have been slandered, disabused, ridiculed, harassed, ignored, humiliated, threatened and attacked. They have been financially devastated.

Still, they have fought back on behalf of their children, but the more they have fought the more the system has restricted hammered and punished them. Every move they have made has brought further retaliation upon them. And they are not alone. It is the same story for Susan Skipp (Tittle v. Tittle), Sandra McVicar (McVicar v. Buggy), Marlene Debek (Bhatia v. Debek), Lisa Foley (Foley v. Foley), Elizabeth Richter (Richter v. Richter), and many more.

Yet, unlike some protective mothers who now live on the streets or in their cars or committed to mental health asylums, mothers like Sunny Kelley, Lori Handrahan, Susan Skipp, Sandra McVicar, Marlene Debek, Lisa Foley and Elizabeth Richter have not succumbed to the institutionalized corruption and criminality served on them in an effort to silence and destroy them--and deliver their children to the abusers. They are broke; they are exhuasted; they are depressed and disillusioned: How can society have let them down so badly? And yet, they are courageous beyond belief. And they are still fighting.

Some mothers have taken the law into their own hands and attempted to flee. For example, the documentary film "No Way Out But One" tells the story of Holly Collins, a protective mother persecuted by the family court system for trying to protect her children. A family court ignored Holly Collin's complaints of sexual and domestic violence, and the physical evidence of serious child abuse, and gave full custody of her children to her abusive ex-partner. Holly Collins became an international fugitive when she fled the United States in 1994 and became the first U.S. citizen to gain asylum in the Netherlands.

In January 1993, Linda Wiegand, a resident of the State of Connecticut, found out that the father of her second son, Thomas Wilkinson, had sexually abused her older child Ben as well as Thomas. Even though there was overwhelming evidence that the children had been sexually abused, it was not enough evidence for the Connecticut Family Court System. Thus, in January of 1994, Linda Wiegand disappeared with her children. Then in July 1996 Wiegand was found and arrested in Las Vegas, and both children were delivered to their abuser.


Every effort to get media exposure for these two women's stories--whether through the New York Times or Nightline or the Associated Press, or CBS-affiliated local TV stations like WABI in Portland, or regional papers like the Portland Herald Press or the Hartford Courant--was initially met with great interest as journalists and bureau chiefs recognized "hot" stories. After a short time one promise of imminent and certain publication after another turned into refusals to return phone calls or emails. Threatened or silenced by someone, the "hot" stories went cold.

While Sunny Kelley ad most other protective parent's stories of judicial abuse and destruction remain disbelieved, unheard and unknown, Lori Handrahan's efforts to save Mila have resulted in a very high profile case garnering national atatention--thanks to the internet and the outrage of thousands of people across the country. Still major social netowrking media--Twitter and Facebook and others--have also censored Lori and Mila's story.


The roads to these mothers' hell are virtually the same, and they are unique only in particulars, not in generalities. Each year, tens of thousands of families across America are being ripped apart through Family Courts and private profiteering, protecting and growing trafficking in women and children in America.

Investigations have uncovered a web of corruption involving state agencies from Connecticut to Maine, from Georgia to California. Investigations have involved FBI agents, but as often as not the FBI is part of the problem, not the solution and information delivered to the FBI is suppressed, ignored or used against the people trying to defend children and mothers from abuse.

The problems with Family Courts pervade all levels of the federal and state systems, and no United States citizen are immune: rich and poor are exploited, only differently. At the root of the problem are these central truths:

1. The five billion dollar a year budget of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides a black hole of funding that filters millions of dollars down to "gatekeepers" posted to key positions in Family Courts, State Agencies, Law Enforcement, and affiliated non-profit organizations that have learned to milk the system;

2. Over the past 40 years, the destructive 'Father's Rights movement has evolved into a hydra that has overtaken judicial systems and social services, and it now uses them to persecute mothers and destroy families according to the otherwise reasonable dictate that access and visitation with both parents is in 'the best interest of the child';

3. The United States is both a domestic and an international hub for a trillion dollars a year sex industry trafficking in women and children.

Of course, it is not only women and children who are abused--across the nation, good men and good fathers are waking up to the national epidemic of pedophilia and sex trafficking involving federal and state governments and officials, and the horrors of 'Family Courts'.


For more information on these matters, please locate the more lengthy article at the following link:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


As Michael Skakel exits the CT Judicial System after years of persecution, it is interesting to see family court victims succeed in their efforts after similarly fighting years of persecution.  When it comes to Michael Skakel, the press is beginning to understand that there might have been a miscarriage of justice.  Unfortunately, when it comes to family court victims the media still lacks any insight.  

Sunday, December 28, 2014


My introduction to this case took place when Jane pulled an official envelope from her coat pocket, took out a legal document and handed it to me.  It contained all sorts of demands, indicating that John Gil, who had spent over a decade using the legal system to persecute his ex wife, was now planning on continuing that pursuit against his daughter. 

Jane and I also talked further about her plans for college. But of course, so much of the funds for a college education for Jane ended up being consumed by the legal system. 

Just to review some of the facts in the case, on April 5, 2004, Mr. John A. Gil won his case against Karyn Gil for parental alienating him from his daughter.  He succeeded essentially because Judge Herbert Gruendel denied Karyn the opportunity to put on the stand her expert witness, Jane's current therapist, Dr. Laura Ginther.  But then, here is the irony, six months later, after his ruling had driven Jane to the point of suicide, this very same judge allowed Dr. Ginther to testify to the effect that there was no parental alienation in this case. 

