Child Custody Evaluators, Child Custody Evaluations: No Science and a Denigration of Due Process.  Reevaluating the Evaluators Child Custody Evaluation - Dealing with child custody evaluators' refusal to comply with discovery in court Parenting Coordination, a bad idea

Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories

Abused Children and Mothers Speak - Fathers' Rights Activists Attack

Compiled by Trish Wilson, © 2005
All rights reserved by author

PBS Final Statement Supportive Of "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

PBS's final statement is out. It supports "Breaking The Silence". The documentary was not seen by PBS as being one-sided and lacking balance, as fathers' rights activists have claimed it is. There was also no mention of one of the mothers in the documentary being an alleged abuser, which was a big sticking point for fathers' rights activists, in particular Glenn Sacks. There were no problems seen with the people who had been interviewed.

This part is very interesting - Glenn Sacks is crowing about PBS's final statement on his web site, but he doesn't post the entire statement. He only quoted from the last paragraph about a new documentary being made. He can't post the entire statement because it so clearly comes out in support of "Breaking The Silence". Sacks put his name behind the biggest protest against the documentary, and especially against Sadiya Alilire, whom he and numerous fathers' rights activists claimed was the "real" abuser. PBS did not come to the same conclusion about Alilire. PBS concluded that "[i]n stark and often poignant interviews, children and battered mothers tell their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the courts." No mention of one of the mothers interviewed being a "child abuser" or abuser herself. Sacks wouldn't dare post the entire statement because it would show that fathers' rights activists - in particular, himself - were not successful in getting "Breaking The Silence" discredited as poorly-researched, biased material. PBS clearly stated that the documentary was neither. PBS found the documentary to be "open-minded" and "fair".

PBS wrote that "[t]he producers approached the topic with the open mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists. Their research was extensive and supports the conclusions drawn in the program." PBS supports the documentary.

PBS also concluded that the topic is very complex, and was perhaps not best described using first-person stories that the documentary used, especially in describing Parental Alienation Syndrome. Please note that PBS stated that "the documentary's "first-person story telling approach" did not allow the depth of the producers' research to be as evident to the viewer as it could have been." This means that PBS agrees that producers' presentation of PAS as junk science was supported by research, but the way it chose to describe PAS didn't make it as clear to viewers as it could have been.

It has commissioned an hour-long documentary to delve more deeply into these kinds of custody cases, PAS, and family issues.

Fathers' rights activists are taking this as a big win, but that's not the case. The topic is going to get further, more in-depth analysis. That doesn't mean that fathers' rights activists will be able to force PBS to air their propaganda. I'd welcome the fathers' rights garbage be presented in a documentary where the other side - the side with the facts and valid research behind it - will make them look even more petty, vindictive, and stupid than they already look.

This final statement is actually good news for the supporters of "Breaking The Silence". Here's the final statement:


Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories (BTS) chronicles the impact of domestic violence on children and the recurring failings of family courts across the country to protect them from their abusers. In stark and often poignant interviews, children and battered mothers tell their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the courts. The producers approached the topic with the open mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists. Their research was extensive and supports the conclusions drawn in the program. Funding from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation met PBS's underwriting guidelines; the Foundation had no editorial influence on program content.

However, the program would have benefited from more in-depth treatment of the complex issues surrounding child custody and the role of family courts and most specifically the provocative topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Additionally, the documentary's "first-person story telling approach" did not allow the depth of the producers' research to be as evident to the viewer as it could have been.

PBS has received a substantial body of analysis and documentation from both supporters of the documentary and its critics.

It is clear to us that this complex and important issue would benefit from further examination. To that end, PBS will commission an hour-long documentary for that purpose. Plans call for the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006. We expect that the hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity for doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated.

Below are links related to the PBS documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". This important documentary details how abused children are not believed, and are then awarded to their abusive fathers. Mothers who try to protect their abused children are accused of having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS is not recognized as a valid medical syndrome by the American Psychological Association. It is junk science that does not belong in a court of law.

