Psychology Today Contributor Gets It

No, it’s not your imagination. You heard correctly: a judge ordered children into a detention center and then into a special “camp” because they reported on family violence and asked to not be subjected to further abuse. The children spoke up because they did not want to be separated from the parent protecting them.

This issue is not about gender but about ignored facts and profit motives of certain professionals; it is just a game that is played in family court, and it harms mothers, fathers, grandparents and always the children.

At My Advocate Center in Atlanta, Georgia, we have been receiving data from and reporting on cases involving (equally) damages to good fathers and to good mothers, cases in which nothing makes sense when you look at the facts and available evidence and testimony.

The gender war (along with racial bias) is encouraged by the professionals profiting from the conflict, so that one group believes the other is benefitting from a bias or “unfair advantage.” Money does often play a role, but it is not always the person with access to money and status who is driving or benefitting from the foul play. This is why our data and reports are valuable to authorities, and why we support both professionals and parties in organizing facts and outcomes; it is overwhelming for those subjected to this misconduct, and even to professionals trying to unwind the case and assist the victims. You might not see who is causing the damages, how they are doing it and how it is being covered up if you do not look closely enough, or look at enough cases, including transcripts, billing records and custody reports (if the report has not been put under seal, if the transcripts are accurate and complete, and if the billing records or file are not withheld.)

The Michigan story this Psychology Today writer reports on could almost as easily be featuring a father who has been wrongfully separated from children who have asked for protection from their mother. That is the situation in an Augusta case covered by The Augusta Chronicle. It was not the father who was violent (per DFCS records which were hidden from the father), the child did testify on his behalf as did a competent, ethical guardian, but the facts and the needs of the child were ignored…while the father was stripped of everything – his rights to and time with his child, his financial assets, his job, and he was put in jail.

This Augusta case and other cases we have investigated show that men also are abused, and men can be the “protective parent” while the mother is the one involved in a “pay to play” game to avoid consequences for her own misconduct. What is being done to parents, to both mothers and fathers, sends the message that you are better off staying quiet about abuse (from addiction, violence, financial or fraud-related abuse) than asking for the court’s help. Ask for help at your own peril…and at your children’s peril…not that you are better off if you stay quiet, mind you. But many are told, “Do nothing, say nothing, or this will get worse; you will never see your child…”

The wrong outcomes are being forced upon good people and abused children as frequently as you see panhandlers near a highway or intersection; it is just something that happens and that many people have become numb to, but this happens to an unsuspecting public and causes irreparable harm. Currently there is no way to recover, including no way to recover or to bring home these children.

Coercion and intimidation tactics, and retaliation methods, rule the day, just like we see in this Michigan case with the children put in detention centers, cut off from their mother and the mother put under a gag order.

Child abuse can be prevented_My Advocate CenterAs in other cases, the children are old enough to be heard and to be believed, and they were clearly not represented properly by professionals charged with the duty of representing their best interests.

Psychology Today contributor Jennifer Baker, PhD, nails this story and the problems emphatically with her pen, in this article and in others, including this one and this one. This case and the issues is raises are not going away anytime soon.

This is one reason we focus on the needs of children consistently when noting questionable conduct and outcomes. The term best interest has been so badly misconstrued or even corrupted that it has become meaningless, at least in terms of the results shown in thousands of cases across the country, and around the world. Children are being betrayed when they ask for help and often silenced as the judge did in this case.

It is almost impossible to fathom that this is happening, let alone that it is often intentional and done in bad faith and with a complete lack of empathy for the trauma being caused to children and to the parents they need and want.

This is also a reason we emphasize to legislators that loopholes must be closed that allow certain court professionals to block evidence and testimony that should be used to protect children and victims of abuse. Evidence and testimony should be recorded and used for the benefit of our most vulnerable citizens; it is just not that complicated, but our data reveals that the opposite is taking place when cases are easily manipulated and controlled by certain attorneys and select child custody experts. If you read the transcript of this Michigan case and the associated articles, you’ll see what we mean.

What is consistent across these cases is the motive:

It is simply more profitable to keep children and safe parents off-balance, unprotected and ignored.  They have to spend money to fight back, until there is nothing left to spend. But typically the other side – the side driving the stress and trauma – will keep on spending. Profit over protection has become a pattern or a formula followed by professionals who typically lack oversight and who believe there will never be any consequences for causing harm to children.

