Wednesday, January 3, 2007

From Madness To Mutiny:

Why Mothers Are Running From Family Courts - and What Can Be Done About It
by Amy Neustein with Michael Lesher
pp 284
Published by University Press of New England
ISBN 1-58465-462-7
Book Reviewed by Carol Taylor
Queries: (718) 856 1271

Without exception, this scary book should be required reading for any mother considering prosecution of a husband (or boyfriend) she accuses of child abuse.

It firmly establishes that family 'court' decisions violate the Constitution's 14th Amendment rights and that it is really a 'Kangaroo court' operating on feelings and beliefs of humans carrying out stereotypical traditions instead of actual laws. (Need I say anymore here? - but I will!)

This is not only a 'must-read' tome, for anyone even remotely interested in this nation's children and their families, but as a result of the admirable documentation, perhaps one day the reprehensible lack of publicscrutiny/oversight over family 'court' might begin to be remedied.

A nation is judged by its treatment of its children.

The case studies are as riveting as they are horrific: a prime case of course, is the 'Rikering' of a mother called D'Andrea, jailed, for talking (on her cable show in Manhattan) about her daughter's sexual abuse and, in her extremity-because no one believed her, revealing on air a photo of her police detective husband allegedly molesting the child.

The book might be a bit difficult for a lay person to get through because of all of the 'lelgalese' such as 'sui generis,' 'pro se' and 'ex parte,' but the routine, harrowing, unfair, punitive, retrogressive treatment of women who are mothers going through misogynistic altogether frustrating labyrinthine formalities had to be revealed and the authors have done society a magnificent favor by putting the case 'out there.'

The U.S.A has been judged by Neustein and Lesher, and found embarassingly wanting, " we have seen, violations of due process rights are by no means uncommon." This frightening book, aside from describing what they call "judicial prejudice posing as psychology," cites so many incidents of alleged child sexual abuse that one can only wonder, knowing how such abused individuals routinely engage in passing on to others their abusive treatment, what horrible unforseen effects (of their own abuse) continue escalating in our communities.

The negation of human rights of mothers is frightening; the abuse of children is frightening; the scamming of the public into believing that family court is a 'regular' legal court is frightening; the family court's protecting of abusive fathers (and in some cases abusive mothers) is frightening; the replete arrogance and anti-social, illogical behavior of the family court judges is frightening; the collusion against mothers, of attorneys, social workers, et al., which allows for the continuation of child abuse by fathers awarded custody of their child victims is past frightening. Moreover, the authors firmly allege that the "confidentiality rule" regarding allegations of sexual abuse does not protect the children and urgently needs to be removed.

The public should welcome the astonishing information that family 'court,' (like Housing 'court'), according to the authors, is "a breed apart" and is actually an administrative set up - not a true 'judicial' entity.

As I dry my tears, I have to say, I've seldom read of a more egregious, counterproductive, outrageous societal "open secret" as the Neustein/Lesher account of family 'court' goings-on: God help the Mothers and Children of this country.

This book, even with all of its 'legalese,' will surely go down in history as the "Silent Spring"* of the arena of judicial jurisprudence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Silent No Longer
The Other Side Of Abuse Allegations

by Sherry Orbach

Editor's Note: In recent months The Jewish Press published two articles by Amy Neustein the first a ,feature piece in the Family Matters section, the second an op ed column in which she recounted her longstanding allegations that her ex husband abused their daughter. Ms. Neustein's daughter, Sherry Orbach, requested this opportunity to respond.

Although I have not seen my mother, Amy Neustein, in sixteen years, I remember her clearly. She claims the reason she repeatedly accused my father in the media of sexually abusing me was to gain custody rather than fame. Yet when she did have custody of me long before the legal battles began I remember her voluntarily sending me off to live with my grandmother in upstate New York, after which I rarely saw her.

I remember, on one of my rare visits to my mother's house in Brooklyn, watching her softly stroking her hair with an antique silver brush as she gazed at herself in her bedroom mirror and wondered out loud whether she was pretty enough to be famous.

