Pamela Laughon, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Asheville, NC 28804
November 30, 1997
Honorable Judge Gary Cash
Buncombe County Court House
Asheville, NC 28801
RE: Wrightson v. Wrightson
96 CvD 1406
Dear Judge Cash:
On 10/6/97, I was appointed by the Court to serve as Guardian ad litem for xxxx Wrightson, the seven-year old daughter of Michael Wrightson and Jeanhie Wrightson. The1 Court authorized me to investigate this complex case with regard to custody of and visitation for xxxx. xxxx's mother lives in both Atlanta, GA, and Asheville, NC, and I believe she is considered a resident of this state. xxxx's father will be moving to Chico, CA, and this decision on his part was at least part of the reason for the present hearing. Hence, the Court has jurisdiction at this point in time, but it is unclear to me whether or not any court order in this matter will take precedence in another state (namely, CA or GA). Before the Court undertakes any deliberation of this matter, the issue of the Court's jurisdiction after this hearing should be resolved.
I have reviewed considerable information on this case, and I will not put all of it in writing but rather will summarize the major issues for the Court to consider at this time. I offer my usual apologies to the Court for the length of this report, but once again I find it unavoidable to omit some information.
Purpose of Present Hearing:
This case has an extensive court history in both Georgia and North Carolina; I have taken the liberty of drafting a chronology of court actions thus far in Child's Exhibit #1 (attached). The present hearing was precipitated by the mother filing a Motion for Change in Custody on 7/23/97 in Buncombe Co., alleging that the father intended to move to CA, along with a number of other "circumstantial changes". The father filed a Response to this on 9/3/97, along with a Motion for Change in Visitation on 9/16/97, based on his plans to move his family to California. On 9/23/97, the mother filed a motion to prevent the father from moving, again requesting custody and physical placement of xxxx with her. The mother also filed a motion for a custody evaluation of xxxx on 9/29/97, and the father responded with an objection on 10/3/97. On 1016/97, I was appointed to assist the Court in resolving these issues.
The purpose of the present hearing is to address custody and visitation issues for this child. Again, it is clear that both parents will potentially reside in states other than North Carolina after this hearing, so I would appreciate any action the Court can take to assure that any order issued may be enforceable in either Georgia or California.
Sources of Information:
As Guardian ad litem for xxxx, I asked both parents to have any "character witnesses" or persons who could comment on their parenting skills contact me by phone, I also initiated interviews with parties who might have information relevant to the present situation. Hence, I have interviewed the following persons either by phone or in person:
xxxx Wrightson - minor child, brief interview only
[A shy, beautiful naturally curly, towhead with the charisma of Shirley Temple, had nightmares she was lost and running throught the woods terrified that she couldnlt find mother. She described her father as having a black, crumbly heart.]
Jeannie Wrightson - mother
[A survivor, approximately 15-years younger than Michael, an adult version of xxxx, winsome, child-like and naive going into the marriage, ten years and three jurisdictions later, she has emerged a vivacious, wisened women with a sense of irony, dry wit and tenacious resolveto remain in xxxx's life. Given the gluttonous legal onslaught launched against her, most mothers would have fallen by the wayside.]
Michael Wrightson - father
[Ash blond, balding, brooding 50-year-old with an odd Cro-Magnon, Teutonic appeal, was described by Lois Shingler, the guardian ad litem, as "too good looking to be convicted." Known as Dr. Mike on the Interent, a humorless Usenet kook, with an penchant for spell-checking, is obsessed with "waifs" claiming that anything over an A-cup is not a waif. He has a clamoring following in such news groups as alt.sex.incest and alt.tiny-girls. When he took time off to move to Chico and failed to upload Dr. Mike's Faves fall pictoral, the pervs in Usenet took notice.]
Elena Wrightson - father's wife
[The equestrian widow, a forty-something severe brunette, who, according to sources, Michael met while trading horses. Her husband, George Scott, a jockey for Bruce McNall's Suma stables, fathered their daughter while on his deathbed with terminal liver cancer. During Michael's deposition, he stated that he met Jeannie in a mid-town Atlanta bar in Little Five Points while searching out that ever elusive favorite German stout "Sierra Nevada" brewed in Chico, former home of Suma Stables and Elena's relatives. Upon reuniting with Michael in Asheville, Elena beat a hasty retreat to California to take possession of her daughter from parents who raised **** for the first three years of her life.]
Marty Lee - friend of father's
Julie Lee - friend of father's
[Marty and Julie "2nd wife" Lee who helped Michael hide xxxx from the police and escape to Branson, Missouri. Marty Lee is a past president of the Asheville Jewish Community Center,where Michael ,a devout aetheist, former Dachau, W. German securities trader, sent his daughters to pre-school. While on the AJCC playground, Elena's daughter sexually acted out with classmates launching Michael into a heap o'trouble and thereby initiating child sexual abuse investigations starting with the Asheville PD. Michael's Atlanta attorney, George Stern, is past president of the Atlanta Jewish Community Center and uses Jewish Family Services to promote his lawfirm through the Shalom Bayit Abuse Awareness seminars.]
Dr. Theresa Hamel - xxxx's pediatrician
Dr. Don Russell - xxxx's allergist
Vicki Weiss - friend of father
Alison Crosson - father's sister
[Michael's overweight sister, also 15-years his junior, who sobbed hysterically during the trial while admitting and denying he was abusive, hid xxxx from Missouri authorities who had a warrent to take her into protective custody. When Alison was a toddler, Michael spent a lot of time hiking with her in national forests.]
Tim Crosson - father's brother-in-law
[Charged userous rates to supervise Jeannie's visitations at his home. Although, both Michael and Jeannie were court-ordered to have only supervised contact, Tim allowed Michael to fly xxxx to Baltimore, Maryland, for a Natural Products Expo-East conference.]
Dr. Judith Pohl - xxxx's psychologist in the past
[Questioned whether continued contact with her father influenced her retracting CSA. "She indicated that her dad had almost goe to jail because she and **** told lies...Iasked her how her mother had told **** to tell lies, and she was unsure because her mother has never met ****."]
Mary Margaret Saunders - xxxx's GAL in juvenile case
Dr. Linda Shamblin - performed mother's psychological evaluation
Dr. Jonathan Lauter - court-appointed custody evaluator in GA -- [now a psychiatrist at Ridgview Institute]
[Said he was particuarly impressed with Elena and wrote "xxxx is not at risk with her father, particularly with Elena present." Courtroom observers reported her waltzing in eight months pregnant wearing a mini-skirt and stilletto heals. Upon cross regarding her daughter's sexual disclosure "...erect penises?...A bone being hard?" she quipped, sticking her finger in the air "bones are hard!"]
Susan Parke -
former attorney for mother and friend
[xxxx disclosed to Susan that she lied to Pohl because her father said she would never see her mother again if she didn't.]
David Belser - former attorney for mother and friend
[David helped Jeannie gradually get more visitation time, but when it was discovered that Michael had purchased a new home in Chico, Belser bailed.]
Dr. Joni Prince - former psychologist for mother
Andrew McConaghie - former psychologist for mother
Lois Shingler - former GAL for xxxx in Georgia
[According to courtroom scuttlebutt, Lois and Michael were doin' the dirty deed in between hearings. She sure did go out on a limb for him considering 1. she lied under oath misrepresenting the testimony of several witnesses; 2. testified that Jeannie agreed to Lauter as a therapist; 3. acted to protect Michael from allegations of abuse by advising authorities in North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri that no abuse had occurred; 4. misrepresented to North Carolina authorities that Lauter had performed professional evaluations of the parties; 5. misrepresented to North Carolina authorities that a visitation supervisor, Gwen Cannon, was some manner of social worker and not a licensed attorney; 6. failed to investigate records at the Child Abuse Center in Buncombe County, North Carolina or to interview nurse practitioner Beth Oshbar who had reported physical evidence of abuse; 7. accepted a cash payment from Michael that was not credited to billing statements; and last but on not least....volunteered to assist Michael in his defense of criminal and civil charges of child abuse.
Kenneth Razza - SBI agent in Asheville
[Substantiated claims of abuse. Said that Michael flunked a lie detector test, admitted to being sexually molested as a child by a neighborhood perv, fled an Interpol investigation, frequently moved through several states and countries during and since college, came close to admitting he was a child molester and said **** and xxxx told him that Elena talks to wolves.]
Dave Evers - performed psychological evaluation on father [North Carolina]
[Regurgitated Michaels lies about his past. Instead of objectively evaluating Michael with an antisocial, narcissistic personality disorder, Evers said his problems were only of a temporary nature brought on by the stress of the divorce and gave him a 309.9 Adjustment disorder manifested in social withrawal, hypersinsitivity to criticism and argumentativeness, prescribed Prozac and no further counseling because it stressed him out too much.]
Robin Michaelov - APD, friend of mother's
[Court ordered supervisor who saw through Michael's lies and later befriended Jeannie.]
Ms. Brenda Poole - xxxx's kindergarten teacher at Jones
Ms. Liz Apostopoulous - xxxx's first grade teacher at Jones
Ms. Kathy Gordon - xxxx's current teacher at Jones
[All praised Jeannie's parenting skills and complained about Michael hostility and agressive behavior.]
Paula McHugh - mother's current therapist
Debbie Lawrence - friend of father
Becky Rogers - friend of father and former friend of mother [a lesbian and first a friend of father]
[Michael, a midtown bi-sexual, had many gay and lesbian friends in Atlanta's artsy Little 5 Points community and introduced Jeannie to several of them including Becky Rogers and CeeCee Coffee (registered agent of Logona U.S.A.). Michael obsessively pressured Jeannie to have sexual liaisons with several of them and when Jeannie resisted he reacted violently. Upon Michael's hasty departure to Asheville, Becky coaxed Jeannie into moving in with her, then later testified on his behalf claiming Jeannie was a lesbian.]
Bobbie Cohen - friend of mother
Lyn Cole - friend of mother
Laurie Patrice - friend of mother
Susan Ravan - friend of mother
Carolyn Hilton - friend of father and former friend of mother
Cindy Hunt - friend of mother
In addition, I have reviewed the followinq records in this case:
xxxx's cumulative school file - Jones Elementary
Court documents in Georgia (supplied by attorneys)
DSS records in Buncombe Co.
GAL file in Buncombe Co.
Juvenile court orders in Buncombe Co.