More notable is that fact that the judge then decided to terminate permanently John Gil's visitation with his daughter. 

There were other factors involved in that decision such as the judge was sick and tired of Mr. Gil's game playing, but the bottom line is that, in essence, the judge reversed his ruling in the case. 

Still, the later decision reversing his orders had no impact on the earlier April 5, 2004 decision which continued on to Appellate Court where it was upheld by the judges of the Appellate Court on March 14, 2006. 

Meanwhile, in between these two decisions, on April 29, 2005 Mr. John Gil demanded that family court order a genetic test because he claimed that he was not Jane's father.  The court allowed him to undertake the test and the results indicate that he is, in fact, Jane's father.  

And this is the absurdity of the situation.  Here is a man who acknowledged on the record that he had never bonded with his daughter.  Here is a man who chose to question his paternity of the child to the point where he demanded a genetic test.  Yet Judge Herbert Gruendel saw fit to rule that the mother had parentally alienated the child from him?  What nonsense! 

Nonetheless, on March 14, 2006 the Appellate Court reaffirmed the trial courts decision.  Of course, that was predictable since only .5% of trial court decisions ever get overturned by the Appellate Court, no matter how ridiculous.  This decision led to the next issue in the case.  As you may recall, Karyn Gil was determined to have committed parental alienation, she was judged to be in contempt of the parents' visitation agreement, and the opposing side was granted attorney's fees. 

When it came to the determination of the amount of the attorney's fees, guess who was the opposing attorney who was due to get the money?  Yes, our friend, Attorney Lou Kiefer who represented the alleged abuser, Tom Wilkerson, in the Linda Wiegand case! 

In order to determine the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded to John Gil's attorney, the case then went before Judge Herbert Barall, another familiar face.  As many of you who have been reading my blog for a while will recall, this was the notorious judge in the Linda Wiegand trial who manipulated the case and suppressed evidence, i.e. the Massomeno report, so the outcome ended up in favor of the alleged abuser.  In other words, this is a judge who has a lengthy reputation for bullying, harassing, and disrespecting the constitutional rights of the litigants who appear before him, particularly women. 

Apparently, Judge Barall held several hearings on the issue of attorney's fees in the Gil case during June 2007 and then decided to fine Karyn Gil $30,659.54 to cover a combination of the attorneys fees in the trial court case and the appellate case. 

And this is where the story gets really interesting.  Naturally, there was discovery at this point.  Then in court testimony regarding attorney's fees, it came out that the opposing side's attorney, Lou Kiefer, had established a retainer agreement with John Gil in which Attorney Kiefer agreed to charge solely $1.00 per hour as long as John Gil continued to take Karyn Gil back to court on motions for contempt.  According to their agreement, Kiefer then could collect his attorney's fees through money recovered on the basis of a finding of contempt. 

Of course, in her defense Karyn Gil argued that if Attorney Kiefer charged his client only $1.00 an hour for his services, that is all he should get.  Anything else would represent a kind of contingency agreement which is a violation of Connecticut's Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(d)(1) for attorneys.  This is, of course, absolutely true, but you know since Karyn Gil was not the favored party in this case, she wasn't able to win that one!

Hop, skip and jump to the end of the decision, the Appellate Court upheld the award.  But, of course, when don't they support attorney and judicial wrongdoing when it comes to the nonsense that goes on in family court. 

So the retainer agreement for $1.00 per hour explains John Gil's full fourteen years and ongoing legal abuse of his ex-wife and child. 

In my case, my attorney would demand a huge chunk of money such as $30,000 on the spot for his retainer.  Once that money ran out, the attorney would come to me and pretty much say, if I don't get another $30,000, I'm no longer representing you in this case.  I had multiple attorneys, but I recall one attorney--Attorney Eliot Nerenberg (if you want to know) memorably said to me, "If you don't write me a check for another $25,000 retainer on the spot, this conversation is over!" 

Understandably, I was unable to proceed with fourteen years of litigation because my various attorneys immediately stopped working as soon as the money ran out!

In contrast, my ex-husband's attorney gave him some kind of cut rate--I'll never know because I never once saw one of his bills.  But at the same time, I never saw him sweat an attorney bill either, or attempt to solve our legal problems out of court due to pressing attorney fees like I did. 

Family court makes a show of respecting the concept of making sure that there is a "level playing field" between the parties in a family court case.  One thing is sure, however, if one party in a case is only paying $1.00 per hour while the other is paying $250 per hour or more, you certainly do not have a level playing field. 

If one party has unlimited resources because they are only paying a token amount, while  the other is paying in full for all legal services, you simply cannot begin to talk about fairness in such a case. 

Judges are absolutely aware of this, and Judge Herbert Barall was certainly aware of this when he imposed the fine of $30,659,54 on Karyn Gil.  

Undoubtedly, the Gil case represents some of the worst injustice happening in our family courts today.  It is a case of a father stalking his ex wife and daughter through the family court system, leading to permanent psychological damage for both.  And I have no doubt that the physical damage as a consequence of stress generated by this case remains an issue for Karyn Gil who was already physically disabled well before the case began. 

Judge Herbert Barall, Judge Herbert Gruendel, Attorney Campbell Barrett, and Attorney Lou Kiefer have led the charge when it comes to attacking the fundamental human and constitutional rights of women litigants in family court.  I have no doubt that Attorney Lou Kiefer used Gil v. Gil as a means of establishing a strong precedent for using Parental Alienation Syndrome as the basis for punishing other protective mothers in family court throughout the State of Connecticut.  Since I began this blog, I've received multiple reports of abuses of this kind taking place in family court.

Ultimately, the Gil case, more than any other, exposes the fundamental gender bias against mothers that penetrates into every aspect of litigation in Connecticut Family Court.  


Gil v. Gil, Part III:

Gil v. Gil, Part II:

Gil. v. Gil, Part I:

Sunday, November 14, 2010


There are many places you can turn to for help in the middle of your divorce and I have spoken about some of them on this blog.  One place, as you know, is the social services department of your local town.  Another place which is available in the Greater Hartford area is "Gifts of Love" which has headquarters in Avon, CT. 

The mission of Gifts of Love is to help "meet the basic needs of individuals and families in Central Connecticut experiencing a financial crisis so that they can achieve and maintain self sufficiency."  One of the problems I often faced in looking for financial assistance is that I do own my house and I have a job.  This means I am not eligible for the many programs in the area that assist people who are indigent.  But what happens when you are not rich enough to get by, but not poor enough to be eligible for state programs, etc.

I was a person who had a job and owned my own house but when my divorce began I often couldn't afford the gas necessary to get to work or even the money to buy the groceries I needed to feed the children.  In addition, the dysfunction in my relationship with the abuser in my life had isolated me from my friends and family so that I could not easily speak to them about my economic needs.  That is where a program such as Gifts of Love comes in because they do not expect you to be totally without financial means in order for you to receive their assistance. 

Gifts of Love is a very active group and I hear all the time about their fund raising efforts and the ways in which they support people. Their website (see links) boasts that they had more than 75 volunteers donate up to 7,682 hours of their time in the last year.  The kinds of assistance Gifts of Love provides is as follows:  1.  food; 2. clothing; 3. household items (small appliances, towels, brooms; and 4. furniture that is clean and usable.  Furthermore, according to their website, "The organization annually distributes over $300,000 of goods and services to neighbors in need." 

Gifts of Love is located in Old Avon Village behind and beneath the UPS store and it is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 3.  They are also open the first Saturday of every month from 9 to 12 and some evenings during the week thanks to the volunteer program.  You can call them at 860-676-2323 or write them and/or send a donation to:  Gifts of Love, 35 East Main Street, P.O. Box 463, Avon, CT  06001. 

So, why, might you ask, have you put Linda Weigand's name down in the bottom where the term "labels" is located.  The reason is that, although she is no longer associated with the program, Ms. Linda Wiegand played a major role in the establishment of the organization Gifts of Love around 20 years ago starting in the years prior to her divorce.  So, is this woman a monster?  I have no absolute proof.  I have read the allegations against her and they seem serious.  But the existence of this organization and its survival says a good deal in her favor. 

Is her ex husband, Tom Wilkinson, a monster?  Again, I have no absolute proof.  I've read the allegations against him which seem pretty serious.  Otherwise, he appears to have been a respectable businessman up to the point where the divorce broke out.  I anticipate learning more about them both as we continue to explore their story in the upcoming Linda Wiegand Case, Part II.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


The emotional and sexual abuse of children always seems difficult for Family Court in Connecticut to handle.  We saw that in the Wiegand/Wilkerson case.  Recently, this issue came up for me again.  While doing research on other matters, I came across the case of Paula J. Fish v. Andrew J. Fish, Jr.  Let me know what you think of this case 

I understand that when I summarize a Court's Memorandum of Decision, the entire piece of writing could be a work of fiction, but on face value, this is what we have.  In the words of the Court, here is a rundown on the story. 

The Parties in this case were married on June 21, 1985 and then had a child, a little girl, in 1989.  The marriage lasted for around eleven years or so and then was dissolved on March 5, 1996. Both parents shared joint custody including an evenly divided parenting arrangement.

After the divorce there was ongoing tension between the Parties, ie. arguments over tax issues, over tuition for the Child's private school, as well as child support--your general money issues. 

The child was often caught between the warring parents and the Plaintiff Mother constantly asked the child for a detailed report of what happened when she visited the Father. So it is not surprising that in June, 2001, Attorney Emily J. Moskowitz was appointed as the Guardian Ad Litem for the little girl later taking on the additional role of Attorney for the Minor Child. 

Then in May 2002, the Defendant Father filed a Motion to Modify custody in which he requested sole custody of the child with supervised visitation for the Plaintiff. 

This is where I get to the point of saying, you've got to be kidding me.  This is how the Court describes this man.  He is a person who "failed to provide a clean and appropriate home for the child" one who "demonstrated inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature in the child's presence", i.e. walked around with an open bathrobe exposing his genitals to her.  Not only that, he "kept a dangerous dog in his home." 

Ok, now I get why the Plaintiff was asking her daughter for detailed information regarding her visits to the Father's house.  If I were this child's mother, I would be going out of my mind knowing what was going on and not being able to do anything to stop it. 

Perhaps someone can tell me why the Defendant Father's inappropriate, if not criminal, behavior was reported in a Supreme Court Decision and there is no mention that this Father was arrested for child abuse for doing this to his daughter.  If the Defendant Father went to a local park and did this he would be in jail for indecent exposure, but guess it is OK if you do it at home to your daughter.  Please, someone, explain why this is not a criminal act.  All I can say is that my heart goes out to the Mother. 

Ok, back to Dad and what he has been up to.  The Memorandum of Decision continues with the Court stating that at the Defendant's house, the child "has been exposed to a filthy and unkept environment, with multiple cats, cat feces and urine odors throughout the home."  Aren't we talking another criminal offense here?  Aren't people who keep multiple cats and don't know how to care for them ordinarily brought up on charges of animal abuse? 

But let's not stop, there is more.  According to the Court, when the Defendant got angry, he would lose control of himself, hit himself, and run up and down stairs.  Furthermore, he drank wine every day which made him extremely unpredictable.  And the Court stated, "The child was adamant in her desire not to stay at the defendant's house overnight and expressed no desire to live with him." 

Meanwhile, in 2002, when the proceedings in the Trial Court were underway, the Plaintiff Mother had just had a double mastectomy and was undergoing chemotherapy.  Please, if I had this to deal with I would have a lot more than just cancer!  But getting down to it, come on, THIS is the time when the Defendant Father decides he is going to Court to take the child away from the mother.  Wow, what a guy!  No wonder his daughter doesn't want to have anything to do with him. 

And guess what!  Who do you think the Defendant hired as his attorney?  Our friend, Attorney Louis Kiefer who represented Mr. Tom Wilkinson in the Wiegand/Wilkinson case.  Ahh!  Ain't it nice to see old friends again!

The final determination of the Trial Court which was affirmed upon appeal by the Appellate Court was an arrangement in which the Plaintiff Mother, Paula J. Fish and the child's paternal aunt, Barbara Husaluk, shared joint custody, and the child's primary residence was in Aspen, Colorado with the Aunt. The Defendant Father was to be included in all major decision making, as was Plaintiff Mother, with the paternal aunt, Barbara Husaluk, making the final decisions.  Both the Plaintiff, the child, the Attorney For the Minor Child, and the Custody Evaluator, Dr. James C. Black agreed that this was the best arrangement.

So does the Defendant Father just shut up and let everyone be happy?  No, on he goes to the Supreme Court.  After all, litigating is so much fun! 

On the Supreme Court level, the Court reversed the decision and remanded the case to the Trial Court for further proceedings based upon a legal technicality.  The Supreme Court's decision is sixty seven pages long, and I have to admit, I didn't have the patience to plow through the entire discussion.  But this is the gist of what I understood. 

As far as Supreme Court was concerned, the primary question at hand was what burden of proof did the Plaintiff have to meet in establishing that the Defendant was not a fit parent so as to justify denying him parental rights.  Did it have to be the standard of clear and convincing evidence as determined in Roth v. Weston, 259 Conn. 202, 234-235 or did it merely have to be that of the best interests of the child standard as delineated in Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56b.  

In this case, since custody was handed over to a third party who was not a parent, the Supreme Court determined that the standard must be one of the fair preponderance of the evidence.  Since both the Trial Court and the Appellate Courts in this case wrongly based their determinations on the "best interests of the child" standard, rather than the standard of "Fair Preponderance of the Evidence", their decisions were overturned.

Ok, I'm a joker, does anyone know if there is a difference between preponderance of the evidence versus fair preponderance of the evidence?  Does anybody care?

Do you get what I am trying to say?  We have a suffering child here, who is being abused by a drunken, emotionally and sexually abusive father, whose mother is dying, and all the judicial system is able to do is argue over the standard of evidence for sixty seven pages?  Give me a break! 

And I want to stress for you how seriously the Supreme Court took this situation.  At first the case was only going to be argued before a panel of judges, but then the Court decided to give far more weight to the case by having the case heard en banc thus adding on two additional Justices.  Not only that, not only did you have counsel for the Plaintiff and the Defendant arguing the case, three additional Attorneys--Attorney Campbell D. Barrett, Attorney Steven R. Dembo, and Attorney Justine Rakich-Kelly filed a brief for the Children's Law Center as amicus curiae (Friends of the Court) regarding this case. 

So there is no doubt that, judicially speaking, the Court worked hard to address the concerns raised by this case.  Still, despite all these resources, I cannot help but think that justice was not done, not for the Mother, and certainly not for her little girl.  They should have been protected and defended, but they weren't, by a system that was fully operational, but, simply put, maintained a focus that was sadly misplaced.  In other words, I'm not saying that the judges were evil or ill intentioned, or that the attorneys were heartless and bad people, I'm just saying that the legal system, because it is structured the way it is structured at this time, caught these people up in a judicial process that extraordinarily failed to address the pressing needs of the victims in this case.  In a day and age where we have skyping, we have cell phones, we have cars, and modern medicine, and live in what we hope is a reasonably efficient democracy, failures of this kind are no longer acceptable.

As a final note, the Supreme Court's decision in this case came out in 2006.  This  means that by the time the Supreme Court arrived at its decision the child was 17 and could pretty much decide for herself where she was going to stay.  This litigation, which lasted around four years, must have cost thousands and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and have cost this mother and her little girl untold suffering. Talking about legal abuse!

And who is laughing?  Who was able to abuse and harass his dying ex-wife and get the whole legal system churning away on nonsense for years at the taxpayers expense?  Guess Who?  Our Defendant Father--that's who. 

According to the Court, "both parties had put their own interests before the child's well-being."  Really.  Both Parents?  And mother was bad because of her attempts to make the child feel guilty about visiting the father.  Oh, really?  And the parents "battled".  I wonder why.  I mean, God forbid Mom ask Dad to put his pants on when his daughter is in the house. 

This father didn't want to pay child support, didn't want to pay for airline tickets (so the daughter could visit her Aunt in Colorado), didn't want to pay for school tuition, didn't want to pay for taxes, but he did want to pay multiple thousands of dollars to harass and bully his dying ex wife and child through the Court System for years and years?  And the Court System let him do it?

The way it looks to me, the Court System is so unwilling to hold an abusive Father accountable for his behavior, no matter how reprehensible or criminal, that such a Father can pretty much exploit the judicial system, manipulate it at will, use it as his own personal playground to torture his child and ex wife in until he gets bored and decides to move on.  That isn't right.

Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


In the light of Ronan Farrow's exposure of the allegations against Harry Weinstein, the Woody Allen Child Sexual Abuse scandal has again caught notice. Why is it that Harvey Weinstein faces such overall condemnation in the movie industry and yet Woody Allen has not?

For instance, one reporter -- Molly Fitzpatrick of "Splinter News" -- investigated how actors have responded to Dylan Farrow's sexual abuse accusations against Woody Allen. Below are the names of actors she checked up on: Cate Blanchett, Alex Baldwin, Wallace Shawn, Diane Keaton, Louis CK, Scarlett Johansson, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Firth, Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Mariel Hemingway, Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, Anna Camp, Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively. Their responses have been neutral, indifferent, or a resounding "It's none of my business."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


In the Fall of 2012, Elizabeth A. Richter filed a Federal ADA Complaint with the Connecticut District Court stating that she had been repeatedly denied accommodations for her disability and faced disability   based discrimination during her divorce case which took place in Hartford Superior Court and the State's Appellate Court from 2006 until 2012.  Ms. Richter's Federal Complaint was dismissed in March 2014 and has now been appealed to the Second Circuit Court in New York City.
Elizabeth Richter's original Federal Complaint was filed against the following Defendants: The Connecticut Judicial Branch, an attorney firm O'Connell, Attmore & Morris, LLC, and also an individual judge, Herbert Barall, the same judge who presided over the Linda Wiegand case. 
Ms. Richter brought the action in Federal Court to obtain redress for these Defendants' violations of Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and as Amended in 2008.  The Americans With Disabilities Act is a civil rights law which is intended to enfranchise the many millions of Americans who have disabilities throughout the United States.  Further, Ms. Richter also brought the action based upon Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an early version of the ADA, and also based upon the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution. 
As a result of the violations of due process and her right of access to state court legal proceedings, the Plaintiff, Elizabeth A. Richter requested that the Federal District court provide her with declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees.  She also requested the reversal of her state court judgments as well as monetary compensation for the intentional infliction of emotional distress which she endured as a result of the Defendants' actions.
Elizabeth Richter's struggles with discrimination began  over 30 years ago when Ms. Richter was misdiagnosed as having a severe mental illness she did not have and locked up in a psychiatric facility for a little more than two years.  Ms. Richter spoke of this incident before the Task Force on the Care and Custody of Minor Children which took place last year.  See the link below:
Despite the fact that this hospitalization was mistake, throughout her divorce the opposing side in the case repeatedly brought the subject up as the basis for denying Elizabeth Richter custody.  The opposing attorney in her case also repeatedly attempted to have Ms. Richter declared incompetent and to have a Guardian Ad Litem appointed to make decisions on behalf of Ms. Richter. 
Elizabeth Richter also brought up the fact that she experiences so much discrimination and stigma as a result of that incident that, over the years, she has had to have counseling for the stress and anxiety it has caused her. 
Despite this extensive history which qualified the Plaintiff for protections under Title II of the ADA, the Superior Court at Hartford where Ms. Richter's case was adjudicated, refused to acknowledge that she was a qualified individual under the ADA and refused to provide her with any reasonable modifications during the entire six years that her case was going through the Court. 
Elizabeth Richter also pointed out in her Complaint that the Connecticut Judicial Branch subjected her to a systemic pattern of discrimination and the denial of her ADA rights such that she was unable to obtain testamentary and participatory access to justice throughout her divorce.  Most particularly, the Connecticut Judicial Branch hid documents Elizabeth Richter had provided to the Court which showed evidence of her disability and explained what accommodations were necessary for her.   
Furthermore, Ms. Richter reported that she experienced discrimination from her own attorneys who failed to provide her with adequate representation and made statements regarding her which were intended to incite a bigoted response from the Court.  In particular, her attorney, Attorney James T. Flaherty, who was named in the lawsuit, failed to inform her of her rights under Title III of the ADA, failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations so that she could access the attorney firm's legal services, and also discriminated against her based upon her disability, and also based upon the firm's false perceptions of the disability they thought she had.  The attorney firm also refused to protect her from discrimination based upon the false perceptions that arose from the misdiagnosis she received over 30 years ago.  
During her post-judgment matters in her divorce, Elizabeth Richter complained that Judge Herbert Barall refused to provide her with reasonable accommodations, discriminated against her based upon the perception of disability, and interfered with her ADA advocate when he tried to do his job.  She also complained that Judge Barall used derogatory language while referring to her two children who have a disability and refused to acknowledge that they are legally blind although this fact was well documented and he was fully informed of their disability. 
In addition, in her Complaint, Elizabeth Richter brought to the attention of the Federal Court the fact that the Connecticut Judicial Branch does not have a publically identified ADA Coordinator as required by ADA law according to II-8.5000 of the Title II Technical Assistance manual.  Further, it has provided confusing and misleading responses when asked to identify one.  Also, the Judicial Branch does not have a meaningful grievance procedure. 
Finally, Elizabeth Richter complained that the Connecticut Judicial Branch has been restricting ADA law to Title I of the ADA, instead of Title II as required by federal law, in an attempt to avoid providing the broader based and more encompassing modifications it is required to provide under Title II. 
It is also important to note that since Ms. Richter filed her lawsuit in federal court, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has subjected her to interference and harassment in her role as an ADA Advocate in support of litigants with disabilities.  This is also a violation of ADA law.  
