Guardian ad Litem Jamie Manning: It’s NOT My Job to Report Suspected Abuse

(Hennepin County, Minnesota): “If a parent suspects child abuse, it’s their responsibility and not the guardian’s job to call Child Protective Services…” This statement attributed to Jamie L. Manning, Guardian ad Litem, as reported in Separated From Their Kids, Parents Unite Against One Court Guardian by Susan Du

As a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Manning IS a mandated reporter, and failure to report suspected abuse could result in criminal charges being filed against her. As a GAL it IS Ms. Manning’s job to protect children, and advocate for their best interests…which also means she must report suspected child abuse, neglect or endangerment to the proper authorities. 

Background – Jamie L. Manning, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem

Jamie L. Manning has been involved in Minnesota’s Guardian ad Litem program since 1996, working as a GAL in both Carver County and Hennepin County. Manning has been also used by the Minnesota GAL program to train new Guardians.

Jamie Manning currently has a website listed under the name Banga & Manning, LLP although business partner Angie Banga (a former Guardian ad Litem) has moved to Florida and the business Banga and Manning, LLP was dissolved in 2013 according to records from the Minnesota Secretary of State. Banga & Manning, LLC used to provide family court dispute resolution services (such as mediation, custody evaluations, and parenting consultants).

Business Type
Limited Liability Partnership (Domestic)
MN Statute
File Number
Home Jurisdiction
Filing Date
Renewal Due Date
Registered Agent(s)
(Optional) Currently No Agent
Chief Executive Office Address
6310 Oxbow Bend
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Select the item(s) you would like to order:

Order Selected Copies
Filing Date Filing Effective Date
07/20/2005 Original Filing – Limited Liability Partnership (Domestic)
(Business Name: Banga & Manning, LLP)
11/14/2013 Statement of Dissolution – Limited Liability Partnership (Domestic)
4/23/2014 Revocation – Limited Liability Partnership (Domestic)

According to Manning’s resume, she earned a degree in education in 1980 from the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota GAL Jamie L Manning

Several Parents Voice Concerns that Jamie Manning Mishandled Reports of Alleged Child Abuse 

Reporter Susan Du noted in her article “Separated from Their Kids” (linked above) a pattern in the complaints of the parents, both mothers and fathers, who cited concern about Ms. Manning’s conduct while serving as Guardian ad Litem on their family court cases,”But the number and nature of their complaints is alarming. All the parents in this group, men and women, allege an eerie, meticulously documented pattern of lies within Manning’s reports. They claim in each of their cases that Manning sided with their abusive ex-partners, that she misquoted therapists, falsely claimed to have spoken with school officials, and ignored their children’s requests for help. They complain that she serves parents with scathing reports too late — right as they walk into court as opposed to the mandated 10 days prior — leaving them no time to review and defend themselves….

It is the complaint of several parents interviewed for the “Separated From Their Kids” article that Jamie Manning did, in fact, fail to report allegations of child abuse or endangerment to authorities.

1) Mother, E.J. says,She accuses the courts of ignoring her children’s reports of abuse while in their father’s care. (E.J.’s ex-boyfriend declined to comment through his lawyer.)

Asked where her case went wrong, E.J. points to a single woman, Jamie Manning, the court-appointed guardian ad litem…”


In June 2008, when E.J. still had primary custody of her daughter, the girl came home from a weekend at her dad’s house with a black eye. Her older brother had whacked her over the head with a pillow that had a metal zipper on it, she said. E.J. reported the incident to Child Protective Services. (The brother had special needs and required close supervision because of safety concerns and prior physical altercations against the sister)…

Investigators then consulted the guardian in the case, Jamie Manning. She too downplayed E.J.’s complaint. The CPS worker’s notes from the interview reflect that Manning said E.J. had mental health issues resembling Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, in which parents hurt their own kids to seek attention. The assessment came out of nowhere — not a single psychologist has ever diagnosed E.J. with it. CPS nevertheless dropped its investigation into the abuse…”

Family Court Guardian ad Litems are not supposed to interfere with CPS investigations nor influence findings.

E.J. further says, “Manning waved off E.J.’s repeated cries of child abuse. In one report, she criticized E.J. for asking the children to keep her address secret (she is a participant in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program “designed to help people who fear for their safety maintain a  confidential address. Many times program participants are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking…“) from their father (the reason she enrolled in Safe at Home is abuse and stalking from father), and recommended a sparse schedule of monthly visits…”

2) In the case of Elise, mother, there had been some differences with her ex; the article cites the elder daughter was not being returned from from visitation at the scheduled time.

The case escalated when her daughter complained of being bullied at school when she decided to transfer the child to a different school. Jamie Manning was appointed as Guardian ad Litem and criticized the change in schools,”Manning objected, insisting that bullying was not an issue, based on conversations she’d had with school officials. Manning used the incident to recommend giving dad sole legal and physical custody. But when Judge Kevin Burke challenged Manning to produce key evidence that bullying had not been a problem for Elise’s daughter, Manning was mum…”

Manning went on to accuse Elise of being mentally unfit to care for her children. Elise eventually won custody after the family court judge found Ms. Manning’s testimony and negative portrayal of Elise as not being credible.

3) Father Hal has a similar story about Ms. Manning recommending sole custody to an ex-wife who is accused of abusing their two children.

Daughter Holly repeatedly contacted Ms. Manning, begging for help. As a mandated reporter, Ms. Manning should have contacted CPS, or in the very least notified her supervisor, of the abuse allegations made by the child. As a Guardian ad Litem representing the best interests of the children, it was her job to do so.

“Meanwhile, tensions in Michelle’s (mother) household rose to an all-time high. Holly’s class essays and unanswered emails begging Manning for guidance tell a narrative of screaming matches, heavy-handed discipline, and violent clashes between her mom’s new husband, Doug, and her brother Brandon.

Holly, 13 at the time, wrote an email to Manning dated January 18, 2011 asking her for Judge Jeannice Reding’s contact information so she could speak to her directly and set the record straight about how rough it had been living with her mom. Doug grabbed 11-year-old Brandon by the throat because Brandon called him an ass, she wrote.

“This really hit me to rock bottom,” Holly wrote. “I just feel frustrated that the court isnt really listening to what Brandon and i want.”

Six days later, Holly sent Manning another email. She said after Michelle had a heated argument with Brandon over cleaning his room, Doug picked the boy up sideways, flipping him upside down and back again before shoving him to the floor. Holly wrote she tried to call the police, but her mom hid the phone.

“Please i want the adress and phone # for the judge quickly,” she begs Manning in the email. “Please, get us out before someone gets seriously hurt.”

