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New Column: Letterman Case Shows
Problems with Restraining Orders
January 18, 2006

New Column: Letterman Case Shows Problems with Restraining Orders

My latest co-authored column, Letterman Case Shows Problems with Restraining Orders (Albuquerque Tribune, 1/17/06), explains the way many men's lives are being devastated by the use of restraining orders based on false or unsubstantiated domestic violence claims. The Letterman case is an example of how readily these orders are handed out. Family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"A Santa Fe, New Mexico judge recently granted a temporary restraining order against TV talk show host David Letterman for a woman who alleges that Letterman--who works in New York City and whom she has never met--has mentally harassed her through his TV broadcasts. According to Colleen Nestler, Letterman has caused her 'mental cruelty' and 'sleep deprivation' for over a decade, and has used code words and gestures during his broadcasts to show her that he wanted to marry her and train her as his co-host.

"The woman, who also claims that Letterman and fellow celebrities Regis Philbin and Kelsey Grammer have been conspiring against her, requested that Letterman stay away from her, not 'think' of her, and 'release [her] from his mental harassment and hammering.'

"Letterman's attorneys were able to get the order dropped, and the judge--who apparently never thought to suggest to Nestler that she use the 'off' button on her TV--has made good fodder for gossip columns and news of the bizarre. However, the case also demonstrates a much larger though rarely discussed problem--it is far too easy to get a restraining order based on a false allegation."

To learn more about problems with restraining orders and the domestic violence system, see:

Also, listen to the His Side shows:

Introducing Leving's Divorce Magazine

Family law attorney Jeff Leving has just introduced Leving's Divorce Magazine to provide challenging and compelling content for the modern divorced man. 

Comeback Dads
The new book Comeback Dads shows how family courts rob children of their dads and proposes a revised Shared Parenting Bill. ComebackDads.com 

Have You Been the Victim of a Restraining Order Based on a False Charge?

Have you been the victim of a restraining order based on a false charge? The Albuquerque Tribune, which ran the Letterman/restraining order column (see The law against men, 1/17/06), might be interested to hear your response to the column. You can write a Letter to the Editor at letters@abqtrib.com.

Help, Resources for Dads

The National Fathers' Resource Center is a division of Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. (FER), located in Dallas, Texas, with offices in both Dallas and Houston. In existence for over three decades, it is one of the largest and most active fathers' rights organizations in the U.S.

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Girl Says Abuse Claims Were Coerced by Mom During Custody Fight

We've discussed on many occasions the terrible problem of mothers using false charges of child molestation against fathers during custody fights.  The makers of Breaking the Silence deny that this problem exists, of course. In my co-authored column PBS Declares War on Dads (World Net Daily, 10/20/05) I wrote:

"Canadian Senator Anne Cools, one of the few public officials in North America knowledgeable about family law, calls this tactic 'the heart of darkness.' The accusations are often used--very effectively--to deprive fathers of a meaningful role in their children's lives after divorce or separation. Reginald Brass, president of My Child Says Daddy, a parenting organization which works with young African-American fathers in Los Angeles, says:

"'We have many young fathers who are fighting in the courts to see their children or to get joint custody over a mother's hostility or objections. If the man has a daughter, we always warn him that at some point the mother will probably accuse him of sexually molesting his daughter. We see it every day.'

"When a father who has daughters does succeed in getting a desirable custody arrangement over the objections of a recalcitrant mother, it is common practice among family law attorneys to advise the father that a charge of sexual abuse may be coming. According to a study conducted by Douglas J. Besharov and Lisa A. Laumann and published in Social Science and Modern Society, the vast majority of accusations of child sexual abuse made during custody battles are false, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

"Cools, a prominent feminist who led Canada's battered women's shelter movement during the 1970s, explains:

"'There's a plethora of cases where the mother falsely accuses the father of sexually abusing the child. The accusation is made in order to gain advantage in custody disputes. Governments are enormously reluctant to look at it. I've studied this extensively and I've placed on the Canadian Senate record 52 cases where there was a finding that the accusations were false, and there are countless more. Studies have shown that under these circumstances false accusations far outnumber truthful ones.

