How Family Court cases like Wylie vs Wylie provoke fugitive parents


October 6 , 2014

Source: The Australian

Some women who feel betrayed by the Family Court resort to desperate measures. 

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WE had dinner in May 2013, almost a year before the abduction.

Over pasta and salad she said there were dark and terrible things I needed to know about the matter of Wylie v Wylie, the pseudonymous title the Family Court of Australia gave its published judgments in one of the most bitter and complex cases in its 38-year history. “Ms Wylie” was bright, well-spoken and tortured by the belief that her husband, “Mr Wylie”, was sexually abusing their six-year-old twin daughters. She asked if I could help her. I could not.

On June 7, 2013, Family Court judge Justice Peter Tree, “after eight days of trial before me of fiercely contested competing parenting applications relating to the parties’ six-year-old twin girls”, ordered that Mr Wylie have sole parental responsibility for the major long-term care of his children and that Ms Wylie ask her GP for referral to a psychiatrist. “I am satisfied, on the material before me, that the concerns which inevitably would otherwise have flowed from the mother’s notice of abuse, have been sufficiently addressed by the evidence,” said Justice Tree.

That evidence included documents detailing the outcome of an investigation conducted by the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Child Safety into Ms Wylie’s child abuse ­allegations against her husband that found: “Nil physical evidence of sexual abuse indicated through medical examination; nil verbal reports from the children of abuse over four interviews with QPS and Child Safety; verbal report from [one twin] to QPS and Child Safety citing coaching from her mother to make statements.”

On February 14 this year, Ms Wylie sent me a 1549-word email: “I have now seen two psychiatrists, four psychologists and a victims-of-crime counsellor who have all said that I am sane. The father and the Family Court believe I am not, so I just keep being sent to another mental health professional. I believe that this will keep happening until one of them says what the court wants to hear.

“Everything is being done by those who should be protecting my children to protect their abuser, and [the twins] are still forced to live with him.

“One in four children are sexually abused. Only one in 100 pedophiles see the inside of a prison cell. It is not because children aren’t talking, it is that they aren’t believed, and, more often than not, if their abuser is their father, he is given custody.”

On April 1, Ms Wylie sent a message to me that was also sent to Acting Inspector Craig Weatherley of the Queensland Police Child Safety and Sexual Crime Group: “I have tried and tried to have faith that the people who are paid to protect my children would do so. This situation needs to be made very public. It is ­horrifying on so many levels.”

On April 3, Ms Wylie emailed me a photograph of one of her girls. She was smiling, in a red dress, wearing the same kind of purple angel wings that my own seven-year-old daughter wears on occasion. “This is a photo of [her] BEFORE she started bleeding from her rectum and contracting another vaginal infection,” Ms Wylie wrote. “Painfully thin, eyes sunken in her head, and apparently absolutely no need for concern in regards to how well she is being ‘cared’ for. Can you imagine what state she is in now? They say a picture says a thousand words. This is the reality of her life right now.”

Child-abduction

The next day, April 4, Mr Wylie dropped his girls at the gate of the school they attend. It was between 8.30am and 8.40am, the last day of school before the Easter holidays. He watched his daughters walk 30m from the car to the school gate, amid the usual chaos of school drop-off; kids running left and right, parents zipping back and forth. His eyes zeroed in on his children and he said to himself, “Gee, they’re getting big those girls.”

Sometime between entering the school gate and the sound of the morning bell, the girls vanished. The Family Court issued a media release that spread across the country: “Fugitive mother of two [Ms Wylie] remains on the run more than a week after she is believed to have abducted her twin daughters from their … primary school. By now, she could quite literally be ­anywhere in Australia.

“The suspected abduction is unlawful and in breach of Family Court orders which [Ms Wylie] consented to … It is inevitable that someone has seen the trio in their travels, and may even know their present whereabouts. Any assistance knowingly provided to a criminal to avoid punishment is itself a serious crime.

“Their father is deeply concerned and desperately seeking public help.”

Ms Wylie was issued one of the 520 recovery orders made by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court in the past year, orders that Chief Justice Diana Bryant calls a “last resort” when parents don’t voluntarily return children, or take them on the run.

I went back over the emails Ms Wylie had sent me throughout the past year and my thoughts kept returning to her message of April 1, three days before the abduction. Her desperate course was mapped in two lines. “I have had enough of playing nice,” she wrote. “Following the rules does not work.”

I’m looking at Mr Wylie as he’s talking, ­telling me what it feels like to be a father of two kids still on the run with their mother, five long months after they disappeared. I’m studying his teeth, his hair, his skin and his speech to make foolish and unqualified gut assessments about whether or not he speaks the truth. He will get this for the rest of his life and he knows it. The stain of the allegation. “You have your best friends asking you outright, ‘Tell me now, did you do it or not?’” he says.

He cries when he says this, screws his face up, grits his teeth. The thought has a physical impact on him. “They want to help but they don’t want to be put in a position where they’re supporting someone who is a child abuser.

“One police officer said to me, ‘It’s the easiest allegation to make but the hardest one to prove and if you hate someone enough, that would be the way to go.’”