This documentary is important in that it provides a voice for abused children who have been given over to the custody of their abusive fathers. Plus, it describes PAS as the garbage that it is. Fathers' rights activists are very intimidated by this documentary, and they have taken action. Fathers' rights activists have engaged in a vicious campaign to denigrate both the documentary and at least two of the people covered in it. Fathers' rights activists have sent hundreds of angry e-mails to PBS denouncing the documentary. They have made angry phone calls and written angry letters. They rant about this documentary on their web sites, mailing lists, and other Internet sites.

The latest attacks by fathers' rights activists misrepresent the American Psychological Association's statements about alienation. Most heinous of all is that with the help of one of the named fathers in the documentary, they have taken to attacking one of the protective mothers and her daughter who were courageous enough to speak out about the abuse the mother and daughter have experienced at the hands of the teenaged's girl's father. In particular, Glenn Sacks and Wendy McElroy have circulated outdated court documents provided to Sacks by this father, Scott Loeliger. He refers to his ex-wife, Sadiya Alilire, as a "child abuser". Ms. Alilire has sole custody of her daughter, Fatima Loeliger. Due to the attacks against her, Ms. Loeliger found it necessary to tell her side of the story.

One very telling thing about what fathers' rights activists are doing is that Glenn Sacks buried Fatima Loeliger's statement about abuse she had experienced in her fathers' household on a page originally entitled "The Opposition's Side Of The Story". A teenaged girl describing her own experience of abuse is called "The Opposition". That's one hell of a Freudian slip. Not only that, Sacks described Fatima's statement as being "by or for Fatima Loeliger", as if she had been coached by her mother. PAS advocates don't believe children who speak out about abuse. They often claim that these children have been coached, and cite that as evidence of PAS. Such a position ignores the child's own claims about abuse and favors the allegedly abusive father. Sacks has seen my statement that referring to Fatima's own story as "The Opposition" was a huge slip on his part, and he has since changed the name of that page to "Sadia [sic] Loeliger's Side Of The Story". That's another slip. It's not only Sadiya's side. It's also Fatima's side. I have lots of documentation here that is in Fatima's own words. "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" is about the children who have claimed that they have been abused by their fathers. Once again, children's voices are ignored.

These malicious attacks against Ms. Loeliger, Ms. Alilire, and the documentary mirror the experiences abused women and children experience from abusive fathers in court. Fathers' rights activists are engaging in the very malicious and abusive behavior in their attacks that the documentary describes.

Below are pertinent links about the documentary, Ms. Loeliger, and Ms. Alilire.

PBS's Internal Memo That Was Leaked To Fathers' Rights Activists. Good for PBS. PBS provided reasonable responses for its employees who have to deal with ongoing invective and bile coming from angry fathers' rights activists. There's a mob mentality in the angry protests engaged in by fathers' rights activists. PBS is not caving to pressure from bully tactics used by those people. It is standing behind "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories".

The American Psychological Association's Statement About PAS. Bold emphasis mine.

Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children's witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother's behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.

Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.

APA Office of Public Affairs:
Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome
October 28, 2005
(Bold emphasis mine.)

The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that all mental health practitioners as well as law enforcement officials and the courts must take any reports of domestic violence in divorce and child custody cases seriously. An APA 1996 Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family noted the lack of data to support so-called "parental alienation syndrome", and raised concern about the term's use. However, we have no official position on the purported syndrome.

More on Parental Alienation Syndrome, its status as junk science, and misrepresentations by Glenn Sacks and other fathers' rights activists may be found at these two links:

The Truth About Parental Alienation Syndrome And The American Psychological Association. A statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005)

Scientific and Professional Rejections of Parental Alienation Syndrome. A statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005)

Fathers' Rights Activists Attack Abused Mother And Her Teenaged Daughter

Statement of Sadiya Alilire. Sadiya responds to statements and documentation about her on Glenn Sack's web site. She has had custody of her daughter Fatima for several years, and Fatima is doing fine.