Later that day, Manning responded. She advised Holly to talk to her therapist, adding that Brandon needed to learn how to respectfully engage with Michelle and her new husband…‘”

Despite the numerous reports of physical and mental abuse from both children, and the escalation of violence in their mother’s home, Jamie Manning eventually recommended sole custody to the identified perpetrator — mother. After mother was granted custody, both children fled her house and lived with their father, in safety, until they eventually aged out of the system.

4) Elizabeth, a survivor of domestic violence, had Jamie Manning appointed to her family court case as Guardian ad Litem after it was reported the children witnessed their father’s violence towards their mother.

Daughter, Anne, who was supposed to have an advocate and a voice in court with the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem says about Jamie Manning,”‘Anne, now 18, remembers sitting in the bathtub as a child and watching her dad slap her mom into the shower like it’s been burned into her memory. Even so, Manning recommended that her father receive unsupervised visitation time with her and a younger brother, now 15. Her father eventually kidnapped that brother…

‘Jamie Manning stole my brother,” Anne says. “She let my dad have visiting rights to see us when he was still the abuser, which didn’t make sense at all. No one saw it through our eyes…'”

Anne later testified at the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board Meeting, bravely sharing her story to a seemingly indifferent audience. The Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board  offers a short period at the beginning of their meetings to hear public comments. The Board develops policies and procedures concerning the Guardian ad Litem program and is also responsible for developing it’s complaint procedure.

GALs Using Mental Health Labels 

It should be noted that in every parent interviewed by Susan Du had Jamie Manning accusing them of some form of mental illness base on her own opinion as justification for removing custody. Custody was then recommended to a parent accused of abuse, even after the child disclosed abuse (in some cases).  If Ms. Manning really had concerns the parent was mentally unfit and mistreating a child as a result, as a mandated reporter, a CPS call should have been made. Yet in not one case did Ms. Manning contact authorities but instead resorted to seeking a remedy based on her own unqualified opinion. Ms. Manning is not licensed to diagnose or make any medical assessment, nor recommend treatment (which would include referring parents to mental health services).

The proper procedure for a Guardian ad Litem to reference information about a parent, or cite concerns, is to present a written report or documentation in their entirety from a qualified professional or include testimony from a relevant witness. The Guardian ad Litem can then include information in their report to the Court but should remain a “neutral fact finder” as outlined in their role and responsibilities under statute. It is beyond the scope of a GAL’s duties to do any more. A GAL should not interpret a medical report or other professional or expert report. It is the job of the professional to make that assessment – not the Guardian ad Litem.

The parent then has a due process right to a hearing in they can present their case, and in which evidence can be heard, and witness testimony taken. The judge will consider all of the information and testimony and then make a decision.

Guardian ad Litems should not be labeling or diagnosing parents with alleged mental health conditions. Along with that, it should not be recommended to the court that a “cure” for this mental health condition is loss of custody, visitation or termination of parental rights. Doing so could be considered Unlawful Practice of Medicine

147.081 Subd. 3, “For purposes of this chapter, a person not exempted under section 147.09 is “practicing medicine” or engaged in the “practice of medicine” if the person does any of the following...(3) offers or undertakes to prevent or to diagnose, correct, or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices, or instrumentalities, any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, deformity or defect of any person..”

Guardian ad Litems Must Comply With Mandated Reporting Laws

Not the job of a Guardian ad Litem to call CPS when child abuse is suspected? That’s not what the law says and in fact, a mandated reporter who fails to report suspected abuse or neglect can face criminal charges.

According to Minnesota Statutes 626.556 REPORTING OF MALTREATMENT OF MINORS SUBD. 3

Subd. 3.Persons mandated to report; persons voluntarily reporting.

(a) A person who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, shall immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, police department, county sheriff, tribal social services agency, or tribal police department if the person is:

(1) a professional or professional’s delegate who is engaged in the practice of the healing arts, social services, hospital administration, psychological or psychiatric treatment, child care, education, correctional supervision, probation and correctional services, or law enforcement…

A parent, guardian, or caretaker who knows or reasonably should know a child’s health is in serious danger must make a report. These individuals are subject to criminal penalties to report (Subd. 6).

(d) Notification requirements under subdivision 10 apply to all reports received under this section.

(e) For purposes of this section, “immediately” means as soon as possible but in no event longer than 24 hours.

Subd. 6.Failure to report.

(a) A person mandated by this section to report who knows or has reason to believe that a child is neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, and fails to report is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) A person mandated by this section to report who knows or has reason to believe that two or more children not related to the perpetrator have been physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, by the same perpetrator within the preceding ten years, and fails to report is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Subd. 6a.Failure to notify.

If a local welfare agency receives a report under subdivision 3, paragraph (a) or (b), and fails to notify the local police department or county sheriff as required by subdivision 10, the person within the agency who is responsible for ensuring that notification is made shall be subject to disciplinary action in keeping with the agency’s existing policy or collective bargaining agreement on discipline of employees.”

As Guardian ad Litem, it was the sole purpose of Jamie Manning’s job to advocate for the best interest of the children, and give them a voice in court. Ms. Manning’s failure to report allegations of child abuse when brought to her attention, and when children disclosed incidents of abuse, has resulted in the children subject to this article suffering trauma and real physical and mental harm.

Ms. Manning has never been criminally charged for her actions, and has never faced discipline from the Guardian ad Litem program. She continues to be appointed to cases in family court and CPS proceedings.

Update – A Call to Action 

Since the publishing of the City Pages article in Februrary 2015, complaints concerning the conduct of Guardian ad Litems in family court and CPS proceedings continue; with the handling of child abuse cases being of major concern. Many parents express frustration that complaints against GALs are not being taken seriously and the complaint process does not produce meaningful results to discipline GALs or correct mistakes.

In 2017, the National Center for State Courts did an assessment on the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem program: Assessment of the Organizational Structure and Service Delivery Model of the Minnesota Guardian Ad Litem Program

One of the recommendations of the assessment is that Guardian ad Litem appointments should be limited to child protection cases only and that a separate system, outside of the Guardian ad Litem program, should be developed for family law cases. — Meaning a family court Guardian ad Litem program would no longer exist. 

The GAL Board should consider identifying alternative methods to provide best interests advocacy in family law cases. The GAL Board should explore working with the legislature and judicial branch on a separate and distinct system of best interests advocacy in family law cases…”

And (page 30), “..the current system of family law appointments harms the reputation and future sustainability of the current GAL program, and causes role confusion among advocates and judges. This role confusion ultimately leaves children and families unsure of what they should expect from GALs. Role confusion also affects the parties, stakeholders, the public and the legislature’s perception of GAL performance, and undermines the ability of GALs to work effectively and within the boundaries of their statutory role…”

Another recommendation was that the Guardian ad Litem program should adopt a “universal employee model” and move away from the extensive use of volunteers, and instead offer opportunities to professionalize the role of the GAL. Along with that, was recommended a “streamline expectations and roles for GALs operating in each district, and promote consistent practice across the state…”

A Guardian ad Litem Audit was completed in 2018, offering further analysis and recommendation. However, the audit did not specifically address Guardian ad Litem performance, and concerns about the handling of domestic abuse and child abuse cases.

