“Get a life and quit wasting my time and yours.”–Texas Fathers’ Rights advocate in response to an inquiry from a woman
“Be nice and get a grip.”–Delaware Fathers’ Rights advocate two days ago when I politely asked him to remove my address from an email circle
These days we don’t enjoy many bona fide “fireside chats” anymore–the enormously popular originals by that moniker by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled over the radio waves. Regardless of the medium in which the message transports, however, a “fireside chat” conjures up the intended aura of coziness, of safety (it started with politics, after all). It’s someone explaining things to you; it’s someone caring about you, reassuring you, and having your back, whether it be your country, a friend…. Or an organization.
Following is an electronic conversation between Robin Karr and a Texas Fathers’ Rights advocacy leader whose group, she believed, correctly, helped her abusive husband take away her children.
(We’d love for you to read this whole post because its length frames the issue, but a pithier version can be found here.)
Disclaimer I: As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. I’m not embellishing except to add editor’s notes in a few places for comprehension’s sake. These conversations were not confidential. If this unnamed man (whose name and organization we do have on record) should recognize himself and take issue, I will simply say what I always do to people in my news stories who accuse me of trying to make them look bad. “Did I misquote you?” No. “Did I show an understanding of the situation?” Yes. “So I presented everything accurately?” Yeah, I guess so. “Is it possible your own actions and statements caused you to make yourself look bad?” Uh, Click.
Disclaimer II: Texas Penal Code OK’s recording by any electronic means as long as it is not for criminal purposes: “Anyone who is a party to the communication, or who has the consent of a party [consent is not necessary] can lawfully record the communication and disclose its contents.” We’re not filing a lawsuit here (would it do any good anyway?). We are presenting information so the reader can reach his or her own conclusion.
This is a stunning example of the nature of a remarkably common but particularly militant and self-protective, highly organized group that appears to reign over much of the family courts realm in this country. This conversation occurred in 2002. Players have likely switched around but the situation remains; it’s only getting worse. You can expect to hear this rhetoric whomever you consult, anywhere in the country. That is why I’m including this took place in Texas, but not publishing names and counties for obvious reasons. (See the second comment above from another state, who didn’t know me or anything about me. Yet the tone, the words he chose, are eerily similar and equally contemptuous.)
The Fathers’ Rights movement sprung up in the groovy 1970s (I describe their history in detail in my book). Suddenly, in a system that was perceived to be oriented toward the mother (statistics and history show differently, but that’s another matter), fathers were perceived to “have a chance.” As time has gone on, FR has become so powerful as to change policy and manipulate laws enacted to protect people. Our federal government allocates billions of dollars toward the “rights of fathers,” including helping pay their legal fees and other help women do not receive.
There are seemingly earnest groups trying to represent fathers concerned about their relationships with their children following divorce. This is where it gets tricky to figure out who is who and what is what. It is the largest, slick, most upright-appearing, reasonable sounding FR groups that are the most dangerous. Their rhetoric and cutthroat measures inflict legal and personal damage the likes of which many of us would find quite difficult believe if we didn’t see them in action. Their victims sometimes never recover. All too often, we do see the final result, but we misconstrue what happened to get the unfortunates there. Many people disparage and even socially ostracize people who don’t win custody of their children. It’s a stigma of shame that doesn’t seem to go away, and is most certainly misunderstood.
Unfortunately–or fortunately, for the crafty–if has become difficult to distinguish a vicious, misogynistic group from those who simply seek to give men a voice. Is there a women’s group specifically for this? Frankly, I don’t know, even as I was in a custody battle myself. I suspect we women are so busy trying to negotiate this ever-switching maze, trying to reach our children at the end of it, we don’t have time to organize.
Lots of men in the throes of a divorce and anticipating a custody battle are encouraged to consult attorneys who outwardly identify themselves as “father-friendly” if not outright Fathers’ Rights attorneys. Do a Google search. Whole websites catalog the numerous FR choices in any area, doesn’t matter where you live. People think these attorneys will give them an edge on their cases and be the only type who can represent them properly. I see how that would appeal to them.
I cover much about Fathers’ Rights in my book, including how men and women alike suffer from an intensely hostile, intimidating, complex machine-like system that lines the pockets of a few but actually does little if anything for the “clients”, male or female. These “insiders” use their clients’ plights to intimidate, take their money and use it to inflict unnecessary cruelty against the other spouse and consequently, the children. They use these clients to bulk up their barricades to continue the backdoor negotiations that tear apart families in the shadows.
So you see, these lawyers do not advocate easy, conflict-free divorce (though they may well advertise it). When these people have a way to exploit their clients and perhaps even the federal funding for fathers’ rights, why would they? For both the client, and the recipient of the treatment they’ve dealt, it’s can almost resemble a Rosemary’s Baby-like scenario in which the people you believed you could trust, are really part of the same nightmarish group who are using you.
Others, like Robin Karr‘s ex, know full well what they are doing and with whom they’re allying themselves. Particularly if they have backgrounds as abusers, they know they need the heavyweights who can work the system to win their cases so that they will not be revealed for what they are. They want to continue doing what they wish to do–without interference from some meddling mother.
The dialogue below and to come gives a unique glimpse into the mentality and subtly threatening vibe of their discourse, and the outright fear such groups propagate in order to keep the organization lucrative for the insiders. Infiltration is beyond difficult; I’m amazed and deeply grateful Robin poked a hole into this secretive organization, found her answers, as chilling as they turned out to be, and shared them with us.
So everyone wants to know: “How are these abusers winning custody of their children and being outrageously successful barring the concerned parents out of their children’s lives forever, without any recourse?”
This is how.
PART ONE: In which embattled mother Robin Karr goes undercover in 2002 to get information about what this Texas FR organization is doing. She knows her abusive, increasingly threatening ex is heavily supported and guided by this group. She is desperate to understand what happened to enable the court to take away her children forever, and what she was up against. At this point, she is still trying to get her children back.
She knows they will, naturally, give her short shrift as she’s a woman. So she creates an undercover account and calls herself Chris. In her dialogue, she adopts the attributes of her ex to see what the Fathers’ Rights Guy will say. We’ll call her RC.
At this point the Fathers’ Rights Guy, heretofore known as FRG, thinks she’s a man as there is no reason to think otherwise. Buddy to buddy. The pounce is immediate. Notice how quickly FRG seeks to recruit Chris and welcome him into the fold, even as FRG doesn’t know squat about him or his integrity. Heck, he doesn’t even know Chris is a girl. In his eyes he’s just a guy. And that’s enough.
(Editor’s Note: I’ve flagged some comments for readers’ benefit and the bolding is my own. I’ve removed some verbiage where nothing conveys information of interest to the reader, but I’ve been careful not to alter any context.)
|Need an Attorney by XXXXX@yahoo ( Posted on March 17, 2002, 10:04:13 )|
|My children were taken to TX where my ex has filed for divorce and has accused my of sexually abusing my son. She is from that area. I need an attorney there. Any suggestions?|
|Need an Attorney by XXXX@aol.com ( Posted on March 17, 2002, 17:46:27 )|
|Chris, you need to join XXXXX Fathers, asap XXX/XXX-XXXX. They are the sponsors of this NFRC website. They have a number of lawyers available who can help you there. Where are you located? Dealing with false sex abuse allegations can be tricky but successful. Contact me at XXXXX@aol.com. I am the mental health advisor for the organization. I can give you more specific attorney recommendations as well. XX, LMSW-ACP.|
[Three days later, FRG initiates direct contact after RC peppers him with questions on the forum. FRG identifies himself as a Licensed Mental Social Worker and Mental Health Advisor to the locaal branch of a national “Fathers’ Resource Center”.]
You have asked a lot of questions. I am not an attorney, but here are some ideas: 1. How long have they lived in XXX? It is possible that she has not yet established legal residency in Texas. I think maybe it takes 60 days. In that case, it may be to your big advantage to file there in Kentucky. If the case is in Texas, you will have a definite disadvantage, traveling, finances, etc. Often they will schedule a hearing, you will drive or fly in, and they will cancel it. All designed to wear you down financially and emotionally. Also, judges are elected in Texas, and if you are an outsider, you have a political disadvantage.
Also, if you file rather than wait for her to file, there may be some legal, psychological, and strategic advantages. Talk to a lawyer about this.
2. Sometimes the court will accept your own psychologcal [sic] evaluation. You can find a psychologist, perhaps recommended by a fathers organization in KY, and pay for a private evaluation. You might also get a polygraph evaluation if there are sex abuse allegations. Polygraphs may or may not be admissable in a criminal trial, however they are routinely used by mental health practitioners in assessing the validity of questionable sex abuse allegations. A psychologist or forensic psychologist who is familiar with sex abuse allegations, especially false allegations, may help you out. [Ed. note: Note the word ‘especially’. Why qualify that? And is it troubling that FRG himself identifies himself as a sex abuse counselor and mental health practitioner? Why hasn’t he shown concern that Chris might be an abuser?]
If your case is ultimately in Texas, I can help you with this. One of my specialties is dealing with false sex abuse allegations. I am a Registered Sex Offender Treatment Provider in Texas, and I frequently use polygraph and other tools, such as an Abel Assessment, to help challange [sic] false accusations. I am not a psychologist, but rather a marriage and family therapist, and sex offender therapist, but if needed I can arrange for you to be evaluated by a father-friendly psychologist here in Texas. Again, you may ultimately be much better off keeping the case in KY.
(Ed. note: It is suggested later that if the sex abuse allegations may be true, FRG, the counselor, states there are ways such charges might be “neutralized.” )
I do not know the psychologists you mentioned. As for attorneys, you might consider XXX, or XXX, or XXX. Tell any of them that I recommended them. These lawyers are usually reasonable financially and are good father-friendly attorneys. They are all on our Fathers For Equal Rights recommendation list. Another lawyer who is not on our list is XXX. I have worked with him before. One of my clients who has a case in your wife’s county recommends a female attorney named XXX. I do not know her and do not have her phone number. The judge in that County also has a brother who is a lawyer there, but I am told he may be quite expensive. His name I believe is XXX. I am trying to contact another individual who is familiar with that County to see if I can get any more names for you.
3. As for Fathers for Equal Rights in XXX, yes, if your case is ultimately in XXX County, you will benefit from membership. For one thing, you will be entitled to visit with any of our attorneys who hold sessions in our offices each day at no cost to you. [Ed. Note: Then who pays?] You can also save money by having our typists type various documents, motions, etc. for you and have them approved by your attorney. Our affiliated attorneys will work with you on this basis. Also, I offer a significant discount on my services to members of a fathers’ rights organization, even one in KY. Check our website for any fathers organizations in KY.
[RC sends list of attorneys ]
Chris, I do not know either of those attorneys. The judge is XXX. (Ed. note: XXX was voted into office when the female judge who took Robin’s children was voted out. The female judge was further shown to have owned and operated the “court visitation center” that made Robin pay cash to see her children.) His brother is XXX, a lawyer… And he may not be the best choice. In my previous e-mail, I gave you the names of attorneys in the XXX area who are affiliated with the fathers’ organization. Also, check our website at (Ed. note:obscuring name but it’s along the lines of “fatherslovekids”. Note that though the organization claims to emphasize kids, not one thing in all of this communication shows concern for Chris’ children’s welfare. ) Read the section on finding a father-friendly attorney. If I come across other names I will let you know. Even though the jurisdiction is going to be in Texas, you can still file first which might give you a number of strategic advantages.
One other thing: You will no doubt go through a court ordered social study. This is good, and I can prepare you for that to make sure we hit all of the hot buttons and avoid any traps. But, be sure that your attorney motions the court or negotiates with the other attorney to have XXX appointed to conduct the social study. His phone number is XXX. There are several people who do social studies in XXX County, many of whom are biased and incompetent . XXX is known to be fair and thorough, and his fees are pretty reasonable. Judge XXX recently appointed him on another case. One woman does social studies very fast, i.e. 3 weeks, but they are worth sh&%.. and pro-mom. Another one takes 2 years and never produces a report. Work hard to get XXX, and this will definitely increase your odds. Keep me posted.
[Ed. note: Bear in mind that at this time, FRG still has no idea whether RC is an abuser or not. The treatment RC is receiving is a given no matter what the true circumstances. The truth of how the children and the mother are treated—and their fates–appear to be non-issues.]
XXX (on a first name basis now), Thanks for the info. I will contact XXX and XXX since they are here in the county. They may have a better idea about how to handle my case. Hopefully, they know how the judge thinks. Do you know if Judge XXX is pro-mom or pro-dad? My wife’s family has money and I feel certain they may know Judge XXX. If I do find out that her family knows the judge, can I ask for another judge to hear my case? I heard the judge before Judge XXX was a lady judge, so I guess it is a good thing that there is another judge in XXX now. I assume the lady judge may have been pro-mom. I feel at such a disadvantage being from out-of-state. I’m glad there is help available to me through the father’s group there in Texas. (I don’t think the KY father’s group is very involved in helping fathers in court cases.) I am planning to come to visit in the next couple of months. Could we possibly meet? I would like to talk to you about the sexual abuse allegations against me. I am very worried about that. I am hoping you can help me. Thanks again
The female judge before Judge XXX was actually good for dads. (Ed. note: Again this is the judge who took Robin’s children and sent her to jail for expressing emotion at her judgment. Notice how FRG, who in all likelihood heard this story, which made big news, makes no mention of why the judge was ousted and only processes this in terms of what is “good for dads.”) Judge XXX is relatively new as a judge, but he was a family lawyer prior to his election, so I think he does pay attention to family issues. I don’t have a clear read on him as yet. Some district judges hate family law and fall asleep during family hearings. In this metro area we have 5 courts that specialize in family law, however in the suburban areas, they are district courts and may hear a murder case in the am and your family case in the afternoon. As for getting a change in judge if he knows the family, this may be a possibility. You might check his election records to see if they contributed to his campaign. You would have to check this out with your lawyer as to the advisability of getting a change. You might get a visiting judge appointed. Some are good. Others can present problems.
When you know when you will be in town, let me know and we will set an appointment. In the meantime, we can communicate by e-mail, and if necessary by phone, regarding the sex abuse allegations. Why don’t you start by giving me some background information about you and your wife, and any details of the sex abuse allegation as you understand them.
[RC goes on to question about what happened to the female judge to see what FRG makes of the matter of her ousting.]
The female judge, XXX, was defeated by XXX. (Ed. Note: No mention of the circumstances.)
As for the allegations you identified, this should be demonstratable through evaluation. A thorough evaluation would include a good polygraph plus other things such as history, clinical interviews, and other testing. If your wife set you up for this, I consider this evil, and we must consider that someone who would consciously do this could be dangerous to the children. [Ed. note: Again FRG shows no concern about what is actually happening—Robin was consciously trying to remove the children from her ex’s care because she had proof this was happening. He continues to seem unconcerned with whether or not Chris is guilty of this.]
I have not met XXX personally, but one of my clients who has a current case in XX County with Judge XX says he is fair, honest, and meticulous, and XXX and I have communicated by mail and phone on that case. You can mention my name to him. [Ed. Note: This lawyer was indicted by a grand jury soon after.]
It’s important that you be strong emotionally and financially in order to prevail in a custody case, especially [There’s that word again] when false allegations are made. I don’t know your financial situation, but some dads may need to get a 2nd or 3rd job just to pay attorney fees and other related expenses, such as evaluations, travel, etc. Some attorneys will make payment arrangements…. Some may allow you to pay them out over time. On the emotional side, the fathers group can help. You may need to get into counseling with a supportive therapist there in KY [Ed.note: Think the therapists come from a “father-friendly” list?] Often parents, especially dads, lose because they are not strong emotionally or financially and they have to roll over. We help a lot of dads get custody. We also help a lot of dads turn false allegations around. You must be strong and patient to prevail.
Any chance of moving to TX? What is holding you in KY?
[We conclude with a quote FRG seems particularly fond of because he attaches it to all his missives. It’s chilling given the context of his communications:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank]
Next time: In which FRG begins to suspect Chris is not who he/she claims to be but still doesn’t suspect Chris is a female. Enter an unknown person called The Advocate who crashes the conversation and inscrutably says to Chris: “Looks like I burned your bridge with your pedophile advocate in Texas, you sick, pathetic moron.”
(A shortened version of this post can be found here)