Rich, poor, middle class – no child in America is safe. These words of award-winning investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow (author of The Worst Interests of the Child) refer to the abusive practices that regularly occur within the Family Courts and Child Protective Services (CPS) Courts. On their watch, each year hundreds of thousands of children suffer from abuse (including rape and prolonged torture) that would not have happened without this court system’s initial invasion and subsequent entrapment.
Removing children from their homes, separating children from parents, and creating conflict within the family unit is good business for the judicial officials and has become what the Family and CPS Courts do best.
Court officials heavily profit from these induced conflicts. They have learned how to milk the system for financial gain, by targeting the protective (fit) parent instead of the abusive (unfit) parent, resulting in children getting placed with pedophiles, sadistic sociopaths, and narcissists, in life-threatening environments. Although “the State” will pay the court officials if a low income or poor family is involved, the system forces protective parents who are middle class or wealthier to foot the bills for all court services. Either way, rich or poor, court officials have made a big business out of family conflicts, using children as currency.
Why would the courts target a fit parent instead of an unfit parent? Because there is no money to be made off of the unfit one. The Family and CPS Courts require one parent willing to participate with them, to care about the child’s well being and, most importantly, to make a commitment to the courts. Protective parents will do anything and everything the courts demand of them. Whereas abusive parents are more likely to give in after the court system’s first hurdle, demand, or when he/she sees the bills, simply saying, “Fine, take the child.”
There are many reasons why the public is not aware of this national crisis. Individual victims of the system may feel as though it was a rare set of bizarre circumstances that led to their misfortune. But in a large number of cases, gag orders (often in effect until the child reaches 18) are issued resulting in sealing files from the public. Judges and caseworkers use the threat of this parent “not ever seeing the child again” if the gag order is violated.
So when the courts place a child with an abusive parent/relative/foster parent, the protective parent is not allowed to seek support (i.e., from doctors, therapists, law enforcement, the media, or other outlets) on behalf of the child, outside of the court’s purview. Even when the protective parent brings indisputable evidence against the abusive parent/guardian(who has custody of the child), such as photos, doctor’s reports, taped conversations, and police reports, the protective parent can be prosecuted and thrown in jail on the grounds of contempt of court – or, even worse, can have his or her parental rights terminated. Not one of those reports can be entered into evidence, unless the CPS caseworkers/social workers agree to allow it.
The Family and CPS Courts almost always defend their original decision (in favor of the abusive parent), even in the face of glaring evidence that the child suffers from severe neglect, physical torture, or sexual abuse. Many CPS caseworkers don’t have a college degree and the average caseworker stays on the job for approximately two years. Doctors, therapists, attorneys, evaluators, visitation supervisors, and others holding contracts with the CPS/Family Courts who go against this court system (as an “unqualified individual opinion”) will most likely lose their lucrative jobs.
Court officials claim that placing gag orders (barring media access) on all files and information within the CPS system is meant to protect the “minor child.” But the gag orders only protect judges, caseworkers, Guardians ad Litem (GALs), and other court representatives from liability and public exposure. Only the unfit parents and court officials (the people who caused the child’s horrors) have access to the child’s sealed files, allowing them to manipulate, cover-up, or twist the truth about information concerning their treatment of the child.
In 2011, Peter Jamison published an article in the San Francisco Weekly, “California Family Courts Helping Pedophiles, and Batterers Get Child Custody.” These news reports are rare. The abuser may sue newspapers, TV stations, or hospitals that release the incriminating records…which occurred in protective mother Maralee McLean’s case. The pedophile-abuser of a female toddler was awarded over a million dollars after CNN aired one hour of indisputable evidence proving that the custody-holding father raped this toddler nightly. The father sued the hospital for releasing the evidence to the mother who had lost custody of her child. McLean was prosecuted for violating her gag order, and for bringing the evidence to CNN.
Even when gag orders are not issued, many parents are scared silent, knowing if they speak out, showing damning evidence against the parent or guardian who holds custody, the unfit custodial parent could take his or her anger out on the child. They also fear retaliation from the courts. Other protective parents may be filled with shame and disbelief. Many protective parents are unable to sleep, and come down with debilitating illnesses, gastrointestinal diseases, and sometimes terminal cases of stomach cancer due to the extreme stress caused by lack of contact with their child who now lives with a known abuser.
When a brave victim (often a mother, but not always) does manage to speak out, providing powerful evidence against the parent/guardian/foster parent who received full custody, members of the public often do not believe her (or him). Many think, ‘that cannot be true. No court in the US would place a child with a convicted sex offender or a parent with a violent criminal record who does not work, has a severe mental illness, or has a long history of substance abuse.’ Yet I’m aware of thousands of custody cases where all of the above is true.