The audit did align with the NCSC evaluation with the recommendation that, “The Guardian ad Litem Board should adopt clear standards for guardian ad litem

This blog would add, that along with that should be clear standards on the handling of abuse allegations, and mandated reporting of abuse.

These two reports offer valuable information and insight on the Guardian ad Litem program, it; shortcomings as well as strengths, and what can be done to improve the system. Parents and children should also have a voice, and their experiences listened to, as they have personally witnessed and been affected by the system. Utilizing current reports and evaluations on the Guardian ad Litem program, as well as offering a place for professionals, parents and lawmakers to work together to seek solutions, there is hope the Guardian ad Litem can improve so long as the number one priority remains the well-being of the children. 

However, should there be no change in the GAL program, the stories shared in the City Pages article “Separated from Their Kids” serve as a warning of those who will suffer most — children and families. 

Posted in Child Abuse, Child Protection/CPS, Guardian ad Litem, Jamie L. Manning, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minnesota: Proposed Bill Requires Guardian ad Litem to Protect Address of Abuse Survivors

Another reform proposed for Minnesota’s troubled Guardian ad Litem program…

Family Court Injustice

Public Domain:

Minnesota: Proposed bill would protect the physical address of participants enrolled in the Safe at Home program from being released or disclosed by Guardian ad Litems in family court or CPS proceedings.

The bill, introduced in the Senate as SF3198 and in the House as HF3551, would change the laws regarding “Safe at Home” program to require that Guardian ad Litems (GAL) must accept the program address as the address of the participant, and  must not disclose their home address, work address or school address unless given consent to do so.

Follow the bill online at: HF 3551 Status in the House for the 90th Legislature (2017 – 2018)

Note: GALs are required to visit with parents and children as part of their job, which often includes an in home visit. In some cases, family visits could be occur in a public location or other place…

View original post 978 more words

Posted in Child Protection/CPS, Family Court, Guardian ad Litem, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Utah Lawmakers Pass Historic “Free Range Parenting” Bill: Parents Can’t Be Charged with Neglect for Letting Kids Play Outside or Walk to School

Source: Creative Commons CC0.

(2/07/2018) Utah lawmakers unanimously passed a bill sponsored by  Sen. Lincoln Fillmore and Rep. Brad M. Daw, in support of “Free Range Parenting” known as S.B. 65 Child Neglect Amendments.

S.B. 65 or the “Free Range Kids Law” offers protection, under the law, to parents to raise their children as they see fit, and allow them to “engage in independent activities” such as walking to school, playing outside and staying home alone without fear of being charged with child abuse or neglect. 

S.B. 65 redefines “neglect” in state law to allow parents to let children participate in unsupervised activities, and learn independence, as long as the child is of an appropriate age, and mature enough to handle the activity without hurting themselves.

The bill reads:

309: (c) “Neglect” does not include:

316: (iv) permitting a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and
317     maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities,
318     including:
319          (A) traveling to and from school, including by walking, running, or bicycling;
320          (B) traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities;
321          (C) engaging in outdoor play;
322          (D) remaining in a vehicle unattended, except under the conditions described in
323     Subsection 76-10-2202(2);
324          (E) remaining at home unattended; or
325          (F) engaging in a similar independent activity.

The concept of “free range parenting” began in 2008 when mother, and New York columnist, Lenore Skenanzy, wrote an article title “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone”. The article sparked widespread public debate over her decision. Lenore then launched the Free Range blog, encouraging parents to allow their children some independence for their own good.

Amy Morin, social worker and psychotherapist, says,Free-range parenting isn’t about being  permissive  or uninvolved. Instead, it’s about allowing kids to have the freedom to experience natural consequences of their behavior – when it’s safe to do so. It’s also about ensuring kids have the skills they need to become responsible adults…” What is Free-Range Parenting?

Lenore’s Free Range blog brought parents together from around the country. Lenore argues that “free range parenting”  is not criminal and was once the norm in America (she calls it an “old fashioned childhood”). Lenore says “free range parenting” is in the best interest of children because it teaches independence and self-resiliency.

Through her blog and advocacy, Lenore heard many stories of parents who had been arrested or investigated by CPS or police for letting kids go outside alone, or failing to supervise kids in incidents that involved things like allowing a child to walk to school or allowing a child to play at the park alone. In these cases, there was no prior history or evidence of abuse or maltreatment, and in fact, the children appeared well cared for.

Parenting choices have increasingly become subject to criminal charges while real child abuse and neglect often goes undetected or ignored by the system. 

In one notable case, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, from Maryland, had their children taken into custody by CPS after allowing their children to walk home alone from a nearby park. Two separate cases of neglect were filed against them but later both closed after an investigation cleared them of any wrongdoing: Maryland ‘free range’ parents cleared of neglect, still plan to sue CPS, police

In another case, from Tennessee, mother April Lawson was arrested and charged with  felony child abuse after allowing her children to play at the park alone. Mom Speaks Out About Neglect Charges

SB 65 or the Free Range Kids Law is the first bill in the country of it’s kind. Rep. Brad M. Daw says about the bill,”This is to prevent in Utah a problem that has happened in too many other states … where parents have been prosecuted, gotten in trouble for doing nothing more than allowing a child to play outside or go to the park…It hasn’t happened in this state, and this bill seeks to ensure it never will.

The bill, SB 65, now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for signature.

For More Info: 

Utah lawmakers pass ‘free-range kids’ bill to say that kids playing or walking to school alone don’t mean parents are neglectful

Utah lawmakers OK bill legalizing free-range parenting

Free-range kids: Finally, one state lets kids grow up without helicopter parents by Lenore Skenazy


Posted in Child Abuse, Child Protection/CPS, Legal and News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Testimony: “GAL Totally Destroyed Our Daughter’s Morale and She Eventually Gave Up On Life”

Lindsey was an absolutely wonderful mother…Rico’s eyes lit up whenever he was in his mother’s arms….” ~ Cheryl Nagel, speaking about her daughter

Public comment submitted by Cheryl Nagel, a loving mother and grandmother, to the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) for consideration of the 2017 audit of the Guardian ad Litem program.

