Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crisis in Family Court: A Mother's Mission and Lifting the Silence

Duncan                                    Jack  

Back in September of 2009, just 5 months after Amy Leichtenberg's 2 boys Jack 7 years old and Duncan  9 years old were savagely murdered by their father during a court forced visitation, Amy gave an hour long interview.  During the show Amy discussed the steps taken to protect her children. Although her boys are gone, Amy's voice is not, she is shouting to stop the bloodshed of innocent lives.

The last time Amy saw her two boys alive, something was not right. Her estranged husband was acting out-of-sorts when they met at the police station. Amy refused to hand over her boys on March 7, 2009 an officer threatened her if she didn't give them to their father, she would be arrested according to her lawyer.

In 2007, Amy was awarded full custody of the boys with Connolly given supervised visitation. According to court reports from the family visitation center, Connolly's behavior was dangerous enough to temporarily cease all visits with the boys. In my experience, when a family visitation center terminates interaction between parent and child, it sends a red flag of danger. Connolly, the ever witty and clever abuser, was able to resume visits when his psychiatrist sent a "sympathy letter" to the judge "if my client is able to spend more time with his sons, Mr. Connolly's depression and outbursts would lessen."

The judge responded by setting a series of "behavioral guidelines." This included obtaining employment, housing and continued therapy.

In family court the two parties are presumed to be on a level playing field--law abiding individuals who have a disagreement over a private family matter. A core assumption of family law is that family disputes are not criminal disputes. As such, there are few safeguards built into the family court system to protect against the criminal dynamics that dominate family disputes in cases of family violence. In addition, the accusations the victim makes in family court, no matter how serious, carry no more authority than one person's say so. One of the most serious consequences is that when a family violence victim opens a case in family court against her abuser, the abuser is given equal opportunity to fight back against the victim's accusations, often because the abusers past is not an issue. Unless, of course, he is brought in from county or state prison sporting an orange jump suit and leg shackles.

There are lawyers and 
men’s groups who argue using domestic violence with a broad brush is not a reason to deny fathersvisitation with their children. Accusing mothers of lying or making up stories to keep fathers’ from their children.

Under the current laws, a parent without custody is entitled "reasonable visitation." There is a high burden of proof as evidenced in this case when a court refuses to take into account dangerous abusers pose to their children.

Until we place the issue of labeling these cases as a "private matter" or an isolated incident, expect the death toll among children to rise. And rise it has, with the recent murders of Charles 7 years of age and Braden 5 years of age on Sunday in the State of Washington.  Their father Josh Powell was the only person of interest since the boys mother Susan Cox vanished from the marital Utah residence on December 6, 2009.  Last week a judge ordered permanent placement of  Susan's children too her parents Chuck and Judy Cox.  However, as if this were a contestant game show Josh was given supervised visitation.  Josh Powell took an ax to each of his own children, doused gallons of gasoline in the home before lighting a match and blowing up the home.

If you are a judge, prosecutor, victim, mental heath provider, download the interview below and listen to Amy Leichtenberg.  Amy speaks for thousands of  other mothers across the country who are living the same fears.  If the abuser does not get their way from the victim and or the family courts, the children will die.  In many cases, they are all dying. Both men and women are murdering entire families before turning the gun on themselves and committing suicide.

Listen to internet radio with Susan Murphy Milano on Blog Talk Radio

Susan Murphy Milano is a staff member of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education as a educator and specialist with intimate partner violence prevention strategies directing prevention for high risk situations and cases.

 A national trainer to law enforcement, training officers, prosecutors, judges, legislators, social service providers, healthcare professionals, victim advocates and the faith based community and author.. In partnership with Management Resources Ltd. of New York addressing prevention and solutions within the community to the workplace. Host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show,"Time'sUp!" . She is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated "The Roth Show" with Dr Laurie Roth and a co-host onCrime Wire. Online contributions: Forbes : Crime, She Writes providing commentary about the hottest topics on crime, justice, and law from a woman’s perspective, as well as Time's Up! a blog which searches for solutions (SOS) for victims of crime


Donna R. Gore said...

While others may have their breakfast reading the stock market pages, we as advocates read about IPV time and time again.

I have to ask, who is it that made "the fatal mistake" this time? Was it the psychiatrist or the judge in which "the buck stops here" is supposed to prevail? The answer is... it doesn't matter who... It is the system itself that need an entire overhaul.

And why is it that violence is "softpedalled" such that violence is a "private family matter"- Shhh... Let's not discuss that one in open court! Let's give all due consideration to both sides..even if there is glaring evidence of danger! The end result is that these innocent children are forever gone - needlessly. Are such psychiatrists and judges having any sleepless nights?


Donna R. Gore. M. A.
Homicide Survivor

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing a movie about the Andrew Bagby case, in which the grandparents tried to save their grandson from their son's killer.
Despite her being a prime murder suspect,she was allowed to keep custody of her son.
And when the walls started to close in,she killed herself and her son, just like the grandparents and many others feared she would,just like Susan's parents did with Josh and just like Amy did with Jack.

When will the courts realize abusers don't love their kids and simply view them as pawns?

Anonymous said...

Its clear you have an agenda against freedom of speech. I did not swear or degrade in my comments yesterday.

I am the woman who is upset at the fact your blog is against men and in support (and apparently believes) all women who cry 'abuse' are abused. I am the woman who walked away from her life long friendship of my girlfriend who all but demanded I play along in her game of lies and deception to the courts in order for her to have the upper hand. Revenge. It exists. Safe to say, probably about 15% of the court cases out there are downright frauds!!

Its too bad Susan you are unwilling to have a discussion that goes both ways. Its very unfortunate you keep to your agenda and refuse to allow the truth to get out about all sides, good, bad & ugly.

Women kill their babies too. Women lie in court for revenge. Women can be as bad or worse in a court of law and the courts know it all too well.

Food for thought!! >>> If you fight for mothers rights within the system Susan, you should also take an extreme harsh stance against the other women who lie & scam the system for they seriously harm the real abuse stories out there!! They abuse the system to their benefit. That MUST STOP so the real stories of abuse can be heard!!! These lying pathetic women are as bad as the false accusations they make and quite frankly, they should be incarcerated for their sick criminal actions.

Susan Murphy Milano's Journal said...

Anonymous comment who is interested in discussing further objectivity as it relates to me and women. First I suggest that you consider identifying yourself rather than post anonymously. I do cover women who kill and work on cold cases where a woman is responsible for what I believe is murder.

I invite you to begin by contacting me, as many do via email at if you have a specific case tell me about it. As my schedule does not allow me to monitor this blog nor check comments when they go into spam. And as you will note,I rarely comment on the blog after I've written a post.

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