Why Evil Strikes Good People: A Survivor’s Perspective (Guest post)

By Robin Karr

Robin and oldest son Christopher
Guest blogger Robin Karr with oldest son Christopher, celebrating Christmas in simpler times.

We suffer because evil exists in our world. And, some people obviously suffer more than others. I have suffered beyond my most horrific nightmares, and I have sought out God about why, many times. This is deep, but here goes my take on this big question/issue. We are in combat against evil – like it or not. (I don’t like it, by the way!) When we accept Christ, we become involved in the battle of good vs. evil. We become a target for evil as it were. For this reason, it’s in our best interest to learn how to deal with evil.

We can’t destroy evil by simply “stomping” it out in any traditional way. In other words, we can’t attempt to deal with evil by destroying it. We can’t just beat the evil out of someone or yell it out of someone. If we did that, we would destroy ourselves in the process – spiritually, if not physically. It is really in the struggle between good and evil that life has its meaning and hope that goodness can succeed. Evil can always be defeated by goodness – always. We overcome evil with good and all of that.

It is really in the struggle between good and evil that life has its meaning and hope that goodness can succeed.

So, our method of assault on evil must be that of goodness or love. This sounds so simple, and yet it is very complex. This method of destroying evil is extremely difficult in ‘practice’ – so difficult that we tend to shy away from it I think. In fact, it can seem impossible. How is it possible to love the truly evil? It’s not an easy thing to embrace ugliness or evil with the sole motive of hope that in some unknown way,  a transformation into beauty or good will occur. There may be dozens of ways to deal with evil, but there is only one way to “conquer” it and that is with LOVE.

Evil can only be conquered within a willing, living human being. When evil can be absorbed into a willing human’s heart like a spear, evil loses its power and goes no further. I don’t know how this can happen, but I believe it can and does somehow happen.

Before my children were permanently taken from me for absolutely no reason, before I was arrested for no reason, and before I was labeled retarded and mentally ill for being a Christian, I always thought I would not have to really ever deal with evil – not really. I always thought Christ took care of evil on the cross over 2000 years ago, and that was just the end of it somehow. And, while Christ did ultimately “conquer” evil, we still battle evil in this world. And, the overcoming and/or healing of evil in this world can only be accomplished by the love of a ‘willing’ individual. In other words, a willing sacrifice is required. The individual “healer” (as it were) must allow his or her own soul to become the battleground. He or she must sacrificially absorb the evil. I won’t pretend to understand how this can happen, and that individual’s very soul not be destroyed in the process, but I am living proof that a soul can go on – even after being penetrated by great evil.

I freely admit that I don’t completely “get” all of this. I used to think I knew all the answers in life. Now, I’m not sure I even know half the questions. Seriously… I’ve questioned God many, many times regarding how I would not be destroyed by the evil that was being purposely directed at me. After all, I’m only one woman – just flesh and blood and not without sin myself. I couldn’t see how anything good could possibly come from me just deciding to love – love all of those who were directing unspeakable evil toward me. I couldn’t see what would be achieved beyond some meaningless trade-off.

“When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”–C.S. Lewis, from The Chronicles of Narnia

This is still somewhat of a mystery to me, and there’s no way I can say it’s not and be truthful here. But, I think C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote: “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” I don’t know if any of us are really capable of truly understanding how this can happen. We are only human after all. But, I do believe it does happen. I do believe that good people can deliberately allow themselves to be pierced by the evil of others – to be broken and yet somehow not broken – to even be killed in some sense and yet still survive and not succumb to the evil. I am living proof that this is possible. I do believe that whenever this kind of trade-off happens, there is a slight shift in the balance of power between good and evil in some way.

Robin Karr holds a B.S. in English and taught at the high-school level. Her oldest son Christopher is an accomplished playwright.  Robin’s Facebook page, which is devoted to little-discussed hysterectomy consequences, can be found here

“Old Philosophy” Thrives in Georgia

You say your abuser ex beat your children during every unsupervised visitation? And every time you finally managed to get the kids back, you took scads of photos of injuries they sustained while in his care? And after you displayed the photos to the Atlanta court, documented pedophilic behavior in your ex’s home and filed a protective order, the children’s attorney/guardian ad litem forbade you to follow through on it? After you were charged $10,000 to file it in the first place?

And then the judge refused to overrule the guardian ad litem or listen to your attorney, and instead threatened you with jail time if you took one more step toward protecting your children? And then the two facilitated an 11-month temporary court order granting primary custody of these children to the parent who caused the injuries? And, just for good measure, they ordered you to stop photographing the abuse and limited you to 11 hours of visitation a week? And the only thing that enabled your children’s safe return to you was that your ex became deathly ill and died?

Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Bruisephoto1
An Atlanta Fulton County Guardian Ad Litem and Judge ordered full custody for the abuser, despite extensive documentation and children’s testimony

I’m riffing off the Eddie Lawrence “Old Philosopher” routine from the 1950s, in which he rattles off a litany of highly improbable, comically tragic events and follows them with an absurdly upbeat rhetorical question like, “Is that what’s bothering you, Bunky?”

But it’s this dismissive, flippant attitude–though hardly funny–many concerned, protective parents confront when they implore the courts to help them shield children who are abused in their ex’s care. It’s not funny, but it’s that absurd. And worst of all, it’s true.

And worse than that, it appears to be rampant. I just read today a dead-on expose on the undeniable link between court officials, child custody and money:  Part 1: Finding Ground Zero in Connecticut   Part 2:  Immunity for Guardian Ad Litem Destroys Connecticut Family

Excerpt: However, cases like 9-year old Max Liberti’s suggest that some family court appointees are more likely to favor the opportunity to continue billing families for unnecessary, even fraudulent services, over what is best for the child.–Aine Nistiophain, guest author for child advocate Jerome Elam, Washington Times

Is this what happened to the metro Atlanta mother and businesswoman whose incredible story makes up the crazy first graphs of this post? You want to bet that if the money hadn’t run out–because the source, probably inconveniently for the court officials, died–this protective mother would never had any say, legal or otherwise, in her children’s lives again?

Divorce Lawyer Shopping and Other Life Decisions–Part 1

Many people email or call to share their stories with me. Most are on the other, too often losing, end of a divorce and custody battle. However, a significant number are stuck in the legal system. Either they’ve had trouble securing a lawyer who represents them properly, are almost out of money and are having to decide whether they need to make a switch, or they’re already on the receiving end of the divorce gamesmanship I describe in my book and, like me, need a crackerjack lawyer yesterday. Although the system is so complicated as to be obtuse, the only fighting chance you have is to find the very best attorney you can. Not just the best person or the one who did a good job for your friends; the best lawyer for you. This is first of a 3-part series I wrote as a biweekly contributor to www.hopeafterdivorce.org, which shares my columns with www.lafamily.com, www.familyshare.com, and other family oriented websites and magazines.

Divorce Lawyer-Shopping and Other Life Decisions  (Part 1)

When I was “shopping” for a divorce attorney, I was already on the receiving end of much of the divorce gamesmanship I write about in my book. In short, this wasn’t leisurely, thoughtful mall-style shopping. This was a smash-and-grab at the Rite Aid.

From my backyard office, the only place I could talk out of earshot, I desperately secured the attorney who yanked me out from the 8-ball I’d trembled behind since my husband began employing brutal tactics to set me up. Not only did my attorney deflect the nasty gamesmanship, he negotiated a fair outcome in an astonishing two and a half months. After hearing dozens of terrifying stories from people who were victimized and couldn’t recover, I began to see Bruce as a legal miracle.

There are two approaches to modern divorce: litigation and negotiation. The hard-line litigation approach produces an outcome of one winner and one loser while the negotiation, or “collaborative” method, strives for a win-win.

Yet, Bruce seemed to fall somewhere in between. He aimed to mediate, but the forces against us were formidable. He knew how to step it up, call the other counsel on her game-playing, and swiftly put a stop to it.

So I dialed up my go-to divorce lawyer source, Randall M. Kessler, 2011-2012 Chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association and founder of Kessler & Solomiany of Atlanta. I asked him what lawyers do when they  face divorce. Surely there was some magic in it so I could help others find expert counsel without fortuitously stumbling on it as I did.

Alas, Kessler says, lawyers are as emotional and confused going through divorce as are the rest of us. But following wise advice and finding like-minded counsel can provide the best results.

  • Your first goal is to avoid court. You do not want counsel who is afraid to litigate, but “very few people are happy they went to court,” Kessler says. An enormous mistake many divorcing spouses make, and which some attorneys exploit by not setting them straight, is they think the judge needs to hear all the evidence they’ve gathered against the spouse, and the minute details of the personal situation, how the spouse has been wronged, et cetera.  “The judge will not care about all the inside information you’re harboring,” Kessler says. “This is not about that. It’s about solving a problem. How do two households live on the same funds as the original one?”
  • The more you know the facts about your household and how the divorce system works, the more successful your mediation will be. In any divorce, “There’s a risk you’ll be taken advantage of, and the main thing is to make sure you have all the information,” Kessler says. “Get the facts. How much money is there? Where is it? What is there to divide?”
  • You must have some idea of the laws in your state. “Educate yourself about what the divorce legal system looks like from the inside. Find the child support guidelines online. Find out how property is divided in your state.”
  • What do you think is fair? “Nine times out of 10, it’s going to be a close approximation,” Kessler says. “Generally, this is very common-sensical. When you’re being objective, you can see all the reasonable possibilities.”
  • Putting emotions aside is a tricky proposition in the throes of any divorce, but getting the specifics down is the key. A parallel exercise Kessler recommends is to “step outside of your shoes and pretend it’s a friend’s divorce.”
  • A central problem in most divorces is to figure out how children will spend quality time with both parents. “Solve that problem, solve the financial situation. It doesn’t help to draw it out.”
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, realize people are people, and appeal to their human nature. “One thing that I always try to convey to my clients is that people are less likely to do things because they have to, and more likely to do things because they want to,” Kessler says. “You have to ask them, not force them. Make people want to do things. Litigation makes them have to do it. Mediation makes them want to do it. Wouldn’t you rather face something that you want to do, rather than something you have to do?”

