Discover more from Women's Coalition News & Views
Persecution of Mom & Her Attorney: 4th "History of the Crisis" Case
Reminder: Sisters in Solidarity Forum Today
Karen’s case is the fourth in our “History of the Crisis” series. Both Karen and her attorney were persecuted into silence and compliance via Family Court after daring to attempt to protect Karen’s children from a child molesting father.
Karen’s case began in the mid-eighties in the South, soon after Dorrie’s. They both ended up with the same result: sole custody of the children was transferred to the father despite incontrovertible evidence of sexual abuse.
…[T]he custody of both Dorrie’s and Karen’s children—all of whom had spoken and spoken of abuse, for which there was strong psychological and physical corroboration—was given to the fathers because the judge did not believe or value that evidence. In that most critical way, then, these two cases were no different from hundreds of other such travesties enacted in every state of the nation throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s—and for god-knows-how-many years to come.
Karen and Dorrie Lynn were very different women (Karen was described in the press as articulate, intelligent, a teacher), but they shared the same judge, and they shared with hundreds of other women across the country the same eventual resolution.
Karen’s case sparked the formation of the “underground railroad” taking mothers and children to safety. Faye Yager had heard about Karen’s predicament and came to realize her own inability to protect her daughter in Family Court was not an isolated incident. She mobilized and began what would become a prolific underground where mothers could hide with their children through a network of safe houses. [See note below re: new film about Faye.]
We are reviewing historic cases with the goal of identifying the common denominator amongst those and future cases. If women were losing custody before the advent of the cottage industry, judicial organizations, parental alienation, etc., those cannot be the cause of the crisis and fighting to eliminate them will not end it. Taking these first cases into consideration, it becomes clear that systemic sexism—male entitlement and female oppression—is the fundamental cause of women being being unable to keep or protect their children post-separation.
We will once again take excerpts from Louise Armstrong’s book “Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics: What Happened When Women Said Incest” with a heartfelt debt of gratitude for her masterful exposé of the cover up and enabling of sexual abuse via Family Court.
Karen had been divorced from Eugene in April 1986, with the father receiving visitation every other weekend and one month during the summer.
According to Karen, it was after a July visitation that her daughter, Katie, told her mother about sexual intrusions by the father. Karen retained Garnett Harrison as her attorney and filed a complaint, hoping to restrict visitation.
Eugene countersued for custody.
Over the next eight months, Karen would continue to send Katie and her son, Adam (age one) for visitation.
During this time, Katie began masturbating, developed night terrors, and was no longer potty trained. But it was only after visitation in February when Katie came back extremely red in the genital area and complaining that her “booty” hurt that Karen consulted two local physicians. They said that Katie’s genital area was badly swollen, in such a way that the child could not have caused it herself.
During the summer of 1987, [Karen’s and Dorrie’s] cases came together in Judge Dale’s court.
Karen’s trial lasted from July 23 to July 24. Despite expert testimony, Judge Dale refused to restrict visitation rights even temporarily. And in his August 3 opinion he found that Karen had been abusive an committed a “witch-hunt.” He said:
“The assertions by Karen, together with the supporting assertions by the expert witnesses, particularly by Dr. McCrary, M.D., and Dr. Meeks, Ph.D, are expression of suspicion and are, at beset, their personal conclusions which are not supported by any factual basis. Indeed the fervor exhibited by these persons to condemn and convict Gene with no more to sustain them than the present leads the court to exclaim ‘Shades of Old Salem.’”
The children had indeed been abused, he said, but by the mother: “Karen has subjected them to numerous unwarranted doctor’s visits/examinations, and especially is this applicable to Katie. Katie has been compelled by Karen to attend at least 15 sessions with Dr. Meeks, a psychologist, virtually all of them having been of 0 minutes’ duration, during which Katie has been subjected to subtleties of psychological interrogation and cross-examination, much of it revealed to have involved inferences and suggestions to the child albeit veiled.”
