Sunday, May 08, 2005

When the judge's robe hides that he's the big bad wolf

I'm old enough to remember a few cases (Morgan vs Foretich) in which a mother made claims that her child was sexually abused by the father (without credible evidence) and then snuck the child away so it could be raised to believe the father did, indeed, sexually molest them (tell a kid a story enough from childhood and he/she will believe and create memories from it), so I was wary when I first read Trish Wilson's post about Genia Shockome. Surely this sounds like a plot for a Lifetime TV movie special that could only be set in Texas featuring a mother denied custody of her children after suing her well-connected husband for divorce and trying to maintain custody of her children after levying charges of abuse against him.

Genia, who is 7 months pregnant, is currently in Poughkeepsie City Jail (Happy friggen Mother's Day) for contempt of court for objecting "too vigorously" to Judge Damian Amodeo's decision to allow Genia's abusive ex-husband to move their two children (ages around 7 and 9), to Texas. Genia, who had been primary caretaker of the couple's children since birth, lost custody to her ex-husband when Amodeo gave the father sole legal and physical custody 3 years ago without an evidentiary hearing or written explanation of decision. Shockhome's attorney has provided a case history at the Battered Mother's Custody Conference.

Of particular interest is the claim of Genia suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as even the judge agreed that if she has PTSD caused by the husband's abuse, he would have to grant custody to the mother. Genia was evaltuated by experts, including a court-appointed evaluator: all of the experts including the evaluator concluded that the mother suffers from panic attacks and PTSD as a result of the father’s abuse. In addition, the evaluator even acknowledged that the father abused the mother physically, verbally and emotionally throughout the relationship. Despite this, the evaluator did find that the father should have custody because "the mother was too angry to have custody because she continued to complain that the father fed the children too much junk food, did not dress them appropriately for the weather and let them watch adult oriented television." claims the evaluator stated she assumed were exaggerated and Judge Amadeo claimed the PTSD was not due to any action by the husband, but by his own actions in court.

It is reprehensible that anyone, no less a judge in family court which is supposed to ensure the best interest of the child(ren) is top priority in custody disputes, would assist a better ex-spouse in assisting one parent in estranging/alienating the other parent from his/her child(ren) without due cause.

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