We advocate for children to have the best of both parents, meaning the best that each has to offer, and that sometimes means one or both parents need to receive a “tough love” message from the court or the right treatment for addiction or counseling to manage bad behavior, but it that message should NEVER mean sentencing and locking up children who have not done anything wrong. Unfortunately, children in many states are being convicted and locked away – from safe, loving and available parents and families – when they asked to have a voice and to be protected.

To learn more or to report details of similar cases, please visit our Report Cases form on MyAdvocateCenter.com.

Deb Beacham, Founder and Director

Court Watch: Do Georgia Predators Have It Easy?

Is being a sexual predator in Georgia just entertainment, or are we ready to call it a crime to sexually assault someone or to secretly videotape children and adults during private moments?

Three fathers in Georgia have so far avoided conviction and real consequences for alleged sexual misconduct, as has former magistrate judge and Guardian ad Litem Doug Nelson in the Augusta Judicial District.

Before we get into the specifics of these cases, we want to make sure you are aware of this video and the related document. The Georgia Domestic Violence Bench Book exists to help guide professionals in family law and child custody cases involving violence and various forms of abuse.

In the Atlanta area we are asking the question, “Should this man, William Randolph Cushen, be considered as safe for any child?” Would you leave him unsupervised with your own child or anyone else’s child?
CBS46 News

This post covers the issue of protection being avoided intentionally by certain professionals, and avoided consistently across Georgia counties in family law, child custody, family violence and child abuse cases. It touches on our analysis and reporting from the Atlanta area counties, including Cobb and Fulton counties, to the Augusta circuit including Richmond and Columbia counties. The more you learn about what it takes to prosecute offenders and to protect victims, the more you realize we clearly need more help in Georgia on abuse cases. We hear and read a lot about DFCS being blamed for situations involving harm to children due to a shortfall on caseworkers, negligence or lack of oversight, but what about cases where DFCS and law enforcement are kept out, and family court professionals are to blame?

Comparisons: Some crimes are committed and recorded – literally – which show that assault is a crime. (See Turnage and Cushen, as examples.) Others are clear as well in that ethical, credible professionals have substantiated claims of abuse, only to be blocked from testifying or ignored by the courts.

Turnage: This past year we learned this older GOP official, also a predator, was foolish enough to “play” around in front of Skype getting himself caught in the act of attempted rape.  Billy Joe Turnage, chairman of the Union County Republican Party in northern Georgia, was arrested after police responded to an ongoing rape that had been seen on Skype. (Photo removed March 2015)

Georgia just can’t help it, it seems, when it comes to sexual predators and wanting to be seen in the news.   This official and GAL Doug Nelson were caught in the act, but only one was arrested.   The one responsible for helping to commit fraud during litigation and causing damages to innocent parents – and to their children – has not been arrested, and the family court judge close to this situation said “sexual harassment is not a crime in Georgia.”  Judge Roper, what was done in Augusta is not mere harassment; it was assault and it was done in the context of coercing victims using their children as leverage.

Other judges in that area knew the Guardian ad Litem Doug Nelson was a predator, sexually assaulting mothers, throwing cases based on whether they complied or not, but they did nothing to intervene. Nothing has been done yet to correct the situation. This damaged both good mothers and good fathers. The toll on the children is still rising, but Georgia officials have done nothing so far. Some of these family court cases involve DFCS investigations, but we can show that the injury to children and parents is not related to any alleged DFCS failures. It is the family court professionals who are blocking protections.

How is it that sexual predators just have an easier time with help in avoiding prosecution? Either way this news coverage of sexual misconduct and attempted assault or actual assault is critical.  

What is hard to believe is that the Cobb County, Georgia, man – William Randolph Cushen – who secretly videotaped adults and children using the bathroom in two states is still able to avoid consequences in Cobb County Family Court while his victims await justice in the criminal court. He was able to plead out in Florida on similar charges after avoiding arrest in Georgia to be extradited to Florida, but family court professionals like Guardian ad Litem Larry Yarbrough do not appear interested in using the evidence on this case to protect the children. Certain court professionals have held the mother hostage in the legal process while waiting to see if the father Randy Cushen was indicted. They stalled decisions and protections in this case, even though there is no question that he committed these crimes, including secretly filming other adults and children.

