Re: Case: C11-15824 Lenna Gordon vs. Russell Carlton
To: Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
To whom it may concern:
This Amicus Brief is being offered to the court by Leora Rosen, Ph.D. I have been involved in this case since March 2009, when I was brought into it as an advocate for a victim of domestic violence involved in custody litigation. The victim in this case was Valerie Carlton, mother of Winnifer Carlton, daughter of Petitioner Lenna Gordon, and ex-wife of Respondent Russell Carlton. My curriculum vitae are attached (see EXHIBIT 1).
I am offering my expertise both as an advocate and as a material witness to certain events in this case that took place after April 2009. With reference to the letter from Respondent to the Court dated December 10, 2010, I would like to make the Court aware of certain observations:
1) The Defendant makes reference to three cases in Harford County – one civil and the other two -- criminal. He also makes reference to a protective order pertaining to charges of sexual abuse. The Defendant fails to mention that this protective order was obtained fraudulently based on false charges of sexual abuse made against Ms. Carlton, made by the Defendant himself and his mother, specifically in order to gain an advantage in a custody battle, and more specifically, to excise the mother from her child’s life. The protective order, moreover, was made after a “mandated report of suspected child ab-use” was made by a teacher in Anne Arundel County, who noticed the child Winnifer masturbating, and who, upon Russell Carlton’s directions, phoned that suspected abuse report in not to the county that she was legally required to report to (Anne Arundel) but to a different county (Harford County). Thus, Harford County conducted an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of Winnifer, who lived in Anne Arundel County and whose school (where the signs of suspected abuse were allegedly observed) was also in Anne Arundel County. Obviously, if Ms. Carlton were able to afford a proper attorney, he or she would have easily vacated the entire protective order and quite possibly sought damages for interference with parental rights, as well. The reason that did not happen was that the false allegations catapulted Ms. Carlton from being a falsely accused parent to being a falsely arrested indigent unfortunately “represented” by a public defender who failed to seek a remedy.
2) The Defendant also fails to mention that not only did Harford County CPS lack jurisdiction to investigate the mandated report phoned in to the wrong county, but also furthermore, it used improper and unethical procedures in the investigation. These improprieties are discussed in a letter by Mr. Wilfred Candler to Mr. David Ladd, of Anne Arundel County CPS (See EXHIBIT 2). Furthermore, the Harford County prosecutor drew 28 felony charges against Ms Carlton based on two interviews (one of Winnifer, who denied all abuse by her mother, and another by a five-year-old neighbor whose mother was known to law enforcement and to Child Protective Services for having previously made false allegations of sexual abuse against various family members to “get even”.) These two interviews were analyzed by Mark J. Mills, JD, MD, a nationally recognized expert in determining true from false allegations of sexual abuse. (Dr. Mills’ CV is attached as EXHIBIT 3) This forensic psychiatrist completely invalidated the flights of fancy that had led the Harford County prosecutor to draw the sensational charges of child sexual abuse. (Please see EXHIBIT 4 – Mills re-port dated January 2010.) Please also note that nowhere in the protective order, the charges, the mandated abuse report, or the interviews and inves-tigation conducted by Harford County, was there any mention of danger, abuse, neglect, or harm attributable in any way to Petitioner Lenna Gordon. Not one negative word was spoken about her throughout this lengthy dra-matic proceeding.
3) Kindly note that 28 felony charges were lodged against Ms. Carlton (including the sexual abuse of her daughter, even though Winnifer denied them and said in her interview that she wanted to see her mother more) after an interview in which Winnifer did mention actual abuse – by other individuals. She named a neighbor (for sexual touching her repeatedly in the shower), her father (for frequent and hurtful spanking, while demanding that she not cry) and an older male cousin (for frequently masturbating in front of her to the extent that she did not like him because he “played with his pee pee”). These allegations, clearly and credibly made by the child during the CPS interview, were never investigated. A transcript of the interview of Winnifer Carlton by Leanda Daniels, and a table translating the so-called “inaudibles,” are both provided (EXHIBITS 5 and 6) as is the actual videotape of the interview of Winnifer Carlton (EXHIBIT 7.)