DFACS records in Georgia (supplied by mother)
Court documents in Buncombe Co. (supplied by attorneys)
Psychological evaluations of child and parents (supplied by attorneys)
Intemet reports on this case
Deposition of Michael Wrightson - 1/17/97 (supplied by attorney)
[Admits to being a perv while winking and nodding with the GA guardian ad litem sitting next to him, Lois Shingler. Licking his lips and snearing "unlike Europeans, Americans are too uptight about sex" and "****, is really cool about it." Said he taught her everything she knows about it and then went into detail on, while living in Germany, he enjoyed public baths where everyone "old people, young people, fat people, skinny people, little kids all got naked together."]
Transcript of hearing in GA on 3/19/95 (supplied by mother)
Transcript of hearing in GA on 9/23/94 (supplied by mother)
Application for Discretionary Appeal in GA (supplied by mother), with attachments
Limitations of Investigation:
xxxx Wrightson has been interviewed repeatedly over the past three years, and I opted to avoid this situation with her at present; hence, I spoke with her briefiy on a single occasion. At my request, xxxx was seen for one session with Dr. Judith Pohl (xxxx's former therapist) on 11/20/97 for the purpose of assisting me in best representing xxxx's wishes to the Court at this time. [Why bother? Afterall was said and done, you walked all over Ameli's wishes. Did you even bother to read Pohl's recommendations?] I have not observed either parent with xxxx but rather have chosen to rely on multiple sources of information about their parenting abilities, as listed above. I have factored in the history of this case and have observed that this case has become a 'cause' for many people other than the parents; many of the 'character" witnesses with whom I spoke have testified repeatedly in this case already, and many of them are admittedly biased in that they have only one parent or the other's version of events. Hence, I took into account the nature of their involvement with xxxx in this legal 'battle' thus far. Although both parents have quite different 'personalities', I have not relied heavily on their 'words' to me at this point in time, and none of my opinions are based on their differing personality traits. [What did you rely upon, Michael's "good looks" and sex appeal?]
Although this investigation was undertaken rather rapidly, due to the father's impending change in residence, [Yes, please Laughon, do expedite his move to Chico. Wouldn't want to slow him down. The only reason his relocation became an issue, is because a police officer in California informed me that he had a California drivers license with a Chico address. Upon checking, I learned that he had an expensive new home, a telephone number and ISP account at Ohnoacop@aol.com. He had plans to sneek out when he was good and ready and everyone but you knew it.] I am reasonably confident that I have examined every piece of relevant data [you didn't examine his kiddie porn or his NCIC] with regard to this case and have based my opinions on a cumulative review of information from multiple sources. I have done so without prejudice or bias toward either parent, and with the best interests of xxxx as my primary focus. What follows is my best opinion at the present time about what has transpired in this case thus far, each of the parent's relative strengths and weaknesses, and information about xxxx's wishes and well-being. [Er, excuse me, Michael's wishes and well-being were first and formost on your what? What could you have been thinkin of or with? xxxx has stated consistently and repeatedly that Michael and Elena are mean to her and she wants to live with her mother.]
Summary of prior Civil Court Actions:
I refer the Court to Child's Exhibit #1 (Chronology of Court Actions) for a more detailed summary of the litigation in this custody-visitation matter, in both Georgia and NC. What follows is my best interpretation of what has transpired in the civil courts thus far.
When Michael and Jeannie Wrightson separated in 4/93, xxxx remained with her mother by agreement of both parents, and Michael visited occasionally. By several accounts, xxxx, 3 years old at that time, began to exhibit what might be described as typical distress for a child of her age who is making transitions between homes. [Might be described? You consider regressive behaviors of bedwetting, nightmares, panic attacks and sexually acting out typical transitional behavior?] As a result, Jeannie began to be concerned about her daughter, and again by several accounts, she began to block visitation for xxxx with her father in subtle ways. I do not have this court document, but in a later Georgia Order, the Court makes reference to the first hearing in this matter on 1111/93, some 8 months after these parents separated. It is at this time that Michael moves to North Carolina and commences a relationship with his current wife, Elena Wrightson. In 12/93, the mother reports that she became pivotally concerned when xxxx returned home from her father's for pneumonia and required hospital treatment. [She nearly died. She had pnuemonia, a temperature of 105, because he demanded she be forced on a visitation to another city four hours away, then failed to seek medical attention.]
In 7194, a Georgia Court ordered that Michael have a minimum of visitation every third week, and that he pay child support arrearage. Shortly after this hearing, Jeannie took xxxx to see a therapist, Cynthia Montalvo, who felt xxxx was suffering from separation anxiety. [This was at the recommendation of her pediatrician who advised that the regressive behaviors needed to be treated.] This same therapist would later make a Child Protective Services report to DFACS in Georgia (9/2/94) regarding possible sexual abuse of xxxx by her father; on 8/29/94, Buncombe DSS received a CPS complaint from a professional reporter alleging neglect of child and the child's step-sibling. [Due to Michael's stupidity in believing he could perform sexual intercourse with a 4-year-old and assume that she would remain silent about it.] Hence, there were two CPS investigations operating in two states; all of this occurred after the Georgia Court ordered visitation for the father. [Well, it couldn't have happened before, because he had little or nothing to do with her prior to that.]
The Court will note that the Georgia Court entered several temporary orders, beginning in 1994, allowing visitation for the father, and that with each hearing on this matter, the allegations of sexual abuse of the child, as well as her step-sister, escalated in North Carolina. This situation became so intense and chaotic that the Georgia Court approved sending the child to relatives in Missouri, where she remained for six months. [Excuse me? He kidnapped the child giving chase to 5-squad-cars. The only reason she remained there is because the Missouri police couldn't find her. Then Judge Flake jumps jurisdiction and orders them to take her into protective custody. The GA Supremes remanded her for that.] The last hearing in Georgia occurred in 4/95, at which time the Court there ordered that the father have sole custody of the child, and that the mother be allowed visitation under a structured plan laid out by the Court (see summary of hearing 4/25-27/95 in Exhibit #1). Simultaneously, this case was being heard in Juvenile Court in Buncombe County, and Buncombe DSS was increasingly involved (to be summarized later). Since 1997, the matter has been heard only in Buncombe Co. civil court, and the issues have continued to be about visitation for both parents, and custody requests by both parents.
It is my opinion that both parents have likely violated past orders of the courts, albeit perhaps not with malice or intention. [Michael didn't intend to violate a custody order and evade police? This was an accident? Oops he noticed the police coming to get him so he hid with the child in a park and later drove to Missouri, but didn't intend to? Furthermore, he knew his visitation was suspended by the 4th Temporary Order of which he was in violation when he ran.] It is also my impression that the Georgia Court felt strongly that the allegations of sexual abuse of this child ware entirely false and implanted by the mother, and the Court sought both to sanction this mother and protect this child by restricting her visitation for the past two years. [Judge Flake suppressed evidence presented by DSS and DFACS and refused to allow the child returned from Missouri to testify.] I believe that Jeannie Wrightson feels that xxxx's father engaged in some kind of inappropriate behavior with xxxx, and she is invested in believing her daughter; at my last interview with her, she felt that xxxx is mistreated in the home of her father but that there was no longer any "sexual abuse" occurring. I also believe that Michael Wrightson feels deeply wronged by all of these allegations in the past, and that he truly feels that Jeannie is an unfit parent at this time.
To my knowledge, Jeannie has not violated any further significant orders of the Court since 4/95 [3/18/95 to be exact when she failed to notify the GAL about the SBI/DSS investigation and allowed her daughter to be interviewed.], and she has cooperated with the visitation plan as outlined by the Georgia Court. Similarly, I believe that Michael has not violated any further significant orders of the Court and has cooperated with visitation for xxxx with her mother, albeit with less enthusiasm. For the record, some have questioned the 'fairness' of the Georgia proceedings, but I would prefer not to question the judgment of another court in this matter. I am reasonably confident, based on the total sum of what I have read, that xxxx was not sexually abused by her father, that the mother, due to her belief that xxxx was being abused, prevented and attempted to prevent visitation with the father, and that the father has become understandably angry and less cooperative with the mother as a result of all of this. [Laughon, there was a total lack of due process in the Georgia proceedings. As an excuse they offered PAS and Faye Yager (a client) to justify giving Michael custody. Judge Flake had the audacity to say, while making faces at Shingler, that she didn't believe a word Jeannie said, that she was out of her mind and "had lost all reason."]
Summary of Juvenile Court/DSS
The first report to Buncombe DSS came on 8/29/94 from a professional reporter who alleged neglect of both the child and her step-sister. On 9/2/94, DFACS in Georgia also received a CPS complaint alleging sexual abuse of the child from a professional reporter; DFACS deemed the case 'unconfirmable' and deferred to NC for further investigation. I will not summarize the massive amount of information reviewed on this but rather will highlight only the most important developments between 1994 and 1996 which have complicated this case immensely:
1) Buncombe DSS filed a petition on the child and her step-sister on 9/21/94; DSS later substantiated sexual abuse of both children by the father;
2) Buncombe DSS removed the step-sister from her home and placed her in foster care on 9121194; she was returned to her mother (Elena Wrightson) in the care ofElena's parents on 10/2/94;
3) On 1/13/95, Buncombe DSS was relieved of custody of the step-sister;
4) On 3/20/95. Buncombe DSS received another CPS complaint from a professional reporter aleging sexual abuse of the child by her father;
5) On 3/28/95, Buncombe DSS filed a petition for custody of child, and Judge Brown entered a custody order for xxxx; xxxx was residing in Missouri at this time with approval of the Georgia Court; [Judge Flake contacted her asking her to stop it saying that she had investigated all allegations of abuse and that they were unfounded.]