"'It's a terrible, terrible thing--for the fathers and for the children who've lost their fathers. Some of those men will never recover and they have spent every penny left to them to try to extricate themselves. And I've seen elderly parents who've spent every dime of their retirement to try to help their sons get out of these horrible situations.'"

As you know, we extensively covered the high-profile Bridget Marks case, wherein a woman who had been found by five judges to have coached her little girls to believe that they had been sexually molested by their father was treated like a heroine and a victim by the media. (To learn more, click here).

The following ABC News article discuses another nightmarish case--Texas Girl Says Abuse Claims Were Coerced by Mom: Cousins Jailed for Molestations She Now Claims Never Happened. According to ABC:

"Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Arena longs for a normal girl's life, but she is haunted by the fact that she sent her teenage cousins to prison for a crime she now says they didn't commit.

"The sordid story began when Stephanie, just 7 years old at the time, was caught in a bitter custody battle between her parents, LaVonna and Stephan Arena. Worried that she'd lose her daughter, LaVonna took Stephanie and her brother from their home in Texas to a Florida homeless shelter. She then justified the abduction by telling social workers her kids were being molested.

"Stephanie now says her mother used her as a tool to pry her family apart and to get her father to drop his custody claim.

"'I am responsible for putting them in prison, and now that I am older and I can understand the consequences of my actions, I need to step up and do what I have to [to] make things right'...

"Stephanie has been trying to 'make things right' since she was 11, writing letters of apology to both brothers in prison.

"But perhaps her bravest moment came when she went public with her story and returned to court, two years after accusing her cousins. She faced the same judge and prosecutor and told them she had lied to them when she said her cousins molested her...

"It appears, however, that LaVonna's accusations are part of a troubling pattern. Police records and family testimony suggest that on three different occasions she has falsely accused other family members of abusing her kids, including a charge against Stephanie's father, Stephan Arena.

"I believe it was in 2000 she accused me and John and Michael again -- while they were incarcerated," he said.

"...[LaVonna's] live-in boyfriend dropped a bombshell, however, explaining to 20/20 by phone that LaVonna would like to tell the truth and explain why she made Stephanie lie. But, her boyfriend said, 'LaVonna is afraid she would go to jail.'

"Stephanie says it's that kind of attitude that leaves her bitter."

One more interesting point--they write "Worried that she'd lose her daughter, LaVonna took Stephanie and her brother from their home in Texas to a Florida homeless shelter. She then justified the abduction by telling social workers her kids were being molested." In other words, ABC is so afraid of offending women that they must immediately include an excuse for this woman's horrible crime--"worried that she'd lose her daughter." It's nonsense anyway, because fit mothers rarely "lose" their children (no, shared custody is not "losing your child"). And why is it that when a father loses custody and gets the see your kid every other weekend shaft, nobody says he has "lost his kids"?

informs fathers about their rights during divorce litigation while providing them with concrete, practical resources to get results in the courtroom. DadsDivorce.com is a popular meeting place for fathers facing divorce.

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Manipulating Children into Making or Corroborating False Charges

An important element of Parental Alienation Syndrome is the way children can be manipulated into making or corroborating false charges. Ironically, a few months ago the Los Angeles Times just published this article--McMartin Pre-Schooler: 'I Lied': A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case--which could serve as a textbook for the method. Kyle Zirpolo, now 30 years-old, writes:

"[As a child] I remember them asking extremely uncomfortable questions about whether Ray touched me and about all the teachers and what they did--and I remember telling them nothing happened to me. I remember them almost giggling and laughing, saying, 'Oh, we know these things happened to you. Why don't you just go ahead and tell us? Use these dolls if you're scared.'

"Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn't like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted...

"I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin...