He pulls a small red rental car into a carpark on Brisbane’s suburban northside, where police have had unconfirmed sightings of Ms Wylie and her two daughters. “We used to live here,” he says. “She knows the area well.”

He pops his boot, takes a block of A4 posters marked, “ABDUCTED/MISSING $10,000 REWARD. For information leading to the location of missing 7-year-old non-identical twins… abducted by non-custodial parent in breach of court orders”. His girls beam in school uniform photos, one daughter missing her two front teeth. He sticks the posters to light poles, public noticeboards; hands them out to strangers.

“I came back to school at 3pm that afternoon to pick them up,” he says. “There were kids coming out and one little girl with her dad says to me, ‘What’s wrong with [one of the twins]? She wasn’t at school today.’ I thought she was just confused.

“Then I went in to where they wait to be picked up and there was no one there. I went up to their classroom and the teacher came out and said, ‘They haven’t been here all day.’” He shakes his head. “That’s not good.”

Tears fill his eyes again. “They found her car and the kids’ uniforms and school bags abandoned in the car about five minutes away from the school,” he says. “I don’t know whether she was waiting there, but, obviously, there’s been a changeover of cars.”

He shows me the text message he sent her immediately that afternoon: “Call me urgently.”

“I knew immediately it was [her]. I thought it was almost inevitable. She was getting to the end of the line. In terms of trying to push that line she was going with. There was no further way she could push it through the court. The only thing that was left for her was to take them.”

Mr Wylie met Ms Wylie in a public gym. They married in 2000, bought and renovated and sold houses in the property boom, travelled and worked through Europe. Their twin girls were born through IVF in 2007, when Mr Wylie was establishing his own small business.

“We had arguments,” he says. “We’d had a bit of conflict — mortgages, business debts. It was the usual thing, money. She had her ideas on business, I had mine. We had differences in parenting. We were fighting after the girls had gone to bed. Eventually I said we should split up.”

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And the war began. Fights over debt, fights over houses, legal fights over custody arrangements, accusations of domestic violence. Then Mr Wylie received a text message from Ms Wylie: “You need to talk to the Department of Child Safety, they’ve got some concerns.” A mandatory report had been made to the department alleging, Mr Wylie says, that one of the twins made a disclosure to an occupational ­therapist: “Daddy hurts me down here.”

A departmental “Assessment of Harm and Risk of Harm”, however, later determined that “the children are at risk of emotional harm as a result of the allegations being made that their father is sexually harming them. Their mother has advised that she was sexually abused as a child and believes that [Mr Wylie] is doing exactly the same things to her daughters. A parent who has been harmed as a child is more likely to display harmful parenting patterns relating to what they were subjected to themselves as a child.

“There is previous child protection history in relation to [Ms Wylie] alleging the girls were being sexually harmed by their father. The outcome of this investigation was Unsubstantiated as [the twin] advised that the rash was caused by her underpants being too tight.

“[Ms Wylie] appears to be experiencing a high degree of stress as a result of her relationship breakdown with [Mr Wylie].”

Mr Wylie sips water at a small cafe before setting off to walk the streets handing out ­pictures of his girls. “It’s vigilantism,” he says. “It’s laughing in the face of the law.”

He looks down at one of his reward leaflets. “The hardest thing to think about is the stuff they’re experiencing right now,” he says. “The fear, the anxiety, the ideas being put into their heads: ‘Daddy’s not safe.’”

In the five months she’s been on the run, somewhere across Australia, Ms Wylie’s story has spilled from the courts into the slaughterhouse of the internet. One men’s rights website has dubbed her a “child abuser, child abductor, fugitive, feminist”. A “Friends of…” website, on the other hand, lists testimonials about Ms Wylie’s character from family and friends, including Professor Ros Thorpe, emeritus professor of social work at James Cook University and president of the Family Inclusion Network Townsville, which considers the interests of both children and ­parents in the child ­protection process.

Almost a year ago, Ms Wylie made an aside to Thorpe, her friend. “It might come to the point where I might have to take off with them,” Ms Wylie said.

“I said to her, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea because the consequences for you will be bad,’” says Thorpe. “I was shocked [but] I wasn’t ­surprised because she’s been tortured by this. I don’t think she’s mentally unbalanced at all. She has no psychopathology. She’s not crazy.”

Thorpe and her long-time friend Dr Freda Briggs AO, emeritus professor in child development at the University of South Australia, had been staunch advocates for Ms Wylie prior to the abduction. They believed her, heart and soul. They still do. They’ve called for a reinvestigation of the case, saying key witnesses — including family members who allege to have heard direct disclosures of abuse by the girls — were not interviewed during the harrowing investigations and court hearings.

Briggs is working on multiple cases of ­mothers who feel betrayed by the Family Court. “Why would these mums give up their jobs, their homes, their positions, their support ­networks and flee with their children if it wasn’t something serious? They are taking the children into hiding to protect them from the parent and the Family Court.”

