Dr. Bandy Lee—who warned the nation about Donald Trump—calls the household courtroom system one other menace to our democracy.
Dr. Bandy Lee is aware of narcissists. And sociopaths. And psychopaths.
The truth is, she research coercive controllers for a dwelling. She made headlines—and published The New York Times bestselling book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump—as a result of she simply couldn’t sit on the sidelines watching a transparent and current hazard to democracy.
Now, this world-renowned forensic psychiatrist and violence skilled, who has taught at Yale Faculty of Medication and Regulation Faculty, feels the identical means about America’s household courtroom disaster.
“I hadn’t anticipated that I might write on this topic and have been working in courts for 25 years,” she stated, “however what I’ve stumbled upon is so alarming, so egregious and so harmful to girls and kids that I can’t stay silent about it.”
It’s additionally private. “If this might occur to Catherine Kassenoff and to my sister, who might escape this damaging machine?” Lee requested. “Household courts have abdicated their duties to deliver justice and to curb violence—and have really promoted it. It is a structural violence that goes means past people and has widespread social and cultural penalties.”
Lee had been in contact with Catherine Kassenoff, the New York mom and achieved lawyer who stated she was ending her life by way of an assisted suicide over Memorial Day Weekend as a result of she couldn’t combat for custody of her daughters any longer. Kassenoff had been serving to a fellow protecting mother attempting to get her kids again, and Lee had consulted on the case.
Ms. has realized by way of an official supply, who doesn’t wish to reveal their identification or give additional particulars, that official notification over the weekend confirms Kassenoff is useless.
“Once I obtained Catherine’s final e-mail, it affected me all the day. Trying into her case, it was virtually an identical to my sister’s, who was a excessive official, hailed a hero after 9/11 and somebody who sacrificed her profession to deal with the youngsters,” she stated of her sister Patricia who was the New York governor’s workplace Floor Zero coordinator. “Now, she has not seen her kids for years, whereas her husband, who’s rageful and screams on the kids, has sole custody.”
Lee stated her sister skilled 15 years of coercive management, which included verbal, psychological, sexual, bodily and monetary abuse. When her husband, a Harvard Regulation Faculty-trained company lawyer, filed for divorce in 2020, he all of the sudden needed custody of the youngsters, though Patricia had been the first caregiver.
A July 2021 incident, throughout which Lee stated her then-brother-in-law brought about his 7-year-old son’s head harm, was reported to Youngster Protecting Providers, however even nonetheless, the courtroom mandated visits with their father. Lee stated the decide dominated that the youngsters be taken involuntarily by police in the event that they resisted, and so they had been—even after attempting to set their home on fireplace in protest.
Lee’s lawyer wrote the New Jersey Division of Youngster Safety and Permanency a letter asking for a correct investigation, stating, “The ordered visits led to a precipitous decline within the kids’s well being, security and well-being together with acts of self-harm, worsening suicidal ideations, gestures to burn down the home and overt indicators of trauma.”
Like Kassenoff, Lee stated her sister was labeled “mentally incompetent” in household courtroom—contradicting at the very least 9 psychiatric experiences that discovered in any other case. Catherine fought most cancers whereas preventing for her kids; Patricia developed a life-threatening sickness from the stress as effectively, a harmful hypertension situation.
Lee stated the youngsters’s father claimed Patricia was attempting to “abscond” with the youngsters throughout a weekend really assigned to her by the courtroom, and the fees had been dropped. However then, she stated, the courtroom awarded him full custody and Patricia hasn’t seen her kids for 2 years. The mom of two doesn’t even know why.
It’s an abuser’s dream come true to be labeled the nice one and to accuse their victims of their very own guilt and personal crimes—and in addition to name the wholesome particular person mentally in poor health.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee
Lee lived with the couple for an prolonged time and stated she witnessed the abuse firsthand, however the courtroom wouldn’t let her testify about what she noticed—regardless of her credentials as an skilled witness in prison and civil courts for 25 years, plus her standing as a mandated reporter (somebody required to report suspected youngster abuse when they’re offered with an inexpensive trigger to suspect it).
“What household courts have enabled is the power of abusers—by way of the accusation that the opposite father or mother is alienating them from their kids—to reverse the sufferer and offender,” Lee stated, referring to a method from the abusers’ playbook referred to as DARVO (deny, assault, and reverse sufferer and offender).
“It’s an abuser’s dream come true to be labeled the nice one and to accuse their victims of their very own guilt and personal crimes—and in addition to name the wholesome particular person mentally in poor health.”
Lee factors to a research by George Washington University Law Professor Joan Meier that discovered that of the 1,077 circumstances the place moms alleged home violence, courts believed the ladies in solely 459—lower than half—of them. Of the 304 the place moms accused fathers of kid sexual abuse, household courts sided with mothers in solely 19 % of circumstances.
Ceaselessly deployed as a cross-claim by accused abusers in contested custody circumstances, the time period for this supposed manipulation is “parental alienation.” And this case is one in all numerous others throughout the nation claiming one father or mother is popping kids towards one other. The speculation is junk science that has been extensively denounced, including recently by the United Nations. The person who developed the idea, Richard Gardner, has been criticized by The Leadership Council, an unbiased scientific group, for being a pedophile sympathizer.
“Alienation is a pseudoscientific principle that has been extensively discredited, however is steadily utilized in household courtroom as a tactic by these accused of abuse,” stated Danielle Pollack, coverage supervisor at The National Family Violence Law Center at George Washington Law and the originator of Kayden’s Law, handed nationally to restrict the ability of abusers to weaponize our courtroom system towards a protected father or mother—and get custody of youngsters. “The actual fact is the household courtroom system is, in essence, enabling unethical professionals to revenue off abused girls and kids.”
The courtroom system isn’t used to individuals with such unrelenting perseverance—and that perseverance is commonly considered as being unhinged as a result of most individuals bend and don’t refuse to compromise simply to get to the opposite aspect.
Catherine Kassenoff spoke to this inequity in her remaining letter blaming her suicide on the courts:
“The New York Courtroom system is chargeable for this consequence and ought to be held accountable for ruining the lives of my kids, me, and so many different similarly-situated protecting mother and father (largely moms) who’ve tried to face up towards abuse however had been labeled ‘liars’, ‘mentally in poor health’ after which handled like criminals. The rationale the courts engaged on this horror, the place they “briefly” took away custody, my private property, a house I owned and lived in, my canine, my well being, my profession, and my dignity—for the final 4 years—was in order that the almost $ 4 million that Allan Kassenoff, my ex husband, needed to spend to destroy me may very well be handed out to the court-appointed forensics, therapists, attorneys for the youngsters and the lawyer for Kassenoff.”
Catherine had began off decided to combat the allegations originally of the four-year battle—telling Ms. within the first story ever revealed about her case, “It’s the one means out”—however her tenacity as a mom and lawyer really labored towards her. Her personal lawyer Evan Wiederkehr stated so.
“It’s not a secret as a result of I stated this to Catherine and to others: The courtroom system isn’t used to individuals with such unrelenting perseverance—and that perseverance is commonly considered as being unhinged as a result of most individuals bend and don’t refuse to compromise simply to get to the opposite aspect,” he stated.
Wiederkehr stated he spent dozens of hours head to head along with her. “Catherine was outstanding by way of her stamina and willingness to proceed to combat towards what she discovered to be an unjust course of. I by no means believed she suffered any basic psychological well being points. I all the time discovered her to be an individual coping with terribly troublesome circumstances and refusing to easily settle for what was imposed on her.”
Felony behavioural analyst Laura Richards stated she was not stunned, for the reason that courtroom system isn’t set as much as profit girls in any respect.
“Catherine’s horrific case in addition to many others proceed to spotlight that techniques just like the Household Courtroom had been designed by males to guard males,” stated Richards. “Sadly, what tends to occur is a warfare of attrition and it comes all the way down to who has the deepest pockets and energy over the opposite (primarily males) relatively than guaranteeing the kid(ren) are with the protecting, non-abusive father or mother (primarily girls). How can that be proper?”
Lee stated it’s not—that’s why her subsequent guide known as The Harmful Case of Household Courts.
“They aren’t in any respect ‘courts of legislation’ as we conceive them. They’ve such broad discretion, coupled with complete secrecy, that any abuse can occur and does,” she stated, declaring that the majority Individuals would by no means consider the brutality that occurs in prisons, which she has studied. “The identical lack of oversight applies to household courtroom—these sorts of human rights abuses have been ignored for a really very long time and this stage of violence wouldn’t be allowed if the general public knew what was occurring.”
Lee blames the household courtroom dysfunction for developmental accidents and psychological impairments amongst kids, a subject she is aware of effectively as a advisor for the World Well being Group and helped creator the United Nations’ chapter on “Violence Towards Kids.” She stated these traumatized kids develop as much as be adults and are inclined to cults, hate teams and authoritarian leaders—like Trump. Plus, what we see in household courtroom is a part of Trumpism’s capitalization of white males’s concern of being “unmanned,” as Jackson Katz put it. So, Lee believes, this household courtroom disaster impacts the very cloth of our democracy.
What’s the resolution? Dr. Bandy Lee stated two issues: accountability and transparency—and thinks now, with circumstances like Catherine Kassenoff’s going viral, is the time.
Her remaining warning: “This has been happening for thus lengthy and is so egregious, we’re getting ready to an explosion.”
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