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Thursday, February 4, 2016
PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2016
10:00AM IN ROOM 2E OF THE LOB
NOMINATIONS FOR REVIEW:
I. To be a Justice of the Supreme Court
1. The Honorable Christine S. Vertefeuille of East Haven
II. To be a Judge of the Appellate court
1. The Honorable Robert E. Beach, Jr. of Storrs
III. To be a Judge of the Superior Court:
1. The Honorable Joan K. Alexander of Cromwell
2. The Honorable Alice A. Bruno of New Britain
3. The Honorable William T. Cremins of Middlebury
4. The Honorable Michael R. Dannehy of Manchester
5. The Honorable Edward S. Domnarsky of Essex
6. The Honorable John B. Farley of West Hartford
7. The Honorable Mathew E. Frechette of Branford
8. The Honorable David P. Gold of Middlefield
9. The Honorable Gerald L. Harmon of Southington
10. The Honorable Barbara Bailey Jongbloewd of Madison
11. The Honorable Edward T. Krumeich of Greenwich
12. The Honorable Paul M. Matasavage of Oakville
13. The Honorable John J. Nazzaro of Pawcatuck
14. The Honorable John W. Pickard of Harwinton
15. The Honorable Linda Pearce Prestley of West Hartford
IV. To be a State Referee:
1. The Honorable Robert J. Malone of Milford
2. The Honorable Francis M. McDonald, Jr. of Middleburg
3. The Honorable Barry Schaller of Guilford
Monday, February 1, 2016
FINAL REPORT IN FROM THE TASK FORCE TO STUDY THE STATEWIDE RESPONSE TO MINORS EXPOSED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
SEE THE LINK BELOW TO SEE A COPY OF THE FINAL REPORT:
BARRY GOLDSTEIN COMMENTS ON SUNDAY BOSTON GLOBE'S ARTICLE ON SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS PLACED IN THE HANDS OF THEIR ABUSERS!
Family Courts Exposed
CUSTODY COURT SCANDAL FINALLY EXPOSED
By Barry Goldstein
I have long believed that whoever exposed the custody court scandal would be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Today, Boston Globe reporters Nestor Ramos and Evan Allen produced a well documented story showing the pattern of ignorance, bias and harmful practices by the custody courts and child protective agencies in their response to child sexual abuse and domestic violence. The custody courts should never be the same and considering the enormous harm they have caused the needed reforms must take place immediately.
The reporters focused on the story of a now eight-year-old girl who suffered five years of sexual abuse and systemic failure despite her repeated reports about her father’s abuse. The reporters interviewed national experts to demonstrate that the mistakes made in this case are part of a larger pattern of custody courts and child protective agencies mishandling child custody cases involving abuse. Especially revealing was their comparison of the flawed practices used by court professionals and child protective caseworkers with the best practices described in the Saunders’ Study from the US Department of Justice.
The failure to believe the child’s reports of her father’s betrayal were based not on the circumstances in the case but the mistaken assumption by the professionals that false reports are common. One of the most important findings in the Saunders’ Study is that court professionals without the needed training and expertise tend to focus on the myth that mothers and children frequently make false reports. This is an important factor that results in the alleged offender winning custody in 85% of child sexual abuse cases. Near the end of the article, the child is quoted as saying, ” I think my mom believes me.” Her mother did believe her, but the authorities who could have saved her from further torture failed to believe her. They work in a system that routinely errs on the side of risking children. Needless to say the failures of the custody court and child protective agency have left the child severely traumatized.
Why Is This Article So Important?
Professor Garland Waller wrote a prophetic chapter in the first volume of Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody that I co-edited with Dr. Mo Therese Hannah. The chapter explained the various factors including fear of lawsuits, lack of resources and difficulty in putting these kind of stories together that discouraged the media from exposing the scandal. Garland discussed the “Tipping Point” and predicted when enough people became aware of the scandal it could no longer be hidden and would have to be corrected. This story will either take us to the tipping point or bring us very close.
The Boston Globe reporters produced a powerful story. I believe it will encourage other journalists to cover an important topic they had previously avoided. The story should also encourage court and child protective administrators to consider needed reforms. They have been very defensive and routinely blame victims, but they will want to avoid further stories that would make them look bad and harm their careers. Legislators will want to show they are doing something to protect children. This should come in the form of more resources to improve the system and reforms that I hope will include the Safe Child Act.
Dr. Dianne Bartlow wrote an important chapter in the second volume of Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody concerning the 175 children murdered in a two-year period by fathers involved in contested custody. She interviewed many of the best judges who have the most training and expertise about domestic violence. One of the points they made is that courts need to err on the side of safety which is the opposite of what the reporters found. The Safe Child Act specifically requires courts to make the health and safety of children the first priority. It requires an evidence based approach by integrating important scientific research into court practices. The legislation promotes a more multi-disciplinary approach as supported by the Saunders’ Study. And our proposal requires a trauma-informed response based on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Research that found exposure to domestic violence and child abuse is far more harmful than previously understood.
The only thing worse than the torture the court made the little girl suffer and the murders of the 175 children and the millions of children who have been forced to live with abusers is if society fails to learn from these tragedies. What frustrates me more than anything is that we now have the knowledge and practices that could save most of these children. The judge who made so many decisions to place the child in jeopardy surely did not want to hurt the girl. But the professionals in the broken system cannot prevent these frequent tragedies using the outdated and discredited practices that were developed in the 1970s. They are afraid of bad publicity which is why they use gag orders and retaliation in an attempt to silence anyone who would criticize their mistakes. The professionals who failed this child would like the story to go away, but our job is to make sure this girl is remembered. It is painful and traumatic to think about all these horrific stories, but we must remember our pain is nothing compared to what this little girl and so many other children are forced to suffer every day until we make it stop.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
HOW THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS DROPPED THE BALL AND PLACED CHILD VICTIM IN THE HANDS OF FATHER WHO SEXUALLY ABUSED HER!
Nestor Ramos and
"The bad stuff hurt too much, the girl said, so she took trips in her head. She imagined she was playing in the park, not lying on the basement floor or standing naked in the bathroom where, she said, her father touched her.
He told her not to tell anyone, she said, but she told anyway.
She told her mother, who went to the police. She told her therapist, who wrote a letter. She told the people who supervised her visits with her mother, who filed reports.
“I tried to tell anyone who would listen, but no one believed me,” said the girl, then 7, during a trauma evaluation conducted last spring. The Globe is withholding her name to protect her identity..."
LARAINE WESCHLER reports as follows:
"Connecticut parents whose children were removed from their care at birth by the Department of Children and Families will have a chance to argue that their rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
DCF took custody of the children of Karin Hasemann of Watertown and Joseph Watley of Thomaston under what the agency calls predictive neglect. In this case, DCF assumed the parents' mental health would negatively affect their ability to care for their children. .."
Thursday, January 28, 2016
For those of you who took the time to send in letters to the Judicial Selection Commission regarding specific judges who are currently under consideration for reappointment, I am happy to post your letters on the Divorce in Connecticut website. Just send a copy of your letter as an attachment to the following email: Slopercathy@gmail.com.