Monday, March 1, 2010

When Women Tell the Truth about Men's Violence and Men with Judicial Power Don't Believe Them

 [image is from here]

Two articles are below. Both speak to the matter of women not being believed in court when what they have to say is naming a man as an abuser. Click on the titles to link back to their source. With thanks to Marcella at Abyss2hope, Stacy Moore, and Joan Dawson.

Women Lie Narrative Overwhelms Man's Admission Of Violence Costs Young Boy His Life

From the Hi Desert Star:
TWIN PEAKS — Sunday’s murder-suicide was the culmination of months of threats and online and text rants from Stephen Garcia to Katie Tagle of Yucca Valley and her family. [...]

At that hearing, on Jan. 12, Tagle went before Judge David Mazurek in the Joshua Tree courthouse to show cause for a restraining order.

“…On Dec. 31, we were doing our exchange, and he proposed to me, and I said no. He got angry and stole my phone and pushed me down. I made a police report about that,” Tagle told the judge, according to a transcript.

Garcia told the judge the report was “falsely made up.”

Mazurek denied Tagle the restraining order.

“If I grant the restraining order, how do you think that’s going to help with respect to you two being able to raise Wyatt together or work together to make sure Wyatt grows up happy and healthy?” the judge asked, according to the transcripts.

“He would have both of us still,” Tagle responded.

Asked about an e-mail in which he confessed to hitting Tagle, Garcia told the judge he had slapped her during a fight, but it was Tagle’s fault for “pushing and pushing and pushing until she could get something from me.”

Tagle pointed out she was nine months pregnant when Garcia hit her.

“I kind of get an idea of what’s going on,” Mazurek said.

He denied the restraining order, saying, “I don’t think that Mr. Garcia poses a threat to Ms. Tagle.” Mazurek went on to suggest Tagle might have ulterior motives for alleging domestic violence.

“I get concerned when there’s a pending child custody and visitation issue and in between that, one party or the other claims that there’s some violence in between. It raises the court’s eyebrows because based on my experience, it’s a way for one party to try to gain an advantage over the other,” he said, according to the transcripts.
If this boy hadn't been murdered then this case likely would have been added to Judge David Mazurek's perceived experience with one party (the mother) trying to gain an advantage over the other in a custody dispute. Then it too could be used to rationalize disregarding testimony which was truthful and accepting testimony which was false.

Judge Mazurek had a man who confessed to committing an act of violence in an email and who then repeated that confession to him directly and yet that judge still couldn't see this woman's allegation as even possibly true. All he could see was his stereotypes about those who report violence when there is a pending child custody issue.

This judge had a man who claimed that the allegations were falsely made up confess to violence and that judge couldn't see any reason to criticize that man for his actions. The fact that violence can interfere with a mutual agreement on child custody and can lead to a dispute doesn't seem to be even a possibility on Judge Mazurek's radar.

When the truth isn't viewed as a possibility that is bold-faced incompetence.

But the reported mishandling of this case continued. After this hearing Stephen Garcia sent Katie Tagle a text message telling her to check her email where she found an email sent anonymously which contained a story with 2 endings which she correctly viewed as a threat to her son's life if she didn't do what this man demanded.

The deputy who responded to her 911 call is to be commended for seeing this as a serious matter and working to get her an emergency restraining order. But the judge who reviewed this emergency order, Judge Robert Lemkau refused to uphold it and ordered this woman to immediately give her son to a man who had threatened indirectly that he would murder that boy.
Transcripts from that hearing are not yet available, but family and friends who were in the court that day with Tagle said the judge appeared not to have read the evidence she presented, including the “Necessary Evil” story and the emergency restraining order obtained by a sheriff’s deputy.

“Just from the very beginning, he didn’t want to listen,” said Rick Tagle, who was in the courtroom. “He started out by saying, ‘One of you is lying and I think it’s you,’ and pointing at Katie. ”The judge also allegedly warned Tagle there would be consequences for lying.
Stephen Garcia didn't immediately murder their son but these false accusations from 2 judges caused this concerned mother to stop fighting the system which had clearly sided with her abuser. She was likely afraid that if she continued to tell the truth that her son would be taken from her permanently.

In the end that's what these judges actions did. These 2 ruling took this innocent child from his mother forever and ended any chance this innocent child had of growing up happy and healthy or in growing up at all.

Both of these judges should be immediately blocked from hearing any cases where abuse is alleged pending the completion of ethics reviews and review of all their domestic violence cases. If the reported bias in evaluating the evidence or failing to evaluate the evidence is confirmed then both these judges should be removed from the bench. If either of them are also attorneys they should face ethics reviews by their state bar associations.

This case shows clearly that lives can be at stake when judges make their decision based on bias rather than evidence.

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Women are Unbelievable! (In Family Courts)

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelzfury] Battered Mothers-A Human Rights Issue.