"My parents were very encouraging when I said that things happened. It was almost like saying things happened was going to help get these people in jail and stop them from what they were trying to do to kids. Also, there were so many kids saying all these things happened that you didn't want to be the one who said nothing did. You wouldn't be believed if you said that.

"I remember feeling like they didn't pick just anybody--they picked me because I had a good memory of what they wanted, and they could rely on me to do a good job. I don't think they thought I was telling the truth, just that I was telling the same stories consistently, doing what needed to be done to get these teachers judged guilty. I felt special. Important.

"It always seemed like I was thinking. I would listen to what my parents would say if they were talking, or to what someone else would say if we were being questioned at the police station or anywhere. And I would repeat things. Or if it wasn't a story I'd heard, I would think of something in my head. I would try to think of the worst thing possible that would be harmful to a child. I remember once I said that if you had a cut, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it, the McMartin teachers would put on dirt, then put the Band-Aid over the dirt. That was just something in my head that was bad. I just thought of it and told [the investigators]...

"The lawyers had all my stories written down and knew exactly what I had said before. So I knew I would have to say those exact things again and not have anything be different, otherwise they would know I was lying. I put a lot of pressure on myself. At night in bed, I would think hard about things I had said in the past and try to repeat only the things I knew I'd said before..."

Female-to-English Dictionary

Dr. Shoveen goes behind the words that women use to reveal their hidden meanings and thought processes.

Help for Boston Dads
Boston family law attorney Nick Palermo is a shared custody advocate who believes that divorced dads are parents, not visitors. The Law Offices of Nicholas Palermo is a dedicated and committed trial law firm which has worked to make shared custody for all fit parents the law of the land.

How Much Slack Does Jeff Reardon Deserve?

From One Very Wild Pitch: Did drugs make a star hurler rob a jewelry shop? (Newsweek, 1/9/06).

"By Christmas Day, Jeff Reardon was a physical and emotional wreck. The former star relief pitcher was struggling through a second holiday season without his son Shane, who died of a drug overdose in 2004 and would have turned 22 last Thursday. 'I miss you more than ever,' Reardon wrote in a November entry to a Web memorial for Shane. To help numb the pain, Reardon, 50, was taking at least five antidepressants, his lawyer says. That was on top of four or five heart medications he was prescribed after an angioplasty operation on Dec. 23.

"The day after Christmas, Reardon went to a nearby mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Though he told his wife and two surviving kids that he was going to buy a coffeepot, instead he entered a jewelry store and slipped a sales clerk a note demanding cash and jewelry and claiming that he had a gun, according to a police affidavit. The store manager gave him $170 in a bag. After leaving, Reardon--who in fact had no weapon--saw a security guard in the parking lot, went up to him and surrendered. 'I completely lost my mind,' he wrote later in a statement to police. 'I flipped on my medications.'

"[Reardon]...was sinking deep into depression. Over the summer in Massachusetts, where Reardon has family, he would spend hours in his room with the shades drawn, says his mother, Marion Cavanaugh. 'He just couldn't get over' Shane's death, she says, and even began contemplating suicide. Last month, says Cavanaugh, Reardon spent a week in a psychiatric facility. Just before Christmas, a psychiatrist prescribed him three new antidepressants. 'He was on too many pills,' says Cavanaugh."

Some of my thoughts on the case:

1) I think it is fair to be concerned in this case that a wealthy white celebrity is getting (or might get) preferential treatment. I certainly doubt that a poor, middle-aged black man who did the same thing would get much sympathy or slack from law enforcement.

2) I was never fan of Reardon's, so I do feel I can judge him objectively. It was apparent to me throughout most of Reardon's career that he was badly overrated. He was a good example of a guy who built up a big reputation by racking up a lot of "saves," even though an average pitcher in the same situations would have saved most of those games. The hardest bullpen job is getting out of a starter or previous pitcher's jam--it's relatively easy to pile up one inning saves, as Reardon did.

