Monday, February 28, 2011

Child custody expert linked to lewd Web photos

The LA Times reports:
A prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist who has helped decide hundreds of child-custody disputes was thrown off one recent case and has been challenged in at least two others after posting lewd photos of himself on Facebook and allegedly promoting illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.

Dr. Joseph Kenan, president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, is also being investigated by the Medical Board of California on at least four complaints by parents who hired him to do custody evaluations, according to records and correspondence reviewed by The Times.

Among the postings on Facebook and other websites under the slightly different names of "Joe Kegan" and "Joe Keegan" were photos showing Kenan baring his buttocks to the camera in public and another of him posing with a friend holding a cake that explicitly depicted a sexual act, court records state.

The litigation over Kenan's fitness sheds light on a highly influential, but lightly regulated, group of experts — the evaluators who advise family courts in contested custody cases. Evaluators can earn fees of tens of thousands of dollars for assessing parents' fitness.

Critics of the system say the courts do a poor job of overseeing the work of people who often play pivotal roles in the lives of vulnerable children. A recent state auditor's report faulted two courts in Northern California for how they vet custody evaluators' qualifications and training.

Kenan's detractors have been particularly vehement.

"This man should not be allowed to determine whether any father or mother is a good parent," said Deborah Singer, who persuaded a court commissioner to remove Kenan from her child-custody case last year after she discovered explicit postings on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

Singer and another parent who sought to disqualify Kenan, Deborah Zolla, say their concerns were sparked, in part, by his demands for tens of thousands of dollars, which they considered excessive fees, to develop custody plans for their children.

Kenan declined to be interviewed for this article. In a written statement submitted in Singer's case, he said the Facebook page was never meant for public viewing. ...

When Kenan asked for an additional $35,000 and offered to send a "runner" to her house for a $20,000 check, she became alarmed and researched him on the Internet, leading her to the explicit photos, her court papers say. ...

"If any of my clients were doing what he's doing, trust me, they would lose custody of their kids," Braun said. "Yet, he is the one making recommendations to the courts — and which the courts have been following." ...

Some lawyers who have worked with Kenan said he was well regarded.
This is not so surprising. The child custody evaluator profession attracts psychologically disturbed people. The one that I have had to deal with locally -- Johnson, Berrenge, Katz, Lee, Muccilli, and Perlmutter -- are all unfit to even be babysitters. You would never want any of those creeps to have anything to do with your kids.

If you were hiring a personal trainer to help you get physically fit, and someone assigned you 350-pound couch potato, would you accept him? Of course not. You would figure that if he really knew how to get in shape, then he would have done it himself first.

There are probably some fat NFL football coaches, but they have a serious job to do, and they get judged on results. But the child custody evaluators never get judged on results, and never have to show competence at doing the job.

The child custody evaluators fails on all counts. They are greedy. They are mentally unstable. They have depraved personal lives. They know nothing about child rearing. Their own kids are failures. Their recommendations are worthless. I've met 14-year-old babysitters with more child rearing sense than any of the local child custody evaluators. As far as I know, none of them has ever been able to demonstrate that any of their recommendations had any merit. Certainly not Perlmutter, as I asked him in deposition.

Update: A comment added a link to the video. See the pictures of what passes for a "highly regarded child custody expert".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Angry Dad on The Simpsons

Last Sunday's TV show is competing with my trademark:
Ahead of Sunday night's Academy Awards broadcast, last night's "The Simpsons" delivered some spot-on satires of Oscar-worthy animation. The ostensible plot involved Bart's defunct, Homer-spoofing web cartoon "Angry Dad" being repurposed as a film and eventually nominated for an Oscar. "Angry Dad: The Move's" competition included terrific parodies ...
You can get more info at Angry Dad: The Movie and Simpsons Wiki: Angry Dad.

It looks as if I have to compete with Homer Simpson when you Google Angry Dad! I am still No. 1, but I may not stay long unless I get continued maltreatment by the family court.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snitches in your own home

AP reports:
Lighting up a cigarette at home could bring a visit from Honduran police if a family member or even a visitor complains about secondhand smoke.

A new law that took effect Monday banning smoking in most public and private spaces doesn't actually outlaw cigarettes inside homes, but it does have a provision allowing people to file complaints about secondhand smoke in homes.

Violations would bring a verbal warning on the first offense. After that could come arrest and a $311 fine — the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage in this Central American country.
I would like to say that only some Third World backwater like Honduras would be silly enough to pass such an invasive and unnecessary law, to pretend that it does not infringe your rights to behave as you please at your own home, and yet accept police complaints about such behavior anyway.

But, alas, in the USA it is completely legal to spank your kids, yell at your kids, feed them broccoli, set their alarm clock, make them do homework, etc., and that does not stop govt agents from taking and investigating complaints about such matters. If those agents disapprove of your personal behavior at home, then they can use the family and juvenile dependency courts to make life miserable for you.