6) Although xxxx was still residing out of state, on 4/5/96, Judge Roda ordered non-secure custody of xxxx remain with DSS, with placement discretion;
7) On 5/5/95, Buncombe DSS received another CPS complaint from a friend of the mother's concerning the child, and DSS filed a petition on the child's infant sibling on that same day;
8) On 5124/95, Judge Fowler elected not to exercise discretion in extending jurisdiction to this case because the child was living out of state; the Court stated that NC would maintain concurrent jurisdiction over the case with Georgia;
9) On 7110/95, contact was made with Buncombe DSS about concams that the father had obtained passports on the children and might flee the country; xxxx is still residing in Missouri at this point in time; DSS filed motions with this information on 7/18/95;
10) In 8/95. xxxx returned to Asheville to live with her father, and she has resided there since then;
11) On 916/95, DFACS in Georgia received yet another CPS complaint from a professional reporter alleging sexual abuse of xxxx by her father;
12) On 9/22/95, upon learning the child had returned to Asheville. Judge Fowler granted an emergency ex-parte protective order directing the father not to remove the child from this jurisdiction;
13) On 9/27/95, Judge Fowler found no evidence of sexual abuse of the child and DSS amended its petition to neglect on the child due to the high level of parental conflict; child and parents to be evaluated;
14) On 3/11/96, Buncombe DSS received another CPS complaint on the child and step-sister alleging neglect; this was later not substantiated by DSS;
15) On 518/96. Judge Fowler adjudicated xxxx to be a neglected child, and ordered the parents into mediation;
16) On 8/20/96, in a final hearing. Judge Fowler ordered continued visitation for the mother, the release of DSS in this case, and that if parents could not mediate visitation, they should seek remedy in civil court.
In sum, repeated allegations have been made that xxxx was sexually abused by her father, and although DSS substantiated sexual abuse of this child by her father, Judge Fowler adjudicated her to be a neglected child due to the high level of parental conflict in this case. In my opinion, the mother, for whatever reason, continued to pursue documentation of sexual abuse between 1994 and 1996 through DSS in NC, DFACS in Georgia, and Ihrough the use of law enforcement in NC. To date, many of those with whom Jeannie came in contact believe this child was sexually abused by herfather, but I cannot find any compelling evidence to support this. From the father's point of view, these actions represent harassment of the worst kind; his wife's child was also removed by Buncombe DSS as a result of these allegations, and this has left deep wounds for this couple. To my knowledge, Michael was indignant and uncooperative with DSS and law enforcement repeatedly [Michael threatened them with a gun and that if they came back, he would shoot them.] , but I can find no documentation that he has ever alleged neglect/abuse against the mother. [What could he say? Unlike himself, she took the time to educate herself on early childhood development and consistently provided a safe, loving environment for her daughter.]
I wish I could say that 1996 was the end of these actions, but I'm afraid I must report to the Court that on 9/24/97, Buncombe DSS received yet another CPS complaint ' filed by a professional reporter, alleging that the step-mother was abusing the child. To make matters worse, Buncombe DSS received one further CPS complaint on 10/16/97 alleging neglect of the child by her step-mother; this complaint has been turned over to Henderson County due to past conflicts in this case. In short, the allegations continue to fly, and although the mother denies she initiated these latest actions, they were initiated by people with whom she associates. The Court will note that these latest accusations are against the step-mother, and not the father, which I find somewhat curious. [No Laughon, these complaints were mine, based on comments xxxx made from time-to-time in my presence. Both Michael and his new wife were mistreating xxxx. They took turns throwing her around, shoving her into walls, humiliating her, witholding money for school supplies and outings. xxxx, who loves to read, was denied access to library books because Michael refused to pay a small fine for a lost book. Nor was allowed to attend school field trips because he was to miserly to pay her portion of the costs. By not reprimanding **** for bullying behavior, allowing **** ballet and horseback riding and not providing same or comprable activities to xxxx and behaving sexually inappropriately, they were guilty of a wide spectrum of abusive behaviors. Because you refused to interview me and Judge Cash deemed the hearing a "closed arbitration," these issues were never brought to light.]
Other Court Involvement:
In addition to that described above, an unpleasant incident occurred in 9/97 at Jones School between the mother and step-mother, the result of which was a filing of assault against the step-mother by the mother. It is my understanding that the 10/16/97 CPS report to DSS was the result of this encounter, and it is also my understanding that this case was heard in criminal court on 10/15/97, with a finding of not guilty. [Erroneously believing that Jeannie's visitation should be over, Elena took it upon herself to attack her in the school parking lot during car pool. Elena hurled herself through the window of Jeannie's car grabbing and screaming "give her to me." xxxx ran away back to her classroom and told her teacher. The police were called and by the time they got there, Elena had returned to her car. Just because yet another judge sided with them doesn't mean she wasn't guilty of socially inappropriate, redneck behavior unbecoming an upper-class suburban soccer mom.] I would also draw the Court's attention to the fact that numerous other motions have been filed by the mother's attorneys in Georgia, including a civil rights suit filed against all parties involved in the Georgia litigation (including the Judge), and a Supreme Court of Georgia review of the lower court's actions in the custody-visitation hearings. [The civil rights suit was removed from the U.S. Supreme Court Dockett, a day after the Yager/Shah confidential settlement agreement was finalized with the Shah children returned to the Philadelphia. The Georgia Supremes split with four apathetic jurists siding with Bob Benham's goofy opinion and two, Fletcher and Hunstein, vehemently dissenting.]
xxxx's Point of View and Emotional State:
xxxx has been seen by at least six therapists about custody and visitation issues, the most recent of which was Dr. Judith Pohl in Asheville. I have spoken with most of these therapists (excluding a therapist in Missouri who supervised visits, Dana Guido in NC, who saw xxxx only briefly, and Cynthia Montalvo in GA, who refuses any comment on this case). There is no question that xxxx was, in the past two years, greatly traumatized by all of the civil and juvenile court actions described above; in fact, there is a finding concemktg her extreme level of emotional distress when she was interviewed by Judge Fowler at a hearing in 9/95. It is my belief that only one of these therapists, Cynthia Montaivo, felt that xxxx was sexually molested by someone. The remainder of these therapists felt that xxxx's statements were either coached by her mother, or the product of the high conflict between parents, and that xxxx should have visitation with her father.
Based on a cumulative review of these evaluations, I note that xxxx is deeply bonded with her mother, attached to her father, and is acutely aware of the stress between them. She has more than the typical amount of information about the custody fights thus far, and she has clearly expressed being in the 'middle' on many occasions. She has been interviewed more often than has been healthy for her, and she has probably been talked with by both of her parents about their conflictual situation. I requested that Dr. Pohl, who had an established relationship with xxxx as her therapist in the past, interview xxxx about her wishes and desires for visitation at this time, and she did this on 11/16/97. Dr. Pohl reported that xxxx unambiguously expressed her desire to live with her mother at this time (see Child's Exhibit #4, attached), and Dr. Pohl expressed other significant concerns for xxxx as well. Specifically, Dr. Pohl exressed to me that xxxx feels "punished' by the whole situation, and although she knows her parents dislike each other, she appears better in control at the moment, in part due to regular contact with her mother, and in part due to the stability in her life with her father. She also stated that xxxx and her mother continue to be somewhat "enmeshed', and they both 'crave' being with each other at this time.
Finally, Dr. Pohl stated that xxxx's fear of her father's anger seems to have lessened - and become more appropriate. in my brief interview with xxxx, she indicated she wished to live with her mother at this time. She was unable to articulate any reasons for this, and she also indicated she loved her father and his family. According to her teachers for the past three years, xxxx has consistently shown greater attachment to her mother, and has expressed her desire to return to live with her mother. Friends of the mother's have indicated they have heard her express the same. xxxx told me that she has said that she wanted to live with her father in the past (to Judge Fowler), but that she only said this because she was afraid in the court room.
In short, part of my angst in this case comes from my deep belief that for whatver reason, xxxx feels slrongly that she needs to live with her mother. I say 'for whatever reason' because I am aware that she has spent increasing time with her mother in the past year, and I believe that this mother has some potential to manipulate the child. At the same time, xxxx's belief is now firmly cemented, and I am concerned about the impact of ignoring her wishes on her well-being in the long-run, given all that she has been through at this point.
On a more positive note. xxxx is relatively healthy according to her physicians, and she is doing well academically and socially in school. Her teachers for the past two years reported, however, episodes of frequent crying and distress in xxxx at school, and collectively these teachers feel strongly that xxxx should reside primarily with her mother. They universally reported negative and threatening encounters with the father, and they stated that the mother has been cooperative on a consistent basis. xxxx's teachers in both kindergarten and first grade reported that xxxx was a clingy, upset, and frequently crying child, all of which would be consistent with the events in xxxx's life during that time. Her present teacher stated that in the past 2-3 weeks, xxxx has become more withdrawn and preoccupied, and that she has stated she misses her mother.
Summary of Psychological Evaluations of Parent:
I refer the Court to Child's Exhibit #2 on the psychological evaluations conducted of these parents to date. I would note that no evaluation has found either parent to be suffering from any major psychopathology, nor have any determined either parent to be completely unfit as a parent. Both parents have been observed to be under tremendous stress, given the events of the past few years, and both have been observed to love their daughter deeply. Michael has been evaluated using an offender protocol by Dave Evers, who concluded he was not a pedophile or child molester. [Funny, Dr. Henry Evans, a University of Georgia expert who testified in the Little Rascal's case, said Michael tested positive on the plethsymograph for pedophilia, definitely a child molester probably the kind that kills them as well and was astounded to hear that he won custody.] Jeannie's current therapist indicates that Jeannie has made progress in the last year, and has no diagnosable problems that would prevent her from parenting. One of Jeannie's past therapists stated that Jeannie had never been willing to acknowledge that xxxx was not sexually abused by her father, and all the therapists who know Jeannie agreed that she holds this belief deeply now, regardless of how this belief began or how accurate it is.
Having said all of that, I would like to share my "common-sense" opinions about these parents. Jeannie Wrightson is a pleasant and friendly person who was very cooperative with me. She called me frequently to offer information and to make me aware that she was not receiving phone calls from her daughter as she expected. It is my opinion that when this all started, Jeannie was observing typical separation anxieties in her young daughter, to which she responded by taking her into a therapist's office. She alleges that Michael was physically abusive toward her in the past, and that she was most concerned at that time about physical abuse of xxxx by her father. The more contact she had with professionals (including attorneys), the more engrossed she became when her daughter made some suggestive comments regarding potentially inappropriate touching by the father; as a consequence, she began to border on becoming hysterical [classic PAS out of the mouth of Gardner] about her daughter's well being, and all the legal and juvenile actions ensued. She has aligned herself with several "advocates" for mothers of sexually abused children, at least one of whom has devoted an enormous amount of time to this case by putting information on the Internet, making repeated phone calls to DSS, and generally behaving in a threatening manner toward anyone who serves or has served as a caretaker for the child. [What blather....Jeannie didn't align herself with anyone. If anyone felt threatened, it was because they thought no one was paying attention. When I started questioning the motives of several characters invested in protecting Michael, including yourself, they and you retaliated. I read about this case in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Michael's attorney, AAML president, George Stern, is a partner of my Eileen's ex's attorney, Shiel Edlin, and I thought I could combine these two cases to help my her. Eventually she won and her ex got a "No Visitation" order from another judge in the same court. That left Wrightson v. Wrightson, a wrong to be righted. Scapegoating Jeannie for my highly visible beef against politicians, fathers rights lawyers and Children of the Underground is disingenuous drivel.] In effect, this mother has allowed her daughter to become the "poster child" for sexual abuse in the state of Georgia, and the case has also become somewhat notorious here. [Like she had a choice. You want notorious? I found myself in a advocacy contest with Faye Yager, one of Stern & Edlin's clients, after making a little progress getting press. This is a high profile case, because of the cast of characters involved, not because Jeannie has allowed it to become so.] She has many supporters in Georgia and North Carolina, and I believe firmly that regardless of how all of this began, she continues to believe that xxxx's father behaved inappropriately in a sexual way with his daughter. In a recent interview, she stated that she fell this was no longer occurring, and that he was a "situational pedophile'. She states that to feel othervise would be to disbelieve her child, and she cannot do that. She also states that she felt she was only following the instructions of professionals with whom she got involved, and that as a result, the Court removed her custody of xxxx.