Update: now that Randy Cushen has been indicted, we will get to see if the Child Custody expert, GAL (guardian ad litem) Larry Yarbrough and the Superior Court judge give this man free reign to continue abusing, or if they protect the children and hold him accountable. In addition to the damages caused to the victims of his crimes, and the risk to his own children, the father’s attorney and other court professionals appear to want the mother to lose her business and to be unable to provide for their children. There is still much here to investigate. One question parents and counsel might consider is whether or not to allow a criminal defense attorney who is positioned to defend alleged perpetrators (as opposed to protecting children) to be assigned as guardian, especially in cases where child abuse or violence may exist.

Case history:

MARIETTA, Ga. – November, 2013. A Cobb County man is accused of secretly photographing and recording both children and adults at a pool and in restrooms.   Investigators say William Randolph Cushen, III of Kennesaw set up hidden cameras at both a neighborhood pool and his own home. According to an arrest warrant, Cushen secretly photographed women at the pool at the Overlook at Marietta Country Club, and in a bathroom at his home on Grey Point Court.  The warrant says Cushen secretly videotaped women, men and children in the bathroom. Cobb County police would not comment about the case, citing its nature and an ongoing investigation. …Talk about being caught in the act!  

We want to bring your attention quickly to a major problem for victims and for our State leadership:  

Victims often do not get the support or protection they need, or the crime isn’t called a crime apparently until the victim is nearly dead, or deceased. This is not just because victims are afraid to speak up, and it’s not just that the evidence does not exist or hold up. This may be over-simplifying the answer, but it seems that the core issue is that it is more profitable to avoid protecting victims and to let true offenders off the hook. This is what we refer to as putting profit over protection.

Maybe the assault in front of Skype referred to here will make a difference even though police say the victim was “not physically injured,” or will this be forgotten? Thanks to this assault being seen, Billy Joe Turnage was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery and criminal attempt to commit rape.

But what about Randy Cushen’s victims? Child abuse can be prevented_My Advocate Center

When is it their turn to have justice?

Perpetrators of sexual assault, even those careless enough to leave evidence on text (Doug Nelson, GAL), on their computers (Cushen), or on Skype (Billy Joe Turnage), and even those exposed in the news media, often do not get prosecuted, and in some cases they do not face the consequences that early reporting suggests they will receive.

Two other cases we follow, one in Fulton County and another one in Cobb County, both involved investigations that led to substantiated abuse reports (one by DFCS), but the alleged perpetrators are still given either primary custody or visitation rights without any regard for the protection needed by the children.

It does seem that Georgia has a problem with tolerating sexual assault and abuse, even when the crimes and evidence are clearly identified and the victims are begging for justice (Cobb County let father John Kristofak out of jail knowing he was mentally unstable and committed to murdering his former wife).  

These are not isolated incidents and much of the injury is predictable, and avoidable.

If national news media is what is needed to make a difference, then we hope this SKYPE spotlight will serve us well!

In the meantime, please keep asking this question: is it all of Georgia leadership and all courts or agencies, or is it mostly family court professionals who put profit over protection?

Either way, KEEP THE PRESSURE ON to have predators and those who cover for them held accountable, while ensuring protections and treatment for victims.

Union County Sheriff Investigator Staff Sgt. Darren Osborn told the paper that 911 dispatchers received a report of an ongoing “assault and rape” of a 39-year-old female at Turnage’s residence last week. Osborn said that investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted two days of interviews before bringing criminal attempt to commit rape charges against Turnage.  

 

This is KEY: the GBI only needed two days to decide to bring criminal charges for the attempt to commit rape.

But in the Fulton County Superior Court case, the GBI did not follow through on twice-confirmed evidence of child pornography, and both police and forensic experts were not allowed to testify for the protection of this child. Now the alleged perpetrator is getting away with making false allegations against the abused child’s mother, and she has been run into the ground from trying through the court system to defend herself and to protect her child. 

Why should the public follow up on this particular story about the rape assault on Skype? Because other sexual assault victims in Georgia, and victims of other types of assault or exploitation, are not getting justice or any kind of protection in many cases.  If we lose interest in these stories everyone loses, especially victims of crimes. In other cases the perpetrators do not have the political pull and connections this man apparently has. So if those other offenders are never convicted and their victims do not get justice, what do you think might happen here?

