Friday, July 12, 2002

Dear Readers:
I'm taking a break from adding any new weblog news entries. The reason is I have to concentrate on putting the final touches to the proposal for my memoir - JUSTICE HELD HOSTAGE: The Dean Tong Story. I hope to be able to keep you informed on fresh abuse-related stories in the not-too-distant future.

Dean Tong

Monday, July 08, 2002

SCOTT DOLAN, Taunton Gazette Staff Writer July 07, 2002

TAUNTON -- A Revere woman who lied to police last August when she claimed her ex-boyfriend kidnapped and raped her now faces a criminal charge of her own for allegedly continuing to contact the now-married man.
Karen J. DeCosta, 48, was arraigned in Taunton District Court Friday for allegedly violating a restraining order that her ex-boyfriend, George McHugh of Raynham, took out against her.

DeCosta allegedly committed the offense in Taunton on April 5, about a month after a judge threw out the rape charge against McHugh due to lack of evidence.

The court had issued a warrant for DeCosta's arrest on June 27, and DeCosta's lawyer, Mark M. Freeman of Boston, appeared before Judge Lance J. Garth on his client's behalf on Friday. Judge Garth continued DeCosta's case to Oct. 9.

Judge Thomas S. Barrett threw out the rape case after a hearing on March 7 in which DeCosta changed her story, according to McHugh's attorney, Andrew M. D'Angelo.

The defense attorney also said police, who investigated the rape claim, found numerous holes and contradictions in DeCosta's accusation.

DeCosta claimed she went to the Bay State School of Technology in Canton last Aug. 1 to meet McHugh, who was a student there, and that he forced her into his car. She alleged that he drove her to Joe T's Pub in Raynham and marched her at gunpoint into a wooded area behind the bar. She claimed McHugh bound her to a tree with duct tape, raped her and then left her bound up.

Police arrested McHugh later in the night on Aug. 1 in the Morton Hospital and Medical Center maternity ward, where his wife, Susan, was about to give birth to the couple's son.

Police dismantled DeCosta's accusation when they found her rental car in Chelsea instead of Canton where she supposedly drove to meet McHugh. She claimed after the fact that the car must have been stolen.

Authorities found no evidence that DeCosta was in McHugh's car on the night of the alleged rape. Police dogs could only detect DeCosta's scent in the woods behind Joe T's, not McHugh's.

Tong's take: False rape allegations can be very powerful tools for those who are strident ideologues and believe in exploiting . Congress should pass legislation making false rape and child abuse allegations felonies punishable by prison terms.
More missed visits in DCF custody debacle - "Child protection workers failed to visit 1,841 children in state custody last month, despite officials spending three extra days in July to finish the June contacts." - Orlando Sentinel, July 8, 2002.

Tong's take: The Rilya Wilson case was not the first bungle of DCF, and obviously it won't be the last.
"Child abuse or nanny nightmare?" - A New York woman says a nanny wrongfully accused her of sexually abusing one of her five-year-old twins and not feeding the children properly.

The woman, Danica Cordell-Reeh, says she was about to fire nanny Michelle Padilla for not doing housework, and that Padilla acted out of spite. Cordell-Reeh has filed a $20-million suit against the nanny and her agency, according to Court TV, which is airing the case this week. The woman, estranged from her investment banker husband, lost all parental rights after the nanny's abuse complaint.

Tong's take: I find many cases where overzealous babysitters report parents for alleged child abuse. Perhaps, this is a case of source misattribution error? It will be interesting to see how this case plays out.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Out of Charles Dickens: True abuse-crat story from Utah Legislator - Just received from Representative Matt Throckmorton of the Utah House of Representatives...

As the Chair of the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel, I am tasked with dealing with this issue every day. The emails that you received contain the same line of though that we hear continuously. I remember about two years ago, debating a bill on the floor of our House and a Democrat using those very words, " doesn't mean they didn't do it. It means we couldn't prove it."

This is an issue of enormous proportions. I have long since given up retelling the stories of Government abuse on families. People by in large do not believe that the State would remove children for such reasons.

I will pass along what may be the all time story, as proven by court papers. I'll skip the stories of children being removed for spankings, getting a black eye playing football, child to skinny thus they must be starving.

About four years ago, a single mother of three children faced a semi bleak Christmas. Her husband had really left her in the lurch. As Christmas rolled around she found herself just getting on her feet. She had a job, part time student and had her three children being watched by her mother. A week before Christmas she was visited by a social worker, she was on food stamps. The Social worker looked around and saw very few presents under an 18" Christmas tree. Nothing significant was said, the worker left and three days later the DCFS showed up and removed her three children.