As a parent, Jeannie is probably highly nurturant, warm, and emotionally supportive to xxxx on issues other than her relationship with her father. I believe that Jeannie loves xxxx deeply, and that she is over-indulgent with her, relative to the father. Several of her references stated emphatically to me that Jeannie 'lives for her child', which might be considered less than healthy for them both. I am concerned that she is unable to accept the opinions of so many who felt that xxxx was not sexually abused, but at the same time, she has many supporters who feel that xxxx was sexually abused, and hence she is supported in her beliefs, rightly or wrongly. I believe that Jeannie has suffered the loss of her daughter deeply, and that as a result, she has diffficulty separating her daughter's needs from her own. I believe that although she states otherwise, she has tremendous hatred for Michael, and that this hatred is only in part related to her view that xxxx's was abused by him. At present, she states that she will support xxxx's relationship with her father, if she is given custody; it is my belief that her negative experience with the court system thus far is perhaps the only reason she would do so. I find it difficult to believe that she could so deeply hold the belief that xxxx was abused sexually by Michael, but yet allow her to have a healthy relationship with him. [Now I have to get out my barf bag. Do tell me, Laughon, what choice does she have?] Jeannie offered several options for potential visitation plans, were the father allowed to take the child to California, and she eagerly stated her willingness to comply with any court order.
Michael Wriqhtson, on the other hand, is a man who feels deeply wronged by the "system"; he is understandably angry and bitter, and he resents most forms of authority. Although I personally like him very much, [personally you like him very much? a brutish, misogynistic control freak and you like him very much? Did you like Jeannie very much too?] he is somewhat of an intellectual and can be harsh and judgmental about others [You should see him on Usenet. He's brutal. They don't call him the "spellpecker" for nothing]. As a result, he has made a number of "enemies" in Asheville and has been described to me in various ways as the "most dangerous" man one person ever met, a definite "pedophile", and a "frightening and intimidating" person. [Let me get this straight, the most dangerous man one person ever met, a definite pedophile, frightening and intimidating and you like him very much? What does this say about you?] All of these comments should be placed in context: he has been subjected to an enormous amount of scrutiny that was later found by both the Georgia and NC courts to be less than completely warranted. [Oh come on, Judge Flake contacted all the judges in Asheville, Judge Shirley Brown even wrote a letter complaining about it. The ADA, Kate Drehyr, said he was "too rich and powerful to convict."] It is my belief that Michael's defiance of authority, combined with his less than bubbly or optimistic personality at present, has created the animosity now felt by some persons in Asheville. He appears to have a strong relationship with his current spouse, inspite of all of this, but he is more than likely acting out of his own anger at the present time. He feels a need to "start over" and move his family to another state, primarily because he has endured so much from DSS and law enforcement in Asheville. It is my opinion that his family's only chance for survival is to relocate from Asheville, and he knows this. [Only chance of survival? How melodramatic can you get? He lived in a mansion, owned another one in Chico, drove a Volvo, was an owner in an international company and made big bucks selling kiddie porn. Judge Cash ruled, partially due to your bogus psych eval, that due to the widespread belief that he is a child molster he should be allowed to pack up the kiddos and move to Chico. He is untouchable.] I believe his hatred for Jeannie is deeply held, and that part of his actions now are based on this hatred. [He hates everybody, particularly himself.] I also believe that his feeling is that he didn't start any of what has resulted, and in that sense he feels he is the more stable parent. [Yes he did...He and he alone is responsible subsequent to threatening Asheville police and DSS with physical harm. You are absolving him of any responsibility for the chain of events that occured as a direct result of his lack of impulse control and verbally abusive behavior.] It has been my experience with him that he vents angrily initially, and he can certainly appear hostile and agitated, but that he can become rational and cooperative after he is allowed to express his emotions freely. [Alrighty then, don't we all?] He is aware of his need for therapy, but stated to me that he did not have the funds for this at present. [He owns two expensive homes, a Volvo stationwagon, pays big boy attorneys who bill $400+per hour, but can't afford therapy? And you believed him?]
As a parent, Michael has been described as loving, devoted, and caring. Both he and his wife have acknowledged that they set limits for xxxx, and that they are more "strict" in their disciplinary styles, but these limits do not appear to be inappropriate [Not if you don't agreee that hair-pulling, throwing, shoving, body-slamming, slapping, and screaming at small children are boundry violations. xxxx said that Michael and Elena frequently woke up everyone screaming at her infant sister, Selena, when she awoke at night]. xxxx's experience in his home is probably more structured and less overindulgent, in particular because she is not the only child there, and I believe that xxxx finds her father less nurturant overall than her mother. It is also my observation that Michael and his wife are sort of a "new age" type of family - they emphasize health and holistic philosophies toward well-being, and they are open with their children about nudity and sexuality. [Strutting around small children in buff, is considered CSA, by most experts as sexually inappropriate behavior, boundry violation.] In that sense, I am not surprised at some of the "allegations" xxxx initially made that were later construed by others to be sexual "abuse". [What bathing the kiddos with bare hands, sticking fingers up their butts while wiping them, stripping them down and massaging them with hot oils whilesticking fingers up their butts and placing them on laps while a bone gets hard and inserting said bone is not to be construed as CSA? This reminds me of the old PA story. A child alerts the family that there is a giant elephant in the living room. Mommy responds by saying "No there's not. You must be imaging things." The child retorts "Yes mommy there IS an Elephant in the living room. Don't you see it?" Again the child is told there is not until eventually the child gives up and learns to doubt herself believing what is experienced is not necessarily to reality.] I do wonder to what degree his anger interferes with his ability to parent xxxx, and I wonder the same for his wife, Elena, who has some deeply held anger toward xxxx's mother now. [What about their anger against each other? They fight like cats and dogs.] Based on his court history with the mother, Michael feels strongly that Jeannie is an "unfit" parent at present, yet he has not protested unsupervised visitation with her as per the last court order. I have no reason to think that he initially attempted to manipulate this child in any way, but as his anger has built over the past two years [he could catch more flys with honey], I suspect he is less than supportive of xxxx's relationship with her mother in more subtle ways at present [He does his share of PAS'n. He's just incompentant at it. Let's face it Laughon, given a choice, just how many kiddos would choose to live with an angry, grouchy, stingy old man?]. When asked about xxxx's desire to live with her mother, Michael tended to minimalize her feelings. Again, given the courts' findings in this case, his anger is understandable and perhaps even justifiable, but it is clearly not in xxxx's best interest, and he is intelligent enough to know this. I will acknowledge that Michael has the right to feel that he has been "hunted" in NC and GA, but this is his problem, not xxxx's [Yes it is...she has to live with him.].
Although both the mother and father stated they will cooperate with the Court at this time, the mother presented more openness to advice, and she has clearly been one to seek out professional help frequently in the past.
Factors to Consider in Custody/Visitation for xxxx:
It is important to point out that custody and visitation are xxxx's rights, not those of her parents [Barfaroney...the bad dads 'rights battle cry, her right to have a father in her life.] Furthermore, it is xxxx's needs that must be addressed, rather than those of her parents, both of whom feel deeply wronged by each other and by the "system". xxxx's father is understandably angry about what has transpired, and xxxx's mother feels that her child is a sexual abuse victim. Although both parents are fond of feeling "victimized", there is only one victim here: xxxx herself.
The following factors are relevant to the Court's decision in this case:
1) Prior history of child/spouse abuse -
Mother has alleged physical abuse by father during the marriage, and I can find no documentation except hearsay; mother has alleged sexual abuse of child by father, and the courts and experts have almost universally rejected that; the Georgia court has indicated that parental alienation of the child by the mother did in fact occur. ["But I've seen PAS!", No you haven't] [parental alienation syndrome is not valid, peer reviewed, included in the DSM-4R or approved by the American Psycholical & Psychiatric Associations.]
2) Age and gender of child -
xxxx is only seven-years old, and she has a strong need for the motherdaughter relationship at this time; there is some evidence in the literature that children often do better with the same-sex parent as primary custodian, but gender is certainly not the only consideration; given her age, she is at high-risk for emotional problems later if she continues to suffer through this continued litigation.
3) Adjustment of child to present living arrangement -
xxxx has resided with her father since 8/95, and her mother has had increasing visitation rights; by many accounts, xxxx has done well in her father's care, and part of that is due to regular and frequent contact with her mother; I find that xxxx's statements that she wishes to live with her mother are powerful evidence that her father has not attempted to turn her against her mother while in his care [Pamela you PAS slut...Michael has launched an all out campaign of denigration against her mother, claiming she is a stupid, unsophisticated right-wing crazo running with a gang of social worker lesbians implanting false memories of child sexual abuse, through various means of mumbo jumbo, mentally telapathy and mind control. What about powerful evidence that Michael has continued to parental alienate himself by treating xxxx worse than he would treat a dog? If he were the warm/fuzzy father figure you make him out to be, then this wouldn't be an issue; but he's not and she is terrified of him.]; when I ask myself whether or not xxxx would have a relationship with her father now, if she had been residing with her mother for the past two years, the answer is "no". [So now you're clairvoyant...did you use a crystal ball, Tarot, mental telepathy or just a gut feeling to come to this indictment?]
