In the news: Custody Catastrophes

This case comes from Australia, where they’re having plenty of problems with the Fathers Rights Movement. This case demonstrates how access is becoming far more important than safety:

Girls ordered to spend weekends with sex offender father

A COURT has ordered two young girls to spend weekends with their sex offender father provided he puts a door on their bedroom they can lock.

Judge Robert Benjamin, in the Family Court’s Hobart branch, ruled that the girls “need some protection from (their father), particularly at night”.

However, the risk of sexual abuse was “diminished when they are awake and alert”.

Judge Benjamin said that the father, who was convicted of downloading child pornography, must have an “adult friend” stay with him when the girls stayed overnight.

He added that until the youngest turned 14, the girls must “share the same room so they can have the mutual support of one another”.

A Family Court counsellor said that the girls, aged ten and eight, “are at an age and maturity when awake, dressed and together it would be unlikely the father would act inappropriately toward them”.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/girls-ordered-to-spend-weekends-with-sex-offender-father/story-e6frfkvr-1225840653601#ixzz1GWv0gRMU

This case involves an American girl taken to Malaysia by her father. A domestic violence survivors advocate asked: Why wasn’t this mother’s case covered like fathers’ cases are (Goldman, Savoie, etc.) ?
 

PETALING JAYA – An 11-year-old American girl, who claimed she was constantly abused by her Malaysian father, was yesterday reunited with her mother and is set to begin a new life in Indiana, United States.

The girl and her mother, a 28-year-old restaurant worker in Indiana, cried uncontrollably outside the Court for Children here when they were reunited after six years yesterday.

The mother was flown in here by the US embassy after the plight of the girl reached the courts last week.

For the past six years, the mother had been under the notion that she would never be able to see her child again. The girl was listed as “abducted” in the US.

I”ve posted an article before that stated 68% of child abductions involve domestic violence – I’ll repost it again after this article.  

Mothers make case against Hague Treaty

According to the participants, the women talked about their reasons for returning to Japan, and brought their children with them, claiming they made the move because of domestic violence.

After the meeting, one woman told reporters she began to find inexplicable bruises on her child after her ex-spouse’s visitations. She said her child asked to be taken to Japan.

“If Japan were to sign the Hague Convention . . . (my child would) be forced to live with an abusive father and be exposed to violence again,” the woman said. “And I will become a (declared) criminal.”

The Hague Convention aims to promptly return children illegally taken out of their country of “habitual residence” by a parent.

Rethinking the Hague Convention

…research indicates that 68% of the abducting parents in cases under this treaty are mothers — and that many of them are fleeing abusive spouses

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2036246,00.html#ixzz1GWzJxNn5

 

Who am I to judge?

That’s what Judge Andrew Tarantino needs to be asking himself.

Thanks to Mark Fass for reporting on this judge’s incompetence and the dilemma of judges’ virtual impunity. His email is below – please consider writing to thank him.

Judge transferred over alleged actions in visitation case 

Judge Transferred Over Alleged Actions in Visitation Case

Mark Fass

08-12-2010

A Suffolk County judge who was the subject of a searing complaint by a children’s advocacy group has been transferred from Family Court to the County Court’s civil term.

A court source called the immediate transfer “unprecedented” and an indication of the how seriously the allegations are being taken by the Office of Court Administration.

According to the complaint, Judge Andrew G. Tarantino Jr. granted a father who had been convicted of possessing child pornography and third-degree rape of a minor overnight visitation of his three children, supervised by his own parents.

Read the complaint and Judge Tarantino’e earlier ruling.

During the visitation hearing in January, Judge Tarantino joked about child pornography, misstated the facts of the case, refused to hear expert testimony regarding sexual-abuse recidivism and maintained an “inappropriate” relationship with the father’s attorney, according to the complaint.

The complaint was filed Tuesday with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct by Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, a Long Island advocacy group. It was also forwarded to the OCA, which is independent from the commission

The OCA transferred the judge out of Family Court on Monday, based on the allegations underlying the complaint.

A spokesman for the OCA said he could not discuss the grounds for transferring judges and that the court system could take no further remedial action.

“This is a matter for the Commission on Judicial Conduct,” spokesman David Bookstaver said. “The courts by statute cannot discipline or punish judges.”

Robert Tembeckjian, the conduct commission’s chief administrator, said he could not comment unless and until a sanction is issued or a judge waives confidentiality.

Judge Tarantino, 57, declined to comment.

The complaint against the judge alleges numerous instances of bias and inappropriate comments during a child custody proceeding earlier this year. The judge held a four-day hearing in January and issued an eight-page decision in April.

The father, Dennis DeMille, a former middle-school teacher, is a registered Level II sex offender. He pleaded guilty to possessing pornographic photographs of 12- to 16-year-old girls, and sexually victimizing a minor.

The children’s mother, who is not named in court records, had contacted the Parents for Megan’s Law in November 2009 to complain about the judge’s behavior.

The group in its complaint said “Judge Tarantino has exhibited a bias and a blatant disregard for the facts.”

The complaint cited such examples as the judge’s joke that, to get around a law that prohibits replicating child pornography for court records, a court officer could “do little stick pictures” duplicating the images underlying the father’s child-pornography conviction.

“You can do an artist’s rendition,” the judge joked.

Judge Tarantino asked to view the photos to determine whether they were “pieces of art or pornography,” notwithstanding the father’s conviction. The judge then never ruled on the issue, the complaint said.

It describes the judge joking about the treatment methods for sexual addiction, asking whether “a little electronic device” might be placed in a patient’s keyboard.

The judge’s decision to allow Mr. DeMille supervised overnight visits quoted his therapist as saying “the father is not a predator,” when the therapist had declined to rule out that possibility, the complaint alleged.

The OCA rarely moves so quickly to transfer a judge, the only remedial power it holds. After Brooklyn Family Court Judge Robin Sheares jailed a mother for refusing to facilitate visits between her son and his father, a thrice-convicted rapist, OCA took three weeks to transfer her to Civil Court.

Judge Tarantino forwarded through a court spokesman a corrected copy of his order in the underlying case.

This case presents with the issue of when and if a sex offender should be able to have a normal relationship with his children?” the judge wrote in Matter of D.D. III, 13176-07. “[T]he children are entitled to grow with and have as normal relationship with their Father as is possible under these circumstances. To consider sinister every activity in which there may be contact may approach paranoia in some circumstances. This court cannot render a decision based upon paranoia.”

Judge Tarantino was elected to Family Court in 2006 and took the bench in 2007. A 1991 graduate of City University of New York School of Law and a registered Democrat, he worked as a solo practitioner speciaizing in family law from 1991 to 2000 and as a partner at Long Island’s Sarisohn Law Partners from 2000 to 2004. He was an assistant county attorney assigned to Suffolk Family Court from 2004 through 2006.

Mark Fass can be reached at mfass@alm.com.