Dale transferred full custody of Katie and Adam to the father.
Both Karen and Dorrie decided independently to evade the court order at least long enough to have the children evaluated at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans by Dr. Rebecca Russell, a pediatrician specially trained in the use of the colposcope—a diagnostic device that can see what the naked eye cannot.
Dr. Russell concluded that both children had been harmed in ways that could only have been caused by molestation, not by some self-inflicted injury.
Harrison filed an appeal for a new hearing based on new evidence on behalf of both children with the Mississippi Supreme Court. Both petitions were denied.
…On August 14, after both Karen and Dorrie had sent their children into hiding, a press conference was held at the Mississippi Children’s Defense Fund in Jackson, Mississippi. “Mothers Defy Court, Keep Children,” front-paged the Sun Herald.
“Moms Will Brave Jail to Protect Allegedly Sexually Abused Kids,” cried the Clarion-Ledger Daily News.
…Both Karen and Dorrie stated that they had now hidden their children in defiance of a court order awarding custody to the fathers.
“I don’t intend to turn them over,” Karen said of her children, Katie 3 ½ and Adam, 2 ½. “I’m sure I’ll be found in contempt, which I am in contempt. I’ll stay in jail.’”
“And I’ll follow in right behind her,” said [Dorrie] Singley…
And so a movement was born…
On August 20, Karen presented herself at the contempt hearing, refused to state where the children were, and was ordered to jail by Judge Dale, “until she has purged herself to the satisfaction of this court and by compliance with the August 3, 1987 decree of this court [to turn the children over].”
Karen was quoted as saying, “I think the judge felt like: How dare the mother accuse the father of such horrible acts? I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be anybody’s hero, I don’t want to be a martyr. But, I didn’t have a choice. My kids would have gone back to being abused, and they would have looked at me one day and said, ‘You knew how could you send me back?’”
…On October 4, after forty-three days in a Mississippi jail, during with she was limited to one roll of toilet paper a month, furnished with only a mattress, wakened at all hours by the noise, and given maggot-infested food, Karen broke. While still incarcerated, she gave a five-hour deposition in which, to “purge herself,” she was forced to tell everything she knew or might know or suppose about the time the children were in hiding—even though she did not actually know who was with her children during that time, or where they were.
Later, Karen would explain her ambivalent behavior, first hiding the children, then caving in: “I know I was in contempt,” she said “I know I broke the law. I know that was wrong. But I don’t regret what I did. At least when they get older, I can say ‘I did all I could.’”
“But my children were confused. They hadn’t seen me. They didn’t have their mother, they didn’t have their father. Finally, I thought, ‘Even if they’re abused, at least they’ll have something, some security.’ They were thinking, ‘Mama doesn’t love me.’”
Karen was, however, asked to incriminate not only herself, but others, including Garnett Harrison. Thus began what came to be known locally as the “lynching of Garnett.”
Following news of Karen’s deposition, about thirty women stepped forward to “confess” to their participation in the protection of Karen’s children.
…Meanwhile, a full-scale assault was being mounted against Garnett Harrison. Some fishy testimony had been brought before the court by a person with the alias “John Ireland,” who was claiming he had seen Garnett and Karen in a Hattiesburg restaurant and had heard Garnett tell Karen to put her thumb in Katie’s vagina and press in order to get fresh evidence of sexual abuse. Ireland turned out to not have a driver’s license or even a social security number—but Judge Dale did not require proof that he was who he said he was, or proof that he knew what he said he knew. The fact that four witnesses subsequently came forward from Irelands’s condominium association to testify that, as far as they knew, Irelands’ real name was Jeb Wilkins, did not shake Judge Dale’s faith in the witness. He found “Ireland’s” testimony entirely credible.
By now, there was no doubt in Garnett Harrison’s mind that she was being cornered: that someone or someones were determined enough to destroy her to come up with what clearly seemed to be perjured testimony. Harassed, derided, and herself threatened with arrest for contempt, Garnett was starting to feel the kind of terror that’s augmented by historical déjà vu.