Cheryl says her family’s life was destroyed, and the life of her daughter Lindsey cut short, in what she describes as a “brutal siege from the Mayo clinic and CPS in Mower County” that began when her infant grandson was a victim of medical kidnapping and taken into state care.  The family fought valiantly to regain custody in a legal battle that lasted two years.

Guardian ad Litem Alice Snater was appointed to represent the baby, named Rico, in court. Cheryl says that Snater discriminated against her daughter, and acted both unprofessionally and unethically.  She is speaking out now to recommend changes to the GAL program, using her experiences as an example of its failures, and a reason why reform is so desperately needed. 

Read Here for More Information on the 2017 GAL Audit: OLA Guardian ad Litem Topic Selection Background Paper April 2017


Lindsey Nagel and Baby Rico Source:

January 18, 2018

Dear Ms. Rodriguez,

Thank you for your prompt response to my inquiry about the GAL program in MN. I will be including my suggestions followed by personal notes to back up the suggestion.

Having one’s child or grandchild taken away is debilitating, extremely stressful, and all care should be taken so as not to destroy human lives in the process. I feel our lives were destroyed, as indicated by the fact our daughter Lindsey gave up her life after her infant son Rico was taken, and my husband continues to have PTSD and is unable to work. We had to sell our business in Mower County in 2014, and haven’t worked since.

  1. The GAL should not discriminate against protected classes of people, for example, people with disabilities. Lindsey’s GAL was Alice Snater, of Mower County. She was elderly, and we feel she discriminated against Lindsey because of her HIV status. Lindsey was born in Romania and was born HIV+. Alice continually brought out the fact that Lindsey should have a will drawn up, in order to convey her personal property to her infant son. Why? Because Alice thought Lindsey would be dying sometime soon. This is an outdated view of HIV/AIDS. People live for decades, very normally in today’s world. Alice’s view of HIV/AIDS permeated every aspect of the court process, and the implication that Lindsey would be dying “soon” had a devastating effect on Lindsey, particularly because it was repeated so often. Even the social workers quoted Alice.Here is one such incident: Alice did a great job convincing the entire HHS department that HIV/AIDS was going to kill Lindsey. At a meeting Lindsey had with Jessica Bittman, one of the social workers, Jessica, said, “Lindsey, you need to become more aware of the (your) disease. Alice Snater, the guardian ad litem, indicated that she believes you should be on ARV meds, and you should have a will, because your life is going to be very short.

    Lindsey had lived for over 20 years drug free. Lindsey told Jessica, “My beliefs about drugs are different than yours & Alice’s, but I am complying with your orders.

    She tried to give Jessica an example: “It’s like if I believed in Jesus Christ and another person was Muslim, and that Muslim person was hired to work in a Presbyterian church – they couldn’t fire the Muslim or do anything just because they believe different than me. You can’t fire someone for their beliefs. You could fire them because they didn’t do the job, but you can’t fire them for their beliefs. But that’s what you’re doing to me. Just because of my beliefs… Pretend I’m working at the church, and I have different beliefs, I’m doing my job, (giving Rico the meds), but I have different beliefs than yours, so you can’t discriminate against me. You can’t fire me.

    Alice Snater did not know much about HIV, and should have known that there are strict guidelines on what medical information you are allowed to share about others, particularly others who are protected by federal law – people with disabilities, for example. Alice violated Lindsey’s medical privacy rights numerous times.

    Here’s another incident:

This occurred when Rico was still in the hospital. Obviously, somebody, (was  it Alice Snater?), told the foster parents that Lindsey had full blown AIDS, a total fabrication. February 3, 2013, while Rico was still in the hospital, John’s (the father) mom and dad, Patty and Hermen, came down from Minneapolis to see Rico at the St. Mary’s Hospital. While they were visiting, the nurse came in. The nurse told them that the foster parents had been in for a visit that morning, as they often did.

While they were there, the doctors made their rounds, which means there might be 3, 4, 5 doctors who consult with each patient at one time. Well, the foster dad, Ron, decided to take the opportunity to ask the team of doctors, “How do I protect myself and my family when someone with full blown AIDS comes to my house?” He told the group he was the baby’s foster dad, and that the baby’s birth mother (Lindsey) was a hooker and a mainliner. The nurse who was relaying this story said she almost fell off her chair when he asked that! Ron also said he was worried about protecting his children from contracting HIV! (and that Lindsey was a prostitute and a drug abuser!) The question is, HOW did Ron know about Lindsey’s HIV status, and how did he come to believe she had full blown AIDS? She’d NEVER been told that, even by the Mayo doctors! And she was not a hooker or a mainliner – she’s been HIV positive since birth! Speaking of HPPA violations – Lindsey’s HIV status is certainly not the foster parent’s business, and how DID he get that information – from Alice Snater?

2) The GAL should insist both parents be treated equally.

If a psych evaluation is ordered for one, it should be ordered for both parents. Alice insisted that Lindsey have a psychological evaluation, but not John, the baby’s dad. This was particularly humiliating for Lindsey, as she was suspicious of Alice’s motives. Alice felt Lindsey was psychologically unfit to be Rico’s mother. She was driving a wedge between Lindsey & John!

3) The GAL should not try to humiliate the parents to get them to comply.

Rico did return home, but Lindsey was forced to Skype herself giving Rico three medications at 8AM and 8PM every single day. He was on oxygen at night, and was a high maintenance baby. Lindsey kept up this Skyping schedule for over a year. It was grueling. Every morning Rico would be awakened in front of a computer screen – Lindsey had to show the tube coming out of Rico’s stomach, hold up each bottle, show herself dispensing the proper amount of medication, showing herself putting the tubes together and making sure the social worker could see all of this, all while holding onto the baby. There were NO exceptions, even when we attended a wedding in Indiana for a weekend. We drove around trying to find a WiFi, and ended up one time at a Pizza Hut – Skyping Lindsey giving Rico he required meds from the floor of the Pizza Hut! Alice insisted that this continue the entire time Rico was a CPS case.

4) The GAL should not participate or show partiality toward one parent or another, and should not represent one parent against the other in a mediation. 

About 2 months after the April trial, John and Lindsey separated, which added more stress for Lindsey, but she continued loving and caring for Rico. Lindsey had to get a new attorney because to avoid conflict of interest issues, as the first attorney represented both parties. The separation caused parenting time issues, and Lindsey’s attorney suggested a mediation, which sounded like a fair way to determine a schedule.

But when Lindsey met her attorney at the mediator’s office, she realized things were probably not going to be resolved in a fair way, because Alice Snater showed up to represent John’s side of the case! Since a GAL is supposed to represent the best interests of the child, why did she show up to represent John? The mediation was trashed because Alice refused to leave.

