QotD: “Kids sent to juvenile detention over cold shoulder to father a ‘disturbing’ ruling, experts say”

I hope society generally will soon be able to give up on the myth that the legal system somehow favors mothers over fathers, here’s some more evidence of the fact that fathers’ rights are always given precedence, and that children are still seen, first and foremost, as the property of their father:

A Michigan judge may have overstepped her bounds by taking the “unprecedented” and “disturbing” action of sending three siblings to a juvenile detention facility for not having a “healthy relationship” with their father, according to legal experts who spoke to the Guardian.

The children’s detention has sparked a fierce backlash both locally and on social media. Dozens of supporters convened outside the Oakland County courthouse Wednesday to demand the children’s release.

Last month Lisa Gorcyca, a circuit court judge in Oakland County, held three siblings – ages nine, 10 and 15 – in contempt of court after they refused to talk with their father, Omer Tsimhoni. Experts were taken aback by the judge’s decision to send the children to a local juvenile facility, Children’s Village, until “you graduate from high school”.

The ruling came amid a protracted and contentious divorce proceeding between Tsimhoni and his wife, Maya, which dates back to 2009.

At a 24 June hearing on supervised parenting time, Gorcyca said the children had been “brainwashed” by their mother before ordering their removal to Children’s Village. A hearing has been scheduled for 2pm on Friday local time.

The children were removed from Maya Tsimhoni’s custody following the hearing. Gorcyca said neither the mother, nor any of her relatives, could visit the children, although their father would be allowed to.

“When you are ready to have lunch with your dad, dinner with your dad, to be normal human beings, I will review this when your dad tells me you’re ready,” Gorcyca said at the hearing. “Otherwise you are living in Children’s Village until you graduate from high school. That’s the order of the court.”

The decision to hold three children in contempt of court who were not parties to the divorce proceedings puzzled legal experts. If Gorcyca took issue with Maya Tsimhoni’s handling of the situation, then an order should be directed at the mother, they said, not the children.

Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in family law, compared the situation to journalists who are jailed for contempt of court by refusing to reveal the name of a source, where they remain until they back down.

“That’s basically what the judge did here,” Ross told the Guardian. “You can get out of prison when your father tells us that you’re ready to have a good relationship with him.” Ross said to her knowledge the decision was “unprecedented” in reported cases with established opinions of the court.

She added: “The initial threat of sending them to detention even for a weekend is disturbing enough.”

A court transcript from the 24 June hearing begins with the eldest son being asked if he was prepared to see his father or be sent to Children’s Village.

“I do apologize if I didn’t understand the rules,” the 15-year-old told the judge. “But I do not apologize for not talking to him because I have a reason for that and that’s because he’s violent and I saw him hit my mom and I’m not going to talk to him.” The father has not been charged with a crime.

“I ordered you to talk to your father,” replied the judge. “You chose not to talk to your father. You defied a direct court order. It’s direct contempt so I’m finding you guilty of civil contempt.”

“I thought there was like rules when – rules for like not, you know, not hitting someone,” said the boy.

Gorcyca said the boy had “defied a direct court order” by not talking with his father.

“You’re very defiant,” she told the boy. “You have no manners. You need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has.”

A 25-page report filed last year by a court appointed adviser, William Lansat, spelled out the couple’s litigious past and highlights allegations levied over the years by the children.

In August 2010, for example, a police report was filed after Omer Tsimhoni spent a day with his children unsupervised. But the meeting apparently soured shortly after, and the children called 911, alleging their father “threatened to kill them while at the park”, according to Lansat’s report.

When Maya Tsimhoni arrived, she alleged the father began “pushing her around”, the report says. No probable cause was found to arrest Omer Tsimhoni, who “has always denied making the threat”, according to the report. Maya Tsimhoni sought a personal protection order against her husband, but the request was denied by Gorcyca.

Full article here

This is effectively criminalising and pathologising children for being afraid of their violent father – under what other circumstances would a child’s fear of a violent adult get them compared to Charles Manson? The accusation of being ‘Manson-like’, also comes from the court appointed adviser (see the rest of the article) – someone who is supposed to be an expert witness acting in the children’s best interest – because the children ‘huddled together’ and refused to go into a supervised meeting with their father; under what other circumstances would siblings sticking up for each other in a adverse situation be describes as ‘Manson-like’? It seems also, from the rest of the article, that the children’s court-appointed attorneys aren’t objecting to them being criminalised in this way.

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8 responses

  1. I posted this before looking at the Change.org petition:

    10 Jul 2015 — Judge Lisa Gorcyca dismissed the contempt charge against all three siblings. They will spend the Summer at a Jewish camp. No other information is available at this time, but they are out of juvenile detention, and that’s a huge win. #FreeTsimhoniKids!

    This is great!