3) One incident from his career I do remember clearly, and it doesn't speak favorably of us baseball fans. It happened in Montreal (where Reardon pitched for the Expos) in 1982 or 1983. Reardon's wife was honored at the stadium for some charity work she had done. Reardon had been pitching poorly around that time, and when his wife's name was announced for the charity work, the fans actually booed her. Nice going guys.

4) Reardon is wealthy and famous, but not all wealth and fame is the same. Some people are wealthy and famous for doing great services to humanity--certainly Reardon isn't one of them. On the other hand, many people are famous and/or wealthy because they were born into money, were lucky, or are just riding on their good looks. I guess Paris Hilton qualifies on all three counts. Reardon isn't one of them, either--the man earned his wealth and fame through hard work and an ability that few have.

5) When I was in my early 20s a friend of mine committed suicide. My friend had had a lot of conflicts with his father. We were told that his father was very rigid and demanding. (At the time I believed this, though as the father of a teenager I'm a lot more skeptical now when I hear fathers being described as strict or demanding). It's been almost 20 years but I can still clearly remember the pain etched in his father's face at the funeral. I doubt I'll ever forget it.

6) Were one of my children to die--particularly in such a senseless way--my grief would be so overwhelming that I might have a hard time keeping my sanity, too.

My conclusion: perhaps I'm a sucker, but I definitively think Reardon deserves some slack.

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children is dedicated to creating a family law system which promotes equal rights for all parties affected by divorce.  Contact the ACFC at 1-800-978-3237 or visit them on the web at www.acfc.org.

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The Rantings of a Single Male:
Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness... and Basically Everything
describes the rise of feminism from the mid '70s to the present, through Ellis' personal experiences and is loaded with outrageous stories.

David Blankenhorn on Benjamin Franklin

David Blankenhorn, The American Apostle of Thrift (The Weekly Standard, 1/1706), has an interesting new article on Benjamin Franklin and the ethic of thrift.

The most important part of it, in my view, is Franklin's quote that "wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it." Translating that into family policy--since both Blankenhorn and I are interested it--it's always seemed to me that many couples break up because each person focuses on what the other person doesn't or can't do, instead of appreciating what the other person does or can do.

My humble opinion is that one of the biggest keys to getting what you want in a relationship is the ability to accept weaknesses in a spouse or potential mate. Inability to do so will almost always destroy a relationship (or prevent one from getting started to begin with). Being able to accept weaknesses expands the range of people available to you, which increases your ability to find the qualities you want in a mate.

Perhaps Franklin would agree.

The Dakapa Handbook

Tom Whelan's The Dakapa Handbook is the story of how a father's love for his children enables him to create an adventure that will forever bond them together. Order the book here

Legal Help for Fathers in New Jersey
If you're a New Jersey father facing a divorce or separation, the law firm of Pitman, Pitman, Mindas, Grossman & Lee can help.

Sigh...The Feminists Have a Point on This One

Feminist blogger PinkoFeministHellcat has an extended entry on the ways she believes men's rights activists (MRAs) unfairly blame feminists for so many of society's problems. Some of what she says is the usual man and MRA-bashing. However, in some ways she has a point. As I once said on the radio:

"Over the past three decades women and feminists have locked men into endless double-binds, where whatever men do, they're wrong. However, on a much smaller scale, men's activists have begun to lock women into double binds, too.

"For example, when groups such as the National Organization for Women oppose the war in Iraq, we accuse them of betraying the men who are abroad putting their lives on the line for our country. Yet when women support military action (like the war hawk columnist/talk show host Tammy Bruce) we say 'yes, you want to send all the men off to die and women don't even have to register for the draft!'

"When women want a larger role in the military, we point to biological gender differences and say women will screw up the military. When they don't, we talk about how unfair it is that only men get drafted.

"When a mother pursues her career, some MRAs blame her for putting her self-fulfillment above her kids. Yet if she doesn't work, she's condemned for burdening her husband and not pulling her weight.

