This case is bizarre and disturbing. The judge dismisses the sexual abuse allegations that a 6-year-old girl made against her father MARK VANOSDEL while she was on visitation at his home, without any real investigation at all.
As reporter Lee Rood points out, the girl was not believed despite the fact that experts say that children seldom lie in a consistent way about sexual abuse. And that lack of definitive physical evidence is not proof that the abuse didn't happen. And that abuse allegations are not commonly or casually made, despite fathers rights propaganda to the contrary.
Kudos to the reporter for doing the homework on child sexual abuse and "parental alientation sydrome," a scam tactic often used by molesters to cover up, excuse, and deflect attention from the abuse.
Judge dismisses abuse allegations
By LEE ROOD • firstname.lastname@example.org • August 20, 2009
An Iowa judge dismissed abuse allegations made over the weekend by a 6-year-old girl who called 911 while in her father's care in Council Bluffs, paving the way for the girl to return home to her mother from an emergency shelter.
The judge did so on the recommendation of an Iowa Department of Human Services child-protective worker who found the case lacked sufficient evidence to move forward. Neither of her parents, who are divorced, was happy with the result.
"I believe my daughter is in need of counseling and is suffering emotional abuse," said Mark Vanosdel of Council Bluffs, who contends his daughter is the victim of parental alienation syndrome. The condition is often alleged in high-conflict divorce cases.
Nicole Vanosdel of Omaha said she is tired of child-welfare professionals not believing her daughter. "The message here is: Don't tell. I won't tell my daughters to call 911 again. Not if it's sexual abuse."
The Vanosdels' divorce became final in January. In the last two years, Nicole Vanosdel has made at least three reports of alleged sex abuse involving her ex-husband. The reports included allegations of touching, kissing and fondling alleged by their daughter, the mother said.
Each time, Iowa's Department of Human Services has not found enough evidence to confirm, or found, the girl's accounts, Nicole Vanosdel said.
On Friday, the girl called 911 again, alleging she had suffered abuse - but not that night. She was questioned, examined at a hospital and placed in Children's Square shelter with about 10 other children.
She remained at the shelter until Wednesday, when her mother, the primary custodial parent, was allowed to pick her up. Vanosdel said she has a 15-year-old daughter from another relationship, and she has no problems allowing the teen to visit her father.
Child abuse experts said Wednesday that most allegations of sex abuse wind up not being prosecuted for lack of evidence."Often, all you have is the child's word," said Donita Faust, a licensed social worker and forensic interviewer for the regional children's protection center at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines.
However, Faust and other experts said young children rarely lie about such things. And it's extremely rare for young children to lie consistently about sex abuse."I'm sure it has happened," said Steve Scott of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa in Des Moines. "But more often the person, often the parent, bringing the allegations to the attention of others becomes more and more agitated. And it's hard for them not to come off looking a shrieking harpy."
Faust said parents have been known to suspect abuse that doesn't exist. However, she said, young children almost never make up stories that could create tension in their families.
If and when they do lie, they typically do so to paint themselves in a good light.
"Most kids view sex abuse as something bad and feel that may put them in trouble as well," said Faust, who has interviewed numerous children. "More often what they say is misunderstood. Lots of times when you go back and look at how questions were posed, there was some sort of misunderstanding."
Neither Scott nor Faust has any firsthand knowledge of the alleged abuse in the Council Bluffs case.
In the early 1990s, the Child Abuse and Neglect journal reported research showing such abuse allegations are made in about 2 to 3 percent of divorcing families.
Several child abuse and neglect, social work, and psychological associations and their professionals have discredited parental alienation syndrome as a legitimate mental disorder.