4) The Respondent also fails to mention that the 28 felonies were nolle prossed last June 30th 2010. The Defendant may not know – and thus I am informing the court – that the Harford County State’s Attorney rushed to nolle prosse the charges immediately after I filed a credible bar complaint against them with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, charging them with ethical violations in the Carlton case.
5) The Respondent mentions that he has a good relationship with Winnifer’s maternal aunt and uncle, the Judds, and he implies that it is therefore quite safe for Winnifer to visit with these people. Mr. Carlton seems to have a strange notion of “safety,” however, since it was in the care of the Judds that Winnifer’s baby brother, Max Carlton, was found suffocated to death on June 11, 2009. The death of that child was the subject of a felony child endangerment prosecution in Delaware, where the negligent death took place while the baby was in the foster care of the Judds. Worse, they continued to employ the woman who was convicted of the negligent death of their infant nephew.
6) The Defendant states that he received information from the Maryland State Police that they had received an anonymous tip that Ms Carlton was trying to hire a hit man to kill him. I should point out to the court that anyone could make a crank call to the police – especially if there is some “intended consequence” that helps a person to achieve civil goals by means of a criminal proceeding. Furthermore, I am a witness to the fact that Winnifer Carlton – at the age of six (and therefore obviously being directed to do so by an adult) made crank calls to my cell phone shortly after her mother’s release from jail. When the call was picked up, Winnifer asked someone in the background: “what do you want me to say?” Most likely this “someone” was her father, the Respondent. Clearly this was an act of cruelty to a child who had not seen her mother in over a year and was now being used to make crank calls to the person with whom she was staying, upon her release from unlawful incarceration. I believe it is highly likely that Mr. Carlton or someone acting on his behalf also made the “anonymous call” to the Maryland State Police, if that even happened. I notice that no actual evidence of such an act appears. In fact, it is likely that an investigation into this matter will result in the police denying any such investigation because there is no evidence.
7) Finally, the Respondent correctly claims that Winnifer’s mother was charged with assaulting a correctional officer. While this case is still open, I cannot say much about it, except to draw the court’s attention to a You-Tube video of the “assault” which clearly shows that Ms. Carlton, not the officer, was the victim.
8) Most significant, for any agency or court that is trying to determine what is in the best interests of Winnifer Carlton, it would be very important to not allow this decision to rest with the Respondent (who clearly does not want his ex-wife to ever visit her daughter again) and/or his agents (a therapist who believes he should be the “decider” about how his daughter responds to suggestions when, clearly, she is afraid of him, a teacher who dutifully calls in suspicions of abuse when a six-year-old masturbates in school but who, now, two years later, is not phoning anybody with suspicions of abuse although we hear from Respondent himself that his daughter still masturbates in school). In fact, attached to this amicus brief is an interesting e-mail exchange (EXHIBIT 8), in which a neighbor of Respondent (and mother of the child Winnifer says molested her often in the shower) admits that Winnifer has continued to say that she wants to see her mother, but that leads the neighbor to call the child “manipulative.” Very obviously, the child (who is intelligent; we know that from the teacher) understands that her expressing her desire to see her mother or, in this case, her grandmother, is a very disfavored action, one that her father will probably punish. And since she does not believe that anyone will protect her from such punishment, she clearly cannot speak freely to her father, his neighbor, the therapist he has chosen for her, or anyone she believes will report to him.
9) Respondent closes his letter with the thought that his daughter has been through much too much turmoil. It is obvious that he wants the agency or court to blame Lenna Gordon somehow for that turmoil, and to assume the facts not in evidence that she would cause more turmoil if she were to visit her granddaughter. Yet Jill and Michael Judd, whom Respondent mentions with approval, allow this same harmless grandmother to visit their own children. What possible excuse could Respondent have to blame Ms. Gordon for turmoil that his daughter has endured? Were Respondent to use simple logic rather than dramatic rhetoric, it would be clear that there is no harm to come to the child from seeing her grandmother, and very possibly she could suffer harm from being deprived of her grandmother’s love and support.