    The petition itself is worth reading:

    On June 24, 2015 Judge Lisa Gorcyca sentenced Liam, age 15, Rowie, age 10, and Natalie age 9 to juvenile detention until they turn 18 because the three siblings individually refused to spend time with their estranged father Omer Tsimhoni. Liam Tsimhoni apologized to Judge Gorcyca for violating her order but said in court that he couldn’t be around his father because he saw his father hit his mother. (The father has not been charged with any abuse, and Liam Tsimhoni was not asked to offer any evidence to support his claim in the court proceeding of 6-24-15.) Even after Judge Gorcyca verbally berated, insulted, and threatened the children with a vile picture of what living in Children’s Village would be like, both Rowie and Natalie Tsimhoni consciously and willfully told the court that they would rather go to juvenile detention than to lunch with their estranged father. The children have been incarcerated for 2 weeks now, barred from seeing their mother, anyone from her side of the family, and each other. Their father, the man whom they have expressed fear of in open court, is the only person outside of a therapist and their attorney’s, who is allowed to see them and he left the country immediately following the proceedings. This gross injustice needs your attention and action. A court system that incarcerates children in an acrimonious divorce proceeding, but leaves the parents free, is broken at best and barbaric at worst. Above all else we have a duty, lawfully and morally, to protect the children in divorce cases, above all else. Their only real crime was being born to an imperfect marriage union. Locking them up for 3, 8 and 9 years respectively solves no matter, proves no point and heals no wound. Please release these victims and get them the proper therapeutic help that they need.

    So, not only were these children threatened with a loss of liberty, but they were also terrorised with descriptions of the “vile” conditions in juvenile detention.

  2. Not good enough. This is a gross violation, she should be disbarred.

  3. Thank you very much for this. I’ve seen the news on it. Is this man perhaps a member of fathers rights groups?

  4. The whole thing is utterly appalling (it seems like they only got out because the father gave ‘permission’ for them to go to summer camp instead – will they be locked up again afterwards?).

    This is the intersection of male supremacy and the fundamental lack of children’s rights in the global north (of course, barring a few traditional/’tribal’ societies still going in the global south, it is going to be worse, not better there).

    If a ‘good relationship’ with the father was so important, you wouldn’t have to torture a child into it, and that is what is being done to these children.

  5. Apropos the above, I just found this at the Daily Mail, via the BBC:

    The video footage of Judge William Adams physically abusing his daughter has brought under scrutiny child protection cases he has worked on in the past.

    Witnesses who attended a courtroom trial of Judge Adams on October 11 last year claimed that the judge agreed with a lawyer who had argued that ‘a child’s statements amounted to no evidence’ and they are ‘fantasizers’.

    The case involved the custody of a six-year-old child who is said to have suffered ‘horrific abuse’.

    According to the blog, A Child’s Voice, despite the child’s statements being confirmed by independent third party witnesses and the young person being interviewed by a child psychologist, Judge Adams concluded that children’s testimony should be ignored.

  6. Another example of ‘fathers’ rights’ being placed over children’s rights, with men using the legal system to somehow force a ‘good relationship’ with an unwilling child:

    A 14-year-old girl who was born as a result of donor fertilisation and is now embroiled in an “extraordinary” high court case has been ordered to stay in touch with her two “fathers” against her wishes.

    The teenager, who has been at the centre of litigation between her two fathers and two mothers for half her life, was represented by a lawyer at a private hearing in the family division of the high court and invoked provisions of the 1989 Children Act in an attempt to persuade a judge that she should be left to “reach her own conclusions”.

    But Mr Justice Cobb has ruled against the girl and decided that it is in her best interests to have a “limited form of relationship” with her fathers.

    The girl, who has a 10-year-old sister, lives with their biological mother in London who is in a civil partnership with another woman. Both girls were born as a result of donor insemination. Their biological father is in a civil partnership with another man. Neither girl has been named and were referred to in court as A and B.

    Cobb said the mothers had also argued against the teenager being made to stay in touch with her fathers.

    The judge said he acknowledged and respected the teenager’s “well-developed autonomy and independent thinking”. But he ruled that her fathers should be allowed to send her cards, letters and gifts, and said she was likely to benefit from the “modest but important link” with them.

    Cobb described the litigation as “extraordinary”. He said the fathers had not had any routine contact with the girls for many years and neither girl wanted to see their fathers.

    Both had spoken of the legal proceedings ruining their childhoods. They said their fathers were solely to blame for the protracted litigation, which began in 2008.

    But the judge said the men “wish to emphasise that they love the children, they always will, they will always be there for them and interested in them. They hope that the children will one day look back at the happy times of contacts enjoyed in the past.”

    He added: “They would seek orders for indirect contact in the hope that it will happen, maintaining a link with the children on which, they hope, further relationship will build.”

    Cobb said both girls had “promising futures”, “bright and inquisitive minds”, enjoyed good health and were well cared for by their mothers. But he went on: “The significant void in their lives is the lack of any meaningful relationship with their fathers.”

    He added: “I remain clearly of the view that the fathers have something of real value and importance to add to the lives of the girls.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/oct/15/court-girl-two-mothers-stay-in-touch-two-fathers

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