In the Augusta area, mothers who were sexually assaulted by the GAL Doug Nelson during their child custody cases cannot get law enforcement to take action against this predator. This is in spite of his text messages revealing his actions and their video testimony, and in spite of the fact that there are multiple victims and clear damages.  

There is even proof that judges knew this was going on and did not intervene, ignoring the damages to both parents and to their children. Good mothers lost custody of their children when they did not comply with his demands for sex, while at least two good fathers lost their rights – and a lot of money – when the mothers on those cases allegedly complied with Nelson’s advances.  

What in the world is going on outside the gates of the peaceful and austere grounds of the Augusta National Golf Course, home to the Masters Tournament?  This can’t possible be the same place the world sees as a golfers paradise?

Back to other news: The New York Daily News and other major media outlets spent time to learn whether this is the norm in Georgia, or was this aging now-former official just that stupid on top of being willing to commit the criminal act of raping a woman?

“A Georgia Republican official is facing criminal rape charges after he broadcast on Skype an alleged sexual assault attempt, according to a bombshell report.

Billy Joe Turnage, the 76-year-old GOP chairman in Union County in northern Georgia, allegedly tried to rape a 39-year-old woman in her house — and he televised the disgusting act on the Internet, according to the North Georgia News.”

 On this AJC page covering the Georgia election updates, more is explained about how this went down – or actually went UP, as in on the air: “Oct. 22, dispatch received a 911 call at approximately 4 p.m. of what was believed to be an assault and rape,” Sgt. Osborn said. “It was being viewed via Skype. Deputies responded and I responded as well.”

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for the state GOP, said state party officials have received no communication regarding Turnage’s status. Any effort to remove him would require action at the local level, Mahoney said. A picture of Turnage and David Perdue, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, is on the Union County GOP Facebook page. It’s not likely to be there long. (If you follow up on this story, please let us know if this offender was held accountable.)

Correction: the Union County GOP Facebook page is GONE.  So apparently that is one way to rid yourself of pesky photos of predatory pals.

 

 

For now we’ll leave you with these questions:

Do victims of assault experience real damages even if they are not physically injured or if the injuries do not include physical bruising or tearing?

Do we expect our Courts and Law Enforcement to prosecute crimes and protect victims even when news media is not applying pressure?

If this kind of abuse is being reported on by news media, and victims are still not receiving any help from the courts or from state agencies, then what hope is there for other victims?

   

Atlanta News: CBS Asks Why the Need for Family Court Reform

You may have learned over this past year that just because police and DFCS substantiate claims of child abuse, that does not mean the judge and custody experts will use this evidence to protect a child.

It does not even mean that the child’s THERAPIST will take the evidence seriously in order to protect the child…how is that even possible?  This therapist was chosen by the mother, but only because she had a credible background and substantial role in advocacy for children.  However, when money becomes an issue…it appears evidence and the medical needs of a child do not carry much weight.

This therapist would not listen to police, the child, other real doctors and is not trained to treat dissociative disorder.  This disorder can manifest for victims of severe and prolonged abuse.

This medical disorder and the signs of trauma are glaring in a number of cases in Georgia that are being handled much like this one.  Should our healthcare community and educators be made aware, so they can get involved to help stop this?  We think so.

Dr Danielle Levy decided that overwhelming evidence of abuse & trauma should be ignored.  $$$

Dr Danielle Levy decided that overwhelming evidence of abuse & trauma should be ignored. $$$

 

My Advocate Center has been researching cases across counties and collecting data, and unfortunately the pattern is the same.  If certain attorneys and select custody experts get together, they can put profit over protection.

By hosting the world premiere of the Divorce Corp. film narrated by Dr. Drew, Atlanta was able to bring together parents and professionals to expose the truth and discuss reform.

Continue reading and watching our news coverage as there is much more to report that will help drive change, should you choose to understand and then act on it.

 

 

This is the second in a series of interviews on this case, but the start of a national movement with My Advocate Center to help fathers understand what mothers like this one are going through.  We are all on the same team around protecting children who are being harmed by unethical court practices, foul play, and the “Pay to Play” system.

Guilty parties will pay large amounts of money to have evidence suppressed, and to retain access to their victims.   It is a “Pay to Play” system that allows violent or abusive parties to use children as pawns and to use the process to hide crimes and punish parents seeking protection from the court.