Briggs analysed interview transcripts from the Wylie case and claimed “inappropriate questioning of the children” by police. “How does a police inspector know what language would have been developmentally appropriate for kids aged four and five?” she says. “It requires great sensitivity and special skill in interviewing young children. You need a child-­focused environment and you are required to spend a great deal of time with the child. Those children were interviewed all over the place, in police stations and in the school office. The police said the father… was safe and that he would never do anything to harm them. No responsible professional would make such a statement because no one can be sure what went on in that home.”

Mr Wylie counters: “Their argument is, ‘Police bullied the kids, they’re not experts in child development.’ Well, the Child Protection and Investigation Unit is specifically tasked with dealing with these issues and questioning these kids. Officers from Brisbane were flown up to interview the kids again, for the fourth time after this complaint was made. These were the best of the best, the head of all the CPI units in Queensland brought his senior detective up, the one who trains all the other CPI detectives. And it was exactly the same outcome. And then the supporters are like, ‘Well, it’s obvious the father is coaching them.’

“That’s what I put to Freda Briggs. I mapped it all out and I said, ‘What more possible investigation could there be?’ ”

Briggs says the case ­highlights a growing problem within Australian family law. “The Family Court was set up for divorces,” she says. “It was not set up for child abuse cases.

“These situations happen so frequently that now family lawyers and the women’s legal services advise the mothers to not tell the Family Court about child abuse because you are likely to be labelled as delusional or malicious and you become the bad parent. The focus goes on the mother and the mother loses the child.

“What we would really like is to be able to get child abuse cases out of the Family Court or ensure that judges or participants are experts in child development and child abuse which, currently, they are not.”

When he retired from the Parramatta Family Court last year, seasoned judge Justice David Collier made a rare public statement about an increase in accusations of child abuse in hostile cases. “I’m satisfied that a number of people who have appeared before me have known that it is one of the ways of completely shutting ­husbands out of the child’s life,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s a horrible weapon.”

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Alastair Nicholson was Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia from 1988 to 2004. “I have a lot of time for David Collier but I wouldn’t put it as strongly as that,” he says. “I think, on the other hand, these fights get very bitter and you certainly will get some cases where that will happen. Of course, the real risk anyone takes who makes a false allegation is that if you make false allegations, and knowingly do so, the court’s very likely to say, ‘Well, you’re really not fit to be a parent of the child because you’ve been prepared to use the child in this way.’ So it may all go very pear-shaped from that person’s point of view. To say nothing of the child.”

A separate specialist court to process such matters is not the answer, according to ­Nicholson. “There’s only so far you can go with this specialist concept,” he says. “You’d go crazy ­hearing these cases all the time. The judge does. You have to have a break from it. I’d be very ­worried about the effect of having a specialist court just dealing with these cases.”

He welcomes, however, a broader system that better connects the long-disconnected ­systems of state and commonwealth. “It’s pie-in-the-sky stuff, but I’ve long thought that instead of having state child protection courts and the federal family court with a child protection capacity, there should be one system throughout Australia because, otherwise, it really doesn’t work very well. There’s more co-operation than there used to be but it’s still not an ideal system.”

Either way, he says, and “despite the determination of individuals, there has to be a stop somewhere” — meaning a legal decision that all parties must live with.

“It is, of course, easy to make an allegation,” Nicholson says. “Of course, you get some outright liars, but in my experience there were a lot of cases where a suspicion had arisen and the person becomes convinced that the suspicion is reality. They’ll blame the systems, they’ll blame the experts, and you always have that ­terrible feeling, ‘Well, maybe they have got it right.’ It’s one of those things that you lie awake at night about.”

Dad, I am so angry right now. I cannot believe that my own father would lie to me for my whole life and just pretend like everything is OK … I will not wait any longer for my psychopathic father to tell the truth. I have already given you more than 10 years … I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been destroyed by your lies. You NEED TO GET HELP NOW. Don’t end your life living with a lie. Make the most of the rest of your life and get help. You are a very special person to me, make sure you remember that. I will never stop loving you but I absolutely HATE your behaviour.

Abbey [surname withheld]

That is an edited letter written by a 14-year-old West Australian girl to her father in December 2010. In May last year, Abbey ­disclosed to her mother that her father sexually assaulted her repeatedly between the ages of three and seven. In November last year, Abbey took her own life, aged 17.

In 2002, Abbey’s father was charged with the sexual assault of Abbey’s best friend when she was seven. It would take Abbey years to disclose that she, too, had been assaulted by her father with her best friend on regular sleepovers.

In 2005, her father was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, released on parole after two years. Upon his release, despite protestations from Abbey’s mother, the father was granted access visits with his three children by the Family Court of Western Australia. “In my attempts to protect my children, I was treated as a hysterical woman by the Family Court, even though [the father] had been charged with child sexual offences at the time,” Abbey’s mother says. “I was made to look like a vindictive wife instead of what I was, a protective mother.”

