MN Guardian Ad Litem Board Admits – Abuser Awarded Custody, then Removes Evidence from Website

Did the Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board, and Suzanne Alliegro (State Program Administrator) delete case history off the GAL Board website in order to cover up evidence that a GAL recommended change of custody to an abuser and labelled the victim as paranoid after she raised abuse allegations? Shocking e-mail exchange with Alliegro along with screen shots of the original website released… 

This case is discussed in further detail at: MN GAL Board Boasts: Abuser Gains Custody – Victim Labelled ‘Paranoid’ Forced Out of Kid’s Lives

Suzanne Alliegro says during the e-mail exchange concerning this case that,”If you are interested in getting more information on the case, I will check to get the file number, status of the case and where you can get more information.” The facts being reported about this case are concerning enough to warrant an investigation. Alliegro has agreed to release information, which should be done but in a way that protects the privacy of the family involved. The Auditor’s Office and NCSC Consultants should also be given access to information concerning this case.

The website for the MN State Guardian ad Litem Board looks very different today than it did back in 2015, and the case histories now included on the current website have all been totally revised. What prompted this change? Documentation gathered from viewing the State GAL website history and gathered from an e-mail exchange between a concerned citizen and Suzanne Alliegro indicate that the website was changed soon after a citizen alerted Alliegro to a concerning case involving domestic abuse that resulted in the victim losing custody to an identified abuser, and then becoming estranged from her children’s lives. The case that Alliegro was questioned about in the e-mail was promptly removed from the State GAL Board website after concerns were raised about the GAL’s handling of the case. 

The Case History in question reads:

  • Change of Custody to Father
    A GAL had been appointed for two pre-teen girls in a marriage dissolution case where there had been some domestic abuse between the parents.  Throughout the case, the GAL grew increasingly concerned about the mother’s mental health.  The mother demonstrated increased paranoia and made multiple allegations against the father.  Eventually, the GAL recommended a change in custody to the father with the mother having supervised parenting time.  The children began to stabilize when they were placed in their father’s care.  The mother continued to struggle with mental health issues and did not keep the supervised visits.  The involvement of the GAL helped bring the case to resolution and provided the court with much-needed information regarding the best interests of the children.

After reading this troubling story, a concerned citizen contacted Suzanne Alliegro to ask how case histories are selected for the GAL website, and also questioned the GAL’s handling of the domestic abuse issues in this case (full letter posted below). Questions asked of Alliegro included:

  • The story says there has been some domestic abuse between the parents but does not indicate that there was any treatment or intervention for the identified perpetrator of abuse. Can you clarify what happened?
  • It also says the GAL is concerned about the mother’s mental health and was identified as being paranoid, did the GAL have any degrees or training to make such a diagnosis? And what is done to differentiate between a real mental health issue and something that may be a result of domestic violence and/or trauma?
  • I also find it interesting that it is reported that the children began to “stabilize” after being taken from their mother, put into their father’s care and then ordered into supervised visits with the mother. How is that possible that such a huge transition would stabilize a child? Did the children receive any therapy or aftercare?

Alliegro responds that since the State GAL website was launched over 5 years ago (quote), “..so the case histories are somewhat dated as we have not replaced them since the website inception.Dated? The date that this case happened has nothing to do with the conduct of the GAL appointed to the case. The wording does, however, suggest that Alliegro is making excuses to  justify removing the case history from the State GAL Board website…which would also cover up the existence of this case, and possible misconduct by the GAL.

When asked about the case history, Alliegro responds,”The case histories are meant to provide a sample of the type of cases and issues handled by a guardian ad litem and are not meant to provide all details of a particular case and all information gathered by the guardian ad litem.” That may be the case but the few details being reported in this case should be a concern to the Program Manager, and the GAL Board. The job of the GAL is to advocate for the best interest of children and make recommendations that would ensure their safety – instead, in this case, the GAL is advocating for an abuser! Instead of concern the Minnesota GAL program boasts of this tragic case where an abuse victim is punished after she “made multiple allegations (of abuse) against the father“, and then loses custody to an identified abuser as being a success story. “Multiple allegations” should be investigated with the safety of the children being a priority… what has to happen to the children before they are protected? Children should be removed from an unsafe environment not left in the care and custody of abusive parent. 

Responding to the question about the GAL possibly diagnosing a mental health issue, Alliegro says, “A guardian ad litem does not make mental health diagnoses but typically provides the court information from qualified professionals..” In this case, the GAL was making a mental health determination based on her own opinion – not utilizing a professional. Going back to the case history,”The mother demonstrated increased paranoia ..” That is a first hand reporting from the GAL.

The case mentioned here is not unique – there are an untold number of similar stories happening to both women and men, mothers and fathers, dealing with the failures and corruption happening GAL program in every part of Minnesota. Signficant problems in the GAL program have gone unchecked for over 22 years. In the year 2016 alone, around 17,000 children in Minnesota were represented by a Guardian ad Litem in about 8,000 cases. Take that number times 22 years…there could be tens of thousands of victims of the GAL program in Minnesota alone. It is time we as citizens, as parents, and as a Legislative body make serious efforts to reform the GAL program and work to better protect children from systemic abuse, and stop the unjust removal of children from fit, loving parents.