Note: According to the Rules of Procedure, GALs are prohibited from acting as mediators for cases they are appointed to. See this link, also, for other roles precluded: RULES OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROCEDURE IN JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT

Further, when a GAL acts outside the scope of their duties, they no longer qualify for immunity. 

5) The GAL should try to take in the whole story.

The reason our grandson was taken in the first place is because she had a 10-minute disagreement with the pediatrician. After that, she complied with every single thing the doctor ordered. She took her son to over 120 medical appointments in less than a year’s time. She was dedicated to making sure all his needs were met, as any good mother would do. If Alice would have known the whole story, she might have recommended the case be dismissed.

Alice Snater and Mower County totally destroyed our daughter’s morale and she eventually gave up on life.

The first 22 years of Lindsey’s life, my husband and I devoted every minute to trying to build Lindsey up, as we knew the HIV diagnosis would be quite a load for a young girl to bear. We were proud of Lindsey as she grew up and faced normal challenges head on. She was showing remarkable good judgment and was becoming a very smart, savvy young woman.

Alice Snater and Mower County took all that away from Lindsey in just 12 months’ time. All the trauma brought on just tore Lindsey down – she became exhausted from the constant bullying, and the discriminating tactics of Alice Snater. Lindsey gave up, and passed away August 4, 2015.

The GAL system has got to change, and I would urge those who have the control over CPS in Minnesota to understand they are dealing with real human beings with real feelings and real families who really love their children and grandchildren!

You can’t take a child away from its mother – especially when it’s proven the mother is complying with everything the doctor ordered! Our family was totally decimated by CPS of Mower County. We are still struggling to understand how and why our daughter was treated so badly. We lost our daughter, thanks to Alice Snater and CPS of Mower County, MN.

Very Sincerely,

Cheryl Nagel

Lindsey Nagel. Source: The Truth Barrier

The following statements can be used to clarify parts of Lindsey’s story. They are regarding our daughter, Lindsey Nagel and her son, Rico Martinez Nagel. It is helpful to understand why our daughter reacted to the doctors at Mayo Clinic the way she did, and also why she passed away 3.5 years after her son’s birth.

Lindsey Nagel, our daughter, was born October 15, 1990, deceased August 4, 2015.

She was born in Petrosani, Romania, where we spent a total of 2 months processing the adoption. We brought her home to Minnesota when she was 2.5 months old.

Lindsey Nagel tested negative for HIV in Romania, in December of 1990. Lindsey Nagel tested positive for HIV in USA January of 1991. Lindsey Nagel began treatment for HIV, and was reported to the MN Health Department. Her doctor believed she contracted HIV via transfusion while in Romania. Lindsey Nagel’s mother, Eva, tests negative for HIV. Lindsey’s 3 sisters all test negative for HIV.

When Lindsey was almost 2 years old, and on the HIV medication, AZT, Lindsey became very ill. Mom and Dad take her off the AZT and she fully recovers, and lives 22 more years, drug free. In the meantime, other children listed as pediatric AIDS patients, have die, as verified by her doctor, Kiran Belani, who is still practicing at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Lindsey played soccer for 7 years, took swimming lessons for 3 years, played numerous sports, such as volleyball, etc… Was a cheerleader at Redeemer Lutheran for 3 years.

Young Lindsey Nagel. Source: Google Images/YouTube.

In 2012, she became pregnant and had full term baby boy, December 19, 2012. She was 22 at that time. Baby Rico was diagnosed as being HIV positive the day he was born, even though virtually all babies born of HIV positive mothers test positive for the first 18 months of their lives. Their own immune systems take over around 18 months.

Photo of Rico from Lindsey’s cell phone. Source: The Truth Barrier.

Day 2 of his life, with no parental approval or knowledge, Rico was “accidentally” given a triple dose of Nevirapine, which is known to cause neurological damage, even when it is not overdosed. Dr. Huskins admitted this to us during CARE meeting, otherwise we would not have known. It was an experimental treatment, known as the “Mississippi” treatment, as a young girl from Mississippi was given the treatment and appeared to become HIV negative, only to be found HIV positive 9 months later.


Lindsey has never been charged with anything, nor found to ever have harmed her son, Rico. By all accounts, she was a loving, devoted mother whose life was unjustly cut short. 

Former Guardian ad Litem Alice Snater died in June 2015 at age 78. Snater became a GAL in 1989 and served in that position for more than 25 years.

When the Nagel family became involved with the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem program, back in 2013, a formal complaint procedure to file a grievance against a GAL did not exist. Parents (or grandparents) struggled to be heard when they had concerns with guardians, there was no one tasked with taking complaints, let alone investigating them. That has now changed – largely due to the efforts of parents joining together to demand the GAL Board adopt a formal complaint procedure, and develop practices to have complaints heard and investigation. The State GAL Board has since implemented a complaint procedure but the program continues to struggle…the reason for the recent audit.


Read More About Cheryl’s Story:

An Open Letter from Cheryl Nagel (The Truth Barrier)

If you have been separated from a child (or parent) after being taken into custody of the state (including: foster care, group homes, adoption), #TAKEN offers a forum for families to search for each other: America’s #TAKEN Children

Posted in Child Protection/CPS, Guardian ad Litem, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Family First Prevention Services Act: Sweeping Reform to Child Welfare Funding Enacted

(February 9, 2018: Washington, D.C.) With bipartisan support, President Trump signed The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) into law, significantly reforming the child welfare system by changing the priorities of federal funding to promote family preservation, and to discourage taking children into state care. FFPA uses federal dollars that were once spent on incentives that ripped families apart to now working to keep families together, and uses state care/foster homes as a last resort when a child’s safety is at risk.

According to a federal report, in the year 2016, there were 437,000+ American children in foster care and that number is steadily increasing each year. Of that number, 45% were placed in a home with a non-relative.   The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY1 2016 Estimates as of Oct 20, 2017  No. 24

William Bell, president of Casey Family Programs, testified at a  Senate HELP Committee that for every $7 spent on foster care, there is only $1 spent on prevention. From 2013-2016, the number of children entering foster care increased by an average of 10,000 per year. 

Public Domain Image:

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)

To amend parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act to invest in funding prevention and family services to help keep children safe and supported at home, to ensure that children in foster care are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like, and appropriate settings, and for other purposes. “Titles IV-E and IV-B of the Social Security Act authorize the largest federal programs dedicated for child welfare.  H.R.253 – Family First Prevention Services Act of 2017

Titles IV-E and IV-B of the Social Security Act authorize the largest federal programs dedicated for child welfare. For more information on purposes and services covered by Title IV-E and IV-B visit: OLR Research Reports: State-By-State Comparison of Foster Care and Adoption Costs (2005)

Introduced By:

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R), Florida and Rep. Sander Levin (D), Michigan

This bill makes sure that children are protected and families are not split up unnecessarily…Our current system creates a perverse incentive to place children in foster care. Breaking up families should be a last resort.”- U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan, President Signs Buchanan Bill to Help Kids

More than 500 state and national child welfare organizations support the bill, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Defense Fund and the Child Welfare League of America.

