(Broward County Florida: April 15, 2015) When Jennifer Bush was 9 years old, she was taken by the State and placed into foster care after allegations of Munchausen by Proxy were raised against her mother, Kathy Bush. On the anniversary of the day she was removed from her family, Jennifer is speaking out to say that her mother was not abusive, and offers a message of hope to other children in foster care.

As a young child, Jennifer spent her life in and out of hospitals, struggling with a severe illness that caused intestinal and neurological issues. She underwent about 40 operations, including removal of her gall bladder, appendix and part of her intestines. Doctors struggled to find a solution. The Bush family tried to give Jennifer as normal a life as possible, she enjoyed horseback riding and dance.

Grappling with enormous medical bills, Kathy advocated for health care reform and spoke publicly about her daughter’s illness. Kathy’s efforts made national attention in 1994 when she visited the White House, and testified at congressional hearings. Jennifer met then first lady, Hillary Clinton.

A year later, as Jennifer’s health troubles continued, a health care worker made a report that she suspected Kathy was making the child sick on purpose by giving her extra doses of medicine. Kathy was accused of Munchausen by Proxy – a rare, and controversial, syndrome in which a parent makes a child sick on purpose in order to draw attention and sympathy to themselves.

An investigation was launched that later resulted in Kathy being convicted of aggravated child abuse and fraud; she spent 3 years in prison.

Jennifer was taken into State care and spent the next 10 years living in shelter care and foster care. Jennifer says foster care was traumatic. She begged to see her mother. After aging out of the system, Jennifer reunited with her mother, and the rest of her family. She now works as a social worker and says it is her “dream job” to help other children.

 

Jennifer released this statement about her experiences, and offers a message of hope to other children in foster care:

Twenty years ago Today, on April 15, 1995, my life was changed forever.  That was the day that I was taken from my home and my family, but that day has not changed how close my family continues to be.  The ten years I spent in Foster Care were traumatic, and I had some devastating things happen to me. 

However, I persevered because of all of the angels that were there for me during these difficult times.  These people helped shaped the women I have become today. Today, I can proudly say my family is extremely close knit.  We have flourished despite the devastating separation. 

The bond I had with my brothers, prior to being removed from my family, is something that never changed.  My relationship with them helped carry me through my years in foster care.  My parents and I have picked up from where we left off, and have a very close and loving relationship. 

Today, I am living my dream as a social worker, and changing the lives of the children, and families I am working with today.  I am married to my high school sweetheart, who has walked along side me for the past ten years. 

I get a lot of joy making memories with my family, and making a difference in my community.  Although this isn’t always a happy anniversary, it is a day to celebrate my family and who we are today.

My message to foster children:

Growing up in the foster care isn’t an easy task.  Actually, the odds are often against you to be succeed in life. 

I challenge you to rise up against those odds, and be the very best you can be with the circumstances you are facing.  Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to get the extra help that is offered, you will be thankful that you did in the future. 

There were many times that it would have been easier to give up, but its persevering against the odds that makes it even more fulfilling.  

Speak up for yourself, be your biggest advocate, and be proactive. At the end of the day we owe it to ourselves. Don’t let your current circumstance shape your future, and never doubt yourself!

With respect,

Jennifer Bush

 

Read More: 

Mother Abused Girl, Broward Jury Decides (Sun Sentinel)

‘Munchausen’ victim misses mom (By Associated Press, 2005)

‘She didn’t abuse me’: Woman taken from her family aged nine and her mother jailed in high-profile Munchausen-by-proxy case speaks out for the first time, 19 years on

 

Charleston, South Carolina, September 2016The Charleston Police Department arrested  Kevin Michael Wesley Jr, 30, a Berkeley County School District bus driver, on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

In September 2015, Wesley began sending private messages, initiated phone calls and engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14 year old girl. Wesley insisted on secrecy, the molestation could not be hidden once she became pregnant. The teen gave birth a year later.

 

Bond was set at $400k. The terms of release include: “…the judge ordered Wesley to have no contact with the victim, her family members or anyone under 18 without a supervising adult present. The judge told Wesley he can see his own family, including his two boys.” <– QUESTION: Wesley is accused of a sexual crime involving a vulnerable young girl. He used his position as a school bus driver to gain the trust of this girl, and then sexually molested her. The criminal complaint indicates that Wesley was aware that his actions were wrong, and that he could “get in trouble” if he was caught. Clearly Wesley poses a danger to children.