MN GAL Board adopts “See no Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil ” Policy – Claiming ignorance of wrongdoing and misconduct rather than exposing it or taking responsibility. Public Domain Image: https://wall.alphacoders.com

Read for yourself:

from:
to: suzanne.alliegro@courts.state.mn.us
date: Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 12:11 AM
subject: RE: GAL Case Histories and Articles

Hello Ms. Alliegro,

I have a comment about the “Case Histories and Articles” posted on the State GAL Board website. Not sure if you are the right person to direct my comment to, but your name popped up on the “Contact” tab.

I was looking over the State GAL Board website, and am interested in the Case Histories because they describe first hand what a Guardian does, and the results of their work.

How do you decide what stories to feature? And where do I go to find updates on the stories?

I also have some questions on the last story “Change of Custody to a Father”. The story says there has been some domestic abuse between the parents but does not indicate that there was any treatment or intervention for the identified perpetrator of abuse. Can you clarify what happened? It also says the GAL is concerned about the mother’s mental health and was identified as being paranoid, did the GAL have any degrees or training to make such a diagnosis? And what is done to differentiate between a real mental health issue and something that may be a result of domestic violence and/or trauma?

I also find it interesting that it is reported that the children began to “stabilize” after being taken from their mother, put into their father’s care and then ordered into supervised visits with the mother. How is that possible that such a huge transition would stabilize a child? Did the children receive any therapy or aftercare?

Any additional info you could provide would be much appreciated.

Thank You,

from: Alliegro, Suzanne<Suzanne.Alliegro@courts.state.mn.us>
to:  
date: Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 1:51 PM
subject: RE: GAL Case Histories and Articles
mailed-by: courts.state.mn.us

Good afternoon Mr.,

We initially launched the website over five years ago so the case histories are somewhat dated as we have not replaced them since the website inception.   Given that five years have passed, I do not remember the criteria we used to determine which cases were to be placed on the website.   The case histories are meant to provide a sample of the type of cases and issues handled by a guardian ad litem and are not meant to provide all details of a particular case and all information gathered by the guardian ad litem.  

Regarding an update on what happened with the case, it is highly doubtful that a guardian ad litem is still assigned to the case as our appointments in a family court case are typically for six months with some being shorter and some longer.  If you are interested in getting more information on the case, I will check to get the file number, status of the case and where you can get more information.  

A guardian ad litem does not make mental health diagnoses but typically provides the court information from qualified professionals such as psychologists, therapists, etc. regarding treatment and services the child and parents may be receiving while the guardian ad litem is assigned to the case.

Thank you for your email as it serves to remind us we should be more up to date with the website information.

from:
to: “Alliegro, Suzanne” <Suzanne.Alliegro@courts.state.mn.us>
date: Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 8:56 PM
subject: Re: GAL Case Histories and Articles

Hello Ms. Alliegro,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am very interested in the how the GAL program meets the needs of the families it serves because I am volunteering with high risk families, and some are dealing with family court issues.

RE: If you are interested in getting more information on the case, I will check to get the file number, status of the case and where you can get more information.

I would appreciate any additional information on this case that you could offer.

Regards,

Original Web Address: http://mn.gov/guardian-ad-litem/Program_Info/case_histories_articles.jsp

Original Location: Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board webpage. Menu Program Information. Tab Case Histories and Articles.

About EJ

Parenting Abused Kids (PAK) reflects the personal thoughts and opinions of "EJ" sharing her experiences of surviving domestic abuse and injustice in family court. PAK also includes news and informational articles about abuse and family court issues. The purpose of PAK is to raise awareness of the challenges domestic abuse survivors to rebuild their lives after experiencing domestic abuse, compounded with the struggles of ongoing family court litigation. PAK will also discuss and raise awareness about issues related to parenting children who have been abused, and often present with emotional and behavioral problems. Parenting Abused Kids is not affiliated with any professional group, political group, organization or religious affiliation. My sincere love and support goes out to abuse survivors and their children. I am so sorry for what you have endured, and pray your lives will be filled with the happiness you so deserve. Thank-you for visiting!
This entry was posted in Child Abuse, Family Court, Guardian ad Litem, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem, Parents in Family Court and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to MN Guardian Ad Litem Board Admits – Abuser Awarded Custody, then Removes Evidence from Website

  1. Still Fighting 4 Justice says:

    I am not surprised! The Board has done nothing to promote a good relationship with the public and their comments (and even laughing!) to public feedback often come across as harsh and condescending. They are enabling the abuse of children to continue and failing to take action when GALs violate their mandated duties, and as a result, hurt children.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May Y says:

    No one should be made to feel afraid of a GAL. And that’s what is happening. You are threatened and told to do what GAL says or you will lose your kids. If you complain there is retaliation. Managers ignore or cover up probkens.:(

    Liked by 1 person

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