"Many, such as radio talk show host Tom Leykis, condemn women for grinding out children they and their husbands can't afford. Yet they are the first ones to call a woman who looks for a wealthy man a 'gold-digger.' And the guy who blames feminists for the loose sexual morality and mores of modern society is the first guy to condemn the woman who won't put out."

I frankly find the "blame every damn thing in the world that's wrong on feminists" line of thinking rather frustrating. Feminists have caused a lot of problems but have done some positive work, too, though that's mostly in the past. And as I've said many times, chivalrous males often cause as much damage as the feminists do.

Help, Support for Noncustodial Parents

MyKidsToo.com is a website designed to provide safe, peer-to-peer support to non-custodial parents and parents finding themselves in a divorce situation.

Concerned about Financial Issues in Your Divorce?
If you're concerned about financial issues in your divorce, contact Jim DiGabriele of DiGabriele, McNulty & Co by email here or at 973-243-2600. 

Sharing Power in the Home

There's an interesting interview with Paul Coughlin, author of No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women, and Children, on Crosswalk.com here. I found the section below about sharing power in the home particularly noteworthy. Coughlin says:

"Men don't have much of a say in their homes....Their wives usually control most if not all of their social schedule. And some wives misuse this power by cutting out their husband's friends and sometimes their family. This is abuse by another name.

"Wives have not been encouraged to restrain their verbal strength the way husbands have been told to control their physical strength. Wives shouldn't misuse their verbal superiority when arguing. They should withhold this strength in order to make their verbal disagreements more fair and beneficial for everyone involved.

"Some women don't understand or appreciate masculinity given how an entire generation has been raised to be suspicious of men. Fathers must not allow this lack of appreciation of masculinity to be unleashed upon their sons."

Are You Looking to Earn Money Working from Home?

Many people are earning good incomes working from the comfort of their own homes, while also being there for those special moments with their children.

Militant Grandmas Fight for Shared Parenting
Three Sides to Every Story is an organization set up by militant grandma Bessie Hudgins to help fathers stay in their children's lives after divorce.

Legal Help for Dads
For $26 a month Pre Paid Legal Services Inc. answers any legal question you have--an indispensable service for divorced dads.

CPB Ombudsman 'Welcomes' PBS's Agreement to Make New Film

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ombudsman Ken A. Bode released a report today in which he "welcomed" PBS's recent agreement to commission another hour long documentary on the issues raised in the film Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories and by the protest campaign against it. Bode, who in two previous reports had endorsed the central charges made by fatherhood advocates protesting the film, noted that "with the possibility of litigation still lingering, PBS did not admit that there was a violation of its standards of fairness and balance."

Bode's report also contained nearly a dozen letters he'd received about his reports on the film, most of them from protest sympathizers. To read Bode's new report, see "Another Look at "Breaking the Silence: The Children's Stories (1/4/06). Bode's previous two reports can be seen at Corporation for Public Broadcasting Report: 'No Hint of Balance in Breaking the Silence' (11/29/05) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Blasts Breaking the Silence Again (12/19/05).

Legal Help for Fathers

If you live in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange counties and you're facing a divorce, separation, or a child custody issue, the law firm of Oddenino & Gaule can help.

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Critique of Breaking the Silence Reveals Numerous Falsehoods in Film

Fathers & Families of Massachusetts conducted an extensive review of the assertions made in Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories and found numerous falsehoods and half-truths. The group detailed these in its document A Critique of the Scientific Basis for Key Assertions in Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories

The report found that while the film and those connected to it repeatedly asserted that batterers win shared or sole custody approximately 67% of the time, the only data available in the publications cited shows results of between 3% and 18%.

The Fathers & Families report also asserts:

"No data whatsoever are presented to support the film's central assertion that 75% of fathers who seek custody of their children over the mother's objections are batterers.  The references cited by the film's supporters in most cases are a round-robin of assertions, in which the same pool of authors repeatedly cites each other's opinions, without supporting data."