 

How can this judge justify allowing this potentially dangerous predator contact with any children, even his own?? As Wesley has shown, sexual abuse does not always begin with a sexual act but begins with gaining trust and gaining control of the victim. Any form of contact with a child can be used to later exploit or harm that child – physically, mentally, psychologically and sexually.

 

Sex offenders groom not only children but adults are well, and are adept at manipulating people and situations to gain access to their victims, and to gain the trust of those they later exploit. According to The Mama Bear Effect,”People think that grooming a child for sexual abuse is something done in isolation – quite the contrary. Why? By establishing a close relationship with a child in front of others, people are less likely to be suspicious (after all, many believe sexual predators would not be so bold), and secondly, if the adults aren’t suspicious, it creates a false sense of security with the child that they are safe with this person and what they do is acceptable.” The Mama Bear Effect wrote an article titled “There Is No Stereotype For Offenders” that is an excellent source for general information on sexual abuse and the characteristics/red flags of sexual abuse offenders. The article describes the 4 common stages of abuse, and offers tips on how to protect your child as well as tips on how to confront a person whose behavior may be concerning. 

 

Wesley is no longer employed by the school district.

 

The victim’s anguished mother appeared in court during the bond hearing stating,”I felt like she was safe when she got on the bus with him. I had no idea he would prey on her innocence.” An estimated 90% of victims of abuse know their abuser.

Sources: Berkeley County School District bus driver charged with sexual misconduct with minor

Police: School bus driver had baby with student who rode on his bus

 What behaviors might a person who sexually abuses children use to gain trust?

Commentary on Botched 60 Minutes Child Rescue Also Says Alot About Abusive, and Alienating Parents. 

Amy Stockwell’s commentary offers background information about the non-custodial kidnapping of the el-Amien children and offers deeper insight into parents who use children as a pawn in custody disputes. 

“But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with your ex-partner about how to raise your kids, you don’t get to steal them.

You don’t get to arrange an access visit and keep them.

You do not get to use the misogynistic laws of another country to get around the fact that you’re not entitled to permanent custody of your children.

You do not get to keep your ex-partner in prison in order to get the child custody you want.

You do not own your kids…”

Commentary written by Amy Stockwell: 60 Minutes: Ali el-Amine now has everything he wants. Because this case was all about him.

Abusive and alienating parents will lie, manipulate, triangulate and create havoc because their feelings of entitlement or feelings of being right are placed higher than the well-being of their own children.

Children should NOT be used as a pawn, or as a weapon, to wield against a former partner or to be used to further one parent’s agenda or interests.

BACKGROUND: MOTHER SALLY FAULKNER ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE KIDNAPPED CHILDREN IN LEBANON

Sally Faulkner and Children. Source: News Talk ZB http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz

April 2016: Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, was given sole custody of her two children (6 year old Lahela and 3 year old Noah) by an Australian court. Their Lebanese-born father, Ali el-Amien, took the children to a holiday in his home country and never returned – that is kidnapping. However, Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, so it does not have to enforce or acknowledge  the Court’s orders to return the children to Australia.

Ali el-Amien took the children because he was jealous that Faulkner had moved on from their relationship, and was dating another man.

In a desperate attempt to get her children back, Faulkner and a four-member crew from 60 Minutes went to Beirut to attempt to rescue the children, and were arrested in the process.  They faced up to a 20 year sentence in jail.

60 Minutes Team. Clockwise from top left: Tara Brown, David “Tangles” Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson. Source: Facebook Source: Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au

Ali el-Amien’s family has strong political connections in Lebanon’s parliament, and was given custody of the children by a religious court.

After being detained, a deal was struck where no criminal charges would be filed if Faulkner were to relinquish custody of the children, and co-operate in obtaining a religious divorce from el-Amien. The deal was struck after a closed-doors meeting between lawyers representing the parties and the judge.

Faulkner was pregnant at the time, likely agreed to the deal in order to save her unborn child. 

Everybody is happy,” said Nine Network lawyer, Kamal Aboudaher. It is hard to imagine a mother being “happy” to lose custody of her children who will be raised in another country by the father who kidnapped them, and now has total control over both the children and is restricting her access to them.