4) Need for special physical/emotional care -
xxxx has no physical needs that would require atypical care; emotionally she will need access to continued psychotherapy if this level of parental conflict continues.
5) Economic position of Parents -
Both parents are financially able to raise this child.
6) Child's wishes -
I believe this child believes she needs and wants to live with her mother; I believe this child is highly influenced by her mother, and that her wishes in this regard serve as some "evidence" that although xxxx has lived with him primarily in the past two years, the father has not made attempts to turn xxxx against her mother; [Again, the PAS princess strikes again. The PAS presumption dictates that whoever is most likely to facilitate the child's contact with the noncustodial parent, get custody, regardless. xxxx's ability to shut out the fear and loathing of Michael's threats and intimidation, to tow the line and not make waves does not prove your assumption that he has not PAS'd her against her mother.] I believe that xxxx finds her mother more nurturent and indulgent, and she finds her father more intellectual and strict [No she doesn't. Stop putting words in her mouth. Her father is not more intelligent and has acheived little in life to be proud of. Strict is a misnomer for rigidity and overcontrolling behavior.]; xxxx is the only child when in her mother's home, and as a consequence, her mother lavishes attention upon her; by contrast, xxxx is one of three siblings in her father's home, and she is clearly not the center of the universe there [Now here we agree. Not only is she not the center of the universe in the Wrightson family, she's their scapegoat].
7) Parents' desires - [Who gives a
This mother stated that she would like to have either joint or sole custody of xxxx, to be the primary custodian, and that she would allow whatever schedule of visitation with the father that is ordered by the Court; if the father is residing in California, she feels that he should pay for the child's visitation there (i.e., transportation), and she states she is unable to pay for this; if she is not given primary physical custody of xxxx, the mother states she will relocate to Chico, California, to continue her visitation with xxxx; Jeannie offered several options for her visitation plans, regardless of which parent is given primary custody, and she appeared to be appreciative of any time with her child that she is allowed to have.
The father stated that he would like to have sole custody of xxxx, and would allow no visitation with her mother at all, until she seeks treatment [And he's not parental alienating? What does that tell 'ya Laughon? If it were up to him, Jeannie would have no contact at all. Yet you totally ignored this blatant admission of his true agenda. As he stated in court, he plans to ruin her financially to the point of homelessness, pushing a shopping cart through the streets of Atlanta. If that ain't PAS, what is?]; he feels that xxxx's mother, by virtue of all that has occurred, is an unfit parent; when asked about xxxx's bond with her mother, he could acknowledge that xxxx is deeply bonded with her mother, and that he would allow visitation as ordered by the Court, although he doesn't think it appropriate; the father is concerned about his daughter's adjustment under her mother's care, and he gave numerous examples of concerns that he had about her parenting abilities [like what?]; regardless of the custody-visitation decision in this case, the father is moving to California.
8) Educational needs of xxxx -
xxxx's educational needs can probably be addressed with either parent; because she is an elementary-aged child, she needs a primary residence for schooling, and any visitation with the other parent would include weekend, summers, and holidays options only.
9) Agreements between parents -
These parents have very little verbal contact now and only communicate by messages or in writing; to my knowledge, they do not have vastly differing goals for xxxx's life and well-being, but they have no history of making agreements with one another voluntarily; upon separating in 1993, they made no legal agreements about visitation and custody, and it was only when the father was denied visitation and the child alleged sexual abuse that the court became involved [Wrong again Laughon. Michael had standard visitation, was ordered to pay child support and alimony and didn't. It wasn't until he started taking his daughter to Asheville and raping her, expecting her to remain silent, that his problems started to unfold. You call this intelligent? Even stupider yet, he attempted to pull a mature 13-year-old girl down a stairwell who was visiting her Marietta relatives at a Marriott hotel. She fought him off and in the process got a good look at him. Most of his victims, many of whom are still in mental hospitals, were much younger.
10) Separation of xxxx from siblings -
If xxxx is allowed to go with her mother, she will be separated from a stepsister [who is mean to her], with whom she is bonded deeply, and a half-sister [who she worries about] who is an infant. I do not believe that xxxx's separation from siblings would be highly detrimental to her, all other things being equal.
11) Mental health of the parents -
As stated previously, neither parent has a diagnosable mental illness, but both are incredibly angry towards each other;, their parenting ability is significantly reduced as a result of their own conflict; the mother has a past history of psychiatric treatment for bulimia as a young adult. At this time, the mother is verbalizing greater willingness to work with the father and to perhaps even engage in joint therapy, but the father has no interest in this. [Other than court ordered hired gun evals, never had any therapy whatsoever.]
12) Physical health of Parents -
Both parents are physically healthy persons.
13) Prior custody decisions -
The mother lost full custody of her daughter in 1995, when the Court in Georgia found her to be alienating the child and making false accusations of sexual abuse by the father. [Court in Georgia run by a judge who had an extramarital affair with the Sheriff, formed an illegal corporation with him, served as his CEO, shared monetary gain through his kick-back scams, never allowed evidence of incest into testimony. There is not one substantiating shred of evidence proving that the mother was found guilty of makeing false accusations of sexual abuse.]
14) Hostility levels between parents -
The hostility between parents is extremely high, and in my opinion it is not 'fixable' at the present time; the father does not wish to engage in therapy with the mother, the mother is willing to do so if court-ordered, and most of the professionals and individuals I interviewed felt that any joint therapy would be counterproductive at this time; in such a situation, it is probably wise to consider less time for the child with one parent or the other to reduce her exposure to this hostility and to increase the primary parent's ability to parent the child; I believe this is clearly a sole custody decision
15) Flexibility on the part of parents -
Neither parent is particularly flexible at the present time, although the mother is more inclined now to state she is flexible and cooperative; I believe she has become more flexible in part because of the negative experiences she had with the court in Georgia.
16) General parenting skills -
These parents are both deficient at present in their parenting skills, the father as a result of his anger, and the mother as a result of her belief that the father molested the child [How does believing that a battering, alcoholic, habitual DUI offender, child pornographer with physical evidence of CSA molested the child relegated to deficient parenting skills?]; the father is a more strict and less nurturing parent, he is deeply angry about all that has happened, but he loves his daughter just the same [even though he acts out said anger on a daily basis]; the mother is an overindulgent parent who lives her life around her child, and she also loves her daughter; I find neither parent to be completely "unfit" to parent, but both have serious emotional drawbacks that make them less than adequate to parent, namely, their anger towards each other. [Oh so the mother is supposed to disregard overwhelming evidence presented to by law enforcement officials, witnesses, experts and her own daughter's disclosures to said professionals and believe otherwise? Why? Because Richard Gardner wrote a syndrome speciously designed to give credence bad dads and the hired gun court whore bottom-feeders, who as cat fish sucking up the Sav****h River nuclear bildge scum off Jekyll Island survive by the lowest common demoninator. Chalk up one more victory for the fathers' rights initiative, Dave Levy.]
17) Substance abuse of parents -
I find no evidence that either parent has a history of substance abuse. [Michael was arrested on 2/21/92 for driving on a suspended/revoked license. His NCIC report contains over 40 points of DUI's.]
18) Religious concerns -
There are no concerns of this type expressed by either parent. [During the Georgial custody hearings Jeannie was villified because folks had formed a prayer chain on her behalf. Michael, a self-avowed atheist, refused to allow a Christmas tree in their home. George Stern, a holocaust survivor from Belgium, and associate Janis Dickman used the same ostracizing Nazi tactics against Jews and homosexuals by claiming the mother was a lesbian, unfit to parent a child.]
19) Caretaking arrangements before and after separation -
This child was cared for primarily by her mother [Studies show mothers who are primary caretakers lose custody in 75% of contested custody cases in which abuse is alleged. In CSA cases the percentages rise to 86%.] before she separated from the father, and she was again cared for by her mother until the Court ordered otherwise in Georgia; for the past two years, the child has been in the care primarily of her father.
20) Likelihood of parental alienation -
I think there is some likelihood of parental alienation by either parent, given their history; the mother will alienate because she refuses to accept that the father did not injure his child, and the father will alienate because he is angry at the mother and believes, by virtue of the past history, that the mother is unfit; having said all that, I find it more likely that the mother would alienate the child if given physical placement of her, based on her past history. [Bingo, ever the objective evaluator, Laughon has rationalized same back-peddling conclusion as Gardner in his hastry retreat at the OSi seminar at Mt. Sinai Hospital in May, 1999. Ta-Da!!! PAS is 50-50%. After ten years of rampant alienation by mothers, fathers now use alienation at an equal frequency.]
21) Likelihood of removal from jurisdiction -
Both parents state that they would not remove the child from any jurisdiction, and that neither are "flight risks"; in my interviews I found persons who were willing to describe both parents as potential flight risks [who? Faye Yager's lawyer?], as well as those who thought neither would flee at this point in time. This remains an open question for me, and one that I cannot judge at this time. [To date, Michael is the only one who ran.]
22) Willingness of each parent to encourage child's relationship with
the other -
The mother states that she will not prevent the child from having a relationship with her father, but everything in the past history of this case concludes otherwise; the father states that he does not want the child to have a relationship with her mother because the mother is unfit, but that he will not prevent a relationship with her mother; the fact that the child has lived with her father for the past two years and has maintained not only a relationship but a strong emotional bond with her mother could serve as evidence that the father will encourage a relationship with the mother, in spite of his statements and general "rantings and ravings". [Oh how redundant. He said over and over again, if it were up to him, the child would never see her mother again.]
23) Relationship of child to step-parents -
xxxx seems to get along well with Elena Wrightson, her step-mother, and Elena seems to care deeply for xxxx; at the same time, Elena has been deeply hurt by all the allegations surrounding her own daughter, and I question to what degree she can nurture this child without some resentment; in my interview with her she assured me that she could parent her effectively, as did others who know Elena, although she was willing to acknowledge her own level of anger about the situation; I find Elena supportive of xxxx's father and appropriate in terms of her feelings about xxxx; I do not believe that Elena has worsened this situation in any way, other than to the extent that a new spouse feels the need to support her husband emotionally. [She lied under oath, alienated the child's father from her mother, physically assaulted said child's mother, was partially responsible for ripping the child from her mother's care and emotionaly and physically abused said child. Yet she hasn't worsened the situation in any way?]
