Archive for August, 2008

Matt Sesow. Supervised Visitation (Oil)

Matt Sesow. Supervised Visitation (Oil)

My first supervised visitation with my girls took place in October 10, 2002. As for many fathers with a trial on child abuse pending, supervised visitations were supposed to be temporary. Also, I thought they would be at my place, in West Harlem, New York City, where I was then living and where my girls used to see me on weekends, from August 1999, after my separation with my ex-wife to May 10, 2002, my last “unsupervised”, normal, encounter with my girls. But normalcy never resumed: my girls said they were uncomfortable to come at my place and sicko ex-wife made sure that they remained so. As some thirty five of these supervised visits had taken place, my best friend from France visited me. When he saw their bikes, their scooters, their dolls that populated the room where they slept, he told me that I could not keep staying in this “museum of early childhood.” They had move on, they were no toddlers anymore – they certainly were into Shakira, Harry Potter, smart phones- and so should I. But even if I wanted, it was not in my hands. Supervised visitations is a dead-end unless the family Court, the supervising agency, the law guardian do keep mother’s nocuous brainwashing from poisoning the so-called transition. The truth is that these folks do not have the will to so so. Some forty supervised visitations after, including therapeutic visitations and supervised visitations by my girlfriend (!) , I was behind the starting point. My girls were hostile to me, Judge Sturm and… my girlfriend .

When I think about it, I should not even have accepted the first one. On principle. Fathers accused of child abuse, rightly or wrongly, are the only suspects who do time before a court decision is reached. Supervised visitations might be conceivable for somebody who has been proved to be dangerous, not for somebody who is presumed to be innocent. I guess I coped because I was not accustomed to have two cops knocking at my door with an order of protection. After that, the Swedish-Olof Palme syndrome kicks in: you do what your torturer – the justice system- wants you to do to please him…

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Just read Pam Belluck and Sara Rimer’s piece in the Sunday Times yesterday and you will be convinced. The

Essdrass M. Suarez

Photo:Essdrass M. Suarez

crime of Clark Rockefeller – the name under which the man who kidnapped his daughter Reigh and was arrested in Baltimore , was still known a week ago- is a crime of lèse-majesté. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German national, usurped the great name of Rockefeller, after having assumed several other identities.

One may wonder what majesty we are talking about. The founder of the Rockefeller dynasty, John D. Rockefeller, is with Andrew Carnegie the emblematic figure of the Robber Barons; Fortunes built by crushing -legally or not- competitors and labor rights and redeemed in lavish philanthropy. In the early nineties Christian Gerhartsreiter, previously Christopher Crowe, became Clark Rockefeller and penetrated the society of people who are honored to breeze the same air as a Rockefeller. Matter of tastes. Pam Belluck and Sara Rimer seem to suggest that we shall feel sorry for this blessed society who saw zip through the “ready-made” Rockefeller. Mrs Burling, the wife of the State Senator of New Hampshire, hinted that she was smarter than the rest of the New England aristocratic pack: she smelled a rat when the con man committed the faute de goût of talking about money, which contradicts “blue blood” manners. Alas, had she then spoken to the New York Times, the New England elite would not longer have admitted such an intruder!

Anyhow, one day the intruder decided to throw down the drain some eighteen years of unchallenged success amongst the New England aristocracy. Why? For love; To kidnap his daughter Reigh whom he sees during supervised visits, though he is not a child abuser. His chances? close to zero. Perfectly absurd gamble and totally… noble. To me, this puts the man into the category of people with aristocratic guts (and more). Chapeaux bas devant Mr Gerhartsreiter!

But what do I know? I am just a French guy of obscure, peasant origins, who moreover, has not seen his daughters in almost three years. They have been kidnapped by sicko ex-wife with the precious help of Manhattan Family Court!

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Sometimes, kids say things that they might regret all their life. During the interview that sinister forensic evaluator Berrill conducted with my girls in 2003, Camille, nine then, declared that “she wished she had another dad” in her mother’s presence. She might have been willing to please her mum or even genuinely adhere to what she was saying. I hope that one day she will realize that her mom’s anger and hers are two different things.

In August 13, Adele Horin from the Brisbane Times reported that a little girl consistently uttered the wish that “her father was dead.” The drama, for this Australian father and for her now eleven-years little girl, is that he has terminal liver cancer. Bingo. We have here the typical story of non custodial fathers with its common ingredients: the father is no danger for the child, the mother is “permeated with hatred for the ex-husband” and with the blessing of the court, she can pass it on at will to the child. We are living in a wonderful world: family laws and family court’s stupidity is global. In 2000, when the little girl was three, the parents separated. The father last saw his daughter in 2003 after having, it seems, regular visitations with her. In 2006, the father applied to the court to see his daughter every second week and half the school holidays. Always prompt to fix problems that it has exacerbated, the court recently granted the father a last visit with her daughter – after a doctor testified in court about his condition (with men, you never know). The father doubts that the visit will ever happen. He has left a “time capsule,” a letter and a DVD where he expresses how he loves his daughter.

I cannot help but thinking: if I were to be dying, which type of visitation would Manhattan family court let me have with my daughters? Supervised? Supervised and therapeutic?

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In the matter of a custody/visitation proceeding, Brodsky against Lacour (myself), things are officially over. A decision has been made last July 23, 2008. Since sicko ex-wife filed a complaint of child abuse on June 13, 2002, it took the great Manhattan Family Court 6 years, two months and ten days to figure out that I am not a child abuser. Six years after A.C.S. (later is better than never), the Court reached the conclusion that I did not mess up my daughter Camille’s implant: “this Court is not convinced by evidentiary standard that Respondent’s actions contributed to the problems with the cochlear implant (p.5).” As I read further, I am almost having an identity crisis: “The Court finds that the Respondent (myself) does not present a danger to the subject children, and that it is in the best interests of the subject children to enjoy a relationship with their father (p.6).”

Justice? Not so fast. Admire the implacable logic at work: “Petitioner (sicko ex-wife) has been remarkable for her tenacity in using the Court system to obtain what can only be perceived as her desire to extinguish the subject children’s relationships with their father (p.5)” Conclusion: “…the present relationship between the subject children and Respondent is so strained as to require therapeutic, supervised visitation.” Let us give six more months to sicko ex-wife to further spoil my relationship with my girls, if it was possible. As remarkable as my ex-wife’s sick desire to severe the relationship of her children with their father is the natural instinct of Manhattan Family Court to always extend this woman’s leeway to achieve her goal.

While the winning team, Honorary Helen Sturm, assisted by Garline Octobre, the law guardian, was crafting this jewel, former Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Serbia and transfered to the U.N. war tribunal in The Hague. The man is the mind behind the July 1995

Srebenica’s massacre and he is charged with the slaughter of thousands of Bosnians and Croats. I do not know if the Bosnians will get justice, but I bet what New York Child Support Enforcement leaves me with every month that the UN war tribunal will not take six years to reach a decision!

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New Jersey non-custodial fathers have to consider themselves happy to live in the Garden State. Unlike New York State, there are no regressive, flat stupid percentage child support payments from $10,000 to $80,000 in annual gross income irrespective of what the custodial parent earns. In the state of New jersey, child support has to be fair.  The combined income of both parents is taken into account to determine child support. If the non-custodial parent is on welfare, the custodial parent will bear alone the cost of raising a child. You have to read it to believe it; these New Jersey folks are really ahead of the learning curve.

What bugs me though in the paradise of non-custodial parents is the amount of McGreevey’s child support payment granted by Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy to his ex-wife, Dina Matos. McGreevey will pay $1,075 a month in child support for his daughter Jacqueline. If I were to live in New Jersey, had custody of my two girls and were to receive $1,075 for each of them, I guarantee them gourmet food all month long and one iPod each. Schooling? everybody knows that public schools are pretty decent in New Jersey. Hence what does such a huge amount mean? Nothing but that if you are born the daughter of a governor, you ought to keep on with your standards of living. Judge Cassidy did not grant Matos ‘s claim of $2,500 a month in alimony for being deprived for a governor’s wife life. She granted it to Jacqueline.

That’s a pity. If children born with a silver spoon in their mouth are entitled to keep it when their parents divorce, child support becomes a legitimate bone to bargain for in Court, notwithstanding of what is needed to decently raise a child. McGreevey vs Matos was not the high point in New Jersey family court justice.

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Berrill’s report was released in January 2004. A consensus was soon reached. From the judge to the law guardian, lawyers for both parties included, everybody agreed: this was a piece of trash. Why then waste three precious court dates – which, in Manhattan Family Court time, translate into a year- hearing the author? Pro-ce-du-re has to be respected, no matter what. Moreover, the distinguished psychologist wanted another $750 for each time he goes to Court. I objected to hearing Berrill’s testimony. Sicko ex-wife did not, of course; what matters for a female plaintiff in Family Court, especially if you do not have a case, is to extend the trial. While it lasts, the restraining order holds and so do supervised visits.

However bad Berrill’s report is, there were a few lines to rescue from it. For instance, the recommendation to allow me to have email exchanges with my daughters. Six months before the release of Berrill’s report, I had opened two email addresses for my daughters. I sent them many emails that were left unanswered. Surprise, surprise? Sicko ex-wife confessed in her testimony that she would not encourage email communication with me. Why didn’t the law guardian and the judge enforce Berrill’s recommendation? They surely fell asleep before the end of the report.

But justice never stops: adding to the aggravation, judge Sturm wanted a complement of forensic evaluation. For me, this confines to judicial harassment. I refused categorically. This will add one more year to the trial, until judge Sturm renounced further forensic muddle.

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Boston Police Department

Photo: Boston Police Department

ABC news (Law and Justice section) broke the news this morning: Clark Rockefeller has been arraigned in Baltimore, Maryland. He might have voluntarily surrendered to the police. His daughter, Reigh, whom he had kidnapped a week ago, is perfectly fine. Clark Rockefeller will be extradited in Massachusetts to face charges of felony for kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. America can breathe.

ABC’s story does not strike by its analytical content. We get the nauseating cheesy dish of the good triumphing over evil. FBI special agent Noreen Gleason is welcome by Reigh as liberators. Harvard-educated, high powered consultant Sandra Boss can now wipe her tears. The Con Man (horror, he might not even be a true Rockefeller) is caught. Zip about his motives.

Sorry, my sympathy goes with the devil. Clark Rockefeller happened to have made the wrong choice: accepting a divorce entailing a comfortable of amount of money against supervised visits with his daughter and her change of name. She is now legally a Boss, not a Rockefeller. He loved his daughter, could not take it and kidnapped her. We fathers often make choices that prove wrong over time because the family court system strips us from our rights. We then face the alternative of being kidnappers or militant fathers claiming a justice which is denied to us.

I cannot but hope that Sandra Boss will allow little Rockefeller Boss to visit her father in prison.

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