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Teenager sues for being placed with a sex offender.


Teen sues county for placing her in custody of sex offender grandfather

Teen sues county for placing her in custody of sex offender grandfather


Posted on April 9, 2010 at 12:02 PM


(ABC News) - A Washington state teen is suing for millions of dollars in damages after she said a family court investigator "ruined her life" by knowingly sending her to live with her grandfather, a convicted sex offender who proceeded to abuse her nearly every day for a decade.
In court documents filed late last month, the unidentified teen claimed that she was just six years old when Cowlitz County Family Court Services investigator Mark Workingor took her from her mother and placed her in a home with her father and grandparents.
The teen said in the court documents that it happened in spite of her own father warning Workingor that his father, Vernil Jones, had been convicted of sodomizing a 10-year-old girl.
"She went through 10 years of incest of every kind almost daily by her grandfather," said Lincoln Beauregard, the attorney representing the teen.
"The bottom line is, regardless of where she lived, she should not have lived with a pedophile," said Beauregard.
Jones since has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the assaults against the teen.
Attempts to reach Workingor were unsuccessful, and messages left for Ron Marshall, the Cowlitz County's chief civil deputy prosecutor, were not immediately returned.
Marshall told The Daily News in Washington that while he had no comment on the pending litigation, Workingor no longer was working for the county.
Teen Spent 10 Years With Abusive Grandfather Despite Warnings
Outlined in the court documents is the sequence of events that led