This “Pay to Play” concept also works in reverse, where certain attorneys counsel clients to lie to police – wasting our law enforcement resources – and use false allegations to gain advantage or punish the other party.  Either way, children are harmed, as is our State.  The case revealed in our local coverage fits the Pay to Play concept, and foul play is involved, but it is not a false allegations case as the father’s attorney is asserting.  Look at the facts of the case, the record, and what the professionals were paid to keep the available evidence and testimony – including from police – OFF the record.

There is more to follow, including the tactics of working to deny a litigant the opportunity and right to appeal.

Now is the time to get involved, and save these children and the good parents counting on our Courts and laws for protection.

Please follow updates about Family Court Reform and ask your legislators to help see this through.

Twitter: Follow @MyAdvocateCentr  using #FamilyCourtReform #ImproveFamilyLaw #NeedsofChildren #MyAdvocateCenter — and help stop these #shenanigans.

 

Atlanta News Radio – Family Court Reform

The gavel dropped to open the 2014 Georgia legislative session, right after this brief segment aired.

All News 106.7 and Scott Kimbler reveal what is going on behind the scenes at My Advocate Center regarding Family Court Reform.

Help us serve the real needs of children who are not being protected due to foul play and hidden influence in certain family court cases.

Play

Fulton County: Pay to Play (Part Two)

 

Why raise the issue of “Pay to Play” on these child custody cases?

It’s a simple matter of the public wanting to know why the damages to good parents and to so many children are what they are during and following a legal conflict:

Some of the questions the public is asking include, “How many high-paid attorneys and custody experts does it take to influence a judge to ignore evidence and the wishes of a child?”  This is a fair question raised in Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth and Dekalb counties in similar cases involving child abuse.  It is fair to ask also, “Should this influence be allowed to stay hidden?”

It is a bigger question because many of these cases had possible outcomes that were faster, less traumatizing and expensive for the parents and children.

But the damages are not just happening to children, or around cases involving abuse.

Evidence of addiction and other misconduct / foul play is being ignored where it will allow a healthy and innocent parent to protect themselves. This is while certain professionals on those cases earn higher fees from that keeping that parent caught in the process.  It just takes lying to the innocent parent in saying “Oh, that evidence doesn’t count, or that misconduct won’t matter to the Court,” then creating more uncertainty by faulting the innocent parent instead of using available evidence, and the perfect storm is ripe for increased professional gain.

Parents are being told that the “trends” in family law mean that leaving out evidence is appropriate, and that means the financial losses & physical / emotional harm to good parents and children…is all fine, too. So we invite the press to ask, are these “trends” in line with our laws?  We know for sure they are not in line with common sense or with what our children need to be healthy and supported.

So this question on this Fulton case becomes fair game:

Does it really make sense that a GAL on a case like this one is billing over $133,000.00?    Wouldn’t the evidence on its face suffice to provide the right answers to the court?  How is this “trend” good for our children or our state?

Because of this coverage on these unusually high custody expert bills, many more cases have surfaced revealing that “things just don’t make sense” around amounts billed and by whom, and when compared to the evidence and facts of the case – and when seeing the damaging outcomes for children.

See the story posted below for the reason reporter Jeff Chirico did a follow up story on billing records and money.  Note that we have not seen one case with an innocent parent where these same professionals worked this hard to use their influence over a judge.  If they have such a case, our analysts would welcome the chance to compare billing records and the advocacy involved.

There is nothing wrong with making  a great living, or with paying experts when you need and can afford them.

The issue we are raising is that “neutral”  or “child-focused” professionals and their billing practices are doing harm in ignoring evidence that would end litigation and provide protections.

The results are reflecting that more innocent parents are being damaged in spite of evidence that supports them, while the actual perpetrators are able to get evidence ignored.  Either way the children are harmed.

Based on what we’ve seen in this case and in others, if you are guilty of something, then you have a clear path to follow in how to avoid losing in court.  Our point here is that the evidence of this case is impossible to argue with; and certain professionals are working hard to keep out the evidence, even those whose job it is to be “neutral” and to protect the child. (This statement is true and is based on the analysis of dozens of local cases, so we are not amending this statement until we see evidence to the contrary – which we hope will be the case in this next trial.)

