A Massachusetts girl’s reports of sexual abuse by her father were lost for years amid a hail of claims and counterclaims – something experts and advocates say is unsurprising in a probate and family court system ill-equipped to handle life-and-death cases.
State fumbled for answers while girl was in limbo- Boston Globe
He told her not to tell anyone, she said, but she told anyway.
- She told her mother, who went to the police. She told her therapist, who wrote a letter. She told the people who supervised her visits with her mother, who filed reports.
“I tried to tell anyone who would listen, but no one believed me,” said the girl, then 7, during a trauma evaluation conducted last spring. The Globe is withholding her name to protect her identity.
At least five times between 2010 and 2014, the girl’s father, James Stanley Jr., was accused of sexually abusing her. But again and again, according to interviews and court and agency records detailing the case, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families social workers and a family court judge dismissed or disregarded the allegations. Eventually, the girl was sent to live with Stanley — a man already accused of molestation by two other girls — before she was finally removed to foster care.
The case’s disturbing details provide a window into a system that one recently retired judge described as broken. The state’s family courts are overrun with volatile, complex claims, dozens of judges, lawyers, and advocates said in interviews with the Globe — but woefully short on tools to resolve them.
- The court system in which the girl’s case lingered for years was never intended to bear the responsibility for her safety.
How Many Children Are Court -Ordered Into Unsupervised Contact With an Abusive Parent After Divorce?
An estimated 58,000 children a year are court-ordered for custody or unsupervised visitation with reported abusers. That means in many cases, children are being ordered to live with their rapists. Child custody courts are generating approximately $50 billion dollars a year from the business of exploiting families in crisis and putting children in direct harm’s way. Adverse childhood experiences are the most basic cause of health risk behaviors, morbidity, disability, mortality, and health care costs. In fact, it costs taxpayers $500 billion dollars a year in health care related costs due to adverse childhood experiences. SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: FAMILY COURT IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH- by Patrice Lenowitz, Executive Director
Nurtured Parent founder, group co-facilitator, domestic violence survivor, advocate
-Its time to demand Justice and Equality –
Contact your Representatives and Demand Federal Oversight Hearings on Child Safety in Custody Cases
The Justice Department reports that only 10% of children are ever protected from further abuse –
Are children protected in family courts when child sexual abuse is raised in custody disputes?