These are the dilemmas that protective mothers are put in these days. This mother even has back up documentation from Children's Services regarding the abuse of her child during visitation with her UNNAMED DAD. And yet Judge Woods has chosen to ignore that evidence. Not only that, but he awarded CUSTODY to this child's abuser.
When the mother refused to comply with the order--when she in fact complied with the Children's Services directive that the daughter was not to be in contact with her father--Judge Wood JAILED THE MOTHER.
What we see in both of the cases cited is a systematic contempt for mothers and a mother's right to her own children, and a tacit approval of child abuse. Disgusting.
Abuse, custody issues in spotlight at event
BY LOREN GENSON • Gazette Staff Writer • October 24, 2010
CHILLICOTHE --Cherish Lewis has been fighting the court system to keep her daughter away from her father since Children's Services documented abuse of the girl following visits.
"Children's Services told me not to send her to her father," Lewis said. When she followed that advice, she was put in jail for eight months for not following custody rulings on the case, she said.
Children's Services had documented cigarette burns on Lewis' daughter's inner thighs, along with scratches and bruises following a visit with her father. She also told investigators "her daddy hurt her," but still the judge didn't reverse custody.
Lewis was one of two young women from southern Ohio who talked about their struggles to get their children out of abusive homes on Saturday at the Speak Out Against Child Abuse.
The event, hosted by the Ross County Network for Children, was intended to shine a light on the realities and legalities of the legal rights of women and children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse.
In Lewis' case, her attorneys along with help from the Justice League of Ohio, fought the judge's ruling and an appeals judge ruled Judge Frederick Woods III, who had heard the case in Scioto County, hadn't considered all the evidence. The case was sent back to Woods' courtroom, and he awarded custody to the girl's father.
"She asked me before court, she said Mom, you promise I won't go back to Daddy," Lewis said. "I told her as long as she wasn't scared and told them what happened when they asked, it would be OK."
Lewis said it took an incredible amount of bravery for her daughter to talk about her sexual abuse, and she felt like she had let her daughter down when they ruled in favor of her father.
"She did her part, and no one else did theirs," Lewis said.
While the Justice League of Ohio continues to work for Cherish, a Ross County native also shared the story of her custody battle. The woman asked to be identified only as Flame, because she fears retribution from her mother.
When she was 14, Flame entered into a sexual relationship with her 39-year-old neighbor, a relationship she said her mother encouraged. Flame became pregnant and shortly after her son was born, her mother kicked her out of the house and kept the son. After living on other people's couches for a number of years, Flame eventually married, and with encouragement from her husband, tried to take back custody of her son.
She said she could tell he was being abused in her mother's home by live-in boyfriends and other men her mother kept around. Court-ordered evaluations of the boy showed he was suffering from abuse.
Flame got emotional and legal support from the Ross County Network for Children, from Kim Doucher, a Columbus attorney and from members of the Bikers Against Child Abuse who provided the emotional and financial support Flame needed. On the day custody was awarded to Flame, BACA helped her buy clothes for her son, because all of his belongings were at his grandmother's home.
"They helped me in so many ways," Flame said tearfully. "It's hard to be a mother when you never saw a good example of one. And trying to pick up the broken pieces and put them back together has been hard."
Flame still struggles. Both she and her son are in counseling. Flame is trying to deal with the emotions of bonding with a child who was the product of a rape and who is outwardly aggressive. Her son is learning to have healthy relationships with those around him and control his temper.
"The damage to him has been done; he gets mad, gets in trouble at school. He says he hates me," she said, finally before breaking down in tears. "He's a good kid; he just needs help."
Doucher said Flame's story is one of many realities for those who are fighting the system to get custody of their child.
"The problem is not with the system; it's that the system is vulnerable to abuse," Doucher said. "Where the wrong people get into a position where they ought to be making a difference and they don't, that's where the problem is."
Doucher, who also is running for judge in Franklin County, said in many cases, she sees people at every stage of the system who are not doing their jobs.
"Once we forced the issue, once we pushed it, we were able to get results," Doucher said.