By Utah law another three days passed and she had her first day in court. On the petition submitted by DCFS were several reasons justifying the removal. Primary reasons; an 18" Christmas tree and only a handful of small presents, wrapped in newspaper under this tree. This demonstrated that the mother was not providing to societies standards and was not fit to raise the children.

The real story, like most hard working Americans she was living within her means. She has around $150 to her name. She set aside a certain amount for the utilities, another portion for some clothing and the balance for a bus pass to get to and from school and work. She had decided to take a kitchen knife and cut the top 18" off of a bush to make the Christmas tree. This way she could save money. As we both know, many people would have spent all $150 on Christmas then told the social worker they need more money for utilities and such.

It took some four months but she finally had her children returned. The irony of the situation is that she borrowed many thousands of dollars from family and friends to hire the attorney. That money could have been used to buy her a car or something more useful though even then she had decided to take the bus as it was the most economical means.

Sorry to bother you with the story. I just thought it might be useful to hear first hand from the other side. One last bit, three years ago I had our legal staff compare the Constitutional rights of a person accused of murder and one accused of child abuse. Our legal staff found 17 different rights guaranteed the accused of murder. From the right to confront ones accuser to evidentiary rules, etc., etc.. For the person accused of child abuse: Of those 17 Constitutional Rights afforded the accuse murderer, 6 flat out do not exist. Of the remaining 11 they can be revoked by the judge if the judge feels there is a compelling reason.

If you would like I could fax the actually list of rights. In Utah you may prefer being accused of murder, you will certainly enjoy more rights in defense.

Thanks for you time.

Representative Matt Throckmorton
Utah House of Representatives
Chair, Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel
Chair, Enhancement of Public Education Task Force
Vice Chair, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
(801) 489-8342

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Young kids unreliable as witnesses - "Eyewitness testimony from younger children may be useless in court, a new Yale University study has shown. The findings, which mirror similar results from Central Michigan University, will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. In both studies, young children were unable to distinguish between real events and suggested events." - UPI story from May 30 (better late than never).

Tong's take: While the study isn't entirely helpful to defendants and their lawyers, it's a major step in the right direction. "I found that preschoolers performed significantly worse than sixth graders and adults in distinguishing reality from imagination," Yale psychologist Army Sussman was quoted by United Press International. "Most importantly, children had a tendency to believe an imagined action was a real one. This type of confusion is particularly problematic because it could lead to false accusations."
Ex-CPS Investigator speaks out - I just read your article, Remember 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' This July 4! and I also visited your website. Until six months ago I was a Texas CPS investigator for years. I understand how intrusive and upsetting it can be to be falsely accused of abuse or neglect of a child. Fortunately for the families in the Counties I served, our investigators were not overzealous or likely to abuse their power simply because a parent was rude or uncooperative.

The two persons that sent you e-mails claiming that a large majority of CPS reports are not false are wrong. We are constantly receiving false reports. These were usually due to custody disputes or malicious reports from an angry neighbor or friends who have had a falling out with the accused. It is amazing what a parent will put their child through just to try to hurt an ex-spouse or in an attempt to gain full custody. Many children have had to experience a S.A.N.E. exam for no reason other than a parent making a false report in hope to gain full custody.

In order to help stop this three things must occur.

1) False reports should be a crime that people should be charged for. Although it is a crime, it is a misdemeanor and it is very rare for someone to be charged. This crime should be a felony.

2) More CPS training should focus on handling false reports, a more gentle approach to initiating an investigation and training to help teach CPS investigators to better understand anger and resistance from parents that are being investigated. It is natural for parents to become upset and angry; this should not make an investigator angry and abuse their power.

3) No major CPS decision can be made without a judges approval. More judges should place an extra importance on fairness and patience when hearing a CPS case. State Bar associations should encourage pro-bono CPS cases to ensure fair treatment of the accused. And more States and Counties should have third party advocates like C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

False reports hinder CPS and damage the lives of many people. I hope more attention is placed on deterring false reports. Thank you for your time.

C. Damon

Anti-Family Bureaucrats - Following letter just received. - Dean Tong.

I applaud your efforts to reveal the "truth" as I have heard many instances of children threatening their parents with turning them into authorities, not for improprieties, but for getting their way.

A friend, who is a supervisor in a Government agency and works next door to a DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services) facility, told me of a very disturbing conversation he overheard of some DSHS officials. He stated that they were discussing ways to separate children from their families, not for any particular action but for what they perceived as in the "child's best interest". UNBELIEVABLE and frightening. This happened in the 'Peoples Republic of the Puget Sound'--Washington State.

In the cases of divorce, Washington state does what it can to punish the man and not make it an amicable solution that further puts enmity between the couple. Probably to make sure they don't remarry.I know situations such as these are brought on by the elite in this country and UN affiliates that believe they can usurp our rights for their plans to further divide the family unit. If they can destroy the foundation and bring up children in their mindset they can control the direction of society.

Keep up the good work.


Dan Kessler
Foster-care provider's suffering - Below is what Rachel Mehan wrote from Oregon after reading my NewsMax piece. If you're in a similar situation with an accused friend, you might want to pick up a copy of Elusive Innocence. - Dean Tong.

I just went through eight months of hand holding with a friend who had been doing foster care and had the foster children taken from her custody by the authorities due to allegations of physical abuse that were finally determined last week to be unfounded. There seems to be a definite presumption of guilt by the state when deciding cases such as these.

A person is not afforded any of the basic rights any other person accused of a crime is granted. There is no entitlement to swift justice or right to face the accuser or even a chance to tell your side of the events when it involves CSD.

My friend got in touch with an organization here in Portland called One Voice, which is an advocacy group for accused foster parents to help them jump through the hoops. The woman in charge, Nancy Webb, was very tenacious in letting my friend know what the process is all about and how to play the game their way. All worked out for the best in this instance.

However, there are many whose lives are destroyed and many who have even lost their own children to the system due to false allegations. This article you wrote hit home on many fronts for me, and I am going to forward a copy of it to Nancy at "one voice" as I think she would appreciate it.
Texas horror story - NewsMax reader, Michael A. Ebbers Sr. of Poughkeepsie, NY, sent me the insightful letter below, inspired by my NewsMax article. Feel free to write me with your own true stories for publication on this Web site. - Dean Tong.

Since you received two e-mails from people disagreeing with you, I had to share my view. Several years ago, a friend was falsely accused of child abuse in Texas by CPS. The CPS investigation of this incident was totally on the basis of "guilty, no possibility of innocence." The CPS staff member told my friend that he had the earmarks of a typical abuser and he would work hard to find him guilty. My friend was jailed, then released but separated from his family by court order for at least six months. The doctor's report, which was issued during the first week of the accusation and which showed no evidence of abuse, was ignored for that six months.

I have read news stories during the last six years where CPS has called on homes and demanded to interview the children alone. If denied, they threatened to (or actually did) remove the children by force and court order. Most of these were on the basis of calls by third party, some even anonymous. Nearly all of these turned out to be from relatives or neighbors with axes to grind against the parents, and the abuse charges were all unfounded.

I am not sure where the "false reporting rate of 2-4%" came from, but this can't possibly be accurate. Most of these false reports obviously don't make it to the record books.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Kids recant false allegations against Mom - A 37-year-old mother, serving a 116-year sentence in the Oregon state penitentiary, was released after her four adopted children recanted their sex-abuse lies against her. - AP.

Tong's take: Mention this case next time someone says false allegations are a risk only for men. Women, too, can be victims of the allegations.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Fourth of July NewsMax article by Dean Tong - "As America celebrates its first Independence Day since the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we mourn our dead and stand proud by the freedoms we enjoy... Abuse and exploitation of our most precious resource, our children, is a form of domestic terrorism. This July Fourth let's say a prayer for two children who were abducted recently, Danielle Van Dam and Elizabeth Smart. It is incumbent upon us to prosecute their perpetrators to the fullest extent allowed by law. Yet, according to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, of the approximate 3.3 million reports of alleged child abuse and neglect that will be filed in America this year, over 2 million will be deemed 'unfounded.' In other words, over 2 million American families will be faced with proving their innocence of crimes before our behemoth child protective service agencies." Check out the full piece at NewsMax.
DCF in pincers of bitter divorce - The remainder of the headline sums up the situation: "A judge orders investigators to stay away from two children despite claims. Then, two more judges rule." - St. Petersburg Times, July 1, 2002.

Tong's take: Just because there's a contentious divorce and abuse allegations are filed does not render the accusations unfounded or the case a witch hunt. Certainly, it is a red flag. What is more distressing in this case is the sheer volume of the case file--an indication of PA (Parental Alienation), a psychological form of child abuse.