RESS RELEASE Contact: Elizabeth McVey Children’s Rights Albany, New York November 14, 2009 518-505-9200 For Immediate Release
Thursday November 12,
Lorraine Tipton was sentenced to 30 days in jail and taken into immediate custody. Judge David Miron, of Marinette County, Wisconsin Circuit Court, says that Lorraine will continue to serve consecutive sentences as long as her 11 year old daughter refuses to visit her alcoholic and abusive father.
Furthermore, Lorraine’s daughter is not able to visit her mother in jail as long as she remains in the care and protection of her step-father because he is not allowed to take her to the jail, and she cannot go on her own. It looks like the judge thinks that a mother trying to protect her child from sexual abuse, endangerment, torment, and neglect is a danger to both her community and to her own child.
After being charged with a DUI and thought to be endangering the child, the girl’s father was ordered by the court to stay sober during his visitation time with his daughter. Despite the court order, he continues to drive his daughter around while he is under the influence. On Friday November 7, a day when the father was supposed to have visitation with his daughter, he was seen out drinking at one of the local bars. Visitation was not withheld from the father.
On the contrary, the father was apparently too busy drinking to go and pick his daughter up from school. Judges wonder why people violate their court orders. We wonder why judges force parents to send their children back into a situation in which they must know there is immediate risk of harm.
Judge Miron apparently believes that a substantiated CPS report of sexual abuse, along with reports from the child of being force fed her own vomit, and having nowhere to sleep at her father’s house except on the living room floor or in an unfinished basement, does not pose a threat of immediate harm. What are the child’s rights in this case? According to Judge Miron, she has the right to know that her mother has been dragged off to jail and punished for protecting her.
She also enjoys the right to be put at risk with no one watching or caring what happens to her. Judge Miron says that Tipton is “poisoning” her daughter against her father and coaching her daughter in what to report. Yet when the child was brought, by her father, to an interview with The Child Advocacy Center she gave the exact same testimony of abuse and neglect that she had previously given. In fact, she even told the interviewers that her father had instructed her to lie to them.
After the interview, it was strongly suggested to Tipton that she get an order of protection, and she was told that CPS was going to file a CHIPS petition (Child in Need of Protection). So, Judge Miron, which parent is really doing the “poisoning” and coaching of the child? The judge has also told Lorraine Tipton that she should not worry about her child being driven around in the car of a father who is under the influence, because the father was warned not to do it again. Only in family court is a victim of crime placed in the care of the perpetrator who has simply been told by the court not to do it again.
Ms. Tipton is being punished for refusing to force her child to go and stay with her father. Had the identical information been presented about the “neighbor 3 doors down”, or any other stranger, Ms. Tipton would be considered negligent if she allowed the child to go with them again. What mother or father would willingly send a child off to be driven around by a neighbor who had been convicted of a DUI and warned by the judge the stay sober when children were around? What parent rests easy when their child is reporting graphic accounts of sexual abuse? What mother listens to her child talk of forcibly being made to eat her own vomit and simply lets it go?
Apparently, the family courts apply different rules to the negligent and abusive behavior of a neighbor and the same negligent and abusive behavior of the child’s very own parent, with whom he/she must reside for significant periods of time. At very least, what is appropriate and inappropriate, and by which party, is subject to the discretion of a single family court judge, regardless of his bias.
Furthermore, if these reports were made by the child against the mother, Ms. Tipton might well be deemed, by this very same judge, as unfit. If this was criminal court, and these acts were committed by a neighbor, the neighbor would be punished and kept where he or she could not do this to a child again.
Ms. Tipton’s rights and responsibilities to protect her child are being thwarted by the very system designed to protect children. Should decisions as life-altering as these be left up to the sole interpretation of one family court judge? And should Judge Miron’s final decision in this case be considered an “interpretation” of the law or an “abuse” of the law? Should protective parents be punished and jailed if they refuse to put their children at risk?
If the child were to be seriously and/or permanently harmed will this judge be held responsible for aiding and abetting child abuse? The real tragedy is that these children lose their entire childhoods when judges won’t protect them. Is this what the state of Wisconsin wants for its children?
Posted by Elizabeth McVeyat 5:14 PM
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