I remember my mother sitting with me on the plastic covered couch in my grandmother's country home at age five as if it were yesterday. We had been rehearsing for hours. She would begin by telling me a sordid and false story about my father, such as a detailed account about how he had molested me or about how he had thrown me violently against a wall. She then instructed me to repeat the story word for word until she was satisfied with my rendition. At the time, my father had indicated he would be filing for custody. My mother warned that if I did not tell these lies to the judge, I would be taken from my grandmother.

After my mother lost legal custody, I visited her once a week. During these visits, my mother used to tape record me and pose me for pictures in order to gain material for her next media performance. I fought back in the only way I could. Once, I chased her around a table in an attempt to snatch her tape recorder.

For eighteen years (I am now 24); I was silent as my mother spun lie upon lie about my father and me. According to her story, she is the victim of a conspiracy involving my father, Brooklyn Family Court, federal and state appellate courts, the Legal Aid Society, the Brooklyn Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Ohel family services, and several leaders of the Jewish community. These co conspirators, my mother insists, punished her for revealing that my father had sexually abused me by taking me away from her.

The truth, however, is that my father never sexually abused me, and that reporters and alleged victims' advocates who supported my mother chose to retell her lies without adequately checking the facts.

The reason my family and I did not seek media attention to counter my mother's allegations is that we wished to maintain our privacy. My family believed that my mother's publicity would fizzle out, and that it was best to avoid the media spotlight as much as possible so that I could live a normal life. But my mother has been relentless in her exploitation of me. Recently she embarked on another media tirade, and has published her false allegations in this paper and others.

The worst article I have yet to see this year contains my full name as well as photos of me as a child and as an adult, along with sickening and absurd lies about my father and me. Even if the allegations were true (which they are not), it is a widely accepted principle of journalistic responsibility and of everyday morality that it is wrong to invade the privacy of victims (alleged or actual) by publishing their full names and photographs. Kal v'chomer (how much more so) when the allegations are false. Such deceptive reporting is so damaging and hurtful that I feel I no longer have any choice but to break my silence.

I do not hate my mother; I see her as troubled. Nor do I seek revenge. I am only speaking out to stop her, and her supporters who profess to care about me, from continuing to exploit and torment me. With no other recourse, my mother has tried to counter my denial of her allegations by claiming that I am being brainwashed and used by my father and other alleged members of the so called conspiracy who "desperately fear public scrutiny and government inquiry"

Anyone who knows me well will vouch that I am independent minded and not the weak character my mother makes me out to be. The only parent who tried to brainwash me is my mother. The only people who are using me to advance their own careers are my mother and her allies. I vividly remember my mother sitting me on the couch at age five and coaching me to lie about my father. These are my memories and not anyone else's.

I do not profess to know how typical my story is. I hope it is the exception and not the rule. However, the research involving allegations of child sexual abuse in court custody cases indicates that false allegations can occur in anywhere from 2 percent to 60 percent of such cases, and so it is far from an exact science. In these instances the accuser can often be the most vocal, the most sympathetic, and thus the most believable: But sometimes the real victim is the accused. And the one who pays the biggest price of all is the child. What I have learned from my case is that you can find "experts" to say anything, and that journalists are sometimes more interested in a good story and don't want to be confused by the facts.

The damage caused by the irresponsible reporting and advocacy of my mother and her supporters extends beyond my family. Not only have they stained the credibility of the victims' rights movement they claim to speak for, but they have diverted attention from the true needs of children in the family court and child welfare systems by misrepresenting what I, and similar children, required. What I did not require, contrary to my mother's claim, was for the family court to be opened to the media.

I, for one, owe my existence as a normal young adult to the family judges, Ohel foster care, and the Legal Aid Society attorney who helped me reunite with my father in the face of considerable opposition in the media.

Most of all, I am grateful to my father for the sacrifices he has made for me over the years.