Out in front of the Santa Monica Courthouse, Los Angeles County West District Branch, stands a father of two children, a boy, now seven and a daughter, now five, with two signs.
They read: I DESERVE TO SEE MY CHILDREN
LET RIGHT BE DONE
and: A FATHER HAS A RIGHT TO PARENT
He has been there for eight straight weeks and says he'll be there as long as it takes, adding, "Enough is enough." His parenting rights have been stripped as of December 4th, 2008., after having been previously diminished to two mini visits per week from a 50/50 format that had basically existed the prior year and a half and also included his having full custody for the better half of 2007. "Even when I had the kids full-time, I gave the ex her liberal visitation even in the face of the horrifying conditions she had placed the children. They need to see and spend time with each parent. That's what the court-ordered seminars suggest as well."
The horrifying conditions that this father speaks of is the Spring and Summer of 2007 when he first discovered that the mother and her new boyfriend, age 50 something, were not only leaving the children in the care of a 21 year old female convicted heroin addict with no driver's license and warrants up the kazoo pending, but his three year old daughter had, by name, identified the boyfriend as having fondled/molested her..... "She told me after I had a long discussion about safe boundaries around her body(a discussion with both children) that '[the boyfriend} touches my peepee.' Something horrible was happening to my daughter. She was urinating all over herself in public. She would grab both my hands and rub, with friction, her rear end while going to sleep on my chest. This[urinating] was all in about a three week period. This is a father's worst nightmare. This is a three year old baby girl. Three year olds don't lie."
During the months of investigation (allegations that were later deemed "unsubstantiated") that led well into the '07 school year, investigations into the molestation charges brought on by the three year old girl, were led by both the El Segundo Police Department and Child Protective Services, were to go up against the wrath of a denial-ridden mother who had just emotionally raped her daughter in front of her father and older brother. Upon initial notification of this heinous crime from the father to the mother, the mother exploded. A tirade of "YOU LIED" was blasted at the young child. This was followed,hours later, by a phone call forcing the defenseless child to admit to her daddy that she had lied about something she had so freely admitted the evening before. Impossible odds for the investigators. Three year olds do NOT lie.
The findings by authorities in regards to the molestation were found unsubstantiated. "I left Detective Mulroney's office mortified," said the father, "the perpetrator did not fit a profile?" A father's worst nightmare. Knowing something did happen, Mr. Duval said that his assumptions were later confirmed (as if they weren't already) when, in picking up the children for school, his son had commended his daughter for receiving a gift from the mother that morning for not having gone into the mother/boyfriends bedroom the night before. "My daughter was being bribed to stay out of where the crime had taken place."
The children, mostly the daughter, would spend afternoons crying not to have to go stay with the mother in what the father had proclaimed "the trauma pit." "The mother would be crying, pleading with me, 'Can't you talk them into it?' I was watching an unfit parent coming face to face with the consequences of her failing parenthood."
The children were now safe with their father, and even without a court order, he still allowed liberal visitation. "The children started their respective school years in great spirit," said the father proudly: The son in first grade, the daughter, full time in her first year of preschool. "This was a huge moment for my daughter, as it is for any child. Their mother didn't make it to the daughter's first day at preschool. I found that to be tragic," said Mr. Duval.
School was now the saving grace. As a fourth generation Santa Monica resident, the father, a local man, knew his hometown school district was just what the doctor ordered and his children were now grooving into a great routine, aside from the daily domestics: School, Library, Studies, and Play. This routine was started in September of 2007 and would thrive all the way until January of 2008, when the weak links of the court system would enable this chain of stability to snap. Five straight months of sheer excellence would come screeching to a halt for these two defenseless young souls.
Without a court order, the father had given the mother liberal visitation: three hours twice a week on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday every other weekend. No sleepovers for safety's sake obviously. "No child should be kept away from their parent," said Mr. Duval, "The P.A.C.T. Program (Parents and Children Together) and Parenting Without Conflict seminars that the court had us attend both state this clearly. Putting the children first?.. It's a no-brainer."
With her boyfriend and her attorney, Roy L. Kight (who the year before had told the father that he was out to take away every visitation right of Mr. Duval as the father and added "this is a poker game, pal") the mother had orchestrated a move?. "I'm sure it was to relocate away from where the crime(s) had taken place," cited the children's father. It was this exact moment in the trial proceedings, according to the father, that the court's failure to regard love, consistency, and stability paramount in children of tender years' lives. Failure. Complete failure. After turning a blind eye to a convicted heroin addict babysitter hired by the mother and the boyfriend, the molestation charges from a three year old, five blatant counts of contempt of court that would be overlooked later in'08, two physical threats directed at the father by the mother's attorney in court, the fact that the father had taken superior loving care of these children, the absurdity of these malfeasant, misguided officers of the court was not about to cease.
After giving the children to the father the year before in a signed, non court ordered agreement, as she should have with all the chaos she had so generously and consistently provided them, the mother decided she would now enter into what is arguably "as dangerous an area for any child any where": indirect abuse- using the children to get at the other parent?. Acts that are borne out of nothing less than sheer spite??. even at the expense of the children's well-being. She would now demand the children back under her care; the court (Commissioner David J. Cowan [judge pro tem]) would "enable" this motion, throwing them back into the trauma pit, turn the children's world upside down, and in doing so also allow the balanced parenting time to be rendered imbalanced with the father's time downsized to one three hour visit on Wednesday afternoon and one four hour visit on Sunday morning??.. Including vacations. Phone calls by the father will be only between 7 and 7:10pm. All this was conceived as well under the watch of a court-appointed minor's counsel, Amy L. Nieman.
The mother wasn't through. In April, she would, without the father's consent, in violation of both the divorce and conciliation agreements, with only ten weeks to go in the school year, remove the children from their respective schools, disappear for two days, re-enroll one of them in a new school, and let the daughter finish out her school year in front of a television set (that as well completely without the father's consent).
The mother wasn't through. In early June '08, she orchestrated with her attorney, a six month restraining order, enabled and installed by David J.Cowan, Judge Pro Tem. No contact other than the scheduled parenting time, no contact with the school or the teachers, all phone calls may be recorded. Some of the "literature" on the restraining order says, "He might buy a gun." In December 2008, Cowan "routinely" extended the restraining order for an additional one year after complete compliance with the first one and removed all visitation rights for the father. A gun isn't needed here? an adept courtroom would be more appropriate. Is anyone putting these children first? I think the father has from day one. LET RIGHT BE DONE.
"I am ashamed as to what has transpired in my hometown courtroom and the story I will bring forth to share with my two children will serve notice to all other fathers (or mothers) that have been maligned by such a quagmire of due process."
Even with a cognitive capability to represent myself in court, I feel there has been a preconceived stigma of guilt, partiality by proxy, and absolutely no help on behalf of the family court system to see that both sides were equally represented, as would(and should) be if a child's best interest was actually paramount.
"My son, my daughter, I love you. It's not your fault."
Mr. Duval has filed an appeal, written by him, in regards to the "partiality" of a courtroom being presided over by a self-decidedly unrecuseable judge pro tem. It rests in a higher court to be heard as of December 2008.