Channel Nine will also pay a financial settlement, of an undisclosed amount, as a settlement to el-Amien to drop his civil claim. News Corp reports the settlement may be as high as several million dollars. el-Amien says he did not receive financial compensation, and he may be willing to allow a visit between the children and their mother at some time in the future; however he will not allow the children to return to Australia because he is afraid they will not come home (the custody order would be enforced).

Faulkner’s legal rights in Australia mean nothing in Lebanon. Faulkner’s Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab said El-Amien will get everything he wants because he has the legal rights in Lebanon. 

Faulkner was allowed a short visit with her children before leaving Lebanon. Her daughter gave her mother a Barbie ring “so you won’t forget me”.  Faulkner reports that she is overwhelmed with grief due to the loss of her children, and has not had any contact with them. 

Ali el-Amien admitted that the children ask to return to their mother. 

Read More: 

60 Minutes crew face jail term over attempted child ’rescue’ in Lebanon by Janet Fife-Yeomans

60 Minutes: Sally Faulkner’s estranged husband admits children want to be with mum by Latika Bourke, Ruth Pollard and Suzan Haidamous

Deal struck in 60 Minutes ‘child-abduction’ case by Latika Bourke

The heartbreaking moment Sally Faulkner had to say goodbye to her now estranged children by Holly Byrnes, with staff writers News Corp Australia Network

‘I call this injustice’: Adam Whittington refused bail with three other men accused over 60 Minutes botched child abduction attempt by Daily Mail

(Marietta. Cobb County, Georgia – June 9, 2016) Monte Tnarg Grant is charged with misdemeanor child abandonment after he abandoned his 5 year old son, La’Monte, at the DFACS office.

Facebook posts suggest that Grant may have abandoned his son because he was tired of being a father: (Feb 10. 2015) “All I want is for my son(LaMonte) to know who his mother is…who knew that it would be a problem? I took care of him 4 years straight, now it’s K— turn. No matter what anybody else got to say/want to say I’m always going to do for my children. I’ve been doing it since #Day1. So all y’all outside folks that got shit to say can #EatAD–   s/o to A— & LaMonte Grant” Grant also said he was tired of paying child support, and tired of fighting with his ex-girlfriend. 

Public Domain: http://www.clker.com

Grant left La’Monte at the door to DFACS with a note that read “Hi, my name is La’Monte Grant and my mother said she doesn’t want me anymore!!!”. Grant says that he is “not a child beater” but the cruelty of his actions have definitely inflicted a blow to this child at a deep level. La’Monte was found by county employees, who tried to contact his father. La’Monte told the employees that his father had left him there.  After no response from Grant, little La’Monte was taken into protective custody. His mother says that Grant has sole custody of the boy.

What took so long for the state to take La’Monte into protective custody? There are many indicators the child was at risk in his father’s care – Grant has a lengthy criminal record and admits to using drugs and smoking weed. He has also threatened violence against his ex-girlfriend. 

Grant has been previously arrested on charges of aggravated assault, criminal trespass, loitering, drug charges and probation violation.

Just a cursory glance at Grant’s facebook page shows several concerning items that indicate the children are not safe in his care. 

In a video, Grant is driving down the road with 3 young kids in the car who are not buckled into car seats. Grants is ranting about his ex-girlfriend, swearing, and making derogatory comments with the children present (who can be heard screaming in the background) for 10 minutes. Not once did Grant check on the children to see why they are crying, instead his voice gets louder to drown them out. It is painful to hear the anger in Grant’s voice, and hear his nasty comments, and know that 3 innocent children are listening to all of this.

Grant’s facebook refers to women in two ways – in vulgar comments about sex, other comments have to do with fights and escalating tension between his ex-girlfriend. Grant posted this threatening remark about his ex-girlfriend in Jan 2013 to Facebook: I got love for ya cause you gave them birth,but I dnt like you though b/c you stay talking shit&never back it up all them bitches nd hoes you were calling me were uncalled for cause ppl that knw me well can tell ya I’ve NEVER been that. Since ya mouth wanna be fly you done fucked up now&unleashed the demons in me all I see is Darkness. Just knw when I see you…PREPARE TO GET SPIT ON #B—

Monte Grant threatens ex-girlfriend. His children have witnessed many of Grant's tirades against the mother, and heard his derogatory comments.

Monte Grant threatens ex-girlfriend. His children have witnessed many of Grant’s tirades against the mother, and heard his derogatory comments.

