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.

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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.