Friday, August 21, 2009
Fury and Stained Glass
As a guardian ad litem, I regularly get calls from parents whose cases I worked on in the past. The most common reason they call is to ask what they need to do to get back into court because they are having ongoing problems with the child's other parent. A mom called, this morning.
Some years back, I was assigned as guardian ad litem for her three daughters ranging in age from three to twelve. She had an on again, off again relationship with their father but at the time, they were on the outs. They'd never married. The father had a son from a previous relationship who was thirteen at the time and living with the father. The mother had moved back home with the girls' ailing grandmother. The main dispute at the time was because although the mother wanted the girls to see their father, she believed the step son had some serious mental health problems and worried that he would molest her daughters.
When I hear something like that there is always the possibility that you are dealing with a parent who has a screw loose. However, in this case, there were enough red flags that I paid very close attention. Mom described some rather bizarre behavior by the step son; he already had multiple run-ins with the police; she claimed the father began giving him progressively more hard core pornography beginning at age eleven; he was mean to the animals; and she described some sexual behavior she'd observed that was out of the norm for a child that age. He also set fires. She said the father wouldn't listen to her concerns and they'd reached a point where they couldn't even have a civil conversation.
Okay, she could have read something about the danger signs for a sociopath/serial killer/serial rapist but what made the hair on the back of my neck rise was that the twelve year old daughter was incredibly tightlipped and told her mother before I arrived for a home visit that she wouldn't speak to me. That isn't uncommon. Some kids don't want to get dragged into the middle and even if you tell them that you are THEIR lawyer, some of them have such trust issues that they aren't going to open up. However, notwithstanding her stated refusal to talk to me, during a home visit, she came downstairs, stood in the doorway, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Don't leave my little sisters alone with him." She held my gaze for a few beats, then turned on her heel and left the room. She refused to speak to me beyond that.
That was enough for me. I urged mom to get her into counseling (because I was worried that I was looking at a victim plus she was clearly caught in the middle on the divorce). Mom agreed but I wasn't convinced she'd follow through. The child was in gifted classes, doing well in school, a pretty, pretty child with lots of friends. Outwardly, she was doing well.
Not long after that, the parents reached a point where they could speak again. They came up with a visitation schedule and asked me to sign off on it. It had nothing in it about the son not being left alone with the girls. I asked the mother about it and she said she preferred that the step son be kept away but the father wouldn't agree to that term. She just wanted the case to be settled. I was happy to play the heavy and told the parents that I wouldn't sign without it being a requirement that the son not be left alone with the girls. Sometimes, being the heavy is what the guardian ad litem is best for. The dad didn't like it, but he also wanted to get the case over with so he agreed. It is one thing for the mother to insist on it. That is personal. When the guardian ad litem insists on it, you can resent it but the same kind of power struggle isn't there. We turned in the order to the court, the judge signed it, case closed. I submitted my bill, they contested it since we didn't have a trial, I got paid, anyway. That was the last I heard from them.
Until this morning. Mom called to tell me that while the two younger girls were visiting their father, he decided to take a nap and left his son in charge, which violated the terms of the visitation order. The stepson, now age fifteen, sent the eight year old outside on an errand, and then proceeded to sodomize and otherwise abuse the five year old. It all came out. Charges were brought, the step son was convicted of sodomy and a variety of other charges, and he was sent downstate to juvenile prison. During the five year old's testimony, the father left the courtroom because it just "hurt him too much" to hear what she said. May he rot in hell. He insisted that he never had any idea the boy could behave that way. He insisted that it wasn't his fault that he'd left the boy in charge because if the boy was that disturbed, he would have found a way to do it no matter what the father did.
Right this minute, I hate that man. I hate that coward. The least he could have done is sit in that damned courtroom and listen to what his negligent actions - in violation of a court order - allowed. I am so angry as I write this. I am just so furious. As far as I am concerned, that father ought to be in jail right along with his pervert son.
I asked the mother if her daughter was in counseling and she said she needed to find someone.
I can't believe she hasn't done that, already! I didn't ask if the older girl ever got counseling. Frankly, after that news, I need counseling. We all need counseling.
So anyway, she called to ask me what she needed to do to change the order. Notwithstanding that the step son is no longer in the father's home, she doesn't trust the dad to properly supervise the girls and wanted to halt all unsupervised visitation.
She called at about 10:00 this morning. I decided it was too early to start drinking but it was a close call. As I am writing this, it is past noon. Soon enough?
I just finished the Weave Quilt top and am very happy with it.
I love the way it looks like stained glass before you add the batting and backing.
Here's Evelyn and her pesky little sister.
I am not sure if I will load it up on the long arm, this afternoon. I have a couple of other projects pending, and some UFO's I want to get to. The rest of the day will be better.