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Guardian Ad Litem System in Augusta Explains Damages Across Georgia

Cases and complaints have been pouring in for years from the Augusta judicial district after we first investigated and reported on cases where evidence was being suppressed and children harmed. Good parents and grandparents have been undermined and even blocked from seeing children, even when there was no justification for this.

Billing records were reviewed, showing discrepancies that explain why parents are failing financially as they can’t keep up with the financial burden, let alone understand what they are being charged for to see that things don’t add up. Screenshot 2014-12-02 10.09.57

 

This article by the Augusta Chronicle is based on very compelling research that enlightens citizens and leadership about how certain bad actors on this stage are able to control outcomes of cases while lining their pockets. One of the bad actors in the Guardian ad Litem program here is a business owner named Janet Weinberger. This news report by Fox 54 confirmed there are even more cases with complaints against Weinberger for billing issues along with allegations that key evidence was left out of reports leaving children and parents unprotected and destabilized. To see previous news reports related to this judicial district, click here.

My Advocate Center’s analysis, combined with investigative reporting and fed-up litigants exposing evidence of wrong-doing, is opening the door for larger investigations and for consideration of civil actions to help victims recover from damages caused in these cases. At the very least the data is building to a point that state leaders and advocates across the country will have a clear picture of the direction needing to be taken to improve public safety.

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier To learn more about our case studies, to contribute to this effort to improve family stability and health, or to report case details or other billing records, please contact us here.

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?

   

Fund Raising to Help Restore Children to Parents

There are many cases now pending where good parents have been cut off from their children.

This case was heard by the Supreme Court where a unanimous ruling helped to turn this situation around for a good father.

Please learn from this story, and see what you can do to help those we are reporting on in Georgia.

 

This news story reveals more of the reality for parents, especially single parents caught in a system that makes it nearly impossible for them to provide for their children.

This father talks about how his military service was working against him, and he talks about the legal fees involved that led his family to do fund raisers.

Green Light on Needs of Children

Who is STOPPING good parents from caring for their children?  …stopping them from WORKING so they can provide for children?

Spotlight on Augusta, Georgia and on Columbia County for what the local Superior Court and law enforcement agencies know is being done improperly to a good father.   He is a good, hard-working man who loves and misses his child, and he deserves our support and attention from our leadership and news media.

A Candlelight Vigil is being held to light up the dark and drafty space surrounding the detention center where this man is being mistreated.   See this event page to RSVP and watch for updates.

Now that this case has been investigated by others outside the local system in Augusta, we are giving the “Green Light” for people to raise awareness about the dangers to every parent in this area who might pass through this court system.  

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

The situation described in this video is disturbing, but it is also disturbing to us that a good father…also seeking to protect his daughter…is being held in jail on false allegations.  There are some very interesting similarities on these two cases.  Both involve DFCS, law enforcement and certain child custody “experts” and the numbers and rulings just do not add up.  Both are leading to damages to these children.  Damages that can be avoided and that should be corrected.

We are asking law enforcement and our state and local leaders to bring transparency into this father’s case and into Augusta to see why so many good parents are unable to care for their own children, why they are losing their property and jobs, and their health.  

The evidence of these cases dictates that these are the wrong outcomes.  What’s next? #GreenLightAugusta

What about the laws?  Are they being followed?  Keep asking, and show up for these families.  Follow #NeedforGreen to learn more about what is holding back good parents, leaving families in worse shape than before.  

This story from Texas is now going viral, and it is closely related to what is happening in Augusta, and all over Georgia:

 

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.42.50 PM

Please study local cases and ask questions, especially of Judge Michael Annis about judicial procedure and the use of evidence to exonerate innocent parties.  It appears the evidence was ignored here and a good father jailed because he stood up for his rights to parent and protect his daughter.  

He is fighting for his right to work and to provide for her — and for the chance to recover from what was done wrongfully to him in his divorce and custody case.

This father who is being held wrongfully, denied clean clothing for a week, being denied phone calls…is now writing letters to his daughter so that she knows she is not being abandoned by him.  Help him ensure these letters get to his daughter so that she doesn’t believe that he has abandoned her?  This is critical for her…not just for him.  (Please understand that THREE fathers in metro Atlanta have taken their lives after this type of custody case and mistreatment by court professionals.  We do not need another tragedy, and another Fatherless Daughter, for the State of Georgia to get the point: it is time to intervene!)  

Video testimony is helpful in getting what this is like, the reality for people in this situation, so please take a few minutes to watch this, and see that what happens to this woman in court is the SAME as what happened to this man who is now in jail in Augusta – away from his child who needs his protection and support.

This father wants to get back to work, so that he can pay child support, plus manage the outrageous fees put on him by these court professionals.   Let him out.  Let him work.  Let him defend himself. Give this child her father back.

Cobb County: Need for Green to Protect Children

Can you imagine finding out that you and your children were secretly filmed because some sick person decided to use your family for entertainment?

This is what is happening to parents and children in Cobb County and in Florida:

This story is terrible enough…but can you also imagine that the COURT and Guardian Ad Litem in Cobb County would disregard this evidence in deciding whether or not to protect children?

This is why we have Court Watch invitations on these cases.  Just  recently the Court was going to consider giving un-supervised visitation to this father out on bond in Georgia, and wanted in FL on 4 counts.

Thankfully CBS and the FL news media covered this story.    

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse.  WHY?

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse. WHY?

