Tuesday, June 17, 2014


The mother was finally successful in this case, but in too many cases, the mothers and children never get justice. It took THREE YEARS in this case. And the molesting father, MICHAEL KONZEN, had JOINT CUSTODY for much of that time, despite a preponderance of evidence against him.

Once again, we see yet another success of the fathers rights movement and their handpicked cronies, like JUDGE MONICA ACKLEY who needs to be driven off the bench for corruption and/or incompetence.


Basu: 'Living hell' finally ends for Dubuque mother

May 26, 2012

Written by Rekha Basu

Justice doesn’t always arrive in the form of revamped laws or sweeping changes in policies. Sometimes it trickles in as a technical correction.

For Emalee Goedert, a narrowly tailored Iowa Court of Appeals ruling Wednesday ended what she describes as a “living hell” in her ongoing efforts to protect her children. The girls alleged that their father had touched them improperly on multiple occasions. The court canceled the rulings by a Dubuque County judge who granted the father joint, unrestricted custody of the girls, and had ordered restricted, supervised contact with their grandmother who brought the allegations to light.

“It’s such a blessing to know that they will be protected,” said a tearful Goedert of her now 5- and 7-year-old daughters. “All I ever wanted was for them to be protected.”

As explored in detail on these pages last Sunday, the girls first alleged molestation by their father, Michael Konzen, three years ago. After an extensive investigation, the Iowa Department of Human Services concluded that the allegations were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Konzen was kept away from the kids for nearly a year. But after District Judge Monica Ackley, without hearing the evidence of abuse, allowed them back with him, the DHS reversed itself and said the claims against him were unfounded.

The Court of Appeals sidestepped making a judgment on the sex-abuse allegations and focused instead on the fact that Ackley should have stepped off the case once she appointed herself a mediator, at the father’s request. Ackley had recessed an October 2010 custody trial after hearing only from Konzen’s side, as seven witnesses waited to testify that they believed he had abused his daughters. Instead, the judge called the parties into her chambers and told them to settle. “The judge should have recused herself, as she herself recognized, once she participated in settlement negotiations with the parties …” the Appeals Court said.

Because they will no longer stand, the Appeals Court did not get into the merits of Ackley’s questionable later rulings. One of those was to restrict the girls’ access to their grandmother, whom Konzen alleged had planted the idea of abuse in their heads. Another was to bar the girls from getting sex-abuse counseling, based on Konzen’s contention that so-called “victim-based” counseling makes non-victims think they were victimized. A third was to order the girls’ therapy records to be shredded.

The practical impact of the Appeals Court’s decision to vacate Ackley’s orders since Nov. 1, 2010, is that for now at least, Goedert will have sole physical custody of her children, and they will be able to resume therapy. She and her attorneys say any visits with Konzen will be guided by the advice of the therapists and will be supervised.

While that brings an end to one painful chapter for one family, it leaves some troubling questions hanging. We are asked to trust that judges’ rulings are impartial and dictated by the law. Yet this judge appears, at the very least, to have prejudged a situation without having all of the facts, disregarded evidence and professional boundaries, and gone too far in ordering the girls’ therapy records to be destroyed.

Also troublesome is the extent of one judge’s influence to propel other agencies, notably DHS, to change its conclusions. Because of Ackley, the DHS reversed itself on the abuse findings, and subsequent referrals to the department were not founded.

“It’s horribly disappointing to know that this sort of situation can be so strongly misjudged,” Goedert said.

Each part of the system has an independent role to play in child protection, but they seem to have coalesced to leave vulnerable children at risk. If that happened here, how many other claims have been similarly dispensed with?

As this family moves forward, each agency that played a role in what happened should be examining its policies and practices and ensuring that its actions are guided by only one consideration: the best interests of children.