California Family Courts Helping Pedophiles, Batterers Get Child Custody
By Peter Jamison Wednesday, Mar 2 2011
….advocates of reform say a few widespread problems lead to poor court decisions, such as inadequate procedures for investigating abuse; the use of controversial and potentially dangerous psychological theories about child welfare; and a prejudice toward joint parental custody, even when one parent is clearly violent. Compounding these issues, critics say, is a lack of accountability for judges, attorneys, custody evaluators, and other court personnel, who enjoy immunity from lawsuits even in cases where they make decisions that do obvious harm to children and parents.
“The family court system is supposed to work in the best interests of the child, but very infrequently does that happen,” says Susan Wilde, a Berkeley psychologist and expert on child abuse intervention. “Families find themselves in the grip of a system that has no responsibility to them or to the children, that just kind of runs amok.”….
PAS was coined by Richard Gardner, a child psychiatrist affiliated with Columbia University, to describe what he believed was a form of brainwashing that took place in the context of divorce proceedings. According to Gardner, the condition arises when a parent — usually, but not always, the mother — “programs” a child to hold delusions of sexual abuse by the father. Armed with this theory, Gardner hired himself out as an expert witness in family courts across the country, appearing on behalf of men seeking to discredit sex-abuse allegations.
Yet many questioned the scientific basis of his work. Gardner’s research consisted for the most part on his personal observations as a clinician, rather than systematic, peer-reviewed studies. PAS has never been accepted into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatrist’s bible of known conditions. The syndrome has also been denounced by professional groups including the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, which view it as a ploy for obscuring a court’s inquiries into allegations of child abuse.
“Alienation is being used in almost every case where a child is taken from a safe parent and placed with a dangerous parent,” says Kathleen Russell, executive director of the Mill Valley–based Center for Judicial Excellence, a family-court reform group. “It’s a legal tactic.”
Gardner’s ideas are also controversial in light of provocative statements he made criticizing society’s condemnation of pedophiles, and seeking to portray adult-child sexual contact as normal. “Pedophilia has been considered the norm by the vast majority of individuals in the history of the world,” he wrote in the 1992 book True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. In the same book, he suggested wives of pedophiles masturbate in order to increase their own sex appeal, reasoning that “increased sexuality may lessen the need for her husband to return to their daughter for sexual gratification.”
CA Family Courts Helping Pedophiles Get Child Custody
By James R. Marsh on March 2, 2011
According to this article in SF Weekly,
Looking out for the children who find themselves in the middle of bitter divorces is the most important function of the state’s family courts, and arguably one of the most significant duties of the judiciary as a whole. Yet evidence has mounted in recent years that it is a responsibility in which family court officials are sometimes failing dramatically.
Interviews with dozens of parents, activists, lawyers, judges, children, and former family court employees, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of family and criminal court documents, indicate that the system’s methods for assessing whether child sexual abuse or spousal battery has taken place — findings that are critical to deciding whether a parent should retain custody of or visitation rights with a child — fall short of the standards accepted by domestic-violence experts and the criminal-justice community.