Fatima Loeliger's Story

Fatima Loeliger's Second Response - To Documentation Circulated By Her Father, Which Appears On Glenn Sacks's Web Site She addresses claims made about her and her mother on Glenn Sacks's web site. She says that she has never been abused by her mother, contrary to documentation posted on Sacks's site. Her mother is not a drug addict. She describes her father repeating calling Child Protective Services, claiming that her mother was abusing her. She also states that her father placed her in foster care when she stated she wanted to live with her mother. She ran away from her fathers' home. She described physical and emotional abuse in her fathers' household. She describes how her father tried to get people form the cult-like Rachel Foundation to talk to her when she stated she wanted to live with her mother. She states having been in and out of court since she was very young. She's been in court for nearly fifteen years. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother. She lives with her mother now. She says she wants the custody battle to stop so she can live out her remaining couple of years like a normal teenager before she graduates from high school.

Statement By Sadiya's Niece, Faduma Sara Ali. Sara disputes documentation Glenn Sacks has about her on his web site. She says that she has never been abused by her aunt. She states that Sadiya had never abused her two daughters. She admitted to making false allegations of abuse against Sadiya because she was angry at her, and because she was afraid Sadiya would send her back to Africa to live with her father. She says that the letter she had written, which appears on Glenn Sack's web site, was never intended to be mailed. She has denied any abuse from Sadiya on documentation available on Sacks's web site.

Documentation Showing Sadiya Alilire Is Not A Child Abuser, And That Fatima Has Had Serious Problems While Under Her Fathers' Care

Testimony Of Fatima Loeliger, Part I She states having been in and out of court since she was very young. She's been in court for nearly fifteen years. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother.

Testimony Of Fatima Loeliger, Part II Shows that she was living in foster care per her fathers' wishes. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother.

Current Custody Order, Dated September 29, 2004. Sadiya Alilire has primary physical custody. Scott Loeliger is secondary parent. The parents have joint legal custody, but it is limited to Scott Loeliger having the right to obtain school and medical records. He has been ordered not to go to Fatima's classroom or to contact anyone listed on the school emergency card. Fatima will remain in therapy. There are other limits placed on both parents, especially regarding contacting each other.

Fatima Spoke At The International Conference On Child Violence . Newspaper article. She was one child who delivered victim impact statements to an international audience.

Newspaper Article About Fatima Being On An Award-Winning School Debate Team. There is a picture of the debate team.

Statement From Fatima's Soccer Coach, Dated July 7, 2004. The coach describes aggressive and intimidating behavior by Scott Loeliger.

Report By Rick Gore, DA Investigator, Child Abduction Unit. Dated 2004. Indicates that Fatima has run away from her father, and that Fatima had been living with Sadiya since 2003. Fatima was doing well, getting straight A's. Scott Loeliger wanted Fatima removed from her mother's care and placed in foster care. Gore did not see a reason to do that, since Fatima was thriving. Scott Loeliger insisted despite this that Fatima be put in foster care, claiming that Sadiya was not a good parent, despite no evidence to prove any such thing. Gore wrote that "I told him he allowed his daughter to get established, make friends, and develop relationships and to abruptly remove her from this does not appear reasonable. I kept wanting to know of a specific allegation on why now, did he want the [custody] order enforced. Again, he never explained his reasoning." Gore noted that Scott Loeliger "appeared more interested in winning rather than what was best for his child." Included are Fatima's own statements regarding how she wants to live with her mother. Gore saw no reason to remove Fatima from her mother's care.

Second Report By Rick Gore, Dated 2004. Gore describes "condescending, accusatory", "unreasonable", "badgering", and demanding behavior by Scott Loeliger. When Scott Loeliger did not see his demands met, he demanded to meet with Gore's supervisor.

Testimony Of Steven Prinz, one of Fatima's teachers. Prinz indicates that Fatima is a very good student - above average academically. He also stated she had lots of friends and was in leadership positions at school. He described Fatima saying she wanted to run away from her fathers' home. She described what Prinz referred to as "verbal and emotional abuse" - that her father and stepmother were "calling her names and demoralizing her".