She has called on the state government to launch an inquest into her daughter’s death. Meanwhile, national child protection advocate Bravehearts has launched Abbey’s Project in her daughter’s name, calling for and recording exhaustive statements from Australians who have experienced “instances where deficiencies in the Family Court practices, policies and procedures have resulted in children being assaulted and placed at serious risk of sexual harm”, ­culminating in a report to be submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston hopes the project will be “the precursor for a much larger and broader inquiry into the operations of the Family Court of Australia and related child protection organisations and institutions”. She says: “Every week in Australia, the Family Courts are ordering children into contact with, and even into the custody of parents who are dangerous, toxic and abusive because Family Courts do not have the powers, expertise and resources to competently investigate allegations of child abuse.”

Court-ordered contact with her father left a pre-teen Abbey deeply confused, says her mother, seeding the anorexia and self-loathing that plagued her teens. “I know why [Ms Wylie] is running,” says Abbey’s mother. “Because she’s alone. It makes you feel sick. For 10 years I have felt sick. All I was trying to do was protect my kids through the Family Court but I was so alone. No one heard me. And now Abbey’s dead.

“I know why mothers run. I wish I had run myself. Abbey would still be here.”

Ms Wylie’s parents live on a sprawling Queensland cattle property. It keeps them busy; keeps their minds off thoughts about where on Earth their daughter and grandchildren might be. They say their daughter is a resourceful woman, as at home in a tent by a creek bed as she is in a plush hotel suite.

The couple has been receiving counselling through the past five months. “I worry where they are,” Ms Wylie’s mum says. “Are they OK? It gets cold and I think, ‘Are they warm enough?’ I know they’ll be happy with their mother though. She will spend her time trying to make them happy.”

Family Court of Australia Chief Justice Diana Bryant has a far grimmer picture in her head. “Abduction of children always has a detrimental impact on the children,” she says. “First, there is the removal from familiar surroundings, school, friends and family, and especially the other parent. Then there is the subterfuge and hiding and often the adoption of false identities. Children may also be kept away from school to avoid detection.

“In order to live in this situation and where children are old enough to ask questions, a regime of denigration and rejection of the other parent is often necessary to justify the circumstances. This is likely to have a long-term detrimental psychological impact on the children.

“Once located, the possibility that the children could be removed from the abducting ­parent will also be traumatic for them. When a parent abducts a child and goes into hiding, the children will inevitably be harmed and will always be the losers in these situations.”

“The grandparents want the children to live with them,” says Briggs, referring to the Wylie case. “It’s not going to happen, is it? He’ll get the kids back and she’ll go to jail.”

“What do you mean, ‘What if he is innocent?’ ” asks Professor Thorpe. “You mean, ‘How would I react?’ Well, I would find it very hard to believe and accept, just as his supporters find it hard to believe that he has abused the girls.”

Every day, meanwhile, Ms Wylie’s parents finish their day’s work on the farm and then go inside and wait by the phone for news of their daughter. The only way they can communicate with her is through news pieces such as this. “Take care,” her dad says. “And we love you.”

Sometimes the phone rings late in the night, wakes them up. “Hello?” her dad says. “Hello?”

But there’s no response. Only silence.

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UK arranged marriages: Kidnapping, rape and murder in the name of family honour


November 26 , 2013

Source: ABP News

“We have kidnappings, abductions, assaults, sexual offences. Anything that you can imagine could happen, does happen, in the name of honour,” says Nazir Afzal, Crown Prosecutor for the north-west of England.

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And murder – 10 to 12 cases a year. Yet as the hyper-active, smartly dressed lawyer concedes in his Manchester office, violence invoked in the name of family honour, mostly by citizens of South Asian and Middle Eastern origin, is often hidden and unreported.

Mr Afzal knows about honour, having grown up in Birmingham in a Pakistani Muslim household.

Honour, he says, can be a good thing, helping bind families and communities together.

But, “at the moment in so many communities, in so many families, it is merely used to suppress women, to oppress women. So, if they misbehave in some way, or make their own choice, they have dishonoured the family. If men do the same, well it’s men – you know they do what they want. Regrettably too often it’s used to control women.”

After World War II, Britain received waves of migrants from its former colonies in India, Pakistan and later Bangladesh.

Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and others came, some for higher education, but mostly to work in the factories around London and in the Midlands and north of England.

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In England, generations who self-identify as Asian now number more than 4 million, 8 per cent of the English population.

‘In the name of the father, the son, and the male members of the family’

Arranged marriages are a still a feature of migrant communities, with parents agreeing that their children will marry, particularly first cousins. But for teenagers growing up in the United Kingdom, torn between the strictures of home and the freedoms of 21st century Britain, arranged marriages too often become forced marriages.

“There are probably between 8,000 to 10,000 forced marriages or threats of forced marriages in the United Kingdom every year,” Mr Afzal says.

“We prosecuted more than 200 cases last year of honour-based violence. What we have here are crimes in the name of the father, the son and the blessed male members of the family.”

Currently there is no law against forced marriage in the United Kingdom. That will change early next year, with new legislation similar to that introduced this year in Australia.

Hundreds of young girls disappear from British schools every year

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a unit devoted to trying to prevent young people, mostly girls and women but also boys and men, being compelled to travel abroad to marry someone whom in many cases they have never met.