She’d grown up in the state of Mississippi. She knew about Mississippi jails. She knew how easy it would be for good ole boys to secure her commitment to a psychiatric institution.
*END OF EXCERPTS*
So Karen’s story is not “just” about another mother destroyed in Family Court. It gives a compelling account of how her attorney’s life was shattered as well—for doing her job of zealously representing a woman/mother. Harrison was made to fear not only for her career, but for her life.
For her valiant efforts, Harrison was disbarred and exiled out of state. She had to make a new life for herself.
Harrison was making the judge’s job of covering up the sexual abuse and giving the father custody much more difficult, but that is not the main reason for the severe retaliation. What made her so dangerous and, hence, the OBN [Old Boy Network] so punitive, was the fact that she was an outspoken feminist who dared frame what was going on for what it really was: entitlement of men and oppression of women.
That was what threatened the OBN more than anything. If mothers knew the truth, they would unite and fight as women, which is the one thing that could stop their coveted entitlement in the family.
Soon after, lawyers and other professionals started misattributing the cause of the crisis to judges and other court officials not being trained in domestic abuse or narcissism or parental alienation or whatever. And others would claim that there were just not enough child protection or DV laws for judges to rely on.
Anything but what was really going on.
Keep those mothers diverted from understanding the real reason they were losing custody! Do not let them know it is the systemic entitling of men in their role as fathers and the oppressing of women in their role as mothers. The bedrock of patriarchy must not be identified or attacked—or else. Not to mention, those who went along with all the diverting and distracting would be rewarded with donors, support, funding, and other kudos, some even garnering a warm seat at the Old Boys’ table.
Karen’s story clearly supports the cause of the crisis being systemic sexism, as none of the other oft-cited causes are present—cottage industry, judicial organizations, parental alienation, etc. And it demonstrates that those who recognize male entitlement in the family as the cause and proceed to target it are up against a powerful force—the OBN and its spin-offs.
That is exactly why women need to unite as women—representing more than half the population on the planet—to gain the power necessary to end the cruel and abhorrent removal of children from mothers and the sentencing of countless children to childhoods of serious harm via family courts.
Join WomensCoalitionInternational.org where we are uniting as Women to Gain the Power to End the Post-Separation Crisis.
NOTE: “Children of the Underground” is supposedly a documentary based on Faye Yager’s underground. However, it is not really objective so does not rise to the level of a legit documentary. It is actually a thinly disguised attack on the credibility of the children who report sexual and ritual abuse, their mothers, and Faye herself.
The viewer is led to consider whether Faye is actually a criminal, rather than a protector. It focuses on how hard it is for children to be in hiding, rather than the horror of being serially sexually abused—as if hiding were worse than that. It is sympathetic to men who are credibly accused rapists and assaulters.
Hence, the film appears to be a case of the opposition hijacking Faye’s amazing work to discredit her and the movement. Shame on the producers. Thumbs down.
SISTERHOOD FORUM TODAY!
Reminder: Our first Sisters in Solidarity [SIS] forum is today, Sunday, August 27th at 12pm Pacific, 3pm Eastern, 7pm GMT. We will be discussing the mission and goals of the new Sisterhood and after there will be a discussion and Q & A.
SIS is for women who want to engage in activism to end the crisis. For more info see this previous column.
You must be signed up as a Sister to participate in forums. You can join by filling out this form.
Participants will be admitted from 10 minutes before to 10 minutes after the start time. If you miss it today, don’t worry, there will be more!
Women's Coalition News & Views is a reader-supported publication. Please consider a paid subscription of $5/mo or $50/yr or $200 founding member to support our important work of exposing and ending the Post-Separation Crisis! [Check alternate inboxes.]
You may also support the Coalition’s work through a one-time or recurring contribution through PayPal.