This case study begins at 9.A., below.
1982 - 1991 (Two wives, two families)
In 1982, Vincent’s first wife, a college counselor, called campus security guards for protection. She reported her husband’s threats to kill her, to harm her colleagues, and to take their 2-year-old son. Evidence of his documented assaults never entered their “no-fault” divorce hearing. A Family Court judge ordered joint custody and shared placement of their child.
[Joint custody and shared placement of trophy children spares the abusive parent from having to pay child support while throwing children’s lives into constant emotional chaos as they struggle to move back and forth between two parenting styles that may be radically opposed. In many domestic violence cases, for example, one parent may be generally nurturing, while the other is highly punitive.]
Vincent’s second wife gave birth to their son in 1989 and their daughter in 1990.
In 1991 Vincent’s first wife sought sole custody citing problems with joint custody.
That same year, his second wife called Cranston police saying Vincent had kicked her in the groin.
1992 – 1993 (When his younger children are ages 2 to 4)
At the beginning, Chief Judge Jeremiah recognized Vincent’s pattern of abuse and tried to intervene. Like many judges, he did not see that domestic abuse of a mother is a strong indication that children are also in danger. He was guided by Pettinato’s “friendly parent” standard that forces children to maintain relationships with both parents, even if one has been cruel and abusive.
December 1992 Vincent’s second wife filed for divorce, and Vincent moved out of their home.
January 1993 His two younger children began court-ordered visits, spending three days and two nights each week with their father, his male roommate, and his older son, 13, whose visits were arranged to coincide with the younger children’s.
February 1993 The two-year-old daughter began having trouble sleeping. She suffered from bed-wetting, night terrors, and stomach aches. A doctor performed a sexual abuse exam and reported concerns to DCYF.
February 1993 General Magistrate John O’Brien ordered DCYF to conduct a domestic relations home study of Vincent's second family.
NEXT: 9.C. DCYF enters
Color of Law Custody Cases
Color of Law Custody Cases
Rhode Island and other states often violate civil rights in civil courts when officials threaten to separate children from protective parents who are their lifeline. These cases may include "color of law" abuses that push the boundaries of law. Judges who allow color of law abuse in their courtrooms are guilty of "color of office."
In Family Court, we give judges ultimate power over people’s lives while taking away their curiosity, concern, and even their ability to inquire about what is really happening in these cases. This transfers the power to guardians ad litem and lawyers. These officers of the court can convince a judge--through false allegations that are frequently off the record--to remove children, imprison innocent parents, then bankrupt them through years of frivolous motions, and forbid them to talk about it--all under color of law.
In domestic abuse custody cases, this enables the abusive parent to gain extraordinary power and control over the protective parent and the children.
Here is more information about color of law: