Today Show’s major media bias in psycho ex-wife case

The Today Show has showed major bias against battered mothers in the past – yesterday was no different – but, if possible, it was a bit worse than usual. Bonnie Russell posted her interview with Allison Morelli on this blog:

@Bonnie Russell…Allison Morelli…The follow up: What was the Today Show thinking?

Someone sent it to Allison and she contacted me. I subsequently learned in the five hours TODAY Show free-lance producers spent with Ms. Morelli, much which was very important didn’t air.  Turns out the Today Show piece was worse than most could have imagined.

Not mentioned

That the Psycho Ex-Wife did not solely slam Allison Morelli.  The site also featured posts that were highly critical of both boys. Criticism that will not be repeated here.  That was not featured in any part of the interview regarding a court system that is supposed to oversee the best interests of the children.

Read Russell’s interview with Morelli here.

Today Show gives psycho from Psycho Ex-wife blog valuable air time

Dad behind ‘psycho ex-wife’ blog protests its shutdown  

I couldn’t think of a less deserving man to give such valuable air time to on the lofty topic of freedom of speech.But, you know, maybe discussing these psychotic angry divorced men might give people a clue as to what ex-wives are dealing with.

The guy was ordered to shut his blog down, so now he’s protesting it’s his freedom of speech to bash his ex-wife. [The very same guy that discusses parental alienation — the pseudo-scientific term that claims (mostly) women poison kid’s minds against them – is, umm, poisoning his kids – and about 200,00 readers (per month) – minds.] They said on the Today Show his blog was inaccurate, belittling, and “outright cruel.” Matt Lauer (who typically rolls his eyes at anything feminist-sounding) said that’s what blogs are all about (not sure what blogs he reads but I often thought he was a Men’s Rights Activist in disguise so he must be reading those – that would certainly account for the cruelty he’s reading).

Fortunately, they did present the wife’s side and she came off very rationale.

So, I wonder, why is it that when women badmouth their exes it’s parental alienation and when men do it, it’s their freedom of speech?

Family Court: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good & the bad:

Well, the good news is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) has been rejected for the upcoming DSM-5. Ms. Magazine blog ran an update of an article on PAS:

http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/06/10/%E2%80%9Cparental-alienation-syndrome-another-alarming-dsm-5-proposal/

This does help in our argument that PAS is not legitimate. The bad news is this won’t
stop it from being used in the courtroom (despite the lack of scientific evidence). Psychologists/evaluators will still say Mom is exhibiting alienating behavior or some derivative of it in the face of an abuse allegation.

The ugly:
We had (at least) two fathers recently who had cases similar to Casey Anthony’s and we’re still asking ourselves when will the media shed a light on fathers killing their children and/or mothers of the children, esp during “custody battles.”

Father charged in slaying of teen
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/father-charged-in-slaying-of-teen/2011/05/21/AFzRYj8G_story.html?wprss=rss_local
This father stabbed and molested his daughter, and then threw the body into a trash can.

Tanya Skelton granted custody of missing sons; John Skelton says she won’t see them
http://www.lenconnect.com/breaking/x795259618/Tanya-Skelton-granted-custody-of-missing-sons-John-Skelton-says-she-wont-see-them
This mother has not seen her 3 young sons since Thanksgiving, when they visited their father. They assume the father has killed them – he says he handed them over to an organization and won’t give them back to her unless he gets joint custody.
He’s proved he’s abusive by taking the sons (possibly killing them). He probably wants to lower or avoid child support since he’s raised the topic of other debts. And, research has shown that lack of access/time is not the real reason Dads kill their children. It’s just an excuse they use.

I don’t understand how Casey Anthony gets so much attention and we can’t shed any light on these cases to spark a debate.

Another man killed about 6 people at a family court, including his ex-wife’s attorney. And still – women are vengeful and not to be believed. Sigh.

Sheriff’s office identifies victims in Yuma shooting spree

According to court records Theresa and Carey Dyess were married in Tombstone May 2002 and filed for divorce in 2006. Theresa alleged domestic abuse and received an order of protection. Carey later took out his own order of protection against Theresa.
Court records also show the 2006 divorce was Carey Dyess’ fifth. It was final in 2007. Theresa bought out Carey’s share of their home and stayed in the house in Wellton, the same home where she was found dead Thursday morning.Carey Dyess also had an order of protection against a man he identified as ‘my wife’s boyfriend,” who he alleged was harassing him by driving by his home every day.

It was a nasty divorce that ultimately cost the Theresa, her three friends and attorney all their life and left another friend in the hospital.

Peter Jamison exposes horrors of family court

Peter Jamison writes an outstanding article detailing the horrors of the family court system:

California Family Courts Helping Pedophiles, Batterers Get Child Custody

Interviews with dozens of parents, activists, lawyers, judges, children, and former family court employees, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of family and criminal court documents, indicate that the system’s methods for assessing whether child sexual abuse or spousal battery has taken place — findings that are critical to deciding whether a parent should retain custody of or visitation rights with a child — fall short of the standards accepted by domestic-violence experts and the criminal-justice community.

And here lies the problem:

Still, advocates of reform say a few widespread problems lead to poor court decisions, such as inadequate procedures for investigating abuse; the use of controversial and potentially dangerous psychological theories about child welfare; and a prejudice toward joint parental custody, even when one parent is clearly violent. Compounding these issues, critics say, is a lack of accountability for judges, attorneys, custody evaluators, and other court personnel, who enjoy immunity from lawsuits even in cases where they make decisions that do obvious harm to children and parents.

And this:

Family courts have no juries, and litigants who lack the money for a private attorney have no right to counsel. (As a result, many parents without financial means must represent themselves.) In the place of the traditional fact-finding apparatus that operates daily in criminal and civil courtrooms — dueling lawyers, and jurors charged with determining the facts of a case from available evidence — family court substitutes a cadre of individuals who make decisions in concert. Foremost is the judge. And it is with the judges, in some ways, that the problem starts.

Few aspirants to the bench relish the idea of refereeing the roughly 20 percent of divorces that are hostile enough to end up in family court. As a result, many assigned to this branch of the judiciary are rookies — paying their dues for a year or two before moving on to the more genteel arenas of civil or criminal law — or lifers without the aptitude to move on. “Family courts are the ugly stepchild of the law,” Oakland family law attorney Kim Robinson says. “It’s considered the bottom of the barrel. Almost no one wants to be there as a judge. The judges come in with a major attitude about it from the get-go.”

Family law judges are aided by a range of subjudicial officials, including psychological evaluators and minors’ counsels, attorneys appointed to represent the children in disputed custody cases. The courts also rely on mediators, who attempt to arbitrate custody agreements between parents. Failing such an agreement, they have the authority in many California jurisdictions to make a recommendation about custody rights.

Complaints about how all these people do their jobs aren’t new, and in light of their high-stakes, high-conflict work environment, some amount of dissatisfaction among litigants is to be expected. But officials in state government have begun to take the sheer volume of those complaints seriously.

Another problem:

While the system’s mistakes affect both mothers and fathers, men are statistically more likely to be the perpetrators of the types of serious crimes that highlight the family courts’ shortcomings — as they are in all the cases, substantiated by criminal convictions, examined in this article. The topic of gender’s correlation with violent crime is hotly debated, but studies have found that only 6 percent of sex offenses and 5 percent of serious incidents of domestic violence are committed by women.

Sound advice:

“The way that the courts have to work is evidence-based, not theory-based.”

And more good advice:

Geraldine Stahly, a psychology professor at California State University at San Bernardino, likewise says that the family courts need to be revamped so as to devote more attention to evidence — as do other courts of law — rather than the opinions of individuals such as psychologists, mediators, or even judges. “I would like to see judges relying a lot less on psychological evaluations and a lot more on the facts of a case,” she says.


Custody catastrophes

Lesbian moms reluctant to report abuse by partner fearing child’s custody loss

and, on the subject of custody…

Child custody expert tied to lewd Web photos 

A prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist who has helped decide hundreds of child-custody disputes was thrown off one recent case and has been challenged in at least two others after posting lewd photos of himself on Facebook and allegedly promoting illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.

Dr. Joseph Kenan, president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, is also being investigated by the Medical Board of California on at least four complaints by parents who hired him to do custody evaluations, according to records and correspondence reviewed by The Times.

Dr. Kenan, president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, was also mentioned in an article posted on a Fathers Rights site: Sexual Abuse Accusations Color Custody Battles  Notice the ads about female sex offenders and women who lie about paternity on the right hand side.

Kenan believes in the discredited idea of parental alienation syndrome, an idea created by Dr. Richard Gardner, who defended child molesters, and promoted by fathers rights groups:

“Parental alienation—when one parent programs a child against the other parent—is one reason for false allegations of abuse by a child: one parent encourages the child to accuse the other. The parent can be subtle in encouraging the child to make sexual allegations by not supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent and by criticizing the other parent in the child’s presence, which can cause the child to adopt one parent’s negative view of the other. However, it is important to avoid jumping to conclusions that the accused parent is guilty, or that the other parent is behind the allegations.”

He seems to think children who repeat themselves are likely to be lying:

“Review the initial statement made by the child or adolescent, if it is available as a videotape, audiotape, transcription, or police report. “The first interview done by police and CPS is often videotaped. If that is available, watch it. The more the child or adolescent repeats the statements, the less reliable the statements are. If you are able to view an older interview, it may be more truthful than your own interview with the child,” he said.”

Kenan is not just one bad apple, he’s one of many child custody evaluators who uses bias and high fees to taint the family court system. It’s nothing short of scary that family court has such little oversight of custody evaluators.

Family court chaos: abuse, audits and “alienation”

Here are several pieces on the horrors of family court, here and abroad.

First research study on how local authorities work with domestically abusive fathers  from the Charity Family Rights Group in the UK. The report is available from this site, but there is a charge. Here’s a link to the Baby P case they reference – Warning – there’s a graphic description of the abuse this infant experienced. This article mentions there’s been 30 other similar cases recently (sigh) : Baby P: Born into a nightmare of abuse, violence and despair, he never stood a chance

Excerpt from “First research study…”:

The audit of the 70 case files in three authorities found that: 

The majority but not all perpetrators of domestic abuse were birth fathers

  • In 57 cases the perpetrator of the domestic abuse was the birth father and in 12 cases the mother’s partner. 

 The severity of the abuse was stark

  • In 41% of the cases the adult victim had been pregnant at the time of being abused.
  • In at least 37% of the cases there had been more than six separate reported incidents of domestic violence.

 A great many of the children were in contact with their fathers ·   Only 12% of perpetrators were noted on the files as having definitely lost contact as a result of the domestic violence.   

But

Ø     In only 31 cases (44%) was the phone number of the birth father on the files;

Ø    There was a lack of assessment and information about the parenting capacity of 61% of these fathers;

Ø    In the sample, 48 core assessments were undertaken (i.e. to assess the level of the child’s need/or to assess risk when there were child protection concerns)  yet the father was not seen or contacted by phone in 32% (15) of these cases ; 

Ø    The offer of attending a domestic violence perpetrator programme was made to only 14 of the 53 perpetrators. 

Speaking of audits, here are some press pieces from the audit of Marin County family court:

Marin Voice:  Audit unveils court problems

Marin court right to implement audit advice

And, lastly, I want to mention that the Huffington Post has been running posts on parental alienation. Cathy Meyer wrote an article that bashed the National Organization of Women (NOW). I suppose the rookie didn’t want to take on all the other organizations that discredit parental alienation:

The American Bar Association, American Prosecutors Research Institute, National District Attorneys Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges…

The National District Attorneys Association says on their Web site, “PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children.”

Meyer admits in the comment section that she doesn’t know much about domestic violence but suspects it’s not very common. You’d think she’d visit at least one domestic violence site before writing about PAS.  

I give up on contacting the Huffpo – we sent them a sign on letter with over 2o signatories of individuals(lawyers, writers, advocates) and organizations involved in domestic violence and child abuse. They didn’t respond. I then sent them “Case #1” (Katie Tagle, who the judge claimed denied access to the father – the father who ended up killing their 9-month-old son). So they let me submit an article on PAS (posted on my blog below) – a small consolation, esp considering they then ran the Meyer piece afterwards. It was so poorly researched – She read a book on PAS (according to a comment she wrote on the Internet) and now *poof* she’s an expert. Meanwhile, abusers are getting off the hook with PAS, the abuse excuse.

Huffington Post really needs to get some better writers  – ones able to do a little research – they owe that much to their readers.

Richard Warshak: Bad-mouthing domestic violence advocates on a pro-PAS blog

In the “you’ve gotta be kidding me” department, we have Mr. Richard Warshak – PhD – not MD – bad-mouthing and “alienating” domestic violence advocates & survivors and poisoning the blogosphere with his rebuttal to critics – on no other than a pro-PAS blog.

The man sends out an email to his fan-base asking them to comment on his Huffpo piece. He censors anyone commenting that has a dissenting viewpoint (so noboby can read these opposing comments, of course).  Then, he writes a rebuttal on a pro-PAS blog. A rebuttal to what, Mr. Warshak???? Nobody can read our comments!!!  Are you kidding me?!?

These are some of his “alienating” comments he makes about domestic violence advocates/survivors:

“…the brick wall of a closed mind… misguided ideas…fanatics… extremists…one website claims a conspiracy… when my wife reads these vicious and absurd accounts, she shakes her head in disbelief… ‘Don’t they know that you’ve devoted your career to the welfare of children?’…the drumbeat of misinformation… their zeal…their smears.”

Closed mind? Misguided? Fanatics? Extremists?

I guess you’d also call the APA, the ABA, the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, the American Judges Association, and the National DA’s Association the same?!?

He’s devoted his career to the “welfare of children”?!  More likely, the children’s moms end up on welfare after they’ve been dragged through the court with false accusations of “alienation.” He could care less about children’s welfare – he sends them, sometimes by police force, to his pricey reunification ranch in Texas to deprogram them. God forbid children have their own thoughts, preferences, or bonds. He’ll brainwash them into accepting a parent whether they like it or not. Say good-bye to the parent they bonded with – they lose custody and are not invited to the ranch. No, they want to force a bond on the child and the parent the child fears or hates – no matter if violence or abuse broke that bond. Children’s welfare? More like parent’s money. Whoever has the money, gets the child deprogrammed. It’s a controversial, unproven, and unethical method he employs.

Warshak writes, “The many parents I have helped, women and men, express astonishment that some people demonize me, attempt to tarnish my reputation, and spread misleading and false information about my work and me. Although my supporters far outweigh my detractors, the people seeking to quiet my voice yell loudly and work hard to circulate their misinformation.”

This is a joke, right?

It’d be funny if his ideas weren’t so dangerous.

He also says, “Until now I have allowed the personal attacks and gross misrepresentations to go without answer.”  — That’s not true, Mr. Warshak. All the comments that were posted on the Huffpo article stuck to facts and quotes. We resorted to our blogs when you censored us. Blogs are a lot less formal but I haven’t read any attacks.

He states, “They cling to misguided ideas rather than acknowledge the widespread mistreatment of children described in Divorce Poison and my other works.” — Ahhh, Mr. Warshak, you mean we cling to science rather than buy your snake poison. Your peddling your book and “other works” – DVDs, reunification ranch, etc.

No, Mr. Warshak, we aint buying it — and neither is the legal, mental health, medical, or scientific community.

“Some of these people would have you believe that there is an epidemic of judges who take joy in placing children with parents who beat or sexually molest them.” Well, Mr. Warshak, there was the case of Katie Tagle. Funny, the judge said she was the liar who was trying to block access to the father. He handed a 9-month-old infant over to the dad. Do you know what happened to the infant, Mr. Devoted-to-Children’s-Welfare? The father killed him.

This is not an isolated case, but to go on any further would be a total loss of time on my part.

Warshak’s ruse: Act like he supports domestic violence survivors

Warshak posted this comment on his Huffpo article:

My earlier replies to comments, and my professional articles, make it clear that I agree with you that abusers can be the alienating parent. Here are quotes from my earlier replies to comments: “Some alienated mothers have left coercive, controlling husbands and these women should expect support from those who advocate on behalf of DV victims.” “A child who was intimidated by a coercive father into rejecting the mother may reach out to the mother once the child has established some independence from the father.”

“Should expect support”? What a bunch of hog wash. Any woman, man, or child can expect support from a domestic violence agency, he needn’t patronize the DV community or act like we’re not supporting abused individuals.

What he calls “alienating” behavior or the obnoxious “divorce poison” can be domestic violence if it involves coercion, threats, or intimidation. We’ve been trying to say this – he refuses to post our comments. He’d much rather censor us and make his mulah off of folks with his DVDs, books, and bogus treatment centers. He’d see an end to the cash cow if he simply called abusive behavior domestic violence.

And, speaking of which, what the hell are his credentials for discussing domestic violence? How many classes did he take? Has he volunteered at an agency? Does he donate?

He’s also referencing help to mothers a lot – bull crap. PA/PAS/PAD is overwhelmingly used by men.
He has yet to acknowledge the fact that PAS has been used by abusers in family court to counter allegations of abuse. When he has, he distorted the information and made it look like we said “all men” use PA as an abuse excuse. I wrote a comment suggesting he either had a reading comprehension problem or was an idealogue that was blinded to other views.
The guy’s position is completely divergent from the domestic violence community – make no mistake – yet he’s posturing as if he understands abuse and HE supports individuals (rather than the DV community) — He supports anybody who’s a potential customer, that’s who he supports.
 
Alienation? Yes, he’s alienated the domestic violence community.
Here’s a few resources on PAS
‘When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children’s fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.” (page 40) “THE TRUTH ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AND THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION”. Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005).
“When mental health experts or attorneys claim that P.A.S. is a ‘syndrome’– knowing full well that it lacks scientific validity, is the concoction of a disgraced psychologist, and has been soundly rejected by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — that is disingenuous at best and unethical at worst.  Moreover, when it is used as a vehicle to keep children in the custody of men who abuse them, it is also immoral. ” , Randy Burton, Founder, Chairman and President – Justice for Children. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp

“The vast majority of these mothers (97%) reported that court personnel ignored or minimized reports of abuse. They reported feeling that they were punished for trying to protect their children and 65% said they were threatened with sanctions if the “talked publicly” about the case. In all, 45% of the mothers say they were labeled as having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The protective parents reported that the average cost of the court proceedings was over $80,000. Over a quarter of the protective parents say they were forced to file bankruptcy as a result of filing for custody of their children. Eighty-five percent of the protective parents surveyed believe that their children are still being abused; however, 63% say they stopped reporting the abuse for fear that contact with their children will be terminated. Eleven percent of the children were reported to have attempted suicide.” “Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation”. Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Leadership Council. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html   

For more quotes, go to: Parenting abused children

Ms. blog: Huffington Post censors mother’s rights activists

Elizabeth Black covers the Huffpo piece – censorship of domestic violence advocates and mothers rights activists’ comments and the promotion of pseudo-science – on the Ms. Magazine blog:

Huffington Post censors mothers’ rights activists

And here’s a case of a man claiming alienation and then blaming this lack of access for his kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing his ex-wife. This is one of many that end up in the papers – and, like this man, they’re all oblivious as to why the wife hindered their access or fled:

Remorseless Moore gets life

Huffington Post has another article up on how women are misspending child support. What it doesn’t mention is how expensive it is to raise a child, all the expenses such as rent/furniture/utilities/food/school supplies/sports equipment, etc and the intangible items like losing time at work when the child(ren) is sick, fewer promotions, lower wages than single women or men, etc. I have no doubt custodial parents pay far more than non-custodial parents – I just wonder if there have been studies to prove this.