Woman loses custody of son after claims of sex abuse unfounded
A Maple City woman has lost custody of her child after repeatedly accusing his father of child sexual abuse.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Power handed down his Circuit Court, Family Division decision in the civil case, which has been ongoing for about a year, on Aug. 3, giving immediate primary physical care and custody to the child’s father, who lives in Traverse City. Power further ordered that all time the child and his mother spend together be supervised. The civil case was tried in Leelanau County Circuit Court, Family Division.
Because no criminal charges have been filed and to protect the identity of the child, the names of the involved parties are not being published. The child is five years old.
Though the mother made multiple criminal allegations against the father, no charges were ever brought, said Eric W. Phelps, the father’s Traverse City-based attorney.
“There was no basis to allegations made by the mother, but rather that the allegations were being made to harass the father and to interfere with his relationship with his son,” Phelps said.
Despite “a six-day trial, 21 witnesses, more than 40 documents entered as evidence — including detailed reports from police, Child Protective Services — it is our opinion that the court carefully considered all evidence and rendered an appropriate decision,” Phelps said.
Kathleen King O’Brien is the mother’s attorney.
“I think it is outrageous,” O’Brien said of Power’s decision. “I think it shows that the judge is a tyrant and that he is very callous. He has no concern for this little boy whatsoever.”
While both parents have joint legal custody of the child, all decisions regarding treatment of his physical and mental health are to be made by his father, according to court records. Supervised visits by the mother are to be for two hours twice a week at the Child and Family Services Safe Haven in Traverse City. The staff will observe the visits and report to Friend of the Court and to the family therapist any incidents of the child’s mother coaching or badgering the child to give her information about the child’s time with his father or any other inappropriate interrogation of the child, according to the court file. The child’s mother will also be responsible to pay fees incurred for supervised visits.
Power, in his decision, also wrote that it is his goal that the mother’s parenting time become more generous and unsupervised. “This, however, is dependent upon Plaintiff (the child’s mother) gaining insight into the harmful effects her coaching and badgering behaviors have upon (the child) and modifying those behaviors,” Power wrote.
Power also assigned a family therapist for the child and the child is not to be taken to any other counselor without the approval of the counselor assigned to the case. Both parents are ordered to participate in counseling, according to court files.