The film's defenders cited a supportive document which they claimed was written by the American Judges Association. In fact, it was instead written by the American Judges Foundation, a group which does not consist of judges but instead of advocates who seek to "educate" and influence judges. The AJF's lead author was in fact feminist advocate Dr. Lenore Walker. Walker is known as the architect of the controversial "battered woman syndrome" defense of women who kill the men whom they claim abused them.

The document also noted that professor Murray Straus, a noted and widely published domestic violence researcher, has charged in writing that two of his research studies have been misrepresented in the Viewer's Guide that accompanies the film.  In addition, while the film asserts that "children are in most danger from their fathers, according to Straus, "The evidence from many studies, including Federal statistics on child abuse, shows that mothers physically abuse children at a slightly higher rate than fathers."

The entire Fathers & Families report can be read by clicking here.

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Help for Men Struggling with Relationships, Depression, Anger or Anxiety
The Men's Center Los Angeles offers individual, couple, family and group counseling with a focus on men's issues. Call them at (818) 348-9302 or go to MensCenterLosAngeles.com 

Hartford Courant:
PBS Snubs Producers of Breaking the Silence

PBS's anti-father documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories was co-produced by Connecticut Public Television and Tatge/Lasseur Productions. Roger Catlin, the Hartford Courant's TV Critic, today noted that PBS is "responding to harsh criticism" of the documentary "by commissioning a second documentary on the same subject to air this spring. But CPTV won't be producing it."

In his new column 2nd Child-Custody Program To Air: PBS Says This Time CPTV Won't Produce Program (Hartford Courant, 1/6/05), Catlin quoted from PBS's December 21 statement that the hourlong documentary commissioned for spring 2006 "will allow ample opportunity for doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."

According to Catlin:

"It is not clear who will make the follow-up documentary, PBS spokeswoman Jan McNamara said Wednesday. 'Our programming department is talking to a number of filmmakers outside of Breaking the Silence's producers,' she said. But, she added, CPTV will not co-produce again. 'It would be done by another production team.'"

Newspaper columnist Glenn Sacks, one of the leaders of the protest campaign against the film, noted that "McNamara and PBS appear to be trying hard to walk right down the middle on this without alienating either side. That's fine--all we wanted from the beginning was balance. If PBS had taken a balanced approach to Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, there would never have been this controversy."

In his column Catlin also noted that Corporation for Public Broadcasting ombudsman Ken Bode "called PBS' decision for a second documentary 'welcome news,' but said its timetable gives it 'a very short deadline.'"

The LaMusga Company

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Prostate Cancer Treated Without Surgery or X-Rays
Bill Vancil's book, "Don't Fear the Big Dogs", is the remarkable story of one man's quest to conquer a life threatening disease and bond with his teenage daughter. This highly readable tale takes us from diagnosis through treatment; a journey that will make you feel good just to be alive. Proton treatment has none of the side effects of surgery or standard radiation. This potentially life-saving book is an enjoyable read for anyone and a must-read for all dads.

Glenn Discusses Restraining Orders on The Bob Conners Morning Show

I discussed abuse of restraining orders and the David Letterman case on The Bob Conners Morning Show on 610 WTVN-AM in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, January 5. In my co-authored column PBS's Breaking the Silence: Family Law in the Funhouse Mirror (Albany Times Union, 10/20/05, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 10/24/05) I noted:

"Many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies, and research shows that these orders often do not even involve an allegation of violence. Once the order is issued, the father is booted out of his marital home and can even be jailed if he tries to contact his own children.

"By the time the court decides custody, a firm precedent has already been set that mom is the primary caretaker, and she will likely get sole (or de facto sole) custody. The father is pushed to the margins of his own children's lives even though he has never been found guilty of any wrongdoing or criminal offense...[this gives] mothers veto power over fathers' fatherhood."

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks

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