These victims – the fit and protective parents – are willing to sign away their homes and savings to the family courts in order to secure the safety of their children. When the Family and CPS Courts extend the dispute over many years (in the majority of these cases, over a decade), the protective parents hold on tight, giving everything they have, financially, emotionally, and mentally.
One protective mother who comes to mind is Susan Skipp who was hauled into court and forced by Judge Resha to sign over her $41,000 State of Connecticut teachers’ retirement fund – an account that is supposed to be protected from garnishment. Skipp explains, “The State Marshal came and got me, holding me in shackles, ready to take me to prison if I did not sign it over.” She continues, “The first month of custody procedures, I was billed $5,700 to pay for the Guardian Ad Litem.” By the end of that year, the GAL had billed Skipp $85,000.
Family and CPS court officials, evaluators, therapists, doctors, attorneys, supervisors (for supervised visitations), and GALs all receive large weekly kickbacks. So do outside contract organizations that are spin-offs of community service, counseling, employment support, and substance and alcohol abuse groups. There is a long list of those in each community who make money off of a child’s removal from a safe and loving home. People assume the Family Courts act in the best interests of the children. But it’s become standard operating procedure for today’s CPS and Family Courts to act in the best interests of their incomes.
A few examples of protective parents
Maralee McLean (referenced earlier), Dr. Lori Handrahan, Ted Taupier, and Sunny Kelley are not rare cases; all four represent the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fit parents who are losing custody of their children every year. These parents don’t just lose custody, they lose all contact with their beloved children. They lose their life savings, homes, retirement funds, and careers. Some are unjustly prosecuted, all without any evidence or accusations of child mistreatment.
Maralee McLean received a weekly one-hour, gut-wrenching supervised visit (she had to pay $90 for each one), and this continued for almost a decade. She helplessly watched her beautiful, confident, smart toddler with thick, long brown hair and blue eyes, turn into a vacant suicidal child who lost all her hair, and whose female development began by the age of six, due to the nightly sexual abuse she endured from her own father. McLean, a flight attendant with a large airline, owned her own home and was the ‘bread winner’ in her short marriage to her ex-husband. She divorced him after he became violent toward her and her six-month-old baby.
Her CPS and Family Court nightmare began after she reported her ex’s sexual abuse of her toddler during his visitations. Later, he received full custody of her child and the sexual abuse continued for the next decade. McLean was obligated to pay for the child’s court-ordered therapists ($9,000 monthly) that entire decade, as well as flipping the bill for the court evaluator and doctors, not to mention all the costs and expenses of the abusive parent (including his legal expenses).
After she could not stand to stay silent any longer, she presented reams of evidence (witness reports from the child’s babysitters and teachers, doctors’ reports, taped conversations, therapist reports, police reports) to CNN as a cry for help, breaking the court-imposed gag order. CNN aired a special report, clearly showing her toddler was sexually abused on a nightly basis. After it aired, McLean was threatened and blackmailed by the Family Court judge. They said she would go to jail and/or never see her child again. Terrified for her child’s well-being, McLean backed down, and submitted to every unqualified court official’s demands of her. The hundreds of thousands of dollars she gave to the court’s supervisors, evaluators, therapists, contractual doctors, GAL, etc. left her bankrupt.
Dr. Lori Handrahan is an international human rights scholar and humanitarian aid worker who had a well-regarded Congressional run in Maine. “I had a perfect reputation and credit score, after a lifetime of never paying a bill a day late,” she said, “I had two half-million-dollar homes on the ocean, retirement savings, and was a highly-rated professor at American University.” Her four-year-old daughter Mila’s college fund was secured. The Family and CPS Courts took Mila’s mother from her at the age of four, and then took everything else. “I am literally penniless,” she said, “They relentlessly targeted my job as a professor and got me fired. They illegally, like everything else, took both of my homes and have rigged false payments of child support amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. I’m fighting off corrupt court officials on every front.”
She has not seen her daughter since 2012. In her state, CPS is referred to as DHHS, which is trying to fabricate a way to have her arrested on felony charges for being more than $15,000 behind in child support obligations (to support the sexually abusive parent of her child). Dr. Handrahan helped create Data4Justice.org, a database of child pornography arrests in the United States. (Read more about her story in Snow’s The Worst Interests of the Child.)
Ted Tauper is a law-abiding, protective father who had a successful career for 30 years on Wall Street. He also worked for the State Department, never drank or did drugs, and ran a side business, training state troopers how to shoot, disassemble, and clean rifles. Tauper, who did not have so much as a traffic ticket, was criminalized and framed by the Family and CPS Courts, and now lives under house arrest after the state police confiscated his $60,000 worth of rifles. In just a couple of years, court officials have made more than $2,000,000 off of Tauper alone. Tauper has never been accused of mistreating his children, yet he cannot be with them. Or as he says, “even go out to get the mail.” (Read more about his story in Snow’s The Worst Interests of the Child.)
