Posts Tagged ‘Vanity Fair’

Kelly Rutherford and Children (Photo New York Post)

Kelly Rutherford and Children (Photo New York Post)

In the Fish Market store I usually go on Sunday, on 144 street and Broadway, I overheard an interesting conversation in Spanish. A customer – a Dominican man I would say- was ranting about child support with the two Mexican employees of the store. He owed back child support payments and was at risk of having his driver license removed. I did not catch the whole thread but at some point, I heard him say : “pago poco porque gano poco” (I pay little because I earn little). This man did not seem exactly pleased with New York State family court justice.

How strange, truly! This man obviously did not read Sheila Weller’s article in the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair, titled “Irreconcilable Distances;” Otherwise he would know that family justice has changed a great deal. Let me say a few words about Weller’s story, whose estranged protagonists are Kelly Rutherford, star of the TV series Gossip Girl, and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch, a wealthy German business man. I skip the details of the custody battle and go directly to the outcome: Giersch was given residential custody, and as a result, Rutherford has to visit her children- her son Hermes and her daughter Helena- in Monaco. A lot of tears, and famous ones, have flown for Rutherford: ABC News Legal Analyst Dan Abrams tried to raise awareness of Rutherford’s lot and her children’s, in a September 1 2012 broadcast, “Two American Kids shipped to France in One of the Worst Custody Decision, Ever” (Abrams does not seem to bother that Monaco, whose Princess was Grace Kelly at some point, is not part of France). Also, with the initial help of Alan Dershowitz, “Boston-based Murphy- , a women’s -, children’s-, and victims’ rights lawyer filed a civil rights lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on behalf of Hermes and Helena, claiming their life abroad is a form of ‘involuntary expatriation, which is unconstitutional,” tells Weller.

My heart bleeds at my ignorance of such a case. Yet, did I miss something, or these noble knights of the rights

Cirilia Balthazar Cruz (Photo Sharon Steinmann)

Cirilia Balthazar Cruz and Child (Photo Sharon Steinmann)

of mothers and children – Abrams, Dershowitz, Murphy- were nowhere to be found in support of Encarnacìon Bail Romero or Cirilia Balthazar Cruz, two undocumented (Guatemalan and Mexican) mothers who were deprived of their respective son and daughter by family courts in Missouri and Mississippi?

But let us not be sidetracked here and let us return to American motherhood in Monaco. The cause of Rutherford’s predicament, according to Weller, is “the friendly parent criterion,” which allegedly now guides the decisions of judges in the courts of this land. What is it? You need to appear supportive of your ex’s rights and ability to see the children. Don’t mess up with them, or at least, don’t behave in a way the judge could interpret you intend to. That was indeed the source of Rutherford’s troubles: she left Giersch’s name off the birth certificate of Helena’s. Critical mistake, which basically cost her custody of her children. Folks, that’s now the law of the land, we are told: Rich, poor, white, black, straights, gays, don’t even think of interfering with your ex’s rights. From New York to LA,  family court judges, these new heroes, will not allow it. You end Weller’s article, and you wonder how come the US family court system, after Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi in 2014, is not even considered for the 2015 Nobel Peace Price.

Now, let’s get real. Weller’s article is telling us that Giersch’s super lawyer Fahi Takesh Hallin (a partner in the prestigious L.A. firm Harris Ginsberg, mind you) were successful at pointing at Rutherford’s “excessive gatekeeping” during the trial; in other words, Hallin was good at blaming Rutherford’s sick tendency to overprotect her children and overstate the risks of spending time with Giersch. I am no Fahi Takesh Hallin, but let me tell you something: in the family court trial of physical abuse I was dragged to a few years before the Rutherford-Giersch case, there was plenty of evidence of “excessive gatekeeping” on the part of ex. The judge sat on it, and the law guardian did not lose one minute of sleep over it. Both cared about mum, and not at all about mom’s “excessive gatekeeping.” I believe that readers of this blog share this assessment about family courts.

Sometimes, when you come too close to the rich and famous, you lose sight of what goes on in the world of common folks. That’s actually a serious mistake for a journalist.


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Back when I was still seeing my girls, who were very little at the time, one of my aspirations as a father was to be an understanding one later

Vanity Fair, January 2014

Vanity Fair, January 2014

on, as they would grow up and become teens; by understanding, I mean understanding with boyfriends or else. I did not exactly see myself as their confidant, but as somebody they would trust in case of storms on the love front of their lives. My mom had been quite a patient ear to me on those matters, and my dad was exemplary, at least with my little sister, when she was a teen; the type that would pick up  her contraceptive devices at the pharmacy, no questions asked. It showed quite a remarkable ability to adjust to new mores and times, given the way he had been brought up.

Anyway, as much as I would love to, I have a sense I won’t hear about my girls’ love life anytime soon. There is at least one thing I can do: use this blog to warn them and others about a deadly contraceptive device, NuvaRing, sold by Merck and Co.  I just read  Marie Brenner’s article in the January 2014 issue of Vanity Fair, “Danger in the Ring,” and I was horrified.

Merck’s NuvaRing victims have been adding up like flies.  Brenner’s piece – a must-read- investigates why in the world this product is still on the market. Among the reasons:  Merck’s greed and the way the pharmaceutical industry does business, where deaths and the lawsuits of victims are part of the CDB (Cost of Doing Business); a faulty regulatory  system, where regulators move in and out of the industry they are supposed to regulate.  And let say that if the FDA were not so dramatically understaffed, NuvaRing might not still be killing women.

One thing is clear: Stay away from NuvaRing and third- and -fourth- generation hormonal contraceptives.

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patental alienationJustice is all about getting fast and demonstrable results. Take domestic violence and child abuse: for sure, they  cause severe harm to children that should be taken seriously. But most importantly, these crimes have  seemingly  easily identifiable culprits. With one complaint, the bastard gets an order of protection against him and  as a result, that boosts crime prevention statistics. Sometimes, the crusade itself might create the criminal. I was reading last night the nauseous but brilliant piece of Mark Bowden in the December issue of Vanity Fair. Detective Michelle Deery, posing as the mother of two girls, entrapped a man to write that he wants to have sex with the two girls. Bowden goes through their  emails and shows how the predator -the cop- gets what she wants from her prey, the fellow with the deprived libido. He wants to have sex with her but he is not interested in her girls. Every time he tries to set up a rendez-vous with her only, she pulls out. He gets it.  He indulges into saying what she seems to want : having sex with her and the girls; in any case, having sex with the girls. Nobody knows how the guy would have behaved with the girls had Deery been the nuts she pretended to be, but why care with such hair splitting? Predator caught. Deery should create a own show and compete with voyeur and sick Chris Hansen’s NBC show, “To Catch a Predator.

On the other hand however,  one wonders what it takes to have parental alienation acknowledged by the justice system. It leaves deep and perhaps indelible damage to children, years after the facts. Hence the justice system gets it just right: nothing urgent. To give credence to the charge of parental alienation in court, a group of 50 experts of 10 countries are pushing to have parental alienation registered as a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Laudable efforts. The turning point in the recognition of parental alienation syndrome by the justice system might be a Jerry Springer show featuring a dad reunited with his alienated children.

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