Court-Ordered Psychological Evaluation By Dr. Karen J. Quinn, Dated 1994. Dr. Quinn describes Scott Loeliger's desire to relocate to Hawaii (which Dr. Quinn recommended be denied), Scott Loeliger's bigamy (he was married to another woman when he married Sadiya.), Sadiya's difficulty adjusting to America and the acrimonous court battles, the endless court records filed by mostly by Scott Loeliger, normal maladaptive behavior on Sadiya's part that anyone subjected to long and intense custody battles would exhibit, Sadiya's bond with Fatima being stronger than Scotts, Scott Loeliger's obsessive fixation with Sadiya's whereabouts (he harassed babysitters to find out where Sadiya was and he followed her through the hospital where she worked. Security guards had to escort her to her car.), Scott Loeliger takes no responsibility for problems between he and Sadiya, Scott Loeliger's "passive-aggressive and paranoid tendencies", and other controlling and manipulative behavior designed to push Sadiya's buttons. Dr. Quinn notes the importance of Fatima identifying with her African cultural descent, and that she is stressed by the post-divorce conflict. Dr. Quinn also recommended that Fatima have more time with her mother, and that the current custody order should be reversed.

Testimony By Randi Gottlieb Robinson, Dated Sometime After 1998. Robinson was a personal friend of Scott Loeliger whom he had enlisted to act as Fatima's therapist. Robinson never spoke to Sadiya Alilire. She got all her information from Scott Loeliger, who paid for the evaluation. She has been on vacation and various social outings with Scott Loeliger, including (according to Sadiya) including sharing family backyard barbecues and sharing cabins together while on vacation. Goes to bias. Most importantly, Robinson noted that Fatima Loeliger had recanted the abuse allegations Robinson had attributed to her.

Sadiya's Complaint Against Randi Gottleib Robinson, Dated November, 2004. Includes statements that Robinson is biased because she had a close personal relationship with Scott Loeliger, including family barbeques, vacationing together, and sharing cabings together. Sadiya also notes that she was told that Scott Loeliger and Randi Gottlieb Robinson were carrying on an extramarital affair.

CPS Letter Of Investigation Of Fatima's Home. CPS found that Sadiya's methods of discipline were appropriate. Most often, Fatima was not allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or get allowance if she misbehaved. The letter also describes discipline Sadiya gave to cousin Sarah, which was also deemed appropriate. The letter described Scott Loeliger audiotaping Fatima during a visitation as well as inappropriate pressuring behavior towards Fatima on the part of Scott Loeliger and his wife. Fatima indicates in a conversation that her mother never abused her.

CPS Letter Of Complaint From Sadiya Alilire. Sadiya Alilire wants to see her visitation resumed, since Fatima had expressed her wish to see her mother. Sadiya Aliilre claimed that CPS supervisor Michael Coffron "confronted Fatima in his office, calling her "manipulative" and other such detrogatory terms, bringing her to tears."

About The Documentary, And The Malicious Fathers' Rights Attacks Against It

Critics of Child Abuse Film Miss the Point in Rush to Defend Fathers". Article By Paul J. Fink, Judge Sol Gothard, and Tasha Amador. Article addresses misconceptions circulated by fathers' rights activists about domestic violence and the documentary. In particular focuses on writings by fathers' rights activist Glenn Sacks.

The Latest Fathers' Rights Attack Against "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories. Pro-PAS nonsense masquerading as fact.

"Custody Fight", by Bob Port. A supportive article about the documentary. (This article is also available on my blog.)

The National Organization For Women On "Breaking The Silence". This article is also available on my blog.

Angry Fathers' Rights Activists Vs. PBS.

Caught In The Middle: Documentary shows how kids can be pawns in abuse, custody cases".

Press Release From Stop Family Violence .

Stop Family Violence - Petition To Air "Breaking The Silence".

Stop Family Violence: Shocking PBS Documentary Exposes Secrets Of Family Court.

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Includes mention of "Breaking The Silence" and fathers' rights protests.

Blogcritics: An Important Documentary - "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories

Blogcritics: Fathers' Rights Activists Livid Over Airing Of "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories

Psychology in the family courts: therapeutic jurisprudence is bad science and a denigration of due process Collaborative Lawyers Southeast Florida


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