If you are a good, innocent parent working to protect a child and to protect your rights, then hiring is a very different matter.  Having significant financial resources and connections as this father does, does not guarantee that the professionals you hire will advocate as needed on your case.  Money does not buy loyalty, but apparently it can buy a cover-up.  The cover-up can work in favor of a parent who is guilty of abuse, but in a number of cases brought to us the cover-up is done to protect a parent and professionals who have lied to police in bringing false allegations.

This means that in other cases, the professionals hired by affluent fathers are allowing their innocent clients to be set up to fail around false allegations.  So, if you are a father who has been falsely accused and lost big, do not make the mistake of thinking that this case may be like yours.  It simply doesn’t work that way – not based on a large number of case evaluations done over a period of several years.

So here is a tough question that is asked of us repeatedly:

Why is it that fathers who have been arrested in different jurisdictions, with reports of abuse substantiated, can use these professionals to hold a child hostage and harm an innocent, nurturing mother?  Then on the flip side, why are fathers who have done nothing wrong and have supported the mother and children (even in the face of adultery and addiction), being condemned and destroyed?

This is happening because it is profitable, and because there is no transparency on these cases.  The next question obviously is “where is the accountability” – does it exist?  The recording and reporting of these hearings is critical for both the public safety – especially that of children who barely have a voice to be able to ask for help – and also for the sake of the public trust in our legal system and judiciary.

If you are a professional who wants to see these cases adjudicated according to evidence and laws, and to ensure the safety of children and the rights of good parents, please look into this case and attend the hearing if possible.

If you are a parent who is uncertain about where to turn to safely navigate situations involving real or false allegations, contact us first.

* This post and this story are posted here together so that following the outcome of this case is easier.  CBS Atlanta did a thorough job investigating and reporting, and was threatened by Dr. Howard Drutman.

 

This is an excerpt from CBS Atlanta’s coverage on this story:

FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –

CBS Atlanta News has learned attorney James Holmes is revising his $133,000 bill in a custody case, in which he served as a guardian ad litem, after reporter Jeff Chirico questioned his fees and his recommendation.

As a guardian ad litem, Holmes is responsible for advocating for the best interest of a 10-year-old girl whose identity CBS Atlanta News is withholding.

Last month, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger ordered the girl live with her father despite allegations he had sexually abused her. Holmes and a court-appointed custody evaluator, Howard Drutman, recommended that the girl’s father receive primary custody of his daughter.

CBS Atlanta News obtained an e-mail Holmes sent to the parties, indicating his fees for working on the case from Spring 2012 through April 22, 2013 totaled $133,000.89.

Fulton County Follow Up: Pay to Play (Part One)

Update on Fulton County CourtWatch:

Please learn more about what parents go through when trying to support children who report abuse.  This article is helpful, so please click here to read.

Judge Goger allowed a hearing this past week on whether or not he will allow press to record an upcoming trial.  Good arguments were made about the potential risk of the “digital footprint” that video and audio recordings present, but risk to whom?

Is the risk greater for the experts ignoring evidence, or is it greater that the child will not get the protection and freedom deserved?   It might be worth comparing this case to others to see what these same experts are doing, and what the fallout is for the children involved.

The risk that press coverage presents is that whistle blowers might be validated, and those involved in “pay to play” might not get as much bang for their buck.

The whistle blowers around this case were certainly attacked, and even accused of conspiring with each other.   That was as interesting as claiming that “recording this hearing reduces the dignity of the court.” Opponents of the press recording said a “digital footprint equals digital ranting” and “this case already has too much attention, and too many blogs.”

The conclusion of that hearing: Judge Goger chose to use GAL Jim Holmes’ version of the Order, which said press could record the trial but only if Jim Holmes received the full recording from the station.  We are not sure how this protects the girl’s interests…or what caused Mr. Holmes to add that strange condition to the order.  To help balance out this issue, large numbers of concerned citizens will be in the courtroom recording notes on what is said and done by this GAL and other experts who are clearly not interested in supporting the evidence presented by this child and her therapists who reported abuse to the police.

Attorney Jeff Bogart is the father’s attorney.  Custody expert Carol Webb is advising the father along with his attorney.  Jim Holmes is the GAL, Dr. Howard Drutman is the custody evaluator and therapist supporting the father is Danielle Levy.  This is why recording this trial is important: What Matters is whether the judge hears an unbiased presentation of the evidence and whether the experts represent accurately what has transpired on this case.