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Women are Unbelievable!
Accusations of False Allegations Result in Dangerous Consequences
Joan Dawson (joanied40)


“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”
“Women are unbelievable!” Really. I mean that quite literally. Don’t believe me? I was prepared for that. I will share with you what I have learned over the past three or four years of my research: Women today are not believed in court. This is nothing new, actually. Women’s credibility has always been questioned, historically as well as currently. But today, with the aid of the Internet, the propaganda that fuels this bias can be churned out quickly and efficiently. Public perception can be changed readily. This includes changing the perceptions of the media, policy makers, law makers, and, yes, even judges, impartial as they’re supposed to be.

Domestic Violence Claims
When women allege domestic violence in family court, often, they are not believed. In fact, they may even be punished. In today’s courts where “friendly parent policies” and fathers rights reign, women that allege abuse appear “unfriendly” and unlikely to share parenting responsibilities. Heck, if they’ve been battered, they may even look “unfriendly.” They may have depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome. Battered women often present poorly, while batterers, on the other hand, may actually appear quite charming. If she seems “unfriendly,” though, the judge may decide to award custody to the parent most likely to share parenting: Often, the batterer.

If she cannot provide sufficient evidence of her abuse, she can be fined, jailed or lose custody for making “false allegations.” Of course, it can be difficult to produce witnesses or evidence of abuse. She may not have reported the abuse to the police before, and, when a woman alleges abuse for the first time in family court, a huge red flag comes up. They think she is a “vindictive liar,” trying to “manipulate the court.” The abuse, however, may have been the factor that pushed her into divorce proceedings. Moreover, separation is a dangerous time for women and it may be the first time the violence had taken place. None of these reasons point to vengeance.

If she alleges abuse and is not believed, she may take matters into her own hands. She may go to jail instead of turning her children over to an abuser. She may flee the state, or even the country to protect her children.
If she takes no action, further abuse or murder may ensue. Just recently, a case of a murder-suicide hit the news. The woman sought a restraining order from THREE different judges. None of them believed her. The result? The father killed their nine-month-old infant and himself.

Now, keep in mind, too, that this is family court we’re talking about. This is where couples with conflict and interpersonal violence come to settle their custody decisions. Most couples (~85%) don’t need family court; they make their parenting plans themselves. Thus, the cases that go to family court often have some kind of conflict, yet there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the family court system to admit this.

Child Abuse Claims
The allegation that women make false child abuse claims out of vengeance circulates widely on the Internet. An overlap exists between domestic violence and child abuse. Many batterers are abusive towards their children (and pets), too. And, just bearing witness to a mother’s abuse causes sufficient harm to children.
However, these days, if women make claims of child abuse in court, they are often countered with claims of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). PAS is the idea that one parent (typically the mother) poisons the mind of the child against the other parent. It has many flaws:

? It was created by Dr. Richard Gardner, considered pro-pedophilia
? It was self published by Dr. Gardner
? The American Psychological Association notes the “lack of data” and raises “concern” about the term
? Dr. Gardner thought “vengeful wives” and “hysterical mothers” were the cause of problematic relationships between fathers and their children
? It is far too simplistic and does not consider other plausible explanations for a relationship breakdown in divorce
? It can be used without any evidence in court
? It masks child abuse (Has the child been abused or has the child been alienated?)
So, the woman claims child abuse and the man counters with PAS (men almost exclusively use PAS). Who does the judge believe?
? Evidence from Harvard shows abusers use PAS and get away with it. 
? The Leadership Council on Child Abuse estimates that 58,000 children each year come into unsupervised contact with parents that have physically or sexually abused them.

Research shows around 1-9% of child abuse allegations are deliberately false and somewhat more than that are mistakenly false. Research (see Bala & Schumann) also finds that men actually make more false allegations (the most common allegation being neglect of children) than women in family court. Nonetheless, stereotypes have more branding power than research.

Rape Claims
Last and somewhat unrelated to family court but still pertaining to violence, women who allege rape are often not believed. When I attended a rape crisis training last year, the first thing we were taught was to believe the individual (man or woman) because one of their biggest fears is that they won’t be believed. Indeed, statistics bear this out.

In the US, only 13% of rape charges will end in conviction. (In the UK, it is only 5.7 %.) Rape survivors are aggressively questioned as if they were the assailants. They are generally mistrusted and often judged more by bias than by evidence. If she was married (and the perpetrator was her husband) or drunk, her odds of being believed plummet even further.

In cases of rape, which do have the highest number of false allegations, the rates, depending on who you ask, waver between 3-8%. Yet, we hear more about false accusations of rape than information on how underreported it is. Sympathy has shifted from the abused to the accused.