 

The same GAL in another Cobb County case is revealing his alignment with the alleged molester, positioning himself to make more money off this case by helping to cover up crimes against children.  This is in spite of DFCS substantiating the abuse and putting a safety plan in place for the children.  This is in spite of the fact that police are currently investigating this case.  

Based on this GALs recommendation, the court may remove the protective order now keeping the children safe.  Can you guess who the GAL used to excuse the fact that he had not done his own due diligence on this child abuse case?  Dr. Howard Drutman and his often quoted “custody evaluation” that ignores all evidence of abuse.  This is the “doctor” who has no expertise in child sexual abuse and who conducted no thorough review of the facts on the case related to the abuse.  Sound familiar?

Why would these professionals do this?

Watch and learn.  Let us know how you can help, or if you have more data / cases related to this story.

This story and what the highly paid court professionals are doing here MUST count!
Why do we need your help?

If THIS evidence can be ignored in the above story, then you can see how easily perpetrators can get away with silencing their victims.  

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure - - by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure – – by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

 

 

Please support My Advocate Center and the Georgia Center for Children’s Advocacy by learning about the intervention needed.  

“It is believed that less than 10% of those victimized by child sexual abuse will ever tell anyone of their abuse. The result will be issues that last a lifetime.
It is imperative that we break the silence of abuse, whether it is sexual or physical, and that children are protected. If you believe that a child is being abused, or if you are a child that is being abused, please contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible. We believe that getting this secret out into the open is the first step towards healing.”

 

Protected: Georgia Family Court News: Fulton County, Judge Lane

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Relating Bad Contractors to Bad Attorneys

Have you been asked to understand what parents are going through when trying to get through family conflict?   What happens when someone you know enters the legal system?

It’s hard to relate if you haven’t been through it, and you may not really want to know…but what is going on where you can’t see has led us into a crisis situation, so please see if this short story gives you some insight:

“Suddenly the weeds along the property line grew thicker and getting taller.  The two neighbors who had once worn a path bare between their back doors had stopped speaking.

Flashing back a few months David stared at the spot where they used to stand and talk about the market and their son’s game stats.

On this cold January day that spot was now shadowed by the cement truck backing up to where the foundation was being poured for the fence about to go up between them.  They decided it was time for some privacy.  The good times shared in open spaces were now lost thanks to an argument he could barely remember.

Pause here for a moment and consider how you handle “Let’s go our separate ways.”

You have options, just like David and his neighbor did.

David’s neighbor suggested an open fence that would create a boundary and give some privacy, but not block them from waving hello or throwing a ball back over the fence.

What happened next is that David considered his options, and went with the advice that matched his emotions.

Option A:

David listened to his neighbor’s advice and talked to the contractor who gave them a reasonable price on a lightly stained wood fence and some shrubs.  There were even a couple of trees mixed in that would bloom within a couple of years.

He could see them a year or so out, one sitting on the porch reading, while the other hummed that annoying song while grilling the same steaks as always.  Not so bad…

Well, that was wishful thinking.

Option B:

David also listened to the contractor who heard about their disagreement and saw that David was still fuming.

He validated David’s feelings of loss, but reassured him that once the concrete wall was in place that his neighbor would regret ever trying to “win” that argument.

David allowed the concrete wall to get poured, taking satisfaction in his neighbor’s shock and dismay.  He smirked.  So his red-faced neighbor brought in another contractor carrying that coiled wire to add to the top of the wall. To heck with the shrubs and allowing a baseball to get returned over the fence.  What ball?  There would be no more playing out here!

Within days their yards shrank in size and the concrete wall expanded.  The sharp wire atop the hideous gray wall sparkled in the sunlight as a reminder that there was no going back.  But David told himself that he was fine with that; he had gotten his point across, and his neighbor appeared filled with regret and confusion.  The bills kept coming but at this point David wasn’t sure what else needed to be done with the wall.  He only saw that more trucks and material kept showing up.  Contractor John repeatedly reassured him, as he patted David on the shoulder in a fatherly way, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back…it will be the best wall you’ve ever seen.”

Nothing seemed to get better, only worse.  The bills grew while David felt smaller.  There was no end in sight, he still felt hurt and angry, and now there was no chance of talking to his neighbor about where to draw the line. David realized he was confused, even sick to his stomach.

No way, though, was David going to be the first one to call it quits!  He had gone too far to admit this overdone wall was a bad idea.  And besides, that barbed wire his neighbor wanted on top of the wall?  What an insult!

Months later David was jolted out of bed by flashing lights and sirens from the ambulance taking away his neighbor.   Apparently the stress had hit home, but David wasn’t informed about what was happening, and he was afraid to ask.  He did notice an opened envelope that had blown onto his driveway.  He read the note inside with a little guilt and dropped it when he saw that it was his neighbor’s writing, telling the contractor he was fired for putting up that barbed wire without permission.

Another few months went by, and the next thing David knew there were two For Sale signs out front.  The wall was still unfinished, and the contractors were nowhere to be found.  Only the debris was left.”

Please ask the person who showed you this story of two neighbors to learn what it can be like when two people turn to the wrong lawyers to resolve a family dispute.

This story just involved two people growing apart as neighbors, building a fence, hiring contractors, then realizing the damage done from their mistakes.  But did they make these mistakes on their own?  What if there were kids involved?  What did the kids see and how were they impacted? 

What if there had been the right mediator and counselors to help these parties see the best path – – how to make Option A their reality?