Sunny Kelley, a protective mother and a professor of sound engineering, spent $1.5 million in litigation fees trying to protect her son who was raped and restrained nightly by her unemployed ex-husband. In The Worst Interests of the Child, Snow lays out the evidence – photographs, doctors’ and therapists’ reports, and the child’s own words (the boy, Max, shared violent details about and drawings of sexual acts no six-year-old could make up; and vomited after sharing his personal horror stories). The Family Courts billed Kelley $123,511.52 for supervised visitations with her son – $14,277 per month. She paid it all to see her son. Another time she was billed $3,910 for 46 hours of supervised visitation. A doctor who sided with the abuser charged Kelley $250 for ten minutes of testimony that was not in her favor. A psychological report cost Kelley $12,000 and Judge Kenefick (who presided over her case) liquidated more than $100,000 without Kelley’s permission, while her money was in an escrow account. He also took her passport.
The courts were looking for a reason to arrest her, and said so. The more signs and symptoms of Max’s abuse she documented, the more the Family and CPS Courts restricted her. When she and her aunt, a practicing nurse of 40 years, took photos of Max’s bloody injuries to his anal area, the courts faulted the mother for taking the photos, as if she were a pervert, even blaming her for the abuse. After she tried protecting her son by giving the Family and CPS Courts this glaring evidence, the court restricted her to only supervised visitations.
The GALs and CPS caseworkers/social workers are, ‘officers of the court, appointed to protect the child.’ GALs co-plan with CPS caseworkers behind the family courts’ closed doors and have quasi-judicial powers. They are in positions of great authority, manipulation, and coercive control, almost acting like prosecutors against the protective parents. Judges rely solely on CPS and GAL recommendations and are rarely given the stack of evidence demonstrating the unfit parent’s pattern of abuse. Despite Kelley’s earnest efforts, she has not been allowed to see her son in the past three years.
Court supervisors and evaluators hold enormous influence over each case, yet their qualifications are often suspect. Sunny Kelley had a 22-year-old supervisor without a college degree (which is frequently the case; and many thrive off having authority over those more educated and successful), who asked her to go out partying with her. Another court supervisor of Kelley’s had been out of work for a decade and was a garbage collector prior to this new job supervising parents.
Tactically, court officials across the board often set up the protective parent, not taking their calls and then putting it in writing that the protective parent was the one who failed to communicate. Or scheduling meetings and not telling the protective parent about the meeting. Without fail, Family and CPS court officials will blame and discredit the protective and fit parent, to cover up their own liability.
As Snow’s book further states, “The violence and judicial abuse in family courts would not be possible without the support (corruption) of the Department of Children and Families.” Snow continues, “DCF provides one of the portals through which massive US Department of Health and Human Services funding is flowing. As [with] the judicial abuse, there are no meaningful checks and balances on the DCF system, and abuses are rampant.”
There are no regulations and the CPS watchdog agency, the Ombudsman Agency, has become equally corrupt. Quite simply, Snow concludes, “The odds and prejudices are so heavily stacked against low-income families that trafficking children into foster homes is a multi-billion dollar business.” Parents are relentlessly terrorized by predatory court officials daily or weekly, for years, while hundreds of thousands of children in America have become needlessly harmed, their lives permanently damaged.
As one Connecticut journalist has reported, “DCF shows a consistent pattern of closing cases involving serious abuse allegations.” Out of the thousands of cases I’ve reviewed, from more than 40 States, there have been several inappropriate relationships between court officials, in closed chambers or involving backdoor private meetings. In a Michigan case, the protective mother’s court-appointed attorney was having an affair with the assistant to the prosecutor at the time of the trial that terminated the mother’s parental rights. Shortly after her trial, this affair made the front page of the newspaper, resulting in the assistant’s law license suspension and a divorce for the court-appointed attorney.
Family and CPS Courts put on a twisted mask to hide their judicial abuses and private profiteering, with their public relations-oriented rhetoric of “putting children first” or representing the “best interests of the child.” It is not that far of a stretch to suggest the CPS and Family Courts’ actions amount to racketeering and extortion. The federal courts could charge them with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Meanwhile, Family and CPS court officials continue to refuse acknowledging their failures when confronted. It’s time to finally take them to task for not only failing to protect children, but for causing the abuse, rapes, and deaths of hundreds of thousands of children across the country every year – not to mention the degree of emotional and financial agony they’ve created for these children’s loving parents.
Patricia Mitchell is an active child advocate and Founder of Patricia’s Children. For more information, visit PatriciasChildren.com. Also written by Patricia Mitchell, ‘Child Protective Services uses Children as Currency’.
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