10) A final point: In November 2009, two Maryland Public Defenders -- Roger Malik Esquire and Kelly Casper Esquire -- filed a motion in Harford County Circuit Court claiming that Respondent’s allegations against his ex wife, Valerie Carlton, mother of Winnifer Carlton, were not only false, but were made in retaliation to a CINA petition filed in Anne Arundel County by Ms Carlton (see EXHIBIT 9). Indeed, the timing of the Respondent’s allegations is extremely revealing. Valerie Carlton filed an Emergency Petition for Relief in Anne Arundel County on February 27th, 2009 (Case # 02C09138970). Three weeks later, Respondent had charged his ex wife with sexually abusing their daughter, Winnifer and had obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against her in Harford County.
In summary, while I do not have facts available from a current evaluation of Winni-fer’s actual state of mind (and they may not even be available to the agency in Anne Arundel County responsible for her welfare or to a court deciding issues in her best interests), I believe the facts that we do have show that the Respondent’s position in all matters having to do with his child having visitation or contact with her mother and her grandmother has been quite suspect for a long time. He has been working through neighbors, teachers, therapists, even children who are friends of his daughter’s, to try to make sure that she has no contact with her mother, ever, for any reason, and he obviously wants that to extend to her maternal grandmother because Lenna Gordon has not joined his campaign to “protect” his daughter from having two parents.
In my opinion, Respondent’s position in this matter is an example of the most seri-ous form of anti-parent behavior that a divorcing person can exhibit, including not only false allegations, but also the involvement of other people’s children in manufacturing false police reports and false official statements. This kind of conduct is dishonest, deceitful, and indicative of an emotionally abusive environment that is certainly not in any child’s best interests.
Surely this child is now frightened to express her real desire to see her grandmother, since she has been isolated and manipulated for so long. She knows that her father launched a terror campaign against her mother, and this is surely terrifying to her as well. Harford County’s complicity in this campaign makes them totally un-suitable to make ongoing rulings in this case. Furthermore, none of the parties involved in the custody situation for this child currently lives in Harford County or holds property there. It would be much less indicative of corruption, and much more appropriate for any investigation of Winnifer’s best interests, if the Anne Arundel Circuit Court were to exercise its appropriate jurisdiction of this custody case and appoint appropriate parties to conduct all necessary evaluations affecting these parties.
In closing, I would hope that the agency or court evaluating Winnifer’s best interests and needs right now would “drop the drama” and see whether there are any abuse or neglect allegations against the Petitioner (I believe there are none) and whether any professional can attribute harm that may have come to this child in the past to a grandma’s visit. Absent either of these kinds of evidence, I fail to see what all the fuss is about. It appears to me that Respondent is merely angry with Lenna Gordon because she does not hate her daughter. That, of course, is not Winnifer’s fault.
Leora N. Rosen, Ph.D. February 16th 2011
11309 Commonwealth Drive
Rockville, MD 20852
LIST OF EXHIBITS
EXHIBIT 1: Leora Rosen’s Curriculum Vitae
EXHIBIT 2: Wilfred Candler’s Letter to David Ladd
EXHIBIT 3: Dr. Mills’ Curriculum Vitae
EXHIBIT 4: Forensic Report on Winnifer Carlton and Natalie Anders Interviews
EXHIBIT 5: Transcript of Winnifer Carlton Interview
EXHIBIT 6: “Inaudibles” of Winnifer Carlton Interview
EXHIBIT 7: DVD of Winnifer Carlton Interview
EXHIBIT 8: Email exchange between Denise Figueiredo and Michelle Etlin
EXHIBIT 9: Motion filed in Harford County Circuit Court by Roger Malik and Kelly Casper