I don't smoke, and I am glad that my parents did not smoke. But the idea of encouraging family members to make police complaints against each other for smoking in their own homes is outrageous. We should resist any such policies that serve to bust up families.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Boy committed for 48 hours

This story was all over the local California TV news:
A southern California elementary school student is taken by an ambulance to a psychiatric hospital because of a picture he drew in class. His mother says her son suffers from separation anxiety because his dad is in the army and deployed overseas and the school overreacted.

Syndi Dorman says "I said can you do this and they're like yeah, I'm just like what! Can I get a lawyer? How is this happening?"

Syndi Dorman says what happened to her son could happen to any school-age child and that's why she's speaking out. On Monday, her 6-year-old son Jack was committed to a psychiatric ward against her wishes after he drew a violent drawing at school and wrote that he wanted to die.

Syndi says "they said they were concerned about a picture he drew. I said he plays video games and it's a picture from a video game." ...

Jack was released after 48 hours, but his mother says the experience will have lasting effects.

Syndi says "my son doesn't want to go back to school. He's afraid they're going to take him away again."
At least she got the kid back after 48 hours. My kids were seized for much more trivial reasons three years ago, and I still have not gotten them back. And it was all because my ex-wife called CPS and lied to them about emotional abuse.

It would have been better if my kids had been committed to a psychiatric ward. Then the shrinks would have had 72 hours to decide something. In my case, it took the authorities three years to say that there was no abuse of any form, that my ex-wife's accusations were entirely unfounded, and I still cannot get my kids back.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Satan wedding dress

Jay Leno has comedy act with funny headlines and other printed items. Last night, Jay Leno showed a classified ad for a "Satan wedding dress", and this newspaper clipping (soon to be posted here):
Violation of injunction, ... While having sex with her ex-husband, a woman remembered that she had a restraining order against him. She then reported him to police for the violation.
Usually the joke is some sort of misprint, such as Satan instead of Satin. But the injunction violation is a real story. That is how the system works. I am posting it here as a public service.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Kids put on abuse registry

I always assumed that only adults were put on the child abuse registry. But it includes kids as young as 10 years old. The NY Times reports:
The Central Registry was created in the mid-1990s as a clearinghouse for reports of child abuse and neglect, to give everyone from child welfare workers to certain job placement offices a central location within the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to run background checks or aid investigations.

It is largely made up of people who are not convicted criminals or registered sex offenders — from the negligent parent whose child died in a hot car to a group-home operator who hit a disabled child — and it includes the names of thousands of juveniles who may have no idea they are even on it and never had a chance to contest the designation. Like James’s son, those on the list will most likely not be eligible to adopt or foster children, and they are unlikely to get approval to work with children.

The confidential database contains anyone 10 or older who child welfare investigators have found “reason to believe” abused a child — a threshold that means there is overwhelming evidence to support the accusation. Of the roughly 54,000 people added to the registry in the 2009 fiscal year, nearly 2,500 were under 18. ...

James said he was not told that his son was on the child-abuser registry or that he would never be able to adopt again — details he called “so show-stopping that failing to disclose it is tantamount to fraud.” ... It was only when James decided to switch adoption agencies in the fall of 2009 that he found out what the “reason to believe” language in his son’s file meant — the boy’s listing in the registry would keep them from expanding their family.
This is really sick. I think that CPS should be shut down in its entirety. And then the names of all the CPS social workers should be put on a registry of evil people that prevents them from holding any job of responsibility again.

Here is a CBS/AP story from last year on problems with the registry:
Combatting child abuse is a cause with universal support. Yet a push to create a national database of abusers, as authorized by Congress in 2006, is barely progressing as serious flaws come to light in the state-level registries that would be the basis for a national list.

In North Carolina, an appeals court ruled last month that the registry there is unconstitutional because alleged abusers had no chance to defend themselves before being listed.

In New York, a class-action settlement is taking effect on behalf of thousands of people who were improperly denied the chance for a hearing to get removed from the state registry. ...

A person doesn't have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to get listed. Under the general practice in most states, entries are based on a child protection investigator's assertion that the person committed an act of abuse or neglect; hearings or appeals, if granted at all, often come long after the name is entered.

"Anybody can call a child abuse hotline and report abuse - anybody, including your ex-spouse who hates you, your landlord who's trying to evict you," Kubitschek said.
That is how I got on the California list. I have an ex-spouse who called CPS and made false and vindictive accusations against me. Three psychologists have testified in court that the charges were unfounded, but I am still on the list.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dad eats most of the food

When asked for a specific example of the changes that my ex-wife wants in me, all she could do was to refer to this paragraph in Psychologist Ken Perlmutter's report:
When asked what her dad would need to change for her to do overnights with him she said "like change everything" and then recounted various past events when he acted in ways that upset her (e.g. "picking us up late from school" "not getting us clothes", "not taking us to activities", "not having enough food"). She is fine talking to him on the phone.
I was actually present during the part of the interview where Perlmutter asked my daughters to recite as many complaints about me as they could think of to say. She did not actually say, "not having enough food". My daughter said, "Dad eats most of the food."

I challenged my daughter to explain when we ever failed to have enough food. She admitted that I always made extra food, and there was always plenty to eat. After about five minutes discussion about that, I asked her what the problem was. She said that there was no problem, and that by saying "Dad eats most of the food", she only meant that my food portions were much larger than theirs, and she did not mean to imply that they were not getting enough to eat. Perlmutter was too stupid to understand this.

There is no merit to the other complaints either. If I had really been picking them up late from school, the school would have documented it and my ex-wife would have used it against me. And of course they were not running around naked from a lack of clothes either.

My guess is that Judge Morse is going to send us to counseling to address these points, and it will be a total waste of time. I can only hope that the counselor has enough common sense to understand that the kids probably did have clothes to wear, or there would have been more serious complaints. But I doubt it.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ex-wife admits calling CPS

My custody trial continued yesterday, with my ex-wife and myself testifying. After three years of denying it, she finally admitted that she called CPS and attempted to persuade the CPS agent to take some sort of emergency action because our kids had missed a day of school.

She also complained about this blog.

I had thought that yesterday would be the final day of trial, but now it looks like it could continue until the kids are 18 years old. The judge shows no interest in resolving anything. She indicated that she may make some sort of decision next month, but it might be to have some more evaluations so we can go back to court in several months with some more reports. This has been going on for six years already, and there is no end in sight.

My ex-wife said that she wanted me to change, so I asked her how. I asked her to be as specific as possible. She said that she could not think of anything, but that Ken Perlmutter had collected some suggestions from our 11-year-old daughter, such as having more food. Meanwhile, Judge Morse said that my ex-wife's opinion is irrelevant, because the court only wants to consider how Perlmutter wants me to change. But he did not really explain it any better than my ex-wife, as he could not find any fault with any of my parenting practices.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Defining child abuse

I recently posted items about extreme parenting methods, including Tiger mom Amy Chua here and here, and the Dr. Phil video here. I got some comments wanting to punish these moms.

If you think that these moms should be punished, then what standards would you apply?

We live in a society where only crimes are punished, and crimes are defined by statutes. Those statutes include child abuse and neglect. What objective criteria are being applied?

I disapprove of the parenting practices of about 90% of parents. However, I do not think that those 90% should be punished. Only those who are causing harm by some objective criteria.

Update: A comment asks what standards I would apply. To give an example statute, here is the Calif WI 300 code defining actionable child abuse and neglect:
(a) The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally upon the child by the child's parent or guardian. ...

(b) The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm or illness, as a result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child, or the willful or negligent failure of the child's parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child from the conduct of the custodian with whom the child has been left, or by the willful or negligent failure of the parent or guardian to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment, or by the inability of the parent or guardian to provide regular care for the child due to the parent's or guardian's mental illness, developmental disability, or substance abuse. ...
I have omitted some qualifications. There are also court cases defining the matter further.

I just don't see cold showers as being "serious physical harm". If you really think that a parent should be criminally punished for cold showers, then how do you think that this statute should read? Much as I disagree with certain parenting tactics, regulating shower temperature would be a vast invasion of civil liberties and privacy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Shrink says we are both good parents

Here is how Palo Alto psychologist Ken Perlmutter compared me to my ex-wife, in a deposition:
Q. And did you find evidence favoring one parent
over the other?

A. I found existence of what the current
situation is. She's not a better parent than you.
She's not -- they are not more in love with her than
you. They've developed a different relationship with
her based on the fact that you've spent minimum time
with them over the last two and a half years.
So we are equally good parents, but my ex-wife lied to get temporary sole custody three years ago, and all the psychologist did was to recommend that the temporary custody continue for a few more months. For that, we paid him $28,000.

I do not know what the judge will do with this. Without any testimony that my ex-wife is any better than I am, I don't see how she can continue to deny me from seeing my kids.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Don't send a video to Dr. Phil

ABC News reports:
Video from the "Dr. Phil" television show of an Alaska mother forcing her son to drink hot sauce and take cold showers prompted a police investigation that has led to charges of child abuse against the mother.

Jessica Beagley, a 36-year-old mother of six, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in an Anchorage, Alaska courtroom today. ...

Video from the "Dr. Phil" television show of an Alaska mother forcing her son to drink hot sauce and take cold showers prompted a police investigation that has led to charges of child abuse against the mother.

Jessica Beagley, a 36-year-old mother of six, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in an Anchorage, Alaska courtroom today.
The lesson here is not to make home movies of your child discipline and send them to Dr. Phil.

I do not approve of these tactics, but they do not look criminal to me. I eat hot sauce and take cold showers. Not a big deal. If the kid had to eat hot sauce as part of a meal, and had to take cold showers because the water heater was broken, then no one would claim child abuse.