The hearing transcript around the question of allowing press to record the trial will reflect that the father’s attorney made a clear misstatement of the facts of the case.  But his concern for the child’s future and current well-being is to be commended.  Our position is that if you are truly concerned for the child’s health, then do not misrepresent the facts, as these facts serve to ensure protection of the child.  If you mean it when you say, “She deserves a clean shot at a healthy life,” then allow her to get the right treatment and to have access to her mother and to safety.

“This is far greater than a custody case,” was another true statement made.  Where this child lives is important, and for her to be able to have her health and mother back as her caregiver are critical.  But what is being revealed in this case is more than about custody.  It raises many questions that will only get bigger throughout this trial.  When Jeff Bogart claimed in frustration, “This case has already been a CIRCUS” and “the previous press coverage was unnecessary,” he invited even more answers to the foregoing questions.

Thank you to all the professionals present who made solid arguments, and by doing so help make us better advocates here as well.  With each case that we observe and report on, we learn more and do better for both the public and for your profession.  Our collective goal should be to better support children, help parents give children their best – the best of BOTH parents – and in doing so we can help to restore the public trust.  Currently that trust has been destroyed by the professional misconduct in so many of these cases.

My Advocate Center is here to help encourage transparency, and not to incite anger or disrespect for the Court.  We do not promote rantings. Other blogs that incite negative emotion are not associated with My Advocate Center, as our focus is on solutions and clear, positive answers.  We check facts and consult with court staff, law enforcement, healthcare providers and policy makers to ensure the right perspective is presented. Our purpose is not to promote one side or the other, or to be antagonistic; it is to be thoughtful and constructive.

The point is that children deserve the truth to be heard and to receive protections where called for, regardless of who the “protective” parent is or who the alleged perpetrator is.  The family’s resources should also be preserved for the benefit of the children as well, rather than drained away and withheld from parents working to care for these children.

Where “Pay to Play” is enabled and encouraged using these custody experts and “reunification” experts, this is a problem requiring our community and state help to find solutions.

Note to good fathers: what applies here can be said for your cases. You and your kids are being hurt by the same issues.  Children are being given to unhealthy parents while good parents are being cut out of their lives.  That is a BIG problem.  Please watch our Court of Appeals and Supreme Court dockets for more on these cases.

 

Why Should You Know More about Attorneys?

What should you know before making a decision about your legal counsel and the team coming together around you to help you through a conflict?

Because it is more than just their reputation and promoted success rate that will determine the value you get for your money.

Depending on whether or not they choose to be honest and loyal to you, it will not only impact your finances, your home, your ability to co-parent effectively, but it will also impact your mental health.   Most of all, it will impact your children.

Our case studies illustrate how families and children have been affected – harmed – because parents and others in the community were not aware of how to truly vet counsel to ensure a proper outcome.

We are smashing myths because dozens of parents are reporting that what they believed to be true about their attorneys and the highly regarded custody experts they paid, is simply NOT true.   The simple answer is that the Value just isn’t there.  Value, in our dictionary, has a lot to do with honesty and loyalty.

A big myth being turned upside down is that if you have money or status, that you can buy loyalty and influence.  The myth that “mothers always get custody…or good mothers” flew out the window, but so did the one that says, “If a father has any power, owns a big company, or knows the right people” that he will prevail.  If it were this simple, My Advocate Center would not be fielding so many calls and emails.

Parents are finding out too late that even after they have sought referrals from local, well-known sources like a non-profit organization that promotes a select few experts, that there was actually no assurance that their interests or their children’s interests would be taken seriously.  There currently is no oversight of services and no guarantee of loyalty or honesty even when you accept referrals through most other sources.  My Advocate Center is working to change this.

As we work with press, law enforcement and legislators, more case studies and reports will serve to provide clarity to the public about the due diligence needed when hiring professionals – especially those serving family law.

For now, learn as much as you can, work to understand the process and how you can be your own best advocate – in hiring, in preparing and in making informed decisions.

When you are ready to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to best empower yourself to work with the right team, let us know.  That is your best starting point.

Attorney Failure to Advocate Leads to $20 Million Claim for Breach of Duty

What would lead a judge in Family Court to terminate a parent’s rights?