So, yes, women are unbelievable. I have studied this topic for several years now, seeking evidence of women being “vindictive liars” or “deceptive” or “malicious.” I’ve come upon plenty of anecdotal evidence from angry men. But, I’ve never heard anyone question *their* credibility. Why is it that they are believed when they claim that women falsely accuse them? Does anyone bother to ask: How many men would admit to using violence? Research shows batterers deny their abuse and it’s not until they admit it that, much like an alcoholic, they can change.

I’ve happened upon sites, and there are many, devoted entirely to “beating false allegations” or discrediting women. Most of them are downright misogynist, like this one that proclaims:

"False memory, false sexual abuse claims, vengeance, are all the diseases of women." (www.canlaw.com/rights/fathers.htm )

Even the Innocence Project, an expert in the area of helping innocent prisoners, does not mention intentionally false accusations as a leading cause of wrongful convictions. In contrast, they do list “false confessions” in their top seven list. If women were such vindictive creatures that “falsely imprison innocent men,” you would think the Innocence Project would be on to this, wouldn’t you?

Now, all of this is not meant to say that there are never any false allegations in court. (There are…and they are from both men and women…and they are not as common as they are purported to be.) What I am saying is that women’s credibility is being harmed, with disastrous consequences (for both women and children). We cannot give women justice in courtrooms that are heavily biased against them to begin with.

And, this is not to say that fathers don’t have their own issues with divorce and custody proceedings. Believe me, I have read all about them. Nor is it an opportunity to paint all men as abusive ? they are not. However, family court is handling allegations of abuse unjustly and this should be a concern to both men and women alike. None of us want to see children come into contact with a parent that physically or sexually abused them. And, nobody wants to see a parent punished for making a good faith accusation in order to protect their children.

Even the Innocence Project, an expert in the area of helping innocent prisoners, does not mention intentionally false accusations as a leading cause of wrongful convictions. In contrast, they do list “false confessions” in their top seven list. If women were such vindictive creatures that “falsely imprison innocent men,” you would think the Innocence Project would be on to this, wouldn’t you?

Now, all of this is not meant to say that there are never any false allegations in court. (There are…and they are from both men and women…and they are not as common as they are purported to be.) What I am saying is that women’s credibility is being harmed, with disastrous consequences (for both women and children). We cannot give women justice in courtrooms that are heavily biased against them to begin with.

And, this is not to say that fathers don’t have their own issues with divorce and custody proceedings. Believe me, I have read all about them. Nor is it an opportunity to paint all men as abusive ? they are not. However, family court is handling allegations of abuse unjustly and this should be a concern to both men and women alike. None of us want to see children come into contact with a parent that physically or sexually abused them. And, nobody wants to see a parent punished for making a good faith accusation in order to protect their children.

All allegations of abuse should be taken seriously. They should be documented, investigated and given weight in court. And, even without the sufficient evidence, individuals who report in good faith should not be punished for failing to provide enough witnesses or evidence. Punishment deters reporting. This has horrific consequences for our justice system and the nation’s public health.

The majority of women are not intentionally fabricating stories to harm men. I have yet to see evidence of this. On the contrary, I have read research that states the majority of claims can be substantiated. And, moreover, I’ve heard from women themselves who’ve been abused and not believed. Women who have not only been battered but who have also been fined, jailed or denied custody. I’ve heard from women, who, like myself, don’t even bother to report rape. These women can be any one of us. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The injustice of this unfair stereotype that women are unbelievable is an injustice to us all and can thwart any woman’s pursuit of justice in the courtroom today. Yes, women are unbelievable, but it should be for the many accomplishments and positive traits they possess!

All allegations of abuse should be taken seriously. They should be documented, investigated and given weight in court. And, even without the sufficient evidence, individuals who report in good faith should not be punished for failing to provide enough witnesses or evidence. Punishment deters reporting. This has horrific consequences for our justice system and the nation’s public health.

The majority of women are not intentionally fabricating stories to harm men. I have yet to see evidence of this. On the contrary, I have read research that states the majority of claims can be substantiated. And, moreover, I’ve heard from women themselves who’ve been abused and not believed. Women who have not only been battered but who have also been fined, jailed or denied custody. I’ve heard from women, who, like myself, don’t even bother to report rape. These women can be any one of us. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The injustice of this unfair stereotype that women are unbelievable is an injustice to us all and can thwart any woman’s pursuit of justice in the courtroom today. Yes, women are unbelievable, but it should be for the many accomplishments and positive traits they possess!*

For further information:
www.stopfamilyviolence.org
www.leadershipcouncil.org
www.innocenceproject.org
The Stephen Garcia case: http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/order-17122-bid-rejected.html

*Note: Cross posted from [wp angelzfury] Battered Mothers-A Human Rights Issue.

2 comments:

Lynn said...

Excellent article. I've read Joan before and always enjoy her writing.

Julian Real said...

Thanks, Lynn. Good to know Joan is doing this kind of work.