The Kafkaesque Family Court, Part 3

by Dr. Bandy X Lee
originally published on Medium, republished by permission
Continued from Part 2 of ‘The Kafkaesque Family Court’

4. Order a Psychiatric Evaluation

Now that “parental alienation” has been alleged, the children taken, and the court records “sealed”, ordering a psychiatric evaluation is the fourth step in the Family Court formula for a total custody switch. Everywhere women say that they accepted the requirement of a psychiatric evaluation, “because it was supposed to be just a formality”; “because I knew I never had any problems”; and “because they insisted on it so much, I thought I would get it over with.” Yet, the “psychiatric evaluation” — seldom performed by a psychiatrist — would almost universally seal their fate of permanent separation from their children. Since they were often the children’s primary caregiver, this separation would be the equivalent of a “life sentence” for the children (since the trauma they suffer translates into a lifetime of inner torture) and a “death sentence” for the mothers, occasionally fathers (their children being lost to them, as if they were dead, is a fate worse than death for a loving parent — and a shocking number actually die). I realized that there was a reason I never had a Family Court case in my twenty-five years of working as an expert witness for the courts; Family Courts do not use the same experts as the other courts but have their own “pool” they like to draw from. This “pool” consists of some of the most poorly-trained, unqualified, and unscrupulous “professionals” I have encountered in my career, charging as much as five to twenty times my fees, while sometimes holding only a master’s degree in an unrelated field, and producing the kind of reports I could never have imagined…. Yet I, who have received only deference in all other courts for having the highest-level training from the best institutions in the country, Family Courts look for every excuse to “disqualify” — if they even allow me to get to the point of being vetted, which is seldom….

In this case, the guardian ad litem was charged with finding a psychiatrist, but the first psychiatrist she chose — who is accused of charging exorbitantly for questionable evaluations — recused himself, no doubt in fear of my easily finding him out, being in the same field as he. Then, for the next nineteen months the guardian ad litem could not find a single “qualified” psychiatrist, in a state that has almost a thousand licensed psychiatrists! (not only that, for court consultations, an expert can be from any state in the union). At one point the guardian ad litem tried to say she had a psychiatrist, but to prevent another recusal, the mother had to be blindfolded and escorted by chaperone to a third, clandestine location, to be evaluated by an unknown “psychiatrist”, whose identity and credentials she or her lawyer could never know, even after the report was complete — in other words, there would be no way of knowing if this “psychiatrist” were indeed a psychiatrist and not some random person off the street! After nineteen months, the best the guardian ad litem could come up with was the name of a highly derisory psychiatrist who spewed verbal obscenities on the Montel Williams Show, the Joan Rivers Show, the Sally Jessy Raphael Show, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and the Maury Povich Show, to name only a few, such that one would wonder when he actually had the time to practice psychiatry! Indeed, when an actual court testimony surfaced on the Internet, his incompetence was demonstrated by the examiner who had to redirect him, because he confused the victim with the murderer he evaluated! This questionable psychiatrist charged a 20,000-dollar retainer, which, for a litigant also suffering from financial abuse by her spouse, was unaffordable (for comparison, I usually charge 5000 dollars).

During this long delay, the mother on her own consulted nine psychiatrists and doctorate psychologists, all of whom unequivocally confirmed her sound mental health — but none of whom the Family Court would appoint and all of whom Nissirios, without any mental health background herself, refused even to consider. A sampling of the evaluations follows. Dr. Michael Stone of Columbia University, world-renowned for his expertise on personality disorders, reported that Patricia has “excellent mental health” and “exceptional talent” for parenting. Dr. Ida Jeltova, private practitioner in her resident state, confirmed that Patricia did not have any mental health concerns. Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum of Columbia University, a nationally-renowned child psychiatrist, confirmed Patricia’s “excellent parenting skills.” Dr. George Drinka of the University of Oregon, a seasoned forensic child psychiatrist, documented “alarm” at the “invariably highly detrimental” separation of the children from Patricia. Dr. Stephanie Brandt of Cornell University, a seasoned forensic adult and child psychiatrist, corroborated Patricia’s “robust” psychological development and “natural talent” for parenting. Dr. Barry Roth, a forensic psychiatrist consultant to the U.S. Supreme Court and the International Criminal Court, as well as coauthor of the United Nations protocol for documenting torture, concluded that Patricia had “strong” mental health but nevertheless with her children was suffering torture from Alan’s abuse with the help of state actors. Dr. Cynthia Lischick, president of the state chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and a forensic psychologist, wrote a 96-page report on Patricia’s fitness as a parent, warning that Alan posed a risk for “tangential spouse abuse” through the children. Others were more direct regarding Alan: after performing numerous collateral interviews, Dr. Stone, one of the world’s top authorities on psychopathy, diagnosed Alan with full-blown psychopathy and warned that he posed a danger to the children. Dr. Roth, a psychiatrist instructor at Harvard Law School, confirmed the diagnosis of psychopathy and Alan’s dangerousness to the children. Dr. Michele Heisler, medical director of Physicians for Human Rights, peer-reviewed and confirmed the diagnosis of psychopathy and Alan’s “physical and psychological abuse” of the children. Even Dr. Karen Wu, a Family Court-protected pediatrician, initially admitted that the children were being abused and recommended a psychiatrist — even though later retracted her conclusions upon intervention (and possible intimidation) by Alan and Nissirios.