Ms. Richter's initial filing of her complaint was in November 2012 and then she Amended her complaint in April 2013.  Despite that, the decision of the Federal Court  dismissing her case was issued a full year later at the end of March 2014.  Apparently, according to Ms. Richter, this is quite typical of legal proceedings.  As she stated, "The Courts regularly drag out proceedings and delay responding to motions until the very last day because they hope that by doing so litigants will become discouraged and give up.  That way the Court can avoid taking proper action and avoid bearing the consequences for a wrong decision." 
And in this particular case, the decision really was wrong. 
As Ms. Richter explains it, "What the federal court basically did was declare that I do not have a disability which is just totally ridiculous.  I have been a person with a disability, and have a record of receiving treatment for anxiety over a period of many years, particularly since my misdiagnosis and wrongful hospitalization which ended in 1980.  Furthermore, during the divorce I was diagnosed with acute stress disorder as a result of the legal proceedings as well as legal abuse syndrome.  There is no way that I did not have a disability prior to the legal proceedings as well as during those proceedings.  And I am continuing to take a pounding as I pursue my legal rights in Federal Court." 
Ms. Richter continued on to say, "Even if you grant what the Federal Court said that I currently don't have a disability, that isn't even relevant.   Under ADA law it is recognized that a misdiagnosis such as the one I had many years ago still qualifies you as having a disability."  Nonetheless, the federal court decision of March 2014 denies that this is so. 
Not only  that, there is more to why the Federal Court made a completely misguided decision in Ms. Richter's case.  Apparently, to be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Otherwise, a person must have a history or record of such an impairment, or be a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. "What the Court did," stated Elizabeth Richter, "was argue that I only had temporary anxiety and it ignored my statement that I'd basically had a 30 year history of anxiety on and off.  It twisted my words around and deliberately misinterpreted them." 
Also, the Federal Court essentially argued that a temporary disability is not covered under ADA law.  This is, in fact, untrue.  Many temporary disabilities are covered under ADA law.  Not only that, according to Elizabeth Richter, "The Federal Court simply refused to discuss the second and third categories under which I could have been held to be eligible for ADA protection, i.e. the fact that I had a record of a disability from my earlier psychiatric hospitalization, let alone my subsequent treatment for anxiety, and also my complaint that I was perceived as having a disability I did not have." 
"What this really amounts to," stated Ms. Richter, "is the Judicial Nullification of Federal ADA law on the highest level." 
This is particularly outrageous granting  the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  Essentially, Congress enacted the ADAAA of 2008 because it wanted to stop the mini-trials on whether a person had a disability or not and instead wanted to force attention on the merits of the case.  This means that the Federal Court's extensive focus on whether Elizabeth A. Richter did or did not have an eligible disability was completely in violation of the law. 
Furthermore, according to Chai R. Goldblum, a national expert on ADA policy, since the passage of the ADAAA in 2008, "The primary object of attention in cases brought under the ADA should be whether covered entities have complied with their obligations and whether discrimination has occurred, not on whether the individual meets the definition of disability."  In its decision in Ms. Richter's case, the Federal Court simply refused to address the fact that The Connecticut Judicial Branch failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations and it failed to consider any of her other complaints.  The Federal Court decision solely focused on whether Ms. Richter had a disability or not, in direct opposition to the spirit of the ADAAA.
What is even more ridiculous about the Federal District Court's decision in this case is that finally, after years of stonewalling, on December 7, 2012 a Judge of the State of Connecticut confirmed the fact that Elizabeth Richter has a disability that entitles her to the protections of Federal ADA law.  As Ms. Richter stated, "Given the fact that a State Court judge has already confirmed that [I have] a disability based upon the same information that District Court has before it, how can the District Court then contradict that decision?" 
This is not the first time that the Connecticut District Court has ruled that an individual everyone knows has a disability does not have a disability.  For instance, in a recent decision in Andrew Adams v. Fun Festival Parks (Lake Compounce), the Court ruled that Mr. Adams was not disabled despite the fact that he'd been developmentally disabled since birth and in special programs throughout his public school education.  In making its determination the Connecticut District Court cited exclusively pre-ADAAA of 2008 case law to justify its decision.  This is exactly the same thing it did in the Richter case. 

Even more troubling is the remark Elizabeth Richter made about the decision in her case in Connecticut District Court when it came out.  She stated, "I am not even sure that a Judge wrote this decision.  It shows such a profound lack of insight into Federal ADA law, it doesn't seem possible that a Judge wrote it.  My guess is that the Judge had her clerk write it and then just signed off on it with just a cursory glance.  That is a pretty outrageous way for our Federal Courts to be operating.  Of course, I have no proof, but that is the way the decision looks and reads."
In ruling as it did in complete violation of Federal ADA law in these two cases, the Connecticut District Court has essentially signaled to CT State Government and its Agencies as well as to businesses throughout Connecticut that they are free to violate Federal ADA law. 
People with disabilities better watch out, because it is open season on eliminating their human rights, their civil rights, and their constitutional rights. 
Still, Elizabeth Richter has not allowed her complaint to end there.  She has continued on with an appeal to the Second Circuit Court where she just submitted her final brief.  We will eagerly await the results of that appeal.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Recent studies indicate that when abusive fathers sue for custody in family court, 70% of these fathers end up with sole custody of the children they have abused. 
How do they do it?  
Apparently, such fathers use false accusations of Parental Alienation Syndrome as a means to wrest custody from fit mothers who are trying to protect their children from abuse.  This is particularly true of what occurred in "Anna Cooper's" case which was recently highlighted in a moving article by Tom Stelloh published in Aljazeera on January 24, 2014 entitled "Do courts use a controversial theory to punish mothers who allege abuse?