Studies consistently have proven that violence perpetrated against a mother in a relationship creates a high risk for abuse against a child. “Multiple studies have demonstrated the dramatically elevated rate of child physical abuse (review in McGee, 2000) and child sexual abuse (e.g. McCloskey, Figueredo, & Koss, 1995; Sirles & Franke, 1989; Paveza, 1988) by batterers. This risk may increase post-separation from the mother’s inability to monitor the batterer’s parenting and from the retaliatory tendencies of many batterers.” (Bancroft and Silverman)

Grant has not only making negative comments about the ex-girlfriend to his 5 year old son, but also encouraged the child to disrespect, and talk bad about his mother – which is emotional abuse. Grant referred to his ex-girlfriend as “the bitch” and the “f– mama ” in front of his children. He also made graphic comments about having sex with his ex-girlfriend in front of the children.

On Jan. 29 2013, Grant posted: “I told La’Monte when u get of age & your mom try to talk to u…. Throw a SACK OF BOONKIE DOONKIE in her face, when she ask “Why u do that?” Say “B/c u use to treat me like SHIT!”

There are also many pictures (and video) of Grant smoking weed posted to his facebook timeline. Grant brags that he is “always toasted”, and proudly wears a shirt with a marijuana leaf on the front. More from facebook:

Monte Grant refers to himself as a "pothead" and says he is "forever blowing herbs".

Monte Grant refers to himself as a “pothead” and says he is “forever blowing herbs”.

Harding working father of the year making his money

Harding working father of the year making his money

Other pictures where Grant is posing with bottles of booze, and bragging about getting drunk and high.

Monte Grant gets drunk and high (facebook)

Monte Grant gets drunk and high

 

Others in which Grant is throwing up gang signs (no I will not post that nonsense!)

 

Monte Grant says his ex girlfriend is a bad mom, and then abandons his own son at a county office (facebook)

Monte Grant says his ex girlfriend is a bad mom, and then abandons his own son at a county office

There has been an outpouring of public support and sympathy for La’Monte. I hope and pray that he is happy, and well-cared for. This child has been through alot and deserves to have a chance at experiencing a normal childhood.

 

Add’l Sources:

Cops: Father drops off 5-year-old son at county DFACS office, leaves/

ASSESSING RISK TO CHILDREN FROM BATTERERS – Lundy Bancroft & Jay G Silverman

(Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 2016) – Balenga Kalala masterminded a plot to have his wife Noela Rukundo kidnapped and killed… miraculously Noela survived to crash her own funeral.

Read the Full Story at:

Spared by the hitmen with principles by Richard Hooper (BBC)

Wife crashes her own funeral, horrifying her husband, who had paid to have her killed by Sarah Kaplan (WP)

Balenga Kalala, of Melbourne, paid a team of hitmen to kill his wife. Source: http://www.goldrushnews247.com/

Noela is the mother of 3 children, who had experienced abuse from Balenga throughout her marriage, she said, “I knew he was a violent man. But I didn’t believe he can kill me.”

Balenga pleaded guilty to the crime and will spend 9 years in prison but Noela’s ordeal is not over… she is now being harassed by many in Melbourne’s African community, who blame her for Balenga’s conviction.

Despite what she has been through, Noela says she will be strong, and rebuild her life.

 

 

Source: ABC News – Oscar Pistorius Leaves Court

Johannesburg, South Africa: Oscar Pistorius will be released from the maximum security Kgosi Mapuru II prison on October 20th, after only serving 10 months after being convicted of manslaughter in the brutal death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. It was believed Reeva was preparing to leave Oscar, and end the relationship, when she was murdered.

The parole board decided to release Pistorius even before he served a sixth of his sentence, as required by law. Pistorius will be moved to correctional supervision, a form of house arrest. He will be staying with an uncle, living in a posh mansion.

Pistorius says that he wants to work with children. (Shudder) I think that all women and children should avoid Pistorius.

South African state prosecutors have filed an appeal to overturn the manslaughter charge, claiming the killing was intentional, and seeking a more severe charge.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Rest in Peace Reeva Steenkamp. Before her death, Reeva planned to give a speech about domestic violence, and offer her insights after being involved “in an abusive relationship in the past”. Reeva never had the opportunity to give her speech, but we can all carry on her memory, by raising awareness against domestic violence, and working to prevent abuse.