This is what I experienced as we abandoned the bloody divorce battleground and set about following a constructive road map for the future. I am convinced the quality of my attorney more than helped create the possibilities my ex and I drew on to be successful co-parents. But keep the above in mind when lawyer-shopping, and you stand the best chance of satisfaction with your purchase.

Fireside Chat with A Devil’s Advocate–Part 2

“If Kentucky confirmed that abuse occurred some years ago, even if it did not, this will work against you, however there are certain things we could do to neutralize that, such as polygraph, current testimony or deposition of your son, etc.”–Fathers’ Rights Guy

Satan

The second part of our story follows Part One, which ran in two versions: Fireside Chat With Fathers’ Rights (exploring Fathers’ Rights origins in greater depth) and The Devil’s Advocate (cutting right to the conversation between “Chris”—an alias embattled mother Robin Karr adopted–and a Texas FR organization).

Disclaimer: 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.

(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.)

PART TWO

In which Fathers’ Rights Guy (FRG) is hot to recruit “Chris” (RG), and has still not shown one iota of interest as to whether CR is an abuser or not. So far, it seems immaterial. FRG is eager to get CR on board, coach “him” on the FR program, and preferably hook him up with the lawyers of FRG’s choice. FRG calls out a red flag here and there but presses on, apparently choosing to ignore them in favor of “the cause”.

This disclaimer has suddenly appeared at the end of FRG’s emails: “Information in this e-mail is general information and is not based upon a thorough assessment of your situation. Please be aware I am not an attorney, and I do not provide legal advice. Nothing in this e-mail should be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should check with a lawyer or legal professional. Often a fathers’ rights organization in your area can recommend one.  I am a social worker, personal, marriage and family therapist,  and also a sex offender therapist (No, I am not a sex offender!  I evaluate and treat actual and accused sex offenders.  Some are accused falsely, and others are accused correctly.)  I am also a custody evaluator, which means I conduct social studies, and I also prepare fathers (and mothers too) for court ordered social studies. Finally, unless we have made a previous professional-client arrangement, you are not my client or patient, and I am not your counselor or therapist.”

CR: I clicked on media contacts on the father’s web site and there is nothing there. I was thinking about trying to contact the media in XX at some point. I heard that Channel 8 in XX did a series of stories about the family courts in XX and even XX. I also heard that Channel 8 did a story on a custody case in XX when the lady judge was in office. I was told that the father in that case got custody. Do you know if Channel 8 supports fathers in any way? I was thinking that they must support fathers if they did a story on a custody case where the father got custody. (But then I don’t know if they made the father look good or bad.) I would like to read about the stories they did. Did you see any of them? I looked on Channel 8’s web site, but could not see any stories about the courts or child custody. I’m not sure when they aired though. I don’t know if it is a good idea to contact the media or not. I just know that it can help in some cases. What do you think?

FRG: Yes, the reporter interviewed me when she did her series. XXX with Channel 8. You can contact her. I think there was a local connection, but I believe it related to exposing a psychologist who did some shoddy work out there. Also, the reporter exposed some unethical behavior on the part of a XX judge.

I think it is good to bring in the media at times, but I am not sure what issue you will be bringing forward.  False allegations are quite common.  My suggestion is that you work closely with the Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. organization.

FRG, LMSW-ACP, LMFT  “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  – Anne Frank

CR: I have an older son in KY who is sixteen. He is from my first marriage. His mother managed to take him from me when he was only four. I have only seen him a few times over the years(only when she would allow it.) His mother tried to say that I had abused him… He is willing to testify for me if needed. I would not want to put him through that unless I have to. I have made bad choices in the women I have married. I really paid for that with my first child. I don’t want that to happen with my other two children. I will consider moving to the XX area if it turns out that I need to. I just hate to leave my son here now that we are getting to know each other. I’ll take one step at a time. Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I don’t think I can take another divorce and custody battle. At least, I will have the father’s group behind me this time. There was nowhere to turn for help ten years ago.

FRG: Chris, here in XX fathers do pretty well in family court. As you move to the suburbs such as XX County, dads still have an uphill battle, more so than in XX, but it is much better now than even 10 years ago.  In the very rural areas, well beyond XX,  it is much harder for dads.  I have noticed a big difference over the years.  I have been doing this with the Fathers’ group for around 13 years. Thanks to the Fathers’ group, we now have presumptive joint managing conservatorship in Texas written into the Texas Family Code. I have no reason to believe that judge XX would be biased, except for the family connection you mentioned which you should discuss with your attorney.  I look forward to working with you.  Keep me posted.

CR: My ex or soon-to-be ex called last night and told me that she has been talking to my first ex-wife about how she got custody of my sixteen year old son. She made all kinds of threats about how she was going to take our two children just like Debbie (my first ex) did. I wish that I could have taped the things she said. I was thinking about taping her next time she calls. I checked in KY and it is legal to tape a conversation as long as one person in the conversation is aware it is being taped. Do you know if it is legal in TX? And do you know if a taped conversation would even be admissible in court? There would be no point in taping a conversation if I can’t use it in court.

FRG: It is my understanding that it is legal to tape in Tx as in Ky.  Admissability [sic] depends on the rules of court, the judge, etc.  I strongly recommend that you tape each and every conversation with her or her family, as well as with your children. Do not talk with her unless it is being taped. This can help you a lot.  Radio Shack has a $25.00 device that you can attach to the phone and to a tape recorder.  It very effectively records every call that comes into your home as soon as you pick up the receiver, even if it is attached to another phone. Even if a judge does not allow a tape, it can often be used in a social study or psychological evaluation to show intent, motivation, psychological blackmail, use of the children as tools, etc.

BTW, you are not the first to have a spouse hook up with another ex spouse.

CR: I finally found the stories on the WFAA web site. Since you told me the reporter’s name, I was able to look them up. The attorney who represented the father in the XX case was XXX. That is one of the names someone gave me in XX. The story did not say who represented the mother, so I contacted channel 8 and talked to someone by the name of XXX. (She helped XXX to do the story.) She told me that XXX represented the mother in that case. I don’t think I want to contact XXX now. I can’t imagine why he represented a mother from another state. That would seem to me that he must really be pro-mother. I will try some of the other names you gave me and/or contact XXX. I learned something else very disturbing in reading the story. You were right about the story focusing on a psychologist. XXX is the psychologist that was appointed in that case. That is the psychologist that I mentioned to you. My ex has been taking our children to see her for therapy. She has an office in XX (wherever that is.) Apparently, she does a lot of work with children. Do you think Judge XXX would allow her to testify after the story Channel 8 did? I am not going to tell my ex about XXX. Hopefully, that will not work in her favor.

By the way, the company I work for has an office in XX. I am told that is close to XX. There is a chance I could transfer to that office. I just worry about my son here. He is at a difficult age.

FRG: Chris, thanks for reminding me about XXX who was involved in that case. Regarding XXX, I would not hold it against him that he represented a mom. Most lawyers do, including those who are affiliated with the Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. organization. [Ed. Note: This lawyer was indicted by a grand jury soon after. He not only did not represent Robin properly, he arranged to have her children removed from her care.] Also, that expose took place during Judge Pirtle’s tenure. [Note: Judge Pirtle was a despicable rat, but notice how easily FRG shrugs off all blame on her, not her circle, including the attorneys who worked with her.]

If Dr. XXX is already seeing the kids, the judge would most likely appoint another psychologist to do an objective “court ordered” evaluation if he felt that a psychological eval of the children was needed. [Ed. Note: Who provides the court-ordered psychologists?] Dr. XXX might weigh in as an expert witness testifying for the mom, but could not be appointed to do a court ordered eval due to her previously being retained by the mom. If she does testify as a “hired gun”, her testimony might be discredited by the past expose. You may need to get your own experts to provide a “2nd opinion.” [Ed. Note: Why would CR’s “own experts” be admissible then? Are you as confused as I am about why or why not “expert testimony” is allowed or not?]
What was Dr. XXX actually accused of in that expose? [FRG doesn’t know? Obviously even FRG can’t even keep track of the psychologists, who seem to circle the courts like wooden figures on a cuckoo clock]
Here is something important:  If your children are currently being seen by Dr. XXX, you have a right to their mental health records in accordance with chapter 611 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.  You can look this up under Texas Statutes.  I helped one of my clients in Missouri file a grievance against a psychologist here in XX because she refused or failed to release his son’s mental heath record. There could also possibly be a lawsuit for monetary damages against a psychologist who refuses to comply. Do you know how long they have been seeing her? Before you request the records, lets discuss strategy here.
XX is in XX County which does not border on XX County, but may border on XX County. Professionals from XX are frequently used in XX County cases. I was involved in one case where the social study evaluator was from XX.  Don’t forget, try to get XXX appointed to do a social study. [Ed’s Note: Obviously, FR guys have to be expert geography experts and maybe even cartographers.] 

FRG:  Chris, No, I don’t know what Sue Pirtle is doing. She may be in private practice, and you might look her up.  I don’t know why she was defeated by Judge Hall.  It may not have anything to do with the case involving Dr. XXX.  Someone who is a former judge is likely to be expensive. [Ed.’s Note: OMG CR, did you have the wit to actually propose hiring Judge Pirtle to FRG? You are awesome, man! I mean, girl.] 

