Protect Damon from Abuse


Cindy D. with Damon and his brothers

Dear Stop Family Violence,

Please help me protect my three wonderful boys!!  My youngest son, Damon (now almost 13), has been reporting long-term sexual, physical and emotional abuse by his father and the San Diego Family Court will not even do the minimum required by law to investigate it.  They won't allow him to testify and his court-appointed attorney just says it is court policy to reunify children with abusers.   On June 30th, the judge is planning to give the father custody.

ACTION #1      ACTION #2

Damon has reported hundreds of incidents of sexual, physical and emotional abuse to family, friends and 17 professionals. He has said his father duct-taped him to his bed and duct-taped his mouth shut so he couldn't yell out.  Although Damon said the abuse routinely occurred in his father's bed, he said sometimes his father would take him outside and sexually abuse him in the pool, where Damon was terrified he was going to drown.  When Damon would resist his father's sexual advances, his father would punish him by locking him outside all night without even a blanket where Damon, then just 7 years old, was freezing cold and frightened of wild animals and snakes.  Damon is so brave for reporting the abuse because his father has threatened to kill him, me, and his hamsters if he ever told anyone about it. 

For two years I tried to get the San Diego Family Court to protect Damon.  They ignored Damon's reports of abuse, did not do a 3118 investigation as required by law, and forced him to live half time with his father.  When it became clear that the judge was never going to protect Damon and minor's counsel recommended full custody to his father, I took the children into hiding to protect them. (Nov 04)

After three years on the run, we turned ourselves in (Feb 08) after the District Attorney reviewed our case, dismissed all abduction charges and assured us that a different family court judge, Hon. Lorna Alksne, the presiding judge for San Diego Family Court, would give Damon a fair hearing.  The D.A. said she believed Damon had been sexually abused, but that the father would have to molest other children before her office would prosecute him!

In the beginning Judge Alksne said the abuse allegations were very serious and she would conduct a full investigation and evidentiary hearing as required according to Family Code section 3118.  She said she would need to put the boys in temporary placement for 2 weeks while the boys reported the abuse.  

It has now been a year and a half, my children are still living with the guardians (friends of the father) and I have no contact with them.  Why?  Because, without doing a proper investigation or hearing any testimony or considering any evidence about the abuse, the court has decided I am the one who is a danger to my children because I abducted and influenced (alienated) them!  

In addition, the court ordered the children into "reunification therapy" to force them  to reunite with their father.   To accomplish this reunification, the children were deprived of any contact with me for several months.  The boys were told that they couldn't see me until they cooperated with the reunification.    I have been warned that if I don't change my position regarding the abuse and cooperate with the reunification, I will not have any custody or visitation.   I've also been told my family has to take the website down to qualify for custody.  And I'm afraid I will be retaliated against in this act of going public in order to protect them.  But they cannot coerce my silence; I must do everything I can to fight for my children's safety. 

There is another mother here in San Diego County, Joyce Murphy, with a story very similar to mine that recently made the local news.  Hers has had a tragic ending.  She reported the father's sexual abuse to the court and they accused her of "alienation" and granted full custody to the father.  She fled to protect her daughter, but was caught.  The court gave the father full custody and Joyce got supervised visits.  Now six years later, the father has been convicted of sexually abusing three other girls and making child pornography.  Yet, when interviewed by ABC News about Joyce's case, Judge Alksne, who is the presiding judge on my case, said Family Court is doing an excellent job! 

This concept of parental alienation is being used to silence parents (usually mothers) and children who report abuse and deprive them of a normal relationship with each other.  It has been discredited and disallowed in courts because it lacks any scientific support.  Even the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges has declared that judges should not use it.  Yet it continues to be used in abuse cases, and it harms children so much!

I am a good citizen and a good mom and the boys are all honor students.  How can Family Court treat us so horribly?  At 13, 15 and 17 years old, shouldn't my boys be allowed to testify about what happened and where they want to live? Damon is still saying that he is afraid of being alone with his father and all three boys have stated very clearly, many times to their court-appointed attorneys that they want to live with me, but the attorneys won't advocate for what the boys want. 

How can I get the judge to listen to my teenage children and do at least the minimum required by law to investigate the abuse before forcing them to live with their named abuser? 

Please, I know there isn't much time, but if there's anything you can do to help protect my children before the June 30th court date I'd really appreciate it. 

Thank you,

Cindy D.

ACTION #1 Send a message to California Justice System Officials

ACTION #2  Send a message to California Legislators asking them to protect Damon and to pass laws to protect abused children throughout California


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