The guardian ad litem negated all these reports by highly-credentialed and qualified psychiatrists and doctorate psychologists, in favor of a singular “assessment” that opposed their complete consensus: that of an unlicensed “associate counselor” who negated the father’s diagnosis, which she was not even remotely qualified to understand, let alone nullify. This was particularly consequential, since the father’s diagnosis, psychopathy, is one of the most debilitating, dangerous, and untreatable disorders known to psychiatry, marked by a lack of conscience and a drive to harm living beings, including one’s children. Known as a “mask of sanity,” the stark contrast between public persona and hidden destructiveness has made it a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” syndrome. Instead of holding criminal personalities accountable on the basis of fact finding and not just superficial impressions, as courts of law are supposed to do, Family Courts actually incentivize, reward, rely on, and exploit dangerous predators’ skillful deceptions regarding their criminality and violence: they have a mutual interest in covering up damning evidence. This Family Court judge, for example, aggressively obstructed all investigations and suppressed any evidence that compromised the father. She refused to admit impeccably qualified, top experts on spurious reasons, and when one of them sent in his report directly to the Court, she ordered it destroyed, so that it could not enter into the record. When at least three medical professionals from unrelated settings attempted to make a mandated report, the Child Abuse Hotline admitted to all of them that there was a block on the case, apparently arising from the Court. Indeed, the Family Court had earlier allegedly instructed the children’s pediatrician not to speak to any medical professional regarding this case, which the pediatrician astonishingly heeded, rather than following her professional guidelines. The Family Court judge, additionally, influenced the closing of at least three Child Protective Services investigations, on one occasion by granting the father full access to the confidential records of an ongoing investigation against him; the case closed within six days (on all three occasions, the agency notified the father but not the mother that it was closing the case). Finally, when two forensic psychiatrists traveled to meet with the school principal to report their findings of child abuse, the Family Court judge orchestrated with the father and the guardian ad litem to arrest these doctors before the meeting could occur, under secret “court order” that not even the prosecutor has seen at the time of this writing. In this manner, preventing independent investigations, while concocting false “evidence” through the control of so-called “experts”, emerges as part and parcel of the formula based on which Family Courts “fix” custody outcomes.

5. Force ‘Reunification Therapy’

Now that the children are taken from their primary parent on the basis of “parental alienation,” the court records “sealed”, and a “psychiatric evaluation” ordered, the fifth and last step in the Family Court strategy for an illegitimate custody switch is “reunification therapy.” Much like the “psychiatrists” in the above case, who seemed ready to “sell” expertise that was fit for Family Court purpose, entire cottage industries have arisen around the Family Court practice of “reunifying” child victims with their victimizers. Most of them do not involve psychiatrists — which explains why The guardian ad litem had such a difficult time locating a “psychiatrist” who could do a simple evaluation of someone whom nine top experts of the nation, if not the world, cleared through a medical consensus as having “excellent mental health” and no barriers to parenting. This is without going into the fact that the mother, as the New York State governor’s “righthand woman” after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, was at the time given not only security and mental health clearance to be chief Ground Zero coordinator of all First Responders, as well as the FBI, FEMA, and the mayor’s office, but to design and run mental health programs for thousands of firefighters and medical personnel, following the greatest attack on U.S. soil in the history of the nation. The mother’s ability to serve as a backbone for the frontline of the nation’s mental health, following its most traumatic experience in recent memory, as entrusted by the New York State governor, may have to do with her upbringing by a respected child psychology professor who sacrificed her career to devote herself to her children — as the mother of this case would come to do herself. Furthermore, coming from a family of three generations of doctors, the mother knew not to agree to just any “evaluation”, much less one by a no-name appointee of a Family Court that unconstitutionally — as some of the top Constitutional scholars of the country confirmed — took away her children without any reason it could confidently state. In this context, “reunification therapy” (essentially, child brainwashing) was the Family Court’s last resort.

