Sunday, April 26, 2009
Mother regains custody of daughter only after husband is charged with child sex offenses; something is really wroing with our family courts
Bonnie Russell, long-time fighter against abuses by divore courts, reports a victory in one California case that was long coming and hard won.
Russell says the woman in this case originally came to her through one of her websites, www.FamilyLawCourts.com, in trying to keep her daughter from her husband whom she suspected of sexual abuse because of his affection for child pornography.
And the woman only won after her husband was ultimately charged years later with sexual offenses against minors. The case is indicative of family courts operating completely beyond community moral standards and the law in decisions being rendered. If you are a woman with less money, you are at a distinct disadvantage that can result even in your jailing for speaking out in court and then losing all visitation rights to your children.
As Russell tells me, this case could be from Anytown, USA. From what we've seen in Tennessee, she is right. Something must change now with too family/divorce courts operated according to the judge's whim and bar association connections, not our standards of justice and what is best for the child. These are our courts, not the players in the judicial system.
The ABCNEWS affiliate in San Diego reports:
SAN DIEGO -- When Joyce Murphy gave birth late in life to a beautiful, healthy little girl, it was a surprise. Murphy was told she couldn't have children.
"I was ecstatic," she said.
She is a 20-year employee of the University of California, San Diego, and was married to Henry Parson when her daughter was born.
"In the beginning, he was very charming," she said.
But as their child grew, Murphy said, her husband's behavior became disturbing.
"He would wake me up at two o'clock in the morning, tell me about pornography he'd seen and wanted to reenact, and it was pornography about kids."
She became frightened of his post traumatic stress disorder from his tour in Vietnam, which included a story about raping villagers. She filed for divorce in 2002 when her daughter was 6.
A battle ensued in San Diego County Family Court over custody of the little girl.
Murphy claimed that her daughter was afraid of Parson.
"She would cry if she had to be left with him," said Murphy.
The young girl told a doctor that when Parson was angry he pushed down on her shoulders and injured her. The doctor reported it to Child Protective Service, which Murphy said termed the incident inconclusive.
"From that point on, I was demonized by the courts," she said.
She said she was viewed as a delusional, argumentative trouble maker, while Parson was viewed more favorably.
One therapist appointed by Family Court, Marilyn Marshall, wrote that Mr. Parson was "no danger to anyone, especially his daughter."
"So this therapist said it was my fears of the father that was making the child afraid," Murphy explained.
Parsons was granted immediate overnight visits.
"And I just broke," said Murphy. "I thought, either I go to jail or I protect my child. It was like a primal instinct."
Murphy took her daughter and ran. She was arrested in Florida, brought to San Diego and tossed in jail.
She eventually pleaded no contest to felony kidnapping, accepting the charge without admitting guilt. She was placed on probation.
"I was told I was toxic to my daughter," said Murphy.
Her bosses at UCSD stood by her, but she lost her daughter to her ex-husband and was granted only limited visitation.
"And I thought, all I'm trying to do is protect my little girl from someone I know is a danger," said Murphy.
So she waited and worried for six years, until a call last November. Murphy had to pick up her daughter, because another young girl had bravely come forward, accusing Parson of molesting her. Parson was now the one behind bars.
"This man is a monster, and he hurts little girls," said Murphy.
The criminal complaint charges Parson with hurting three girls, two of them younger than 14 years old. The charges include oral sex with a child, molestation, possessing child porn and using a child to make porn.
A report from the District Attorney's Office said, "The defendant's computers and camera were seized ... revealed numerous photographs of young girls."
Using those photographs, an Oceanside police officer was able to identify and speak with one of the girls, which led to more charges against Parson.
Joyce Murphy feels vindicated, but it's bittersweet.
"I blame the entire family court system," she said, "because they are not held accountable."
I-Team reporter Lauren Reynolds posed the question to the supervising judge of the San Diego County Family Court, Lorna Alksne.
"Is family court doing a good job?"
"Family court is doing an excellent job," Alksne said.
She said each judge must juggle between 200 and 300 cases every month. She said the judges read before work, after work and during breaks to be prepared for their full day of hearings.
She can't comment directly on the Murphy case, and was not involved, but she acknowledges the need for improvement in how child custody cases are decided.
"Family Court has, statewide, some issues on how do you really make a determination on where children should live?"
Joyce Murphy said Family Court's only good decision in her case was granting her full permanent custody of her daughter after her ex husband was jailed.
Henry Parson's daughter is not one of the victims alleged in the criminal complaint. Parson declined to speak with the 10News I-Team. His attorney has a policy of not commenting on pending criminal cases.