Judge XXX is a retired family judge who is in private practice in XX. I have referred one or two folks to him on cases in XX county. He is expensive, around 300 – 350 per hour I believe. Also, XXX is in practice in XX and is a former XX family court judge. Be sure to read the section on our website on how to find a father friendly attorney (I wrote it.  [Ed.’s note: This website has many interesting articles. One explains how “Texas courts also routinely issue parenting plans (often called “possession schedules“), which serve to ensure that fathers have the opportunity to develop or maintain a close relationship with his child. This is presumed to be in the child’s best interests.” Another details traits of a mentally incompetent person that presumably hold up in a court of law: “The divorce process will be a very conflictual [Ed’s note: is this a word?] process due to the party with the personality disorder or mental illness engaging in the following types of behavior: They ‘dig in’ and maintain rigid attitudes and perceptions throughout the family law process. [I.e., why an abusive spouse should not have custody of the abused children?] They are not likely to change in the short term-if ever. If your client is suffering from a personality disorder or mental illness, you are likely to see the traits and behaviors for the duration of your professional relationship. [Right, perhaps because the abusive spouse/parent does not change and the stakes become increasingly higher.] Viewing their world as generally adversarial, so they often see all people as either allies or enemies in it. [Right, because everyone she’s faced in the court system has been against her so far; certainly the angels are just waiting in the wings.] Their thinking is often dominated by cognitive distortions, such as: all-or-nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, personalization of benign events, minimization of the positive and maximization of the negative. [Right, because she can’t forget her spouse’s abusive actions in the past, and the bruises both physical and emotional remain? She really doesn’t mean to take this personally. It’s true her ex did give her a pretty ring one time. She really doesn’t mean to minimize that, it just seems kind of unimportant right now.]

XX is a suburb of XX.  I am sure this would be difficult on your son, but at his age he would be in a better position to travel to see you in XX than the reverse with younger children.  What kind of work do you do?

CR:  I went to Radio Shack and got the taping equipment. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Thanks. Hopefully, I will be able to get evidence on tape that will help my case. Maybe I can use taped evidence for the social study or psychological evaluation as you suggested. The more we talk, the more I realize that I don’t have a clue about how to prepare myself for a custody battle. Appreciate the help.

CR:  XXX was accused of filing a false mental evaluation against the mother. XXX said the mother was borderline retarded, when she had graduated from college with honors according to Channel 8.

If you think XXX is ok, I may try and talk with him on Monday. It is hard trying to hire an attorney when you are over 1500 miles away. Whoever I end up retaining, I will ask them to try and get XXX [FRG’s suggestion] for the social study.

By the way, I have heard that CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has a chapter in XX. Do you know if the family court judges ever appoint someone from CASA to represent the children or do an evaluation?

You mentioned in one of your e-mails that TX has presumptive joint custody. I don’t want to sound
stupid, but what does that mean? Is that a good thing?

[Ed’s Note: Robin as herself says: “It was a CASA worker who ran the judge’s supervising center ‘Time Together’ where I was ordered to visit my children. CASA workers were also the ones the judge sent to the newspaper to tell them I was a drug dealer. Judge Pirtle brought CASA to XX and I suspect this was for a reason. I wrote to the national CASA office and told them about what was going on in XX. They wrote me back and said they would be investigating because the things I described were not appropriate for CASA workers. I wrote a lot of letters back then just trying to figure out what was going on and also as a way of documenting things.” Nothing ever came of it.]

FRG: Chris, CASA is active here in the area.  Occasionally they are appointed to do a social study in XX County, a suburb of XX. I don’t think they are really trained or prepared to do quality custody evaluations. Mostly they help children who are in the CPS (Child Protective Service) system. Has a child abuse complaint been filed with CPS by the way?

Presumptive joint custody means that the court will presume from the start that the parents are to be joint managing conservators unless one parent or the other proves that the other parent would be dangerous to the child. It is a rebuttable presumption, which means that the accusing parent can rebutt the presumption by presenting his or her evidence that joint managing conservatorship would be harmful. [Ed’s Note: From all of the above, you can see how hard it is for the parent who seeks to establish the burden of proof necessary to rebut.] The Fathers’ group lobbied for this for many years, and it was implemented into the Texas Family Code around 5 or 6 years ago.  As a result, most parents do get joint conservatorship which makes them equal in legal rights. One parent is still usually given the right to establish the children’s’ domicile or home (sometimes informally referred to as the “primary parent”), and child support can still be ordered.  Sometimes, if the parents agree on 50 – 50 time with the children, or if the court orders 50 -50 time, no child support is ordered.

How old are your children?

CR: My children are four and five. As far as I know, there has not been a complaint filed with CPS. I have not heard from CPS. Would I hear from them if a complaint had been filed? In KY, CPS is called Social Services. Social Services visits the home when a complaint has been filed. I know this from my first custody battle. I wish I would have had resources available to me at that time as I do now. Maybe, I would not have been estranged from my son all these years. You can never get back those years. That is why I will do anything (and I mean anything) to keep that from happening this time around.

My first custody case got major media attention. (I guess that’s why I thought about going to the media, especially if I can get evidence that she has set my up and that the judge is a friend of the family.) … With presumptive joint custody, both parents get custody unless one parent can prove that the children are being harmed in some way. Is that right? If so, that must be why my ex is throwing out abuse allegations. I think she is trying to get documents from my first custody case. At least that is what she told me. That must be why she and my first ex are talking. They never talked when we were married. Do you think the judge in TX would allow KY documents from a prior custody case to be used against me?

FRG: Hard to say. If KY confirmed that abuse occurred some years ago, even if it did not, this will work against you, however there are certain things we could do to neutralize that, such as polygraph, current testimony or deposition of your son, etc.  I would need to get a complete picture of the situation in order to be most helpful to you and to your lawyer.

Have you considered filing, getting a temporary hearing, and establishing access to the children? When will we be able to get together?

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.”

House of Mirrors

You know those county fair Houses of Mirrors, where you face multiple, distorted reflections of yourself and your friends, at so many angles, you become dizzy and almost can’t distinguish what is you, and what is your reflection? Never mind getting out… you’re stuck, stymied, for a while.

This is the trick many of us face in the divorce and custody industry. We walk in thinking things will be rational, justice will prevail, the truth will come out and we will triumph, yada yada. But nothing turns out as it seems. You turn in a required document, and something’s not right. You issue a protective order, and it doesn’t work. Many of these efforts and ploys against you constitute “divorce gamesmanship” moves in which you’re falling through one rotten board after another. When you manage to struggle out, the other side has had the opportunity to make several moves, to best you in the race to justice. It’s tough, if not impossible, to catch up–never mind getting AHEAD.

This is the sideshow compared to what goes on in the big tent.

So let’s continue this analogy of the court system and divorce industry as a fair, or a circus, because that is what it is. Scary clowns and all. You have the  sideshow, involving your own personal situation when your spouse decides to pit him or herself against you and enjoins his or her lawyer to do the same (this is home-style “divorce gamesmanship” as I explain in my book).  You and your attorney (if she’s any good) fight back to deflect it, and often lose.

Finally, if an attempt to mediate, to settle out of court, fails, it’s time to saunter over to the awe-inspiring Big Tent. A magician wows the crowd with his astonishing tricks. You weren’t born yesterday. You know it’s all about sleight of hand. So you know he’s doing something important while he distracts you to the hand that is not, but is entertaining. You fall for it. You follow the feather or the flower or whatever interesting object deflects your eye. Then presto, he’s accomplished the unimaginable.

It looks like magic, but you know it’s trickery. Thing is, he’s so good at it, it doesn’t matter that you know he was up to something. You still don’t know what… but it’s something, and it’s intentional, naturally.

We suspect the officiants don’t understand how these civilian charlatans are manipulating the system and getting away with it. They don’t understand narcissism; they don’t understand why an obviously deadbeat dad from his two previous relationships shouldn’t have custody of the kids. We’ve got to educate them, right?

All right, so back to the family court system and how it works, from the hiring of attorneys to sometimes vague attempts at settlement to the big leagues of a court trial. We in this realm are trying to achieve the end goal–uh, just things like getting back kidnapped children from abusive exes and even grandparents. We do what we know, the darned best we can, to figure out what is happening. We form alliances and organizations; we study laws and how they’re applied; we write books; we draft and redraft laws that should serve the abused better and keep them safe. We question if the system understands what these “courtroom winners”, often abusers, are actually doing. We suspect the officiants don’t understand how these civilian charlatans are manipulating the system and getting away with it. They don’t understand narcissism; they don’t understand why a deadbeat dad from his two previous relationships shouldn’t have custody of the kids. We’ve got to educate them, right?

This logical, intelligent personality fits women like Robin Karr and Holly Collins, who resolutely sought justice. The petitioner, the outsider whose existence relies on the legal system to work properly and for good– can only follow the rules. Court issues you requirements which you are to meet. OK, you take them and strive to meet them. Say you’re to obtain a psychological evaluation and return it. The court-ordered psych doesn’t meet the deadline. Presto, you’re in contempt–EVEN WHEN THE PSYCH WAS HIRED BY THE COURT. It seems not to matter. Collusion? Set-up? Divine predestination? You tell me.

Lots of wise people are trying to figure out what is happening for these magicians to make our children disappear with a flourish and one command–Ah, but they’re too quick.

Can I get all Ira Levin and postulate: What if it all doesn’t add up to a heap of peanut shells why these things are happening, really? All the research and analysis are valuable–they will be necessary, golden, when it comes time to create genuine reform. However. Smart and dedicated parents question why we can’t  just go to a more fair system, issue more joint custody in the truest sense, monitor the situation and follow through after the final divorce decree. Weed out the incompetent parents. They’re freakin’ obvious, aren’t they? Realize how the bad parents are playing them and the system. Parents still filing through the system try to follow the rules–they cite disorders, they explain children’s schedules and needs. If you read my book, you’ll be shocked and dismayed at how little all this seems to matter to a lot of judges.

Lots of wise people are trying to figure out what is happening for these magicians to make our children disappear with a flourish and one command–Ah, but they’re too quick. They are so many steps ahead of us that it’s pointless to understand. We’re just left wondering.

What if when we were looking at the obvious object all along, doing the right thing, following the right mark, we were actually cleverly diverted from what was really happening? What if: People don’t play the system? The system plays us?

Broken court system? Folks, I don’t think anything so elaborately  staged to trip up an endless parade of good parents and citizens and set them up to fail,  could be “broken.” It takes slick savvy and plenty of flashy, high-dollar corruption to create this kind of carnival, people.

PTSD Nation

I just read with interest this excellent blog post by the Coalition Against Legal Abuse in New York on how the family court system not only creates but exacerbates PTSD–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Oddly, I’d just drafted a blog post on PTSD stemming from just this legal abuse. I also devote a portion of my book to exploring the causes and effects of PTSD.

However, this on-target post made me rethink how society frames divorce and custody battles. They’re like wars–some casualties, some injuries, some reformation of families, and certainly plenty of money lost. But we have a tendency to view them as over, when they’re, er, over. And they’re not. They’re never “over.” The bitter, often violent battles that take place in increasingly gamesmanship-oriented courtrooms  often, if not usually, haunt the civilian soldiers forever.

See, we civilians are not trained for combat. Increasingly, I’m beginning to see that the battle isn’t even between the two opposing sides of the divorce. The battle is between the divorcing parties and the system itself. We’re in unfamiliar territory, far from familiar turf, where we don’t know the customs, we don’t know the rules. We barely speak the language–lawyers sometimes aren’t very good interpreters. Sometimes they deliberately keep us in the dark, negotiating peace policies that are way over our heads. Some negotiations end up in our favor; others don’t. It seems lately that often as not, we’re going to lose. This may be because people who contact me tend to be in the worst legal predicaments–but their numbers are staggering.

(Sometimes we get supremely lucky, and both sides win in a fair trial or mediation. I never want to lose the light of hope I have for this because my case did end up fairly. To be sure, it was fraught with more than enough nasty gamesmanship to make a book that shocks some people. In my book, I try to show readers how much of this gamesmanship operates, so they can avoid it better than I did, or at least better clear the land mines. Victory is possible.)

We’re in unfamiliar territory, far from familiar turf, where we don’t know the customs, we don’t know the rules. We barely speak the language–lawyers sometimes aren’t very good interpreters.

But back to PTSD, one of the “spoils” of war. Recently, a woman who’d been abused by the system, whom I didn’t know personally,  seemed to take it beyond personally that I chose not to be a part of her upstart organization. She had good ideas, but I’m a seasoned lone-wolf reporter type. I love working with people,  but I don’t enjoy being forced into a bureaucratic order and told what to do. (That’s why some newsrooms seem like paid prison to staff writers. Maybe that’s why I usually got shipped off to help head a bureau.) Anyway, this group seemed to be heading this way, so I asked several times to be removed from their mailing list.

Well, these people wouldn’t let me. Finally, I was forced to put the hammer down. A cohort of the woman began electronically attacking me as if I’d done something particularly vicious and cruel. Think back on battle vets who can immediately be tripped off into where they were when the PTSD set in. I spent a few days feeling angry and icky from this tete-a-tete, which I do not like to have–they make everyone feel bad. Looking back, I realize she did want me to feel bad. As miserable as possible. But after my indignant reaction went away I realized she didn’t want me to feel bad; she doesn’t even know me. She was, once again, lashing out at a major person in her life who wouldn’t cooperate, who wouldn’t listen to reason, who refused to join.

In the battle of the court system, losses are everything–just like in a war. Many people who lose custody in court–and especially those who lose their children forever–have lost everything. They’d probably rather die on the front cradling their children than stay alive and watch them disappear into brutal arms, POW’s of the opposing army. I’m serious. No melodrama.

So to liken broke parents to soldiers? It’s no stretch. It’s just the same. They’ve seen carnage; they’ve seen death (in the form of relationships); they’ve seen messes created by the people who sent them into battle, who used them as pawns for economic or political gain. Then they’re sent home in their damaged state, where they may be treated like dirt by people who used to be considered friends, all because they fought in the war and especially if they came out on the losing end. Some feel like pariahs forever, isolated because comparably few know they have company, people who’ve been through the same experience. I know this feeling. We are bewildered by it all, and have trouble finding camaraderie. We’re relieved when we find a little understanding, a little empathy. A wonderful thing about people shining light on this subject is, people are beginning to find each other and take heart that it wasn’t just them–and their outcome often was not because of them or something they did or didn’t do.

Fighting a custody battle is a lonely business. Friends fade away;  returning veterans are crazy with anxiety and fear, just fighting for the survival of their children, and for the mere opportunities to be parents. They usually don’t care much for themselves at this point.

So they stagger home, sometimes as cripples with limbs amputated and in agony from phantom pains.

No one rallies for them at their homecoming parade. Few give them credit for having gone into battle and fighting a good fight. No one calls them heroes, despite valiant fights with everything they had. No one goes to the parade. It’s nothing special.

The Devil’s Advocate

“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

We’re paring down a recent post to get straight to what everyone wants to know lately: “How are abusers winning custody of their children and being outrageously successful barring the concerned parents out of their children’s lives forever, without any recourse? Isn’t this a sort of kidnapping?”

Yes.  Robin Karr will show you how.

Matthew and Laura with outfits

Matthew and Laura Duckworth at one of the few supervised visitations their mother Robin Karr had with them. They’re holding up outfits they wore in the last formal photographs Robin has.

These photos appeared in this kidnapping flyer for Judge Sue Pirtle, who was soon voted out of office. However, the damage was done to these children, who never saw their mother again.

Judge Pirtle Wanted for Kidnapping

PART ONE: In which embattled mother Robin Karr goes undercover as a man named “Chris” to get information about what a Texas Fathers’ Rights organization is doing to keep her from her children. She knows her abusive, increasingly threatening ex is heavily supported and guided by this group. It is 2002 and she is still trying to get her children back.

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 (“RC”) 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.)

RC:

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?
Thanks.
Chris

FRG:

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”.]  

FRG:

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 Countyyou 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 ]

FRG:

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.

FRG:

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.]

RC:

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

FRG: 

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.]

FRG:

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.”

Part 2: Click here!

To read the original, full post click here

Someone Is Hurting Our Babies

Someone is hurting our babies? We are at the scene five minutes ago. We are IN THE CAR without shoes or purse heading to the preschool. We’ll homeschool forever if we have to. At the daycare? Our children are out of there. We’ll find a way to work at home. We are rushing home from a pleasant dinner to the nanny or the babysitter or the in-law after seeing something through our Teddycam that doesn’t seem quite right. Our kid says a friend’s mother yelled at him and blamed him for something he didn’t do? We are on that phone.

Someone is hurting our babies? Are you kidding us? Hell will not be half enough to pay. Whether someone laid a hand on them, yelled at them, neglected them, whether a mean kid bullied our babies on the bus, or a teacher belittled a project they worked so hard on.

We will do anything, anything, to protect our babies. Put us in jail for all we care. We’ll study for advanced degrees and when we get out, we’ll use the proper machinery to properly kick these people’s sorry butts all the way out of town, no the state, promptly upon release. No, wait, scratch that, we can’t trust anyone to take care of our babies. We’ll have to do this peacefully.

A woman in New York state sent me this video yesterday. A car could not help get Nikki to the place where someone was hurting her baby. Nor phone calls–nor e-mails–nor repeated pleas to the courts.

“My baby Sal was taken away from me at 3 years old because I reported abuse,” Nikki told me. “After he was taken away from me I saw him one hour a week at CPS location. My son came into CPS location with the injuries you see on the video and more. This is terrible what is happening to the women in this country. I don’t know it’s happening but there’s so many of us and it’s the same story.”

I can tell you this, she is right. This is not an occasional misstep, an unfortunate crack this baby has fallen into. I am not exaggerating to say it’s epidemic. It’s just that after all the pleas to a system that might as well be deaf, these mothers’ voices are so hoarse and their bodies so weary from trying to save their babies, they feel isolated, defeated and alone. So their burgeoning numbers are hard to see.

“CPS is not admitting that they made a mistake taking my son away from me and giving him to his father,” Nikki says. “My son told Police and CPS workers (repeatedly) where he got these injuries. CPS did not listen to my son.”

What is wrong with these people that they can’t stop this derriere-covering and reverse this and return this baby to the safety of his mother’s arms?? Are they afraid? Underpaid? Paid off? Cold and indifferent? Apathetic because they see this all too often and in all their forms and red tape, “There is nothing they can do?”

Really? There is nothing they can do? Do you see these babies, people? Someone is hurting them!

Laura with head injury
Robin Karr’s baby Laura as she appeared for a supervised visitation. Robin’s deep concern did not affect the court-ordered robot who dismissively and indifferently returned the baby to the place of abuse the moment time was up.

We who have the grace to have our children in our lives know what it’s like when hopping in the car or making that phone call, when 10 minutes ago wouldn’t be soon enough.

Can you imagine how these mothers feel when our great court system and its layers and layers of shadowy bureaucracy give them short shrift and behave as if they are a tiresome waste of time? To be told time and time again that there’s nothing they can do?

These are our babies, NOT case numbers. Not clients. Not chattel, not chump change. And someone is hurting them!

Of Rights and Men: A Fireside Chat with Fathers’ Rights Part 1

“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.)

RC:

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?
Thanks.
Chris

FRG:

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”.]  

FRG:

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 Countyyou 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 ]

FRG:

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.

FRG:

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.]

RC:

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

FRG: 

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.]

FRG:

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.”

Part 2: Click here!

(A shortened version of this post can be found here)