24) Future potential for abuse allegations -
To my knowledge, the mother has been the only parent who has made allegations of abuse/neglect, and although the mother herself did not make the most recent CPS complaints in 9/97 and 10/97, those reports were made by a friend of the mother's [Wrong again, Laughon, I am not a friend of the mothers. I am a militant mother's rights activist, who won't give up. Haven't you read the Creative Loafing story?] and by a professional law enforcement reporter who is acquainted with the history of this case; given their recency, I think the potential for continuing abuse allegations by the mother is high. [How dense can you get? I, Victoria Pierce, and a professional law enforcement reporter, separately, on our own volition, made the CPS complaints. Jeannie had nothing to do with it and was mortified that said complaints were made, idiot. If you had bothered to interview me, you wouldn't have gone to the trouble to stick your stupid foot in your mouth by including this assinine paragraph on the record.]
25) Child's ties to Significant others -
xxxx has ties to adults in Georgia and in NC [she has no ties to anyone alive or dead in NC.]; there are many people who care deeply for this child; she has also visited California and was reportedly welcomed by the step-mother's extended family there [she's not related to the step-mother's extended family in any way, shape or form with the exception that she could be related to her step-sister, who was born months before her terminally ill cancer ravaged alleged father died.]
26) Criminal records of parents -
I have no documentation for this, but both parents stated that they have had only traffic-related violations in the past; the father stated he had never had a DUI, as was posted on an Internet story about him. [So you just believed him and didn't bother to substantiate his claims that he lost his license do to numerous DUI convictions and was arrested for an additional DUI and for driving on a suspended/revoked license.]
27) Past compliance with court order -
The mother clearly violated at least one court order in the Georgia case [for complying with NC state SBI, DSS, Asheville police officers who informed her that she would lose custody if she did not allow her daughter to be interviewed. The father, on the other hand, clearly violated a custody order revoking his visitation and fleeing to another jurisdiction], although she states that this was upon the advise of professionals; to my knowledge, the father has only violated an order for summer visitation for the mother in 1997, while others allege that he violated more significant court orders when he, for example, allegedly fled the state with is child and took her to Missouri [at gun point with dogs and 5-squad cars in tow in violation of federal and state laws]; at this point in time, I am not particularly confident about either parents' ability to comply with the court, given the degree to which they are vested in being angry at each other.
28) Child support paid by parents -
To my knowledge, the father failed to pay child support for the first year after separating from the mother, but that he has offset his debt by crediting her with child support since then. At present, the mother informed me that she pays $196.00/month and is only one month behind; the Court in Buncombe Co. ordered that she pay $300/month. [He never paid a dime of child support. The Court extorted thousands of dollars from the mother which were never repaid by anyone.]
xxxx Wrightson has been the subject of continuous litigation for the past three years, and she is the only true victim in this case, as much as both parents protest otherwise. Regardless of the decision in the case today, she will be living in another state, and I ask the Court to ensure that it in fact has some ability to maintain jurisdiction in whatever decision is rendered, wherever she might reside. I have agonized at length about this case and have been fair to both parents in so doing, but my only interest is xxxx, and to that end, I must state emphatically to the Court that this child appears to believe she needs and wants to live with her mother. I am deeply concerned about not "listening" to her, given all she has been through. At the same time, the child also loves her father and is attached to him, and I am very concerned that placement with the mother might effectively end his relationship with xxxx.
The dilemma in this case, of course, is the fact that the parents will reside on different coasts, such that any placement decision for xxxx will result in significanfiy decreased time for xxxx with the non-custodial parent. xxxx wants and deserves a relationship with both parents, but she will be unable to have that under these circumstances. The mother has indicated that she will relocate to California if the father is given primary physical placement of xxxx, and that has both positive and negative implications: xxxx would have greater and more frequent access to her mother, which has been beneficial for her, but the possibility of continuing litigation and parental conflict remains high.
Most of all, xxxx needs some finality with regard to her custody and visitation rights, and I don't believe she would choose either parent unless she was experiencing duress. Hence, I will not choose for her, and I have outlined the factors that I believe are most important for the Court to consider at this time. To summarize briefly:
On the issue of joint custody, I do not believe it would be in xxxx's best interest for these parents to have joint custody or decision-making of any type for the following reasons: a) there is a high level of conflict between parents, and the child has been drawn into this conflict in the past; b) if the father resides in California [whoa Nelly, not yet he doesn't...seems like this is already a behind-the-scene's big boy done deal...can you say "case management?"] and the mother resides in Georgia, joint decision-making will be impossible; and c) any decision made by the Court today will be accepted by the "non-favored''parent under duress, which will reduce cooperation with the other parent. It is my opinion that the Court's only option at this time is a sole custody decision.
If the father is awarded primary physical placement of xxxx. he will immediately take her to Chico, California, where his family has already moved. Although he protests about the unfit nature of the mother, I believe he will allow and support visitation for this child with her mother on a monthly basis, for holidays, and during the summer, if the Court orders such visitation [uncanny how she knew the outcome of Judge Cash's court order prior to the closed "mediation"]. I also believe that the mother will relocate t. California to be near her child, but that'the father will be living with less stress there than he has been here [why? because as Judge Cash opined, most of the community won't know he's a perv?], and as a result, perhaps he may become more cooperative with the mother. Simultaneously, I cringe at the possibility of yet another state being engaged in this legal battle [why? because you won't profit from it?]. I must also note that the mother indicated that although she would relocate, it would be at enormous financial expense for her.
If the mother is awarded primary physical placement of xxxx, she indicated that she would allow her to complete the school year here, and then would return her to Georgia to reside. Given the climate in Georgia towards this father, I do not believe it would be at all feasible or advisable for the father to visit his daughter in Georgia [give me a break, Atlanta's not Asheville, were a teaming mass of three million plus. Anonminity is a child molesters best friend. As one father's rights advocate said, Atlanta is a mecca for child molesters.]; hence, xxxx would have to be flown to California for visitation, or perhaps she could be flown halfway by each parent. Depending upon the frequency of visitation, I do not believe it is fair to make a child of this age fly back and forth acress the country primarily to accommodate these parents' hostility. I am deeply concerned that the mother would be less supportive of the child's relationship with her father, although she presently states otherwise; the past history of this case speaks directly to this issue and won't allow me to feel otherwise.
From xxxx's point of view, she feels strongly that she wants to live with her mother, for whatever reason, if she is placed with her father, she will be negatively impacted unless her mother relocates and resumes visitation in California. There is no doubt in my mind that this child benefit from regular contact with her mother, and that this should continue. Given that she has maintained her desire to live with her mother more than with her father, I am also concerned about the long-term effects on xxxx of feeling powerless in her life [a glimmer of humanity, yet you sold her out anyway]. xxxx's current beliefs may be a function of some parental manipulation, but at this point in time she holds them deeply and steadfastly. I am troubled by xxxx's past level of distress, but I am encouraged that she has done better in the past year. I believe xxxx trusts her father as a caretaker and would probably adjust with time, but I think her initial reaction upon separation from her mother would be marked by some devastation.
If xxxx is placed with her mother, the only visitation that would be feasible would be to fly her to California regularly, an unnecessary hardship for a child of this age. I have serious doubts as to whether or not xxxx would be able to sustain a relationship with her father over time; hence, this option in my opinion runs the risk of eliminating the father-daughter relationship. I believe xxxx loves her father deeply, and that she loves both Elena and her sisters, but at the present time she is more willing to live without him than to live without her mother. I believe the father would attempt to maintain a relationship with xxxx if given only visitation, but that those attempts are more likely to be thwarted by the mother, either intentionally or unintentionally. If this occurred, it would be natural to expect any father under these circumstances to give up which would clearly not be in xxxx's best interest [clearly a father who f--ks you is better than no father at all], based on previous professional evaluations. Moreover, because the father has had physical placement of the child for the past two years, a placement change to the mother would likely increase the father's anger toward the mother, and this would negatively impact his ability to maintain a relationship with xxxx. [G-d forbid we should do anything increase the father's unboundless anger. Better we should tip-toe around him and pretend he's not a perv.]
It is my impression only, but I feel that this mother will allow visitation, not because she believes that xxxx needs a relationship with her child, but because the Court orders it. There was perhaps a point in time when the father, by contrast, was more open to his daughter's need for contact with her mother because he knew that it was important for this child [yet more disingenious blather]; however, even though he has generally supported visitation for xxxx with her mother, he is now more inclined to offer such only because it is court-ordered.
For xxxx's sake, both parents need to determine some ways in which they can reduce each other's anger in the future. I do not believe any court-ordered therapy or mediation will be effective at this time, but I would encourage each of them to soulsearch deeply, and to consider ways in which they can put the past behind them, if they truly love their child. One of them must make a first gesture towards healing the anger between them, and the parent who compromises their own feelings and makes such a gesture will be the one who truly cares about xxxx. Time may be the only effective healer in this situation, but surely two people who profess to love their child as much as these parents do, and who are both intelligent individuals, can manage to separate their own needs and hurt from that they are causing their child. It is very obvious to me that both parents are, rightly or wrongly, responding to past "wrongs" done to them, whether by the court, social services, law enforcement, or each other, and this is now what drives their behavior concerning xxxx. The parents both profess loudly to be victims of each other and of the system, and although both of them acknowledge and appear concerned about xxxx, her victimization by them has become secondary in their fight to vindicate themselves. I do not doubt for one moment that they love xxxx, but xxxx has clearly become the "trophy" for each parent, a symbol of the possessing parent's superiority, rightness, and "winner of the legal battle". I appreciate that legal battles often facilitate and increase the kind of hostility that is currently being expressed by these parents, but the degree to which these parents have developed this attitude is highly unusual, extreme, and not in xxxx's best interest.
I would appeal to them both to acknowledge that they are responding to their own needs, rather than those of their daughter, at this point in time. They can continue this level of hatred and run the risk of emotionally damaging their child for life, or they can elect to put their own needs for hatred behind them, thereby giving xxxx some chance of being an adjusted child and adult; this of course would require some sacrifice on their parts. Since I know they will both read this report, I want to be very clear: xxxx is at high risk for emotional problems, should these parents continue in the status quo. The parents' stated love for her is not enough now; they must go on to make amends. I do not doubt either parents' sincerity, but rather I would ask them to examine their own motivations at this time.
On a practical level, I would urge the Court to put in place some kind of mechanism for monitoring xxxx's well-being, regardless of her placement, visitation, or custody. I would also ask the Court to put into place some mechanism by which the child is guaranteed regular and unlimited phone contact with the non-custodial parent.
Pamela Laughon, Ph.D.
Guardian ad litem for xxxx Wrightson
Child's Exhibit #1 - Chronology of Court Actions
Child's Exhibit #2 - Chronology of Psychological Evaluations
Child's Exhibit #3 - Chronology of Juvenile Court/DSS Actions
Child's Exhibit #4 - Notes of Dr. Pohl's recent interview with xxxx
CHRONOLOGY OF COURT ACTIONS
NOTE: This chronology is based on records provided by both attorneys, and information found in the GAL Office file. The content is reliable but may not be flawless; additional information about key events is also included so that the content of the court orders will be comprehensible.
3/26/90 xxxx Mia Wrightson was born
7/20/90 Michael and Jeannie Wrightson married
4/93 Michael and Jeannie Wrightson separated [Michael left Jeannie, moved into Logona warehouse.]
5/93 Michael and Jeannie Wrightson filed divorce petition [Laughon, this is how it works...whover sues for divorce is the Plaintiff. The other party is the Defendant. Jeannie Filed for divorce in Fulton County; therefore, she was the Plantiff and Michael was the Defendant. Michael threw a stink fit saying the case should be in DeKalb because Logona's warehouse was in DeKalb. Next thing you know Judge Gail C. "case fixin' Flake is assigned to the case. Michael split for Asheville when Composite Sketch hit the press]
11/93 Michael moved to Asheville; began relationship with Elena (current wife) [according to sources, Michael Wrightson a/k/a Michael Surbaugh a/k/a Michael Erickson a/ka Michael Wright a/k/a Jim Wilson's old girlfriend from Suma Stables days]
11/1/93 Hearing in Superior Court in Dekalb CO., GA - temporary hearing (do not have document)
7/11/94 Hearing in Superior Court in Dekaib Co., GA - visitation dispute (2nd temporary order on visitation for father); father to have visitation at a minimum of every third week; father to pay child support arrearage ($2218)
7/94 GAL appointed in Dekalb Co., GA
9/2/94 Hearing in Superior Court in Dekalb Co., GA - visitation dispute (3rd temporary order on visitation for father); father to have visitation 'to substitute for visitation denied by mother'
9/23/94 Hearing in Superior Court in Dekaib Co., GA - visitation dispute (4th temporary order on visitation for father); suspended father's visitation until NC CPS complaint is resolved
3/17/95 In-chambers meeting with GAL and parties in GA - Court entered its 5th temporary order, directing mother to transport child to father on 3/19/95
3/18/95 Child interviewed by SBI in Sylva, NC; mother brought child to be interviewed by SBI agents
3/19/95 Child delivered to father by mother; mother remained in Ashevitle and had contact with DSS and APD; father was approached by APD and fled with child to Atlanta, and then to MO
3/24/95 Motion for Emergency Hearing, GA - filed by father who alleged that sexual abuse allegations did not commence until Court enforced visitation with father
3/28-31/95 Hearing in Superior Court in Dekalb Co., GA - Father's emergency motion for change of temporary custody; Court granted temporary custody of child to father but ordered child to remain with her paternal grandmother and aunt in MO. Specific findings: a) child should be removed from her mother because of pressure placed on her by mother; temporary change of custody to father, and temporary placement with relatives; b) neither parent may visit child in temporary setting; c) child is not to be seen by any therapist other than Dr. Lauter without approval of Court; d) mother in willful contempt of 2nd and 4th temporary orders providing visitation to dad; e) mother initiated the NC proceedings as a "calculated and premeditated effort" to disrupt father's visitation; f) mother "has lost all reason" in terms of her quest to prevent child from having a relationship with father, to the point of placing the child in increasingly traumatic situations; g) mother intentionally obstructed GA GAL in her duties; h) mother took child to NC for interview without informing the GAL; i) no credible evidence of sexual abuse of child by father. Court further Ordered mother not to go near father or his family, and not to threaten/maltreat father or family, and mother to discourage friends from doing same
4/14/95 Counterclaim for Custody filed by father in GA - request that custody and visitation be heard in juvenile court, and that GAL be appointed
4/15/95 Mother filed motion to recuse Judge Flake (GA)
4/20/95 GA Judge Seeliger denied motion to recuse
4/24-27/95 Final hearing in Georgia Superior Court (93CV-5289-4): 1) No evidence of sexual abuse by father; 2) No evidence child is unsafe with father; 3) Father is good parent and has adequate home; 4) Mother loves child but is obsessed with child, is harmful to child, has been evasive and deceptive to the GA Court and NC authorities, intentionally sought to influence child to make false accusations against father for the purpose of denying him access to child; 5) Mother emotionally manipulating the child, with no regard for the feelings of others; deceived the Court and the GAL.
The Court ordered:
1) Sole custody to the father, with instructions that the child remain in MO until the NC investigation is completed; father to consult with Dr. Lauter regarding the transition plans to return child to his home; 2) Mother to continue in therapy for as long as 2 years if necessary; no visitation with child for 6 weeks, but may call twice/week, and father may tape calls; if calls are detrimental to child, father may terminate them; 3) Therapists for mother and child to develop a reunification plan for them as follows: after 6 weeks, mother is granted supervised visitation by therapist for two, 4-hour periods/month; in 4 months, mother is given supervised visitation with child for two, 8-hour days/month; in 1 year, mother is given supervised visitation for two weekends each month; in 2 years, mother may have unsupervised visitation from Fridays at 6pm to Sundays at 6pm, twice/month, four weeks in summer, and rotating of holidays; if mother presents a risk to child, may suspend visitation; 4) Beginning 5/1/95, mother to pay $3001month in child support to father; 5) Based on contempt motion filed by mother against dad, father owed mother $5166 in back non-support and alimony; Court agreed to offset this against child support mother was ordered to pay; Court denied contempt motion; 6) For 2 years, mother cannot go within 300 yards of fathers work, home, family; 7) Neither party shall harass, vilify, or denigrate the other.
3/15/96 Supreme Court Review of Superior Court Action in GA; affirmed all but the changes in visitation to be determined by therapist (Court should determine), and the issue of the Court in GA retaining control over the child outside the state of GA; two dissenters in part
4/10/96 Superior Court Judge in GA, in response to the above, deleted the therapist control of visitation plan for mother Buncombe Co - Order for Immediate Visitation entered by Judge Fowler; mother to have unsupervised visitation with the child ongoing until the case can be heard in full
5/24/96 Buncombe Co. - 96-Cvd 1406 - Motion filed by mother to modify child support, which began on 1011/96 (after father's debt was paid to mother); motion based on a reduction in mother's income, and an increase in her visitation with child to 21% of each month
2/24/97 Civil Rights Motion filed in the US District Court in Northem Georgia (1-97-CV-0466 JEC) - against the Judge, the GAL, the father, the step-mother, the examining psychiatrist, and the father's attorneys in the case; seeking monetary relief
5/5/97 Buncombe Co. - Hearing Judge Knight ordered no change in child support amount to be made by mother, due to no change in financial circumstances
5/15/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion for New Trial filed by mother to address the issue of child support again
5/29/97 Buncombe Co. - Consent Order signed by Judge Brown, mother to have visitation from 6/16/97 to 7/21197
7/23/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion for Change in Custody filed by mother; list of substantial change in circumstances, including father's planned move to CA
7/31/97 Order in US District Court of Northern GA - dismissed and granted sanctions for all defendants listed in the suit dated 2/24/97
8/6/97 Buncombe Co. - Consent Order signed by Judge Brown; re-scheduled custody hearing from 8/7/97 to 914/97; father is not to remove child from NC jurisdiction
8/25/97 Buncombe CO. - Contempt motion filed by father regarding mother's failure to pay child support, mother's denigration of father in front of child, mother taking the child out of state for summer vacation
8/29/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion filed by father's attorney, objecting to GA attorney, Laura Burton, appearing in the case
9/3/97 Buncombe Co. - Response filed by father to mother's Motion for Change in Custody; asked Court to dismiss mother's motion of 7/23/97, plus Rule 11 sanctions
9/16/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion for change in visitation filed by father; plans to move to CA
9/23/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion filed by mother to prevent father from moving to CA, and to grant mother custody and physical placement of child
9/25/97 Buncombe Co. - Order entered by Judge Cash, setting this case as the second peremptory on 10/6/97
9/29/97 Buncombe Co. - Motion filed by mother, requesting custody evaluation of xxxx regarding change of residence; affidavits attached from 5 persons who state that child wishes to live with mother
10/3/97 Buncombe Co. - Father's response to mother's motion regarding a custody evaluation; father objected to more evaluations of any party
10/6/97 Buncombe Co. - GAL appointed
Child's Exhibit #2
CHRONOLOGY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS
NOTE: Based on written documentation supplied by attorneys.
8/8/94 Cynthia Montalvo, MSW, GA - Child begins therapy for attachment and separation anxieties; therapy initiated by mother
11120194 Cynthia Montaivo, MSW, GA - letter to mother's attorney stating that child had made disclosures about father Mleging possible sexual abuse; recommended supervised visitation for father and psychological evalualions of both parents
12/94 to 1/95 Dr. Jonathan Lauter, MD, GA - Court-appointed evaluation of parents and child; found no sexual abuse of child by father, child at no risk with father, child at risk with molher because of her response to visitation with fatmr; recommended therapy for both parents, and if mother not cooperative with visitation, then sole custody to father; recommended anger management therapy for father
3115/95 Child re-visits Cynthia Montaivo with new disclosures of alleged sexual abuse by father (see Montalvo affidavit)
4/4/95 Mother begins court-ordered therapy with Andrew McConaghie, MSW, GA, and continues through 11/95; this therapist indicated that mother made no progress at accepting that child had not been sexually abused by father, but that he recormnended unsupervised visitation for mother
4/95 Joni Prince, Ph.D., GA - evaluated mother and found her to be a fit parent; recommended supportive therapy for mother
10/95 Linda Shambran, Ph.D., NC - evaluted mother and found no significant psychopathology and not unfit parent; mother under acute stress
11/95 to 3/96 Dr. Judith Poiil, Ph.D., NC - child is evaluated and seen for regular therapy; found that child had recanted sexual abuse alegations about father, that child is bonded emotionally with mother but may have been coached by her mother;, child is unhappy with lack of time with mother, that child feels father is angry and that she is at times fearful of him; recommended that xxxx continue in therapy, that mother get increase in visitation, that mother place limits on sharing her own feelings with child, that father receive therapy for anger management, and that parents participate in a joint therapy session
3/31/96 Dave Evers, MA, NC - evaluation of father; found no signs of sexual maladjustment, that father's functioning in daily life is stressed, that he is experiencing an adjustment disorder, but would not benerA from any counseling
7/18/96 Letter to Judge Fowler from Dr Judith Pohl, NC - since last hearing in Juvenile Court, child has made progress in therapy; recommended unsupervised visitation for mother to continue and be extended, and that parents participate in mediation or therapy
11/20/97 At this GAL's request, child had one session with Dr. Judith Pohl to assist in determining appropriate custody and visitation at this time (her notes are attached as Child's Exhibit 1).