See the associated link below:

Anna Cooper is not the only mother who has reported this happening to her.  Many other mothers have come forward stating the same thing. 
However, Instead of showing outrage at this kind of fraudulent behavior on the part of abusive fathers, Attorney Robert Franklin, an extremist father's rights advocate, has used Anna Cooper's willingness to come forward as a excuse to direct a personal attack against her in a blog entitled "Al Jazeera Channels NOW, Gets It Wrong on Parental Alienation."

See the associated link below: 
No, Attorney Franklin.  Aljazeera didn't get it wrong.  You did!

So what is this Parental Alienation Syndrome that abusive men have been using in widespread custody switching schemes?  Parental Alienation Syndrome is a theory proposed by psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardener which claimed that some parents try to undermine their children's relationship with the other parent, typically the noncustodial parent, by making false allegations about that parent, most often in the form of abuse allegations. 
Further, according to Tom Stelloh, author of the original Aljazeera article, Dr. Gardener theorized that "custody-related fabrications [of abuse] constituted a kind of hysteria" and described the mothers he accused of parental alienation syndrome as being "sadistic" animals who "literally fight to the death in order to safeguard their progeny."  Their goal, he wrote was "the total elimination of the father." 
Dr. Richard Gardener's recommendation on how to deal with so called parental alienation, i.e. immediately switching custody to the father and denying the mother all access to the children, is quite striking.  
Essentially, his recommendation, in an interesting role reversal, was to have the court order the father do to the mother exactly what the mother was accused of doing--in other words cut the mother off from all access to the children.  How ironic! If children need both parents, how is it acceptable to eliminate the mothers from the lives of the children, particularly if they have acted as primary custodians of those children up to that time?

Anna Cooper became a victim of this theory when she reported that her son, Ben, was showing signs of sexual abuse. As journalist Tom Stelloh explained it, "Ben returned from a visit with his father--who had a four-days-a-week custody arrangement--with bruises and abrasions that he couldn't explain.  After returning from another visit, Ben asked Cooper for help going to the bathroom.  When she discovered blood on his toilet paper, she rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with anal fissures." 
The child's pediatrician, Dr. Richard Whelan, later confirmed that sexual abuse had occurred as did Dr. Eli Newberger, founder of the child-protection unit at Boston Children's Hospital, and also Dr. Joyanna Silberg, a psychologist and child-trauma specialist at  the prestigious Sheppard Pratt hospital in Maryland. 
Once the sexual abuse was diagnosed by experts in the field, Ms. Cooper expected that her son would be protected from this abuse.  Instead, she faced an extensive coverup starting with the child's GAL.  In her words, "[Ben] came home from his father's house with his anus torn to bloody shreds, and an infection in his penis that went untreated because [GAL] Maureen Murphy threatened my son's pediatrician, tampered with evidence, his medical documents, perjured herself, and removed my ability to get medical care for my child." 
Continuing further, she stated, "I watched in horror as the infection went systemic while I was disallowed, under threat of never seeing my son again, even to seek medical treatment for his injuries, all so Murphy [the GAL] could prevent documentation of his badly infected genitals." 
As a result of this kind of obstruction (and this is just one example--there were others), Ms. Cooper was unable to present to the Court vital information in regard to the abuse of her child and ended up being accused of--you guessed it--Parental Alienation Syndrome and placed on supervised visitation.  Then, since she could not afford to pay for that visitation, she ended up being denied all access to her child.  At this point, she has not seen him in over a year.

It is not surprising, then, granted the widespread abuse of the diagnosis and its general lack of foundation in any kind of legitimate science, that the American Psychiatric Association has not included the diagnosis of Parental Alienation Syndrome in the DSM-5 despite considerable pressure from men's advocacy groups.  
Not only did they determine that there was no scientific basis for the syndrome, opponents of the diagnosis were concerned that, as I have reported, it was being used in family court as a means to take custody from parents who allege abuse, particularly protective mothers. 
It didn't help that Dr. Richard Gardener generated additional controversy on his own by appearing to use the diagnosis to condone pedophilia having made such statements as, "At the present time, the sexually abused child is generally considered to be the victim, though the child may initiate sexual encounters by 'seducing' the adult." or "There is a whole continuum that must be considered here, from those children who were coerced and who gained no pleasure (and might even be considered to have been raped) to those who enjoyed immensely (with orgastic responses) the sexual activities."
Despite these very serious problems with the PAS diagnosis and its lack of inclusion in the DSM-5, in his recent blog on the subject, Attorney Robert Franklin states that Parental Alienation Syndrome must exist because he says it is in the DSM-5 but not under that specific name. 
Ok, so what he actually means is that many of the truly fanatical proponents of Parental Alienation Syndrome refused to accept the fact that the DSM-5 didn't include PAS so what they did was pick and peck through the book and found a few embellished diagnoses which they state friendly editors clandestinely included in the DSM-5 so that litigants wishing to claim PAS could have something legitimate to use in Family Court.  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you as well! 
Attorney Franklin also mentions some book by Dr. Robert Bernet which he claims "contains some 700 citations in contemporary science on parental alienation from over 40 countries..." and he also mentions that PAS has been "recognized in at least 500 law cases and numerous statutes." 
Likewise, I am sure, discredited diagnoses such as Recovered Memory Syndrome or Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder) also generated considerable attention in their day, but that still didn't make them any more legitimate. 
This is not to say that there are not anecdotal situations where one parent viewed the other as alienating him or her from the children, but this does not make such observations scientific, or articles based on such observations scientific.  There is no doubt that many of us have had the other parent interfere with our access to our children.  Still, that is simply bad behavior, not necessarily mental illness of any kind. 
It never fails that with every decade there are new social movements and theories which generate a whole new bunch of quack ideas and fads that seem really legitimate at the time, but which eventually fade out, hopefully without causing too much damage to the rest of us. 
I believe that PAS is one of them.