What Is The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA):

FFPSA reforms the way federal dollars are spent on child welfare. FFPSA replaces the traditional system that gave incentives for taking children into state care with new incentives that encourage keeping families together. FFPSA does this by giving federal funding to provide treatment and supportive services to families. FFPSA will provide an estimated $1.5 billion over 10 years to prevent children from entering foster care.

Under FFPSA, states can access federal funding to pay for substance abuse, mental health and parenting skill programs and other evidence-based prevention services so that children can be kept with families, when possible, rather than being immediately placed into state care (as the traditional system had done). Child welfare will now be working with families to keep children safe at home while also ensuring they get the help and services they need.

FFPSA also limits the amount of money spent on group homes to ensure that more children are placed with families – either by kinship placement or foster homes.

Public Domain:

Concerns About FFPSA:

Concerns have been raised that FFPSA does not go far enough in the programs and services covered. Programs not funded include domestic violence, peer mentoring or support groups, crisis intervention, daycare and housing assistance. Programs not covered by FFPSA will need to be implemented and paid for with federal, state, local or private (community orgs, non-profits, families etc) dollars. Or, may not be offered to families at all.

There may be a solution for this… The FFPSA will cover case management services. A case manager is tasked with providing families with options for programs and services, and then helping to coordinate care. So if the family were eligible for some programs under FFPSA funding but also had to use other sources in order to meet additional needs, the case manager could help with identifying resources and assist with collaboration between the various providers.

Another concern is that FFPSA makes kinship placement more difficult. FFPSA allows children to live informally with a relative for up to 12 months while the parents receive services to avoid placing a child into foster care. However, the relative will not receive any financial assistance unless they become a paid foster parent. If the relative were to become a foster parent, the biological parents are no longer eligible for services covered by FFPSA. Informal care also does not provide a child with a social worker, so they are not being monitored which could leave a child vulnerable to abuse.

Another concern is that FFPSA’s limitations on group homes and congregate care does not take into consideration the lack of foster homes available to children. FFPSA does not offer an alternate remedy to placement if a foster home is not available (or feasible) and a group home is not permitted under its rules.

It would seem to be common sense that if, possible, kinship placement should be offered as an alternative. It would be in the best interest of the child for the FFPSA to address problems with kinship placement so that children are placed in homes, and that there is oversight as well as funding available.

For information more on Kinship Care: How to Create a Kin First Foster Care System

For Information on Concerns with FFPSA: The Family First Act: A Bad Bill that Won’t Go Away/

Looking Forward:

FFPSA is a historic bill that reforms child welfare funding and with it, reforms priorities in the system overall. By allocating federal dollars for programs and services that support child safety while offering a way for at-risk families to become stronger, and re-stabilized, a greater value will be felt in healthier, healed communities that will thrive for generations to come.

Yet, concerns have been raised. It will be critical for federal and state governments to work together to effectively implement FFPSA, and address concerns. Solutions to shortfalls of the FFPSA will need to be addressed with continued bipartisan effort, and utilizing community and public input when developing programs, policies and procedures. Oversight and transparency are also critical to ensure the success of FFPSA.

FFPSA has the potential to set an example that could lead to additional reforms in other areas of the system that continue to operate in the traditional model – family court is also influenced by federal dollars under the Social Security Act. Every day in America’s family courts, children are needlessly ripped from the arms of fit, loving parents in proceedings that are unjust, and violate the state laws, and Constitutional rights of parents.

Is sweeping reform possible in family court? We only need to look to FFPSA to say it can be done. Change has not come easily; for years, child welfare has been hotly debated while children lingered in a failing system, many being further abused and neglected. The “system” is often perceived as big, unapproachable, and all-powerful. And it’s problems – too difficult, too complex to ever solve. The passage of FFPSA shows that reform is possible in child welfare; and that people – parents, advocates, professionals, community organizations, leaders, etc – can solve it’s problems when working together for a common good. This in turn, gives hope that long-awaited reform can be addressed in the related area of family court.

For More Information: 


The Family First Act Is Law, Okay What Next? #FFAOWN by Jim Black

A Way Back Home: Preserving Families and Reducing the Need for Foster Care (Senate Hearing, 8/04/2015. Start at 29 Minutes)



Posted in Child Protection/CPS, Legal and News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PA Lawmakers, Advocates Work to Improve Child Safety in Family Court Proceedings

(February 6, 2018) Pennsylvania lawmakers are determined to make child safety not just a priority but a policy, meaning sweeping changes could be coming soon, including new laws passed to improve practices in family court when handling cases involving domestic abuse and child abuse. 

State Representative Mark Rozzi, 126th Legislative District, led a press conference at the State capitol calling on the governor, lawmakers to make child protection and safety “a top priority” in the following year. 

The conference included fellow state Reps. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, Tina Davis, D-Bucks, and Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, and also:

  • Prof. Marci Hamilton, CHILD USA, nonprofit think tank, University of Pennsylvania
  • Peggy Hoffman, Director of the PA Stop Abuse Campaign
  • Danielle Pollack, Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition
  • Jill Deitrick, child advocate

Public Domain:

The conference addressed failures in family court that place children’s lives at risk – specifically that children are being court ordered into visitation, and placed into the custody of parents who are abusive. 

Danielle Pollack, a parent/child advocate, testified about current laws allow perpetrators of domestic violence (and child abuse) to have unsupervised visits, and even gain custody of children, who are the victim’s of their violence, putting them in harm’s way.

Pollack said child sexual abusers win custody of children at a much higher rate than safe parents asking for court protection for their child, citing a study which shows that alleged child abusers win custody or unsupervised visitation with a child victim 81% of the time.

Pollock says,Attorneys regularly advise parents to not speak of abuse in family courts because it increases the likelihood that they will lose their children to the abuser.

Would any adult rape victim or victim of violent assault be ordered by court to live with or visit over and over again the very person who raped or assaulted them? We would not dream of doing this. It’s unthinkable.

Consider the terror of the victim having to see his or her abuser over and over, or worse, live with him full time. And yet, with children, somehow this is permissible by law, and in fact, it’s regularly ordered in our family courts. In this way, we endanger and further traumatize vulnerable children.

Peggy Hoffman, Director of the PA Stop Abuse Campaign, also testified about her concerns for the safety and well-being of at-risk children in family court. Hoffman says that mothers who raise concerns of abuse, and attempt to utilize the legal system for help face obstacles and are often called “liars” and punished for their efforts to protect children. 

