May 21, 2016

Update on Current Hearings

[Sorry in advance for the funny spacing.]
I am going to write a very brief summary of what took place during the May 4th & 5th phone hearings. There have been a lot of things happening over the past month & as soon as I prepare an update, it seems to be overtaken by a new order. I have attached the public audio files of the hearings, which can be found on Utah Family Law TV's YouTube channel. I highly recommend reviewing these audio files if you have ANY question of what went on in the hearings, however if you don't have time then please read the short summary below:

Since it's been a little while--remember that on April 13th Judge Johnson gave my father ONE WEEK to have my sisters placed in a neutral home in Kansas, that the girls should be immediately taken out of the controversial Pruter program, and that they needed an evaluation done by an agreed-upon, legitimate therapist.

Essentially, on May 4th the Court was presented with the information that my mom had neither seen nor heard from Sydney and Dani, despite many attempted supervised phone calls since April 13th. The GAL's document was also given to the court, where she detailed a highly worrisome trail of my father continually blocking her from speaking to her clients, etc. since April 13th. Judge Johnson did not request that Sydney and Dani be removed from his home as she had previously ordered, but she did arrange a time for my sisters to go to their bishop's home that night to have a phone call with their GAL (they would then go back to our dad's home, after speaking to her and knowing it was going to be presented in court and Brian was going to hear it all). It was determined that there would be a hearing the next morning, where the GAL would present what Sydney and Dani said.

On May 5th, the GAL presented what my sisters said, and it greatly concerns me. First of all, they stated multiple times that they wanted to say more, but were afraid of the "negative repercussions". They felt like they couldn't say their truth of how things were going. They said that they had been extremely "roughed up" and "traumatized" when they were taken from Slate Canyon. They said they wanted the "truth to come out" but repeatedly talked about the repercussions if they remained in Brian's home. They said that they didn't want to hurt anyone and wanted our dad and Angie to know they loved them, however they wanted to be taken out of his home NOW. They begged for an evaluation to be done, to prove that they aren't lying (which means many adults must be telling them they're liars). 

They said they also loved me and our mom very much. Sydney told the GAL that the last order that Brian showed her was the 90-day Restraining Order, which hasn't been in affect for months. Sydney had been told (and still believed) that she wasn't allowed to have any contact with her mom or older sister. Syd and Dani believed that they were alone in dealing with this nightmare, and they had no clue that anyone was fighting for them. They are most likely never alone and watched constantly. They even have a counselor at school, who is not a school counselor. They have zero access to the outside world--the only site they can be on is the school website. (In other cases where children are put in this program, the therapists or parents instruct the school that they are not allowed to be on the internet and the school aids in the restriction.)

Jarom Bishop (our father's attorney) made one argument on May 5th: that it is Brian's "constitutional rights" to have Sydney and Dani not be placed (even temporarily) in another home while they're evaluated. Going against the previous order, Judge Johnson ruled that Syd and Dani will still be evaluated, but they will not leave his home.

It gets more horrific: Last week, Jarom Bishop filed to remove the GAL. He and my father succeeded. The only court authority that had met with my sisters, who they trusted, is no longer able to protect them. My father has claimed since the first few hearings that the GAL was biased. This is so far from the truth! He wanted her off of the case because Sydney and Dani's desires do not coincide with his. They are the GAL's clients, and she was doing her job in giving them a voice in court.

My heart is breaking and my head is sorely confused. I have never seen a judge not only do nothing when an order is violated on all accounts, but go back on the order in favor of the parent who committed the violations. Sydney and Dani are now out of school in Topeka, and with our abuser 24/7. We have still heard nothing from them. They were not allowed to call their mother on Mother's Day. I doubt we will be able to wish Sydney a happy birthday in three days. 

I'm disappointed in our legal system and the major lack of hearing children's voices. Yes, it's true that the 4th District Court is more of a divorce court and doesn't typically hear the children's side as much as the Juvenile Court--but we fought and fought in Juvenile, and look what happened. Judge Bartholomew sent them back, without letting them speak or hearing the abuse petition that I've tried to have heard in court since June 2014! The 4th District Court needs to do something before these girls--my sisters--are irreparably harmed.

All of this may be heavy for you to read and soak in. I commend those of you who cared enough to make it to the end. I wish that we had better news to offer. We are not giving up hope and many supporters are sacrificing their lives along with us to search for what can be done. I'm always praying for a better outcome. I know beyond a doubt that Sydney and Dani's case will one day be a great example of how the system fails children. We must continue to pray and work towards a better tomorrow for them!

Click here to listen to the May 4th phone hearing.
Click here to listen to the May 5th phone hearing.