Walk the Line…Together

If a judge said to you, “You are walking the line” in speaking up to protect your child, would you back off of that line? Or would you gather an army around you to push THROUGH and over that line, if that’s what it takes to save your child?

Stop_Child_Abuse_Family_Court_Fulton_County

Please study “The Dome” case and decide if you believe it’s ok to tell a protective parent – mom or dad – that he or she should mind their manners and stay off the “line” of confronting abuse and foul play in court.

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 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.