We all assume – until this happens to a GOOD parent you know – that parents must fall below some clear and compelling threshold of conduct to cause a loss of parenting rights:

This article shown below clearly reveals, and in a simple way, that this is not true for the parent named who has not seen her child for three years.

It is also not true in hundreds of cases here in Georgia.  This is why My Advocate Center is growing rapidly through the support of both parents and professionals.

Disclaimer added following an objection raised online: It is My Advocate Center’s position that the problems being faced by parents and children in #GAFamilyCourt cases are caused by select attorneys, experts and not all.  There are a good number of ethical, talented and diligent professionals who do not condone the practices that are escalating conflict and leading to increased injury to children and losses to families.  Our mission is to raise up those professionals while improving the process for families, to allow them to transition more smoothly through and out of conflict.

Children deserve the best that both parents have to offer (assuming both parents are safe for the child), so we are highlighting cases where apparent professional misconduct and violations of ethics rules are interfering with what is otherwise possible and necessary for the needs of children to be served.

In this case, which is an accurate representation of what happens to many parents who report child abuse, this parent has made a bold move to pursue her attorney for obvious failures to advocate for his client as his duty states he must under ethics rules.

Excerpts are posted here from this article, which we believe more parents – both mothers and fathers – should use to compare to what they are experiencing in their own cases:

Counsel’s “failure to adequately prepare for {the custody expert’s} testimony left the judge with the impression that Perkins {the protective parent} had a personality disorder.” 

Relying heavily on that impression, the judge terminated Perkins’ parental rights to one of her children.

“Because of Peterson’s {counsel for protective parent} deficient trial representation, M.P. has been adopted, and Katie will never be able to raise her son or have a meaningful relationship with him,” the lawsuit states.

Christensen said Perkins lost contact with the child about three years ago.

[My Advocate Center can reveal to the State Bar, to our legislators, law enforcement & to the Press and Public that similar Georgia cases caused a shocking number of parents here to not see their children for longer than this, even as long as 12 years+.  The point is that this was not necessary, could have been avoided, but for the conduct…the missing loyalty, honesty & diligence of the attorney representing the undermined parent.]

The lawsuit states Peterson’s failures led to Perkins losing all contact with one of her children, and severely limiting contact with another child.

Perkins also racked up nearly $100,000 in attorney fees. She is seeking more than $20 million as compensation for emotional distress, the lost opportunity to spend time with her children, and attorney fees.”

It is our opinion at My Advocate Center that these attorneys know full well that the judge is going to rely on custody expert’s opinions, and that they have the duty to ensure the facts and evidence of the case are relied upon by the experts and then the judge.

What we are seeing in Georgia – repeatedly with a certain group of attorneys and custody experts –  is that key evidence is not being used and diligence is not being exercised in representing to the Courts what should be considered in decisions and orders, especially affecting children who are under stress from some form of physical abuse or alienation.

In many cases, while desperate to protect children & to try to retain their rights to nurture and protect, parents are put under duress and told they must forfeit money and rights in order to continue seeing their children.

Considering how many parents are wrongfully cut off from their children, you might believe that the ability to purchase the right to nurture your child is a great “deal” – but this notion has no place in our Court system, and can be avoided where counsel & experts follow the rules and our laws.

There is another lawsuit of this nature currently before the Georgia Court of Appeals, which is due to be ruled on at any time.  This case is a template for “Breach of Fiduciary Duty” specific to Family Law attorneys who lied to their client and withheld loyalty in the context of a custody dispute.  These failures led to losses, not just large financial losses where duress was used, but also led to damages to mental health of the parent as well as damages to the children.

Other family law & psychological and financial professionals have weighed in that these damages were caused directly by the parent’s counsel, and could have been avoided.

We have a rapidly growing list of case studies, and according to the Georgia Supreme Court, this exercise of using duress around the rights of parents to care for children is viewed as fraud. [Case citation information available through consultations with our professional advisors].

If you are the kind of professional who can support lawsuits of this nature, please email here or send a message via LinkedIn.  The Counsel for Change was established to help support solid & committed professionals, including legal, psychological & financial counselors who will lead by example to help change how cases like these are managed.

Parents who have experienced loss from custody experts and attorneys who ignored evidence, did not properly prepare testimony and did not uphold their duty to advocate diligently, please contact us for more information.