Hoffman says,”“No one wants to deal with it. When the mother reports, or her children disclose abuse, it opens up a new arena of control and maltreatment as the abuser uses custody ploys and family court itself. It happens by reconstructing the mother, who seeks to protect their children, into a pathological or vengeful liar, and she is now considered an ‘alienator.’ This label diverts the court’s attention away from claims that the father is abusive, and replaces it with a focus on a supposedly lying or deluded mother or child.

Representative Tina Davis, 141st District, offered a bill to improve the family court’s response to allegations of child abuse. Under the bill, a professional who provides advice, a recommendation or evaluations to the court must have credible qualifications related to domestic abuse or child abuse. The bill also requires that judges and attorneys receive more training, and education, on issues related to abuse. Additionally, the bill would utilize an evidentiary hearing to hear and consider allegations of abuse. If the court makes a finding of abuse, the party identified as a risk would have their contact with the child either limited or supervised until it is proven that a safety concern no longer exists.

Rep. Rozzi encouraged lawmakers to act quickly, and not let bills languish in committee.

Efforts towards family court reform have been spoken about for years, and hotly debated. Change has been slow, or not come at all, for many who continue to struggle with court rulings that unfairly punish parents for raising concerns of abuse or safety, and for the children ordered into visitation or custody with abusive parents. It is our hope that these efforts in Pennsylvania motivate other  lawmakers to similarly tackle family court reform in their own states, and to work alongside parents, professionals and advocates to implement needed changes so that court procedures make the safety and well-being of children a number one priority, and do not unfairly punish parents, or deprive them of custody for raising safety concerns.


Rep. Mark Rozzi pushes measures to protect children

Rozzi, advocates call on governor to make child protection, safety a policy

Posted in Child Abuse, Family Court, Legal and News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Family Court Audit Reveals: Caroline Angela Raysor, Deputy Clerk, Embezzling Money from the Court

Caroline Angela Raysor. Source: WWW.WRDW.COM

Routine audit of family court, and it’s programs, is critical to ensure systemic oversight and accountability. Along with the audit must come actual enforcement of recommendations, and a willingness to actually address problems, including disciplinary action or criminal charges if necessary.

This case is just one example of why regular audits are necessary…

(Bamberg County, South Carolina: 1/18/2018) Caroline Angela Raysor, deputy clerk for the Bamberg County Family Court, is accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from the court between July 2016 and September 2017.

Read the Official Release Here: Bamberg Court Employee Arrested For Embezzling Funds

The S.C. Department of Social Services conducted an audit and the investigation is ongoing. Early on in the case Bamberg County Sheriff Ed Darnell said the investigation involved child support money; the exact amount of money stolen has yet to be determined.

If convicted, Raysor could face heft financial fines and spend up to 1o years in jail.

Also Read: 

Court official charged; Bamberg County arrest stems from family court audit


Posted in Legal and News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Time’s Almost Up To Have Your Voice Heard On Minnesota GALs

Source: Red Herring Alert: Time’s Almost Up..GALs

April 07, 2017 01:03 PM

A legislative commission on Thursday approved several state programs it would like the Legislative Auditor to evaluate, including the health department’s Office of Health Facility Complaints and the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem program, both subjects of 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigations in November.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor said its evaluation will look into management, governance, oversight and processes of specific program areas.

Excerpt: Guardians Ad Litem Review

The Legislative Auditor plans to review the Guardians ad litem program, which advocates for children and vulnerable adults in the legal system.

According to OLA documents, the state has made frequent changes to the program’s governance, management, and funding over the past 20 years.

“As the GAL board and program staff are committed to continuous improvement in providing services to children, we welcome the opportunity to work with the Legislative Auditor,” a state program spokeswoman wrote in an email to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The OLA plans to review the board’s policies, procedures and program standards while surveying judges, attorneys, and families about their experiences working with those in the program.

In November, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Katherine Johnson exposed that some children in the system have had their wishes ignored by their guardian ad litem.

RELATED: Guardian ad Litem Board Works to Improve Complaint Process

Since the story aired, KSTP has received countless tips from families who feel their assigned guardian ad litem failed them.

“Despite efforts to improve oversights, concerns remain about the quality of guardian ad litem services,” the OLA wrote to House and Senate members earlier this week.

The OLA program reviews are expected to be completed by January or February. (2018)

If you want to provide written comments regarding the GAL program or ideas for improvement, contact Jodi Munson Rodríguez, the program evaluation manager. You may reach her at

Related image
Information below is from a MN parent that has been subjected to the evils of the family court system.
The GAL program and those collateral’s profiting off family court orders often name and handpick therapists in their recommendations. That is RICO by definition. If you want your kids back you pay to play.
They use the legal system to make you destitute and take the kids. This is textbook and the dim witted or malicious or both GALs side with the abuser.
The audit of the GAL program is closing soon and now is your chance to speak out about the effect GAL’s have had on your family and the reasons this program needs to be dismantled.
Please flood Jodi’s inbox with your very specific examples of how they are ruining your relationships and limiting your contact with your children,
Provide examples of them using therapeutic terminology, false reporting, no accountability when you complained, rubber stamping recommendations, refusal to retract when details were verified false, lies, etc.
Please share this with any parent in Minnesota harmed by a guardian and their lack of accountability from the top down.

Image result for guardian ad litem memes


Federal lawsuit filed to dismantle Lackawanna County’s guardian ad litem system


Posted in Child Protection/CPS, Family Court, Guardian ad Litem, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chief Justice Roberts to Assemble Work Group to Investigate Sexual Harassment in Federal Judiciary, Recommend Changes

Chief Justice John Roberts makes a public commitment to investigate and reform procedures on how federal judiciary handles sexual harassment, misconduct. This historic move could lead the way for broader reform, and increased accountability in the judicial system, overall.

In the annual 2017 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts said he takes seriously allegations of sexual harassment occurring in the judiciary, and will assemble a work group to investigate and make recommendations for change.

Chief Justice Roberts asserted in the Year-End Report (p. 11), “We have a new challenge in the coming year. Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune. The judiciary will begin 2018 by undertaking a careful evaluation of whether its standards of conduct and its procedures for investigating and correcting inappropriate behavior are adequate to ensure an exemplary workplace for every judge and every court employee...” 2017 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

Chief Justice John Roberts (Wikipedia)

This, in response, after a group of 695 former and current law clerks sent Justice Roberts a letter on December 20, 2017 stating that “significant changes are necessary” to address the potential of harassment occurring in the federal court system. The letter also requested changes in the complaint process against federal judges to ensure that those raising concerns are heard and protected from retaliation.  Letter Urging Investigation, Reform in Fed Judiciary Policies on Sexual Harassment, Misconduct 12/20/2017

The letter also offers ideas for improvement, including creating a work group to address sexual harassment in the federal judiciary and develop appropriate procedures and policies to address the issues. Recommendations for the work group include inviting individuals of diverse racial backgrounds and a mix of gender to participate. The work group should also include judges, current and former law clerks and judiciary employees among its members.

