From the Editor: Interns/Volunteers Sought
I am looking for folks who are knowledgeable and committed to the issues of abuse and violence, to contribute thought provoking, informative articles and new resources on Culture of Abuse (online) Magazine.
Training and guidance can and will be provided, especially for those who have less experience but who are willing to do research. Students are welcome to apply. This is not only a great opportunity to share your skills and insight, it could also lead to a more significant role, for those who are local, in the non-profit I’m currently developing here in Eastern MA/North Shore (http://www.cultureofchangeinc.org). Students’ and volunteers’ work will be monitored, and approved before appearing on the site, and those who qualify will receive a recommendation for their great work, as resume building is important for future endeavors. Start and end dates can be discussed and are flexible. The time requirement can also be discussed, but travel is not necessary as writing articles can be done at home or school to accommodate your schedule. If you are local, occasional meetings may be necessary and beneficial.
There is also the occasional need to review and update links to resources, update reading lists, and search for innovative advocacy programs that should be included or highlighted.
How to Apply
Please send an email with ‘Internship/Volunteer Position’ in the subject, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal abuse leads to child’s death
Howard Portnoy, August 29, 2011
A Florida couple who failed to care for their pet, which as a result tried to eat their child, is facing serious jail time.
The couple, 21-year-old Jaren Hare and her boyfriend, 34-year-old Charles Darnell, were convicted last month of murder, manslaughter, and child neglect. The pair was not charged with animal abuse even though they neglected to feed their pet, an 8-and-a-half foot Burmese python, for an entire month. The snake was described as severely underweight.
The two also failed to properly house the snake, named Gypsy, which in light of its starvation diet proved to be a deadly mistake. Gypsy, looking for food, slithered into the room and crib of the couple’s 2-year-old toddler and attempted to eat the child whole. The toddler, Shaianna Hare, was crushed to death by the snake’s powerful jaws.
Gypsy’s home, a 200-gallon tank, had only a quilt for a lid. The tank was kept, moreover, just 12 feet from the baby’s room, which on top of everything else had no door that could be closed to keep unwanted visitors out of the room.
During the trial, Hare’s mother testified against her daughter, saying she had warned the couple about their choice of house pet, which even snake enthusiasts agree was a poor choice.
In their defense, Hare and Darnell attempted to make the case that the child’s death was a horrific accident, but the jury refused to buy it. The jury’s foreman told local television station WFTV:
Even under the most remote circumstances, it was possible that the child could be injured. And it was their duty to make sure that there was no possibility that a 2-year-old would be bitten or in any way harmed.
The couple has been sentenced to 12 years in prison each.
“Hot Sauce” Mom Avoids Jail
By Nathan Koppe, August 30, 2011
We bring to a close the case of Jessica Beagley, the Alaska mother convicted last week of child abuse for using hot sauce and a cold shower as punishment on her adopted son.
A judge Monday gave the 36-year-old mother a 180-day jail sentence and fined her $2,500, but the judge suspended imposing those penalties on the condition that Beagley avoid committing any other criminal offenses for three years.
In other words, Beagley will not have to serve jail time or pay a fine so long as she keeps her nose clean for three years.
The Law Blog talked to her attorney William Ingaldson, who said he is pleased with the sentence. “I am happy that there was no jail time or fine to pay,” he said.
While Beagley is on probation for three years, he said, it is an “informal” probation, meaning that Beagley does not need to report to a probation officer. “No one checks on her,” he said.
The judge did order Beagley to undergo counseling, Ingaldson said, adding that his client already had sought out professional help for herself and her children. “Her intention all along was to get help to deal with the issues she had with her kids,” Ingaldson said.
In Russia, where Beagley adopted her son, a Kremlin official voiced mixed feelings about the sentence, Reuters reports.
“I cannot say that this ruling completely satisfies us, but we must accept the verdict,” said Pavel Astahkov, the Kremlin children’s rights ombudsman.
Family Court Evaluator Spied on Employees with Hidden Bathroom Camera
By Peter Jamison Mon., Jun. 27 2011
We’ve written before about growing concerns over the competence, ethics, and eccentricities of psychological experts tasked with making decisions in California’s family courts. These experts make enormously consequential recommendations to judges in disputed child-custody cases, but some question whether the decisions they make are always based on sound methods.
Over the weekend, the Seattle Times published an excellent account of the failings of one such professional: Stuart Greenberg, a forensic psychologist who frequently appeared in criminal trials and child-custody hearings to offer his views. As the Times reports, Greenberg, despite his stature in Washington state courts, had been disciplined years ago for being “incompetent and unethical” by state regulators. He was ultimately arrested for placing a hidden camera in his office bathroom so he could spy on employees for sexual stimulation.
He committed suicide in 2007 after his arrest.
As the Times puts it:
Greenberg had proved such a toxic force — a poison coursing through the state’s court system — that it took more than three years for lawyers and judges to sift through his victims and account for the damage done.
For a quarter century Greenberg testified as an expert in forensic psychology, an inscrutable field with immense power. Purporting to offer insight into the human condition, he evaluated more than 2,000 children, teenagers and adults. His word could determine which parent received custody of a child, or whether a jury believed a claim of sexual assault, or what damages might be awarded for emotional distress.
The paper details two cases where Greenberg, testifying in family court, led to children being improperly removed from their mothers.
The story will sound familiar to anyone who has studied problems in state family courts. In a March cover story, SF Weekly described how Menlo Park psychologist Leslie Packer called a mother’s fears that her daughter was being molested by her ex-husband “paranoid.” The daughter was placed in the full custody of the father, who was later convicted of sexually abusing her.