It is unknown what kind of “therapist” the children had been seeing for almost two years, at the time of this writing. Neither the mother nor her lawyers were allowed to have the name or even the qualifications of this “children’s therapist.” All the mother knew was that, within weeks of complaining to the licensing board about the first Family Court-mandated “therapist”, who charged exorbitantly while performing nothing resembling therapy but instead locked the children in her office and traumatized them, she was forced to recuse herself from the case. However, because the case remained with the same Family Court, the judge simply replaced this “therapist” with another, only under more draconian and covert circumstances. The mother came to find out that there even was a therapist, about seven months after they started, when she was arrested at the school without warning, just weeks after the principal complimented her for her five years of consistently active volunteer work, which included cofounding and directing important projects. She was arrested on the basis of another secret “court order” that apparently said she was not allowed on school grounds when the children were present, until “therapeutically recommended by the children’s therapist.” Upon learning this for the first time, the mother seized the opportunity to demand a meeting with the children’s therapist, but of course the intent was never to have her see the children’s therapist and never to have her reunite with the children, and therefore the guardian ad litem refused to allow this to happen for fifteen months as of the time of this writing.

The extreme end of “reunification therapy” — “reunification camps” — has become a matter of much controversy in the United States, and California has banned it. “Viral” videos have exposed “gangs of thugs” forcibly abducting children from their homes and from loved ones, strongarming them into a truck, handcuffing them, and driving them away — as one would only imagine happening in Afghanistan, Guatemala, or Peru. The worst kinds of abuses, heaping trauma upon trauma, are happening under “legal” cover of the Family Courts. Because Family Courts have become so untouchable, carving out a “niche” that federal courts cannot interfere with, with such unlimited “discretion” that appeals are seldom successful, and exerting power over almost any other body through “court orders,” they can do almost anything and never be held accountable. They set the narrative, they decide what is evidence, and they force the “treatment”, whatever the consequences — they decide what information can be known, too. As videos are the only way the public has found out about these abuses and are met with outrage and disbelief, social media postings have become the first thing Family Courts prohibit. These children, simply for having disclosed abuse, are thus abducted, hidden away from their safe, nurturing parent for months if not years — and literally tortured, even starved, until they denounce the abuse — often to their premature “natural” deaths, if not murdered, suicided, or drug overdosed. Family Courts can prolong this process as long as necessary, which is why divorce procedures last years, even decades, in the United States. Many disbelieve that this could be happening in a civilized, law-bound society, but it is not one instance but tens of thousands per year, and it is not one death but hundreds per year.

The mother of the above case could not even watch the public videos because they were “triggering”: her children were similarly seized, not by thugs but by a half-dozen police officers, without warning, based on a “court order” she had not seen, responding to the father’s and the guardian ad litem’s fraudulent police report. Secondary damages are also common with the judicial transfer of children to their abuse: in the above case, their former babysitter cried every day for months, unable to enjoy activities in her own life, thinking of the children’s suffering while separated from their loving mother. And their maternal grandfather, who was hitherto highly active and healthy, scootering with the children before they were taken, became emotionally and physically debilitated for the first time in his life. The maternal grandmother, who loved these children the most, fortunately did not live to see this greatest tragedy to have befallen this family. But maternal cousins, many of whom are medical professionals knowledgeable of the harm that results from child abuse, especially in the context of separation from their primary supports, are in mourning. It did not take long for the entire family to recognize that no legal solution existed for this travesty of justice, and everything from “court seals” to “court orders” were serving Family Court, not the families and certainly not the children the Courts were deliberately destroying….

*The above is a prelude to my upcoming book, The Dangerous Case of Family Courts.

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