Attorney Robert Franklin faults Anna Cooper for contributing to the Aljazeera article anonymously.  But you can be sure that if she used her own name, he would criticize her for inappropriately exposing her child to public scrutiny.  Damned if you do, and damned if you don't!

Attorney Robert Franklin further states that Anna Cooper's case is not credible because "court appointed experts [plural]" found the allegations of abuse to be untrue.  Yet, the only court appointed expert he mentions is Dr. Kenneth Robson.  
Since Attorney Franklin isn't from Connecticut, I can understand he wouldn't be familiar with Dr. Robson, but those of us who do live in Connecticut are very familiar with this psychiatrist's notorious reputation for malfeasance in child custody cases throughout the State. 
Not only did Dr. Kenneth Robson deny that there was sexual abuse in Ms. Cooper's case, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he also denied that there was sexual abuse in the Linda Wiegand case where the father was accused of sexually abusing her two boys--Ben and Jon. 
When the Massameno Report came out in 1998 confirming that the abuse had occurred, the Institute of Living where Dr. Robson worked was sufficiently convinced of his wrongdoing that they chose to sever their relationship with him. 
I am personally aware of a recent case in the last few years in which Dr. Robson was again the custody evaluator.  In this case the mother also accused the father of sexually abusing their children.  In his evaluation, Dr. Robson denied that the sexual abuse had taken place and insisted that the father was a loving father.  He then recommended sole custody to the father. One year later, DCF removed the children from the home permanently based upon the sexual abuse of the children. 
As an additional note, even though the Institute of Living discontinued its relationship with Dr. Kenneth Robson, up until at least 2011 Robson continued to represent himself fraudulently as being affiliated with the Institute of Living even though he hadn't been for many years.

Attorney Robert Franklin states, "Again, for the umpteenth time, those who claim parental alienation to be a fiendish ruse by abusive fathers to wrest custody from "protective mothers' cannot come up with a single instance in which that actually occurred." 
Ok, well I just gave you three. 
I will also add to that four, my own case, one in which, among other things, my ex husband deliberately medically neglected my children.  When I went to the GAL and reported to her what was going on, she answered me by saying, "They all say they are being abused."  In other words, using the all or nothing language of Attorney Franklin, "all" mothers who say they are being abused are making it up. 
During the course of my divorce, which took several years, my ex continued to abuse me and also continued to medically neglect my children.  The GAL, my own attorneys, the trial court did nothing to stop any of it.
Because they were programmed to believe that any mother who seeks to protect herself or her children is just trying to get back at her ex husband, or simply attempting to parentally alienate the children from their father. 
In other words, as Attorney Robert Franklin so eloquently stated in his article "Of Teflon and Velcro:  Constructing a High-Impact Narrative", the myth overcame the reality, and for the Court and all the professionals involved in my case, the fact that my ex was abusing me and that he was causing damage to my children's health which could have lifelong consequences for them, meant nothing in the face of the concern that the legal system clearly felt was ten times more important, i.e. their na├»ve investment in a fake mental health diagnosis that is so lacking in credibility it isn't even included in the DSM. 
What a travesty! 
Not only are there the cases that I have detailed up to this point, I am contacted on a regular basis by mothers with well documented cases of domestic violence who are being accused falsely of having Parental Alienation Syndrome. Despite the frequent statements to the contrary, judges and attorneys throughout Connecticut are well aware of Parental Alienation and use the diagnosis freely as a means to switch custody from mothers who have long acted as primary caretakers of their children to fathers with histories of abuse.

This happens despite the fact that, as far as I know, Judges have no statutory basis for doing so.
Even where there has been no abuse and no alienation, but father now wants custody, the slightest hint that the mother may have been critical of the father or let an ill considered remark slip in an unguarded moment is enough to cause that mother complete loss of custody, despite the fact that she has been primary caretaker of the children for many years.  See the many cases I have reported on my blog under the label "cases in the news" for examples of that.
The additional irony, of course, in this highly contentious debate, is that as long as men's rights advocates continue to deny the existence of abuse, there is no way to establish whether Parental Alienation Syndrome truly exists or not because the definition has been corrupted. More specifically, Parental Alienation Syndrome can only exist absent abuse, but if you maintain a rigid policy of denying that abuse exists, there is no way to establish whether you have a legitimate case.

I have tremendous sympathy for parents who have genuinely experienced situations where the other parent has blocked their access to their children, and who use the language of Parental Alienation Syndrome in order to explain what happened to them.  Again, ironically, Anna Cooper is one such parent who could easily claim that kind of languaging.  But attempting to legitimize a theory which is being used on an ongoing basis to enable abusive parents to continue to abuse their children--that is simply unacceptable.