The Forced Marriage Unit handled 1,485 cases last year, 35 per cent of them involving teenagers aged 17 or younger. One of its biggest problems is trying to track down people who travel to South Asia and never return.

Mr Afzal says a British government survey of school pupils highlighted the problem.

“They discovered hundreds and hundreds of young girls, and by that I mean 11, 12, 13-year-olds, who would just disappear off the school rolls.”

While it is illegal in the United Kingdom for anyone to marry under the age of 16, marriages involving children still happen in South Asia and the Middle East.

Sometimes girls do not return to Britain until they are pregnant, the theory being that this may assist the process by which the husband seeks residency in the United Kingdom.

Girl told to ‘put a spoon in your knickers’ at airport to avoid being sent abroad

Jasvinder Sanghera, who escaped a forced marriage by running away from her Sikh family home in Derby at the age of 15, formed Karma Nirvana 20 years ago to help people in trouble.

She says the Leeds-based charity has received more than 30,000 calls since 2008.

“To me that’s a drop in the ocean … it could be quadrupled,” she said.

 

Ms Sanghera recalls an occasion when a girl feared she was being taken abroad against her will.

“The call handler said, ‘Put a spoon in your knickers. When you go through security it will go off and at that point you’re going to be stopped by a security guard and say I’m being forced to marry’. Which is exactly what she did, and it saved her life.”

Campaigning on the issues of forced marriages has given Ms Sanghera a high profile, an MBE, a meeting with prime minister David Cameron and with countless senior police and other government officials. And yet she believes schools, police and communities are not taking forced marriages and honour-based violence seriously enough.

“If you are Asian and missing from education, the same questions are not asked as [of their] white counterparts here in Britain,” she said.

“And that has not changed because we know there are hundreds going missing off our school rolls. Maybe they’re not being forced into marriage, but the point is, ask the question and look into it. They’re not even doing that.”

As for police: “There are some police forces which are doing sterling work now and trying to get it right. On the ground it’s a different story. There are 43 police forces across the UK and I would refer to potentially four [getting it right]. You know, it’s very much dependent on the person you get on the day.”

British police have been severely criticised for their failures in a series of high-profile honour killings:

  • Banaz Mahmud, 20, strangled on the orders of her father and uncle
  • Surjit Athwal, 27, murdered on the orders of her mother-in-law and brother-in-law
  • Shafilea Ahmed, 17, suffocated by her parents.

In each case, police initially, and in some cases repeatedly, failed to comprehend the seriousness of the threat.

As Ms Sanghera tells trainee detectives in Birmingham, relating the Banaz Mahmud case: “She told police her family was planning to kill her because she’d left an abusive marriage and was seen kissing a man outside a Tube station. And she was not believed. She was dealt with as being melodramatic, fantasising.”

Just a month later she’d been raped and garrotted, her body packed in a suitcase and buried in a garden.

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Daughter’s abductions haunt writer