NOTE: Although she was not evaluated, the mother has been in therapy for the past year with Paula McHugh, who reported to me that the mother had an adjustment disorder but had made substantial progress in the last year, and that the mother had initially appeared to react to situations concerning xxxx in a highly passionate and extreme way emotionally, but she has improved in this regard. Ms. McHugh feels that Jeannie is a fit parent for xxxx
Child's Exhibit #3
CHRONOLOGY OF JUVENILE COURT/DSS ACTIONS (9S J 126)
NOTE: This summary is based on examination of DSS records, GAL Office records, and DFACS records in GA; hence, I would not represent this as a perfectly accurate account with regard to dates, but the content is reliable. Some confidential information has been withheld. Juvenile Court orders ONLY (excluding motions) in Buncombe Co. are in bold.
The Court will note that at one time or another, every child in the Wrightson family has been allegedly abused/neglected. The term "child' is used to denote xxxx, the term "child's sibling" is used to denote her step-sister, and the term "child's infant sibling" is used to denote her infant half-sister.
8/29/94 Buncombe Co. DSS - Social worker interviews child's sibling and obtains no disclosure of neglect/abuse
8/31/94 GA Department of Human Resources - receives report of child sexual abuse on child from professional reporte
9/2/94 Buncombe Co. DSS - father signs protection plan about child's sibling; allegations that child's sibling was sexually abused
9/6/94 GA Department of Human Resources - child is interviewed by social worker; child made some disclosures but case was deemed "unconfirmed" by DFACS, and was not further investigated because alleged abuse occurred in NC
9/13/94 Buncombe Co. - CME Performed by Beth Osbahr, nurse practitioner, of child's sibling; concludes history of sexual abuse and abnormal genital exam of child's sibling
9/6/94 Buncombe Co. - Child's sibling is seen by Dr. Theresa Hamel and has normal physical exam (stepmother initiated this exam); child was also examined by this physician and was negative for obvious signs of sexual abuse that she is at times fearful of him; recommended that xxxx continue in therapy, that mother get increase in visitation, that mother place limits on sharing her own feelings with child, that father receive therapy for anger management, and that parents participate in a joint therapy session
9/13/94 Buncombe Co. -Child is seen by Dave Evers at the request of step-mother; found no signs of trauma/sexual abuse in child
9/21/94 Buncombe Co. DSS - takes physical custody of child's sibling
and places her in foster care Juvenile Court hearing, non-secure custody
of sibling DSS files petition on child's sibling, alleging sexual abuse and
Father enters into protection agreement with DSS for two weeks
9/23/94 Child taken to Scottish Rite Hospital in GA for sexual abuse examination; referred by DFACS in GA and examined by Dr. Patricia DeGrandi; normal examination; hospital notes indicate that staff was told child disclosed in NC
10/2/94 Buncombe Co. - sibling is returned to step-mother from DSS, and is placed in care of mother's parents
10/11/94 Buncombe Co. DSS - substantiates sexual abuse of child's sibling by father
1/13/95 Juvenile Court. Buncombe DSS is relieved of custody of child's sibling
3/20/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - CPS complaint on child alleging sexual abuse by father; professional reporter
3/22/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files juvenile.petition on child's sibling, alleging that because child made sexualabuse disclosures, sibling was at risk for neglect (Child is taken to MO by father to live with relatives)
3/28/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files non-secure custody order and juvenile petition on child, alleging sexual abuse and neglect by father
3/29/95 Order by Judge Brown. grants custody of child to DSS, and requests assistance of MO social services to help obtal, custody of child and return to NC
3/29/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files runaway report on child with APD, stating that child is supposed to be returned to her mother on 3/26/97 or in DSS custody on 3/21/95; social worker has order to take custody
4/5/95 Juvenile Court non-secure hearing - Judge Roda ordered that non4ecure custody of child remain with DSS with placement discretion; GAL appointed in Juvenile case for child - Buncombe Co.
5/5/95 Buncombe Co. OSS - CPS complaint on child alleging abuse by father; friend reporter
5/5/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files juvenile petition on child's infant sibling, alleging neglect (same reason as above)
5/11/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - substantiates abuse on child and child's sibling
5/16/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files written notification to DA concerning children, alleging sexual abuse by father
5/18/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files motion that father fled the state when he learned that non-secure was filed, that sexual abuse of child was substantiated; requested that father produce the child for a CME
5/24/95 Juvenile Court hearing by Judge Fowler. found that child is a resident of NC but the Court elected not to exercise its discretion in extending jurisdiction because child is not living in state at present and because matter is being litigated in GA; NC maintain, concurrent jurisdiction over the case with GA; motion to dismiss petitions of child's two aimings was denied; Court retained jurisdiction of this matter
7/10/95 Reporter phones Buncombe Co. DSS with concern that father obtained passports for child and may flee; child residing in MO for past 4 months; DSS considered petition but child is not in state
7/18/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files motion stating that father got passports for his children in 5/95, that on 3/22/95 he fled the state with child and child is now in MO, and that GA Court gave sole custody to father at about same lime; requesting that Court give DSS custody of child's siblings, that father turn over all passports of children, and that father produce child to Buncombe Co. DSS
7/25/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files notice of appeal of Judge Fowler's order of 5/24/95
7/25/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - withdraws appeal of Fowler's order
8/95 Child is returned from MO to her father in NC
9/6/95 Gwinnett Co.,-GA - CPS complaint of sexual abuse of child by father; professional reporter; Court stopped the investigation by DFACS, and father was residing in NC at that time
9/12/95 Letter from Debbie Sexton, MSW - has seen child and recommends that she needs time with father, that mother may have supervised visitation, and that she will serve as child's therapist when she moves to Asheville; opposed DSS custody of either child or child's sibling, and encouraged father to leave the home
9/17/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files motion for review;, father is uncooperative with agency
9/21/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - receives information that child is in Asheville, and plans to file petition for non-secure on the basis that child is at risk for flight
9/22/95 Buncombe Co. DSS - files motion for emergency ex-parte order, stating that child is beck in Asheville, and that faitmr is violating GA order by returning her from MO; requesting that father not remove child from county, produce child for hearing, and have an expedited hearing on matter
9/22/95 Emergency Ex-Parte Protective Order signed by Judge Fowler, directing the father not to remove child from jurisdicUon of Court; set hearing date for adjudication
9/26/95 Motion in Limine - filed by father, requesting juvenile court refrain from hearing testimony of SBI, DSS, and other law enforcement staff who have interviewed child
9/27-28/95 Hearing in Juvenile Court - Judge Fowler found no evidence of sexual abuse, and would not grant custody or placement of child to DSS; DSS would not agree to disrobe; child to begin therapy with Dr. Judith Pohl, and parents to have psychological evaluations; mother entitled to visitation as Per the GA order; child not to be removed from jurisdiction; DSS
5/8/96 Juvenile Court adjudication and dispositional hearing with Judge Fowler - child adjudicated neglected; custody and visitation to continue as set forth in GA; that parents shall mediate future Issues; child to continue in therapy with child
7/18/96 Letter to Judge Fowler from Dr. Judith Pohl - states that child is doing well since unsupervised visitation resumed with mother and has less anxiety about both parents; recommended unsupervised visits for mother and parents in joint therapy
8/15/96 GAL Report to Court - child is doing much better emotionally with both parents; recommended child to continue counseling, lengthier visitation with mother, and permission for mother to take child out of state for visitation
8/20/96 Juvenile Court - Final hearing by Judge Fowler continued visitation for mother; parties to mediate future visitation, and if that fails, seek relief in Civil Court; GAL to continue, and DSS released
12/10/96 GAL Report to Court - child has discontinued theraw upon the advice of the therapist; GAL requests release from case
9/24/97 Buncombe Co. DSS - CPS Complaint filed on child with allegaUons against step-mother; professional reporter, DSS refused investigation because allegations did not fall under CPS by law
10/16/97 Buncombe Co. DSS - CPS Complaint filed on child ailaging neglect by step-mother, reporter is friend of mother's; DSS turned case over to Henderson Co. DSS due to conflict in case in the past; case is pending.
Child's Exhibit #4
NOTES FROM DR. POHL'S SESSION WITH xxxx
11/16/97 xxxx was seen for 50" of individual psychotherapy. We spent the first few minutes of the sessions reconnecting and talking about the details of her life including school, her friends, gymnastics, and her current living situation. She was very clear about the legal process that was deter,tining her custody at this time and was very clear about being caught, once again, in a battle where both parents were fighting over her. When I asked her if she felt caught in the middle, she responded, "I am caught in the middle, they both want me to come live with them".
xxxx unambiguously expressed her desire to live with her mother. She described her time with both parents and while she described her experience with her father and Elena in positive terms, she indicated that regular visits to them in California would satisfy her need for contact. In contrast, she was unable to imagine not having regular contact with her mother and was only consoled by the belief that her mother wotfid move to California to be close to her if she moved there with her father.
Because I am meeting with xxxx only one time, I am unable to fully determine the appropriateness of xxxx residing with either parent. I would encourage a further evaluation of Jeannie Wrightson's intentions in terms of xxxx's visitation with her father. I would examine the impact of xxxx's separation from her mother over the past few years in terms of intensifying xxxx's desire for living with her mother at this time. I would evaluate the level of emotional emeshment between Jeannie and xxxx that might complicate their reunification. Likewise, the impact of xxxx being physically separated from her mother should be evaluated, and I question the emotional impact of xxxx's feelings and desires in this matter having been ignored at each phase of these proceedings over the past several years.
I do feel comfortable, however, stating that xxxx's primary emotional connection remains with her mother even though she has clearly made strong emotional bonds with her father and his family. In my opinion, extended separation from her mother would have a negative impact on xxxx, although continuation of the current visitation pattern in California might be tenable for all parties.
Judith Pohl, Ph.D.