Recently, national attention turned to sexual harassment from judges after Alex Kozinski, a high-profile Federal court appeals judge from the 9th Circuit, resigned from his position after 32 years due to allegations of sexual harassment. Several former law clerks claimed that Kozinski showed them pornography or made graphic sexual comments to them. Kozinski has since apologized.

Protection for court employees remains a critical issue when raising a complaint of sexual harassment or other judicial misconduct, as a noticeable imbalance of power exists between judges and staff, that causes many to feel that they have nowhere to go with a problem because the judge has all the power.

Federal judges have lifetime tenure, but can be removed from the bench through impeachment. 15 federal judges have been impeached since 1803 – of that number 8 judges were convicted by the Senate, 4 judges were acquitted by the Senate, and 3 judges resigned before the conclusion of a trial. Ballotpedia – Impeachment of Federal Judges

The efforts lead by Chief Justice Roberts have the potential to encourage further reform, and increase accountability, in the judiciary, overall. This may, in turn, extend to other areas of the court, such as family court.

There is a growing public interest in judicial reform and increased accountability in the court system. Instead of relying on the judiciary or the government to regulate itself, a growing number American citizens, organizations are seeking to be heard, and have a role, in the reforms that take place. Hopefully the efforts lead by Chief Justice Roberts will provide the American citizenry with that opportunity.


Chief Justice Roberts says courts will examine protections against sexual harassment (Washington Post)

Law Clerks Say Federal Judiciary Isn’t Equipped To Handle Sexual Harassment (Huff Post)

Nearly 700 Law Clerks Tell Judiciary to Reform Sexual Harassment Procedures (Connecticut Law Tribune)

Roberts: Judicial branch ‘not immune’ from sexual harassment issues (Politico)

Posted in Legal and News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Have to Protect Children More..” Claire Throssel Mother Turned Advocate After Children Murdered During Visitation With Abusive Father

People have written to me from all over the country who have gone through this process (family court) which is so traumatic and it’s so easy for the children’s voices to get lost amongst the process and the trauma of the separation. And it’s so hard for the people to get out of their situation..and what I’d like to say to them today is this is the start of the hope, this is the start of the journey for change for all children…” ~ Claire Throssel

“Protecting Children from a Violent Parent”– Mother Claire Throssel appears on “The Victoria Derbyshire Show” sharing her heartbreaking story of how her two sons Jack and Paul were murdered after being court ordered to visit their abusive father, and how she is fighting to make needed changes in family court in memory of her children. 

Claire told social services her ex-husband, Darren Sykes, was capable of hurting the boys. Jack and Paul both also expressed fear of their father, and begged not to go on visits. Despite this, visits continued until the deaths of the both children. 

Claire Throssel and Sons (Source: Women’s Aid)

In October 2014, Sykes, father, lured Jack (12) and Paul (9) into the attic of his home in Penistone, South Yorkshire, with the promise that a model train set was waiting for them. Once Jack and Paul were in the attic, Sykes locked them inside and then ignited 16 different fires inside the house. Sykes barricade other exits to the house to prevent escape, and even left a patio door partially open to fan the flames. Sykes then committed suicide. Claire recalls that Sykes was jealous of her relationship with the children.

Both children also died in the fire. Paul died in his mother’s arms soon after being rushed to the hospital. Claire remembers the doctor telling her, “We can’t save him, all you can do is hold him…” Jack survived for 5 precious days, long enough to declare that his father intentionally set the fire, before he also succumbed to injuries, 50% of his body was covered in burns.

Claire Throssel is now advocating for reform in family court with the UK based advocacy group Women’s Aid. She also advocates for increased training for judges and court professionals on domestic abuse, including emotional abuse and coercive control.

Victoria Derbyshire also talks, during this episode, with Clive Coleman about the campaign launched by the charity Women’s Aid to make family courts safer for children in cases where domestic abuse or a risk of harm exists. The efforts of Women’s Aid resulted in historic reform measure called Practice Direction 12J which is now being implemented in every family court in the UK (as of 10/2/2017).

Family law attorney Lucy Reed also joins the discussion to talk about domestic abuse and the intersection of family court, and to weigh in on Practice Direction 12J. This is a very informative episode of The Victoria Derbyshire show that you won’t want to miss! 

Practice Direction 12J requires judges to take certain actions in cases where domestic abuse or child abuse allegations are raised. 

An Outline – Practice Direction 12J (Domestic Abuse): 

  • The court presumes the role of both parents in a child’s life is in their best interest unless there is evidence to the contrary. 
  • Expands the definition of Domestic Abuse to include psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, or culturally specific abuse as well as coercive and controlling behavior. Culturally specific forms of abuse include, but are not limited to, forced marriage, child marriage, honour-based violence, dowry-related abuse and marriage abandonment.
  • The court must make safety a priority in cases involving abuse for both the child and for the parent whom the child is living with. Custody and visitation orders should not expose either to further harm.
  • The court cannot compel parties to participate in resolution or conciliation efforts which are not suitable or not safe.
  • If the court is advised by any party, or by CPS or social services, that there is a need for special arrangements to protect the party or child during proceedings, the court must ensure proper arrangements until no longer necessary.
  • When considering allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse in proceedings, family court judges must follow specific recommendations. Before issuing a custody or visitation order, the court must explain why contact ordered does not pose a risk to the child and is in the child’s best interest.
  • Specific practices are mandated for courts when handling cases of domestic abuse or child abuse when findings of abuse are substantiated, or allegations are admitted. “The court should make an order for contact only if it is satisfied that the physical and emotional safety of the child and the parent with whom the child is living can, as far as possible, be secured before during and after contact, and that the parent with whom the child is living will not be subjected to further domestic abuse by the other parent…”

Learn More: Practice Direction 12J (Domestic Abuse)


Domestic abuse and coercive control is ‘silent killer’ (Claire Throssel story in video, BBC News)

‘He wanted to take everything from me’: Grief-stricken mother whose two children were murdered by their father in a house fire reveals agony of her sons’ final moments (Daily Mail)

United Kingdom Implements Historic Measures to Improve Safety in Family Court for Abuse Victims and Their Children

Women’s Aid UK

Posted in Child Abuse, Family Court, Parents in Family Court | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment