Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Judge Frederick W. Crow III and King Solomon's Sword (Scioto County, Ohio)

It is an OUTRAGE that somebody like Frederick W. Crow III is allowed anywhere near a court of law.

March 29, 2010
Eileen King 202.462.4688
Catherine Harper Lee, The Justice League of Ohio
614.598.1964 or 614.848.8500

Judge Frederick W. Crow III and King Solomon’s Sword

No one would disagree that judges, by law, should put children’s best interests and safety foremost when they make decisions regarding care and custody. So why would a judge not care that an Ohio County Public Children Services Agency substantiated child sexual abuse? Why would any judge order a child into the care and custody of his or her alleged abuser? And why would a judge punish a protective father or mother by throwing him/her in jail, depriving the child of a safe and loving parent?

On July 24, 2009 Judge Frederick W. Crow III of the Scioto Count Court of Common Pleas denied Cherish Lewis’ request for a continuance of that day’s hearing, a continuance she desperately needed. Several days before the hearing, Cherish fired her attorney upon learning he had represented the child’s father, the alleged abuser, in a case of “sexual abuse allegations involving a minor child”. [see the March 11, 2010 Opinion] Judge Crow ignored Cherish Lewis’ plea to hear witness testimony and review the evidence and report from Scioto County Children’s Services substantiating her child was sexually abused and naming the father as the alleged perpetrator. When Cherish refused to give her daughter into the father’s care that day, Judge Crow ordered her to the Scioto County Jail. While Cherish’s appeal was pending, her two young children were deprived of their mother for over eight and a half months.

On March 11, 2010, the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned Judge Crow’s decision, stating that Judge Crow “abused his discretion” when he denied Cherish Lewis’ reasonable request for a continuance and that there was “considerable prejudice done to Lewis.” The Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from the Scioto County Jail. Cherish is free and her 5-year-old daughter is safe…but for how long?

In its March 11, 2010 Opinion, The Fourth District Court of Appeals remanded this case back to Judge Crow’s court for further proceedings “consistent with this opinion.” Judge Crow has now demanded, on penalty of contempt, that Cherish appear with her daughter at 11 am on Tuesday, March 30th for a status conference. Based on Judge Crow’s prior abuse of discretion and the case history, we have little reason to hope that he will protect this child or act in her best interest on Tuesday. On April 10, 2009 the Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned Judge Crow's order granting the father custody, stating Judge Crow had abused his discretion in determining the best interest of the child. Will this child’s best interest be honored on Tuesday?

We fear that this “status conference” is Judge Crow’s next chance to wield King Solomon’s Sword: either the child goes with the person she named in a substantiated child sexual abuse report or her mother goes to the Scioto County Jail AGAIN. This time Cherish may not be able to successfully appeal the order and will be held in jail until she produces her daughter to the father, or in perpetuity. If she ran with her child she would not be able to continue the fight for Justice so she and her children can one day live a normal, happy life, free of abuse or on the run. Now she has attorneys who will present all of the evidence. Will Judge Crow let them?
If you were Cherish Lewis, what would you do? And if you were that little girl, what would you be hoping for with all your heart?

There is a simple, rational solution. The mother needs to be able to show up with her daughter as ordered by the court with faith in the system. Faith that Judge Crow will act in the best interest of the child and suspend visitation with the father until ALL evidence and witness testimony of neglect, physical, sexual abuse, as well as prior substance abuse issues of the father have been heard before making a decision to place this child with him and putting her at risk of abused for a third time. This father has a history. The ONLY thing this mother has ever done is try to protect her child.

Justice For Children - DC
1875 Connecticut Ave NW Ste 710 Washington, DC 20009
202-462-4688 voice ~ 815-301-5516 fax ~ www.justiceforchild ren.org