October 15, 2013

Source: wkcurrent.com

For the average parent, it would be unfathomable for their child to be kidnapped. West Kerr County resident Rosalie Hollingsworth underwent such a nightmare, not just once — but twice.
Now she tells about the saga of her losses and recovery in a poignant, honest and riveting book, “Destruction of Innocence, A True Story of Child Abduction.”
The book is intended to convey not only a message and a warning, but also rays of hope. Written in the style of a memoir, the chapters do not always follow the sequence of events in chronological order, but the unraveling of details takes on the feeling of a complex James Bond thriller.
Rosalie.Hollingsworth
West Kerr County resident Rosalie Hollingsworth lovingly holds a photograph of her daughter Triana, then 7 years old, who was kidnapped twice. Triana’s first abduction by Hollingsworth’s estranged husband lasted eight months; the second, four agonizing years. The ordeal of her return each time is documented in the new book written by Hollingsworth, “Destruction of Innocence, A True Story of Child Abduction.” Photo by Irene Van Winkle.
Writing the book was an ordeal in itself for her, Hollingsworth said, and she has laid out the story bluntly.
In addition to her daughter’s abductions, Rosalie reveals her own sad childhood, of betrayal and abuse that left her both vulnerable and determined.
As an adult, Hollingsworth suddenly found herself trying to cope with the twisted manipulations of her first husband, Franco. He swept her off her feet like a prince in a fairy tale, only to snatch away the one thing she loved the most.
In the book’s introduction, Hollingsworth details the cold and frightening statistics about child abduction:
“One child is reported missing every 40 seconds. … Of millions of children, an appalling 80 percent are parental kidnapping victims. Angry, jealous, fearful and, in some cases, deranged parents defy the law, stealing their children and disappearing. In the wake of each kidnapping are untold stories of despair and agony. After one year, over 50 percent of these cases will remain forever unsolved. This is the story of my daughter, Triana, who was twice taken from me. In the first abduction, my estranged Italian husband took our one year old baby and fled to Italy … Six years later, he kidnapped her again, disappearing with her into the remote jungles of South America.”
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The book is filled with details of how Triana was dragged from one country to another, as her father changed identities like a chameleon, and the dangers she endured from predators of every ilk and shape.
Retelling her story still hits a raw nerve with Hollingsworth, even though Triana’s second abduction ended more than 25 years ago. It may be that some of her emotions will never be totally resolved, but perhaps become less jagged.
Asked why she finally decided to write the book, Hollingsworth said, “I was angry at myself for being naive, for having trusted this man who took my child. I was angry at Franco, Carmen (his mother), Kitty (his second wife) and the government — at every person who had not helped me locate my child or stood in my way of finding her. I needed to deal with this anger and writing helped me deal with most of it. I don’t know if I can ever forgive Franco for what he subjected my daughter to — it is just too painful to this day.”
Hollingsworth wrote at night when the house was quiet, but often found herself walking away from it when the thoughts and memories became too painful.
When she first met her husband, Franco, he appeared seemingly out of the blue, Hollingsworth said, and “I was dazzled by his devotion. He was diabolically charming and proposed to me after just six weeks.”
Franco, who came of age during WWII in war-torn Italy, was spoiled by his old-world Italian mother, who had tolerated his father’s debauchery. But he was also polished and well-educated, and to someone of his practiced cunning, Hollingsworth was easy prey.
What Hollingsworth found out only too late was that he had a temper that raged often and unexpectedly with jealousy, creating a constant firestorm in their relationship.
When Triana was only a year old, she was spirited away from their home in California by her conniving father and taken to Italy.
After eight agonizing months, using her own ruses and subterfuge, Hollingsworth was able to bring Triana back. For years, Hollingsworth parried with Franco over custody, and then, when she least expected it, the nightmare that had haunted her once again repeated itself.
The second time around, her ordeal took four years, scouring through the wilds of South America, as authorities and even church figures were not only ineffective, but also blocked her path.
Every time Hollingsworth tried to enlist the help of others, it seemed to fall mostly on deaf ears. It was only through her own courageous perseverence, and the help of several “guardian angels,” that Triana was eventually brought home.
During the intervening years, Hollingsworth met and married another man, Stan. He brought his own sons into the picture, adding a layer of complication. The couple then had another child. It was while she was pregnant with Tisha that the final drama unfolded, making it even more precarious and volatile.
The debris left behind in the wake of traumatic events to Triana, Hollingsworth and other members of the family is immeasurable and will never be completely tidied up.
Triana is left coping with low self-esteem. Over time and with counseling, she has made progress, Hollingsworth said, but she is still left with difficult challenges.
However, Triana has brought her mother a wonderful gift in the form of a son, on whom Hollingsworth dotes, as she does all her grandchildren.
Younger sister, Tisha, has three of her own boys and stays in touch, as do some of Stan’s sons.
Reflecting on the aftermath, Hollingsworth said, “Someone asked me out of all the things that happened, what did I learn? All I can say is that none of it was worth the loss of my child and what she went through. To me, true knowledge comes from good things, and this wasn’t a good thing.”
For children who are rescued, her advice is for them not to blame themselves for trusting the parent who abducted them.
Today, Hollingsworth’s greatest consolation are the children and grandchildren who beam back at her from the many photographs she has placed around her home. They are her next generation of treasures, and she joyfully basks in their glow.
Hollingsworth said she wrote the book to bring greater attention to the issue of child abduction. In the 1970s, the government was of little help, but, she added, “Today we have the government getting involved, along with all kind of alerts and publicity to kidnappings and child abductions.”
The other, and more important part of her message, she said, was to parents of abducted children.
“Do not give up the search. Do what you have to do to locate your child. Use every resource you can possibly find. Contact every person you know who could help. Don’t give up.”
For more information about Hollingsworth’s book and child stealing, visit http://www.destructionofinnocence.com. Reviews can be found at amazon.com and at barnesandnoble.com.

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The Hague Convention – Japan says it will sign child abduction treaty


January 19, 2013

Source: Japan Today

WASHINGTON —

Japan’s foreign minister said Friday that the new government would sign a treaty on child abductions, addressing one of the few rifts in relations with its main ally the United States.

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Japan has not signed or ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires the return of wrongfully held children to the countries where they usually live, but a previous left-leaning government had said it planned to do so.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, whose conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power last month, said on a visit to Washington that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government would take the same stance.

“The government of Japan is intending to go through the necessary procedures for early signing of the treaty,” Kishida told a news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said she hoped that Japan’s parliament would pass legislation on the Hague treaty during its upcoming session.

Japanese courts virtually never grant custody to foreign parents or to fathers, leaving few legal avenues for fathers whose former partners have fled to Japan with their children.

U.S. parents have pursued at least 120 cases in Japan to seek access to half-Japanese children, invariably to no avail. The U.S. Congress has repeatedly pressed Japan to take up the issue.

The previous Japanese government’s position had initially heartened U.S. officials, but their hopes dimmed as Tokyo delayed action on the Hague treaty and indicated that a ratification would only apply to future cases.

Japanese critics of the Hague convention have previously argued that the country needs to protect women from potentially abusive foreign men.

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Parental Abduction: Man pleads guilty to parental kidnapping after taking son on world tour


Source: CNN

A 51-year-old man has pleaded guilty to international parental kidnapping weeks after his brother did the same, for the same charge, for illicitly taking their juvenile sons on a worldwide trek, a federal prosecutor’s office announced Friday.

John Silah, a citizen of Syria, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a federal court in California for taking his son, Greg, out of the United States for two years without the consent of the boy’s custodial mother, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central California said in a press release. He is set to be sentenced August 6 by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright.

His brother George Silah, who pleaded guilty February 21 for the parental kidnapping of two of his own sons, will be sentenced on May 29. The maximum sentence for a conviction on the charge is three years.

George and John Silah were both divorced from their respective wives in July 2008 and had partial custody of their sons, who were then between the ages of 11 and 14 and lived in the Los Angeles area.

The boys were supposed to take a Disney cruise with their fathers at that time, but they never made it, the boys’ families said on websites dedicated to their return.

Those websites contained messages of love and hope for their safe return directed almost every month at the then-missing children. Greg’s mother, Christine Stackhouse, wrote her last post on gregsilah.com on October 16, 2010, titled “Missing you this Halloween.”

“Greg, we will be missing you this Halloween and we hope that next year you will be with us so we can all go trick-or-treating and collect lots of candy just like the old times!”

A November 5, 2010, post on silahboys.blogspot.com announced that the boys had been found and their fathers taken into custody in the Netherlands.

It was the last stop on a two-year journey in which the Silah brothers and their sons traveled through Mexico, Central America and Europe, where investigators eventually caught up with them.

The boys’ mothers flew to the Netherlands in 2010 to reunite with them, while the Silah brothers were detained at the request of U.S. authorities. George Silah — a naturalized citizen of the United States — returned to the United States in October 2011, while John Silah was extradited in March of this year.

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Fatherless Homes Now Proven Beyond Doubt Harmful To Children


Source: Fathersunite.org

Most statistics from a 1999 report of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Children from fatherless homes are:
• 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
• 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide
• 6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers
• 24.3 times more likely to run away
• 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
• 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions
• 10.8 times more likely to commit rape
• 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school
• 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenage
• 73% of adolescent murderers come from mother only homes
•  6.3 times more likely to be in state operated institutions

CHILDREN NEED BOTH PARENTS
It’s a Fact
Here’s why:
· 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
· 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
· 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.
(Source: Center for Disease Control).
· 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Source:
Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).
· 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (Source: National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).
· 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. (Source: Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections, 1992).
These statistics translate to mean that children from fatherless homes are:
· 5 times more likely to commit suicide
· 32 times more likely to run away
· 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
· 14 times more likely to commit rape
· 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
· 20 times more likely to end up in prison
“There is a fundamental liberty right guaranteed to both parents by the 14th Amendment. This is the right to the care, custody, and nurture of their children. According to the Supreme Court of the United States: “Absent a Compelling State Interest of harm or potential harm to the child, the State may not intervene in the privacy of family life.””Overall, research studies show that children of joint custodians are better adjusted than children of sole custodians on each of the following measures: general adjustment; family relations; self-esteem; emotional adjustment; behavioral adjustment; and divorce-specific adjustment.

Another benefit of Joint Physical Custody is that it improves child support compliance. Researchers have found a positive correlation between the frequency of a parent’s contact with a child and the payment of child support. That is to say, the more frequent, regular and flexible the time a parent is permitted to spend with his child, the more likely he is to meet his child support obligation in full and on time. In terms of voluntary compliance, fathers who have little or no contact with their children after a divorce pay only about 34% of their child support, while fathers with regular contact pay 85% or more of theirs.

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NOTE: We are always available, also during The Christmas holidays. Christmas is the high season for parental abductions.

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Fathers lose bid for equal custody rights after review of family law


Source: Mail Online By Tim Shipman

David Norgrove's Family Justice Review has rejected calls to give fathers equal rights to share custody of their childrenDavid Norgrove’s Family Justice Review has rejected calls to give fathers equal rights to share custody of their children

Fathers’ hopes of securing equal rights over their children will be dashed tomorrow when a review of family law is published.

Plans to give parents equal rights to share custody of their children in the event of a split have been rejected by the Family Justice Review, led by former civil servant and businessman David Norgrove.

In a further blow to fathers’ rights campaigners, the Norgrove Report will also reject calls to enshrine in law the principle that children should have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with both their mother and father.

Instead, it will simply say the courts should keep the idea of a meaningful relationship with an absentee father in mind when they make decisions about a child’s future.

The report was rejected as a ‘slap in the face for fathers’ last night and will undermine David Cameron’s claims that he would speak up for a strong family life.

Sources familiar with the report said Mr Norgrove had rejected statutory protection for men because it was likely to lead to lengthy legal battles to define a meaningful relationship.

In his interim report earlier this year, Mr Norgrove concluded the state of the family courts was ‘shocking’ and that disputes take ‘far too long’ to resolve.

He also rejected plans for parents to share custody 50-50 after seeing  evidence that the system does not work in countries where it has operated such as Australia.