My thoughts: THIS IS NOT JUSTICE! Oscar Pistorius is an abuser and cold blooded killer, he deserves no less than life in prison. He gunned Reeva down, while she was locked in a bathroom, a place she could not escape from as he fired his gun through the door again and again and again.

The public will be at risk with Pistorius released from jail. Domestic violence is almost always a repeat offense. Perpetrators abuse and commit violent acts again and again. Pistorius has served 10 months in jail, and certainly has not shown any remorse for his crimes, nor accepted responsibility for his role in Reeva’s death. Even now he plays the victim

Justice should be enforced by the public, in a strong show that domestic violence, and murder, will not be tolerated. Do not support Pistorius! Do not buy any books or media he produces. Do not watch his TV interviews or buy magazines that he has interviewed with. Do not attend public events in which Pistorius is featured. Do not support charities that endorse Pistorius. Pistorius should be publicly shunned.

Sources:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/oscar-pistorius/11934052/Oscar-Pistorius-is-going-home.-Reeva-Steenkamp-is-not.html

Reeva Steenkamp’s family pay tribute on her birthday as Oscar Pistorius is told he will stay in prison

October 3, 2015, Saint Paul, Minn: When Shatavia Jackson attempted to drop her children off to spend the day with their father (name withheld), he refused to care for them. Shatavia insisted that the father take the children, and left the children at the house, as she began to pull away in her SUV her ex jumped onto the roof of the vehicle.

Now riding on top of the SUV, the ex was reportedly heard screaming and pounding on the driver’s side window. Shatavia kept on driving, travelling 9 miles through the city before driving onto a highway, reaching speeds up to 70 mph, with her ex still clinging to the SUV. When Shatavia exited the highway, a physical altercation ensued. The father narrowly escaped being maced, and despite the ordeal, was unharmed. It has not been reported if Shatavia sustained any injuries.

Multiple witnesses called 911. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Shatavia. She has been charged with felony domestic assault, driving after suspension and operating a vehicle with expired registration.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about this incident, but what really resonated with me were the common issues that many people involved in divorce or custody disputes face. I am going to address those issues in a few insights on what can be learned from this near tragedy. If you have anything else to add, please leave your comments.

What we can learn from this incident:

1) It is not worth it – ever – to go to jail over some drama with your ex partner, or to risk your own happiness and chances in life for an ex. X your ex! When a relationship ends, look at it as a fresh start for you. If you have children with that person, and are co-parenting, you will have some communication, and dealings, with your ex. Be sure to maintain healthy boundaries, and to release ties to the past (and to that person) that are holding you back. It is possible to heal, and mature – you do not have to repeat past mistakes, or relive the drama.

2) If your ex partner says that they do not want the children in their life, they do not want to care for the children or refuse to take the children during their parenting time, do not attempt to force a relationship or force parenting time. If someone is that adverse to caring for, and spending time with, their own children it is a sign that something is seriously wrong. It is not safe to leave your children in the care of someone who shows so little concern for their well being. Document the incidents, and if needed, seek professional and/or legal advice.

3) Do not put your children in the middle of adult drama, fights or conflicts. Similarly, do not expose children to adult conversations, or tell children about personal business (for example gossiping to a child about the other parent, telling the children details of your divorce or custody dispute, making a child feel responsible for adult issues like paying bills, etc). Exposure to domestic violence and other adult conflicts is traumatic to children, and can cause psychological, behavioral and emotional damage.

4) Reach out for help. If you are struggling with a family issue, or struggling with a parenting issue, reach out for help or support. Call United Way 211 for resources. Churches are also a great place for resources and support. Ask a friend or family member for advice. Seek help from a community organization. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, not all battles can be fought alone. A football game is not won by just one player on the team, sometimes a team effort is needed. So be open to accepting help.

My heart and prayers go out to the children involved. That Shatavia Jackson was willing to leave her children with a person who clearly expressed that he did not want to take care of them is appalling. How do you drive away from your children with no thought to their safety? And that the father would so openly reject his children, and communicate to the children that they are not wanted, is also appalling. I hope that the children are now in an environment now that is safe, and with people who will show them appropriate love and care. I hope these children get to enjoy their childhood – and will not have to worry or be exposed to adult problems. And I hope these children are given positive messages and love – that they know how special they are, and that someone really looks out for their best interest.

 

Read More:

Man jumps on SUV’s roof, driver takes off.. by Chao Xiong, “Star Tribune”

Bulletin Ramsey Co Sheriff’s Dept