Something Is Rotten in the State of Texas

Robin Karr with her two younger children Credit: Robin Karr

Just a couple of days ago, as I continued to follow the outrageously lopsided Deion and Pilar Sanders child custody case, I said aloud that if I heard about one more instance of legal bullying and abuse against women by the state of Texas, I would scream.

And lo, just this morning I received an achingly plaintive e-mail in response to my blog last week musing if we’re headed toward becoming a nation of motherless children. This e-mail made me feel a bit guilty for thinking I had a reason to scream just because of another news report, when Robin Karr’s life since her two youngest children were literally ripped from her arms in a Texas courtroom, has been one endless, soul-searing howl.

“My two youngest children were taken from me before turning 1 and 2 via their abusive father and a corrupt family court judge in Texas,” Robin wrote. “My children never came home. I do not know them.”

Never came home? She doesn’t know them? I was stunned. How could this be? I read on.  “I was only permitted five supervised visits over the years and none since 2004. My children have been denied their birthright – the right to know and be loved by their own mother. I was arrested at one point for breaking down in court and crying when I was told I could no longer see my children even supervised.”

Although I covered crime and legal issues for years, I never heard a court of law inflict such cruelty. Aside from denying Robin her right to exist as a mother, what utter lack of empathy and basic humanity would prompt a judge to order an agonizing mother to jail for exhibiting her pain? This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if we live in a country that sadistically punishes mothers with the emotional equivalent of stoning: taking away their children and severing their relationships so that some are truly gone forever. I know stoning and misogynistic custody rulings are not the same thing. But most mothers will make the connection.

Moreover, people like Robin Karr have experienced a lack of any recourse whatsoever. Once that door closes, in some cases, the mother can break her fists beating on that door for years and years, but it is sealed shut, never to be opened again. A mother asks for an appeal, and there is no one to hear her,  nowhere to go. In Robin’s case, the very people who should have been helping her, instead betrayed her and propagated the cruelty.

Here is a recent, tremendously powerful series of news stories on Karr’s case, by a Canadian reporter. Pay close attention to Story 2, and what happened when Karr approached a Texas fathers’ rights organization.

  1. A Mother Claims That Corruption in Family Courts Ruined her Life
  2. A Mother’s Battle with Parental Alienation: 15 Years Later
  3. Corruption in Family Court Doesn’t Stop with a Judge or a Lawyer
  4. Robin Karr: A Great Story of Courage and Survival

I’m glad another reporter documented this story so we can start asking questions NOW and demanding answers. Instead of just monitoring news reports—and as a journalist, I’m as guilty of following news on a fact-by-fact, non-emotional level as anyone–I would ask everyone to put real thought into what’s actually happening. What horror would you feel if this happened to you? If you don’t have children, imagine a loved one, or perhaps a beloved pet, ripped suddenly and without reason from your arms by a system run by real people that not only don’t care, but appear to thrive on your financial losses and broken spirit?

I mention Pilar Sanders a great deal because she’s in the news daily, and her exact situation is described vividly in my book, Hanging On By My Fingernails: Surviving the New Divorce Gamesmanship, and How a Scratch Can Land You in Jail. Last summer when the Sanders divorce games started, I and a primary book contributor, Atlanta  family lawyer Randy Kessler were leaping out of our seats trying to get people to listen because we knew exactly what was happening.

I’m still trying to understand how it was legally possible for a judge to overturn a jury verdict granting Pilar joint custody of her daughter—would someone please tell me?—but one thing clearly visible is the backlash she has gotten, all the names and seemingly baseless accusations being hurled at her. Human nature often has us rooting for a side, a certain team. What team has more allure and glamor than Team Deion Sanders?

Please read carefully these stories about divorce and custody cases. See for yourself how the “winners” in these cases might not only have taken children away from their mother, but how the winners gloat and revel in it. Look at the system that enables—heck, encourages—it. Stop throwing stones at the mother. Stop automatically rooting for the winning “team.” LOOK. The real situation is in full sight–it’s just hard to see it because of those shiny-armored persons who deflect the truth. And, unfortunately, they’re armed by none other than states like Texas.

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