Mr Norgrove rejected calls to give the principle that children should have a 'meaningful relationship' with both parents a legal basis. (Posed by models)Mr Norgrove rejected calls to give the principle that children should have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with both parents a legal basis. (Posed by models)

A senior government source said: ‘The panel found that shared custody on an equal footing led to lengthy delays in the courts which are not in the interests of the child.

‘They have also rejected the halfway house of statutory recognition for the need to maintain a meaningful relationship on the basis that the courts would spend ages deciding how to define a meaningful relationship.’

Nadine O’Connor, campaign co-ordinator for Fathers 4 Justice, said: ‘This whole exercise has been designed to appease women’s groups, not fathers.

‘The Tories promised a fundamental review of family law and said that  Norgrove was not good enough. But they’ve made a complete U-turn.’

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Abducted Children – We can bring them back


Time is a very important factor if a child is missing. Immediate access to current information about the missing child is critical. Although nobody hopes to be in such a situation where this information is needed, parents have to keep in mind that child abduction can occur anytime, anywhere, to any child. Therefore, parents must have the resources and knowledge about their children ready, so they can take action if their children become missing.

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings,
Runaway children and Counselling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult time.
We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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ITALY – Italian Child Abduction Alert System (ICAAS)


Source: formez.eu

The project aims at realizing a “quick alert” system in the case of child abduction.
 
Actions:

  • Definition of the protocol to ensure that once the case of child abduction has been communicated to the police, the alert mechanism is promptly launched through a study of the procedures already in force in other EU countries, the analysis of the resources available to all Bodies involved and the evaluation of their competences.
  • Definition of a central authority at national level with the clear responsibility for directing and coordinating available techniques and human resources.
  • Management of a joint web portal including two main areas: a public area for memorizing the alarm information and an area limited to the bodies responsible for starting up the procedure on transmission via radio (TV / Radio / mobile telephone companies and others).
  • Coordination between all security forces and the competent authorities, the national network of the Public Administration, civil society and NGOs.
  • Judicial and security system which deals with child disappearance.
  • Definition of the Protocol and Bodies involved in the alert procedures.
  • Memoranda with media and Bodies involved in the communication phase.
  • Realization of the portal.
On 8 March 2011 in Rome the ceremony to undersign the Agreement as regards the establishment of an Italian “Child Abduction Alert” system will take place, which shall allow for the utmost diffusion, among the population, of the information useful for localizing abducted children in the very short term.
The event will open with the welcome address by the Vice Director General for Public Security – Central Head of the Criminal Police, Prefect Francesco Cirillo, and will continue with the presentation of the project by the Head of the Service for Police Force International Cooperation, Gen. B. Guardia di Finanza, Francesco Lisi. The event will be closed with a press conference to be held after the undersigning of the Agreement.
The Project funded by the European Commission, has been the result of a profitable partnership between Police Forces, institutions and private bodies, of which the Central Direction of the Italian Criminal Police has been the leading structure.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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Law Firms Sued For Aiding Parental Abduction


Source: Lawdiva`s Blog

Two New Jersey law firms are fighting lawsuits brought by Peter Innes, the father of Victoria Innes who was abducted by her mother Marie Carrascosa and spirited off to Spain in 2005.

Innes and Carrascosa were married in 1999 in Spain but lived in the US. Victoria was born in 2000 and the marriage ended in 2004. Victoria held dual Spanish/American citizenship.

Ms. Carrascosa, a Spanish national and a lawyer in Spain, ignored the parties’ parenting agreement that Victoria remain in the US and brought Victoria to her maternal grandparents in Spain. Ms. Carrascosa later returned to New Jersey. Mr. Innes then obtained a court order from a New Jersey judge who ordered her to return the abducted child to New Jersey. Mr. Innes was also granted custody of Victoria by the US court.

Ms. Carrascosa went into hiding for a time but eventually was tried for contempt of a court order and interfering with custody and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Yes, you read that right! In British Columbia abducting parents get a mild slap on the wrist. I can only remember a small handful of cases where any incarceration was ordered, which can only speak to the degree of seriousness our courts ascribe to this heinous offence.

Meanwhile, back in Spain, the Spanish court awarded Ms. Carrascosa custody of her daughter and refused to order Victoria’s return to America. Judges from Spain and New Jersey met at the Hague Court in Holland to try to resolve this now high-profile international dispute, but to no avail.

So why have the lawyers been sued? Ms. Carrascosa’s first lawyer was ordered by the court to hold Victoria’s passport to impede her ability to travel with her mother. When Ms. Carrascosa discharged her first lawyer, she couriered the passport to the new lawyer, who apparently had no idea that the passport was not to be given to her client.

Mr. Innes determined that when his wife absconded with their daughter, they left using Victoria’s passport.

The lawyers are, of course, blaming each other for the debacle and a trial is scheduled for 2010.

I can understand why Peter Innes is taking these actions against his wife’s lawyers. If Ms. Carrascosa travelled with her daughter’s passport in hand, someone has to be held accountable. In my experience, the only way Mr. Innes will see his child again is if Ms. Carrascosa finds jail unpleasant enough.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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