The above noted case has been brought to the attention of the Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts (FCVFC), The focus of the work of the FCVFC is to address issues related to the Constitutionally protected Civil Rights of vulnerable children and Protective Parents when children are threatened with transfers into the hands of abusers. Our engagement is triggered where threats are credible, substantial and require intervention and, where necessary, judicial oversight.
As to the case brought to our attention, we suggest, based on extensive document review on this case and material related to Judge H. O’Kane, as to extensive complaints against her, all of a disturbingly similar serious nature, that the child in question is in imminent harm, has been harmed as a direct consequence of the actions of Judge H O’Kane and that greater harm will come to the child, if this court does not immediately take corrective action.
RELEVANT PERSONAL CASE HISTORY
Respondent mother and Petitioner father were never married. Subject child’s mother is an Iraq war Veteran. She and her husband were Not Stationed together at Fort Bragg, NC only she was but went to Iraq at the same time. She was engaged in active military duty, in an infantry unit, 82nd Airborne division 3rd brigade. She was deployed to Iraq in 2006, along with her late husband who suffered fatal injuries following an IED explosion. She was honorably discharged from the military as of April 2007.
The relationship, as described by respondent, with Petitioner/ father, first a platonic friend began in 2012. She unexpectedly became pregnant, father is stated to have not wanted the child and planned to move to California.
The relationship was casual and distant until the child was born by Caesarian section and Respondent needed help in recovery. The early relationship is said to have been tumultuous. The child was born June 25, 2013.
Considerable domestic violence as noted in multiple police reports was generated by mother. DCF (Orange County) complaints were filed against mother for child abuse, by Petitioner father. DCF found complaints filed by Petitioner, father against mother unsubstantiated. Attempts to file complaints against the Father through CPS (Seminole County) were repeatedly dismissed. Respondent mother describes child’s paternal grandmother as a substance abuser and involved in a violent and sexually provocative behavior with Petitioner.
Respondent mother states that Petitioner suffers from mental illness, is a substance abuser,( both alcohol and polypharmacy). He is described by Respondent as alternately depressed, with episodes of violence, depression and withdrawal. Respondent states that Petitioner is part of the “Wounded Warrior” Veterans organization and suffers from war related trauma, as well as other pre-existing issues.
CURRENT CASE STATUS
This matter was brought to the court as per an Emergency Ex Parte Motion to Suspend Time sharing filed Sept. 24, 2018 and then supplemented with a Verified Motion Sept. 27, 2018. The Court heard testimony from the child’s therapist for a period of more than six hours on Jan. 22, 2019. A Guardian Ad Litem was appointed to determine whether the therapist/patient privilege should be should be waived. The GAL approved the waiver, the therapist provided detailed, descriptive behavior and clear statements from the child as to behavior that took place on multiple occasions.
The transcript dated Jan. 22, 2019, along with written Affidavits from neutral witnesses and school teachers is compelling. What is most compelling and a driving factor is the behavior of the child and the consequences to the child as per impact on her thoughts, feelings and functioning. The behaviors, functioning, altered self perception of the child can be said with a reasonable degree of common sense certainty, to have been induced directly from the experiences to which the child was subject, at the hands of her father. Clinical evaluation and treatment confirms the ongoing progression of reporting and worsening symptomatology.
The child states in clear, unmistakable terms, a series of interactions that range from sexual assault upon her body *1(refer to transcript of Jan. 22, 2019 – pg.,43 line 01 – 18, vagina touching pg 87 1 -3 finger in her anus) (*2 pg. 45 lines 5 -8) to inappropriate physical contact with child (*3 pg. 53 lines 7 – 13) and to exposure to physical assault upon an adult by the child told to grab therapist’s” boobs” (*4 refer to pg. 68 lines 18 -20*) . Further, the intent of the alleged physical assault of a sexual nature, on another adult, (maternal grandmother) by the father is alleged, as stated by the child. The child is alleged to have been told by her father to enact the same physical assault upon her therapist. The child is related to have assaulted the therapist, in her office, in the manner, directed by her father, 5*refer to pg. 69 Lines 4 -6 )Further, aberrant behavior is described by school teachers Exhibit #1 – Trinity Christian School ). The behavior described is masturbatory in nature, obsessive and described by the child as attempting to soothe uncomfortable sensations *7(pg. 69 lines 6 – 20)
We do not have a child before us, at this point, with blood and semen dripping from vaginal or anal cavities, the type of vile intrusions on a body that tend to engage CPS and Police investigations. From the standpoint of mental health, professionals the behavioral and emotional concomitant evidence that points to custodial abuse and interference in the emotional and social development of a vulnerable child are clearly present as symptoms of physical, sexual assault. The child states without hesitation that the perpetrator of such acts is the father. The Forensic Report from the Seminole Child Protection Team, Kid House of Seminole, Inc. . substantiates the child’s claims *8(Exhibit – Report Attached).*
This child has been subject to physical intrusions articulated to the best of her ability. She has expressed, to the best of her ability, her distress. This child has not been protected from such intrusions and as such has been given the message by adults that she must comply with her father’s directions. Under any circumstances, at five years old, at this time, she has little other choice, and as such, she complied with behavior that constituted “inappropriate” behavior, as described by her therapist (*9 pg. 76 lines 20 – 21)* . The child unwittingly engaged in behavior for which she was then subject to disapproval and criticism, told that the behavior was “inappropriate” and that she needed to observe ‘boundaries” and personal space” . She was subject to humiliation, criticism and rebuke all because of following the direction of her father. Further, she was subject to criticism and rebuke for, essentially masturbating in public, in her class, again, as a result of behavior visited upon her by her father, behavior she could neither understand, nor stop. Behavior that was inappropriate, but engaged in spontaneously, such her clothes to show her underpants were naively, spontaneously displayed. *3 Exhibit Attached The interaction with her PE teacher at school, clearly illustrates her complete lack of awareness of the nature of such behavior, encouraged as per the father’s interactions with her. Teacher’s (*4 – Exhibit Attached PE Incident Report). The child is being given conflicting information as to right and wrong. She has no capacity, at age five, to distinguish, to engage, or refrain from behaviors in one arena that will bring criticism and another that will bring attention.
Of further grave and profound concern is that the child has been placed in the position of having to alter her perception of herself not as a baby but as a teen.*11 She is five years old. She is little more than a baby – she is little more than a toddler. She is not a teenager, she is not a latency age child, she is not a pre teen age child. She is supposed to be in that range of life called the “ Magic Years” of burgeoning intellectual curiosity and interpersonal, emotional growth . She has been compelled and propelled into a state of having to see herself a “strong” and able girl,to take care of herself”. She is Now, five years old, experiencing anger, depression, cognitive interruptions, speech challenges, despite being described as being a bright, inquisitive, thoughtful child.
The therapeutic interventions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy commented upon in the Court Transcript of Jan. 22, 2019 suggest an attempt suggest that the child learn to deal with the emotional consequence of the prospect ongoing abuse by “re orienting”, redirecting thoughts and attention away from ongoing trauma because the court is not taking action to remove the danger to the child by seeking a cessation of visite. This type of suggestion is not only illogical, unreasonable, counterintuitive and inconsistent with common sense, it is also severely destructive to developing judgment, assessment skills and the ability to protect one’s self from interpersonal danger. The consequences of such inappropriate advice, denial of the reality of abuse and maltreatment leads in a direction leading to seriously destructive long term consequences. This concern is echoed in the Kids House of Seminole County Forensic Report, ignored by CPS.
Psychological maltreatment, or abuse as defined by law and relevant case law as “mental injury” which derives from conscious or unconscious verbal direction or behaviors on the part of a parent that results in behavioral and functional impairment of the child in that parent’s care (reference* McClanahan v. Washington County Dept. of SS No. 79, Sept. Term 445MD.691(2015) ) There is more than adequate evidence of mental injury and distress to the child .
The Respondent mother and the child’s therapist have made numerous good faith efforts to engage the assistance of law enforcement and Child Protective Services, only to be repeatedly rejected by both authorities,
* Exhibit 4 – Nov. 26, 2018 Statement of Complaint Against CPS by Attorney Englert – “lost evidence” and evidence of “lies to the GAL by CPS staff).
In any reference to such agencies as CPS the courts should be cognizant of the fact that child protective services emerged as public policy initiative in recent history (1977) and emerged out of legislation that created animal protection. The level of tolerated abuse and neglect of children as per CPS policy and directive is far below a standard consistent with known scientific practice of mental health standards for child development and Best Interests. This case is a poster child for the multiple inadequacies and incompetence of CPS and law enforcement to properly intervene to protect children. It must be noted that CPS specifically ignored the Forensic Report From Kids House that substantiated abuse.
COMPLAINT AGAINST JULIE H O’KANE
Judge Julie H O’Kane has been overseeing this case since September 2018. She is aware of the fact that Petitioner father has substantiated Domestic Violence criminal charges placed against him for DV abuse. She is aware of the Kids House Forensic Report which Substantiates Sexual Abuse and warns of increased risk factors to the child as to future victimization risk. Allegations of substance abuse have been lodged and yet it appears that no psychological evaluation or treatment engagement / review process was ever initiated at any time. Allegations of abuse were allowed to float. The child was in therapy, at age four + but the accused abuser and the mother with whom he resides appears to have avoided any scrutiny, much less therapeutic intervention or batterer intervention controls.
Any authority on Domestic Violence understands that “treatment” in the proverbial methodology has no impact on abuser. The means of successful intervention involves monitoring and supervision. There is no oversight for an individual who has a history of documented offenses and whose current reporte bad acts are being ignore, overlooked, minimized, denied, by judge O’Kane and this individual has now located a more vulnerable and helpless victim.
As of the Jan. 22, 2019 Judge O’kane appears to have continued visitation despite intermittent reports that should have raised concerns, such as a, four / five year old girl child sleeping in the bed of her father who has a mental health challenges, preceding military service and substance abuse challenges origins of which are not addressed. Questions as to the nature of his bed clothing seem to be assiduously ignored, but the presence of pajamas on the child is repeated.
Judge O’Kane’s negligence and apparent indifference to issues that should have at the onset raised concerns and are relatively easily, normally, routinely addressed, appear to have been ignored. Reviewing the record, when mental health issues were addressed in a Motion to the court, Judge O’Kane objected to form, but avoided attention to substance. In whatever form Respondent’s attorney addressed matters, it appeared that there was an arbitrary complaint. Routine Motions were admonished for being routine, instead of addressed as an emergency.
Judge O’Kane created an acute emergency for Respondent and child which has necessitated Judge Julie O’Kane’s removal from the case as her actions have created an environment under which the litigant cannot experience assurance of receiving a fair trial. Respondent is clear that Judge O’Kane is biased and hostile toward her and her child.
Judge O’Kane has ignored Material Facts from Experts and from highly credible witnesses and also ignored videos from Kids House and mother given to her. She has ignored the words of the child and corroborating behavioral evidence of the child’s distress and trauma related to the events to which the child was subject. The findings of substantial mental injury to a child was ignored, placing the child in imminent danger of increasing harm.
Judge O’Kane placed Petitioner in a position of potentially involving himself in increasingly greater and more serious acts of harm related to mental illness challenges. Petitioner’s frenzied pursuit of the child in the face or Respondent’s denial of access based on Material Facts and Mitigating Circumstances, suggests an alarming obsessive preoccupation with the child and an oppositional defiant stance with regard to expression of reasonable concerns expressed by the child’s mother and complaints against Petitioner by the child.
The suggestion that Judge O’Kane has abused discretion, blocked equal access to the court and displayed a lack of Judicial temperament is apparent. Judge O’Kane reacted with intense animus to the Respondent who filed public criticisms of her. Her rulings have been peripatetic, delaying action and then filing a series of malicious, malevolent actions which place the life of mother and child in extreme jeopardy, ( Exhibit – Motions filed in rapid succession…*.16) Judge O’Kane should have recused herself when she had the opportunity to do so, as opposed to then maliciously, spitefully and with full conscious knowledge of the consequences of her acts filing the series of Orders filed. Most recently, granting full overnight, unsupervised visits with the child. The presence of Petitioner’s mother, described as an equally problematic subject, cannot be viewed as a proper child supervisor.
Comment as to Judicial temperament need not be elaborated at this point. The fact that a litigant has made a complaint against a judge for not concurring with their wishes is a routine event in judicial practice and does not require a judge to grant a litigant’s recusal Motion. However, following the intensity and urgency of matters that only this judge can address, the consequences to the actions of this failure of fiduciary responsibility, some leeway might be granted for a parent in reasonable distress and understand the First Amendment Right of Free Speech to express outrage. Judge O’Kane took the opportunity to retaliate against the litigant, who is quite literally, fighting for the life of her five year old, who is already experiencing rage, depression and unprepared for sexual stimulation that her body can no more accommodate than her five year old mind.
We strongly suggest that Judge Julie O’Kane be removed from this case immediately, as per Recusal Motion and Complaint to the Chief Judge. We suggest that Judge O’Kane has acted with personal animus, retaliation and displayed evidence of a depraved character, indifferent to suffering. Given the clear presence of such traits, this individual is a danger to the public welfare as she is able to inflict harm and damage at will.
Judge O’Kane is protected by judicial immunity, free of being held accountable for her judicial mistakes via litigation or even criminal complaint. Judge O’Kane will become the poster child for why and how judicial immunity needs to be further modified.
Complaints against Judge O’Kane will be filed with every authority that monitors her law license and judicial practice. We strongly request and recommend that Judge Julie H O’Kane be immediately removed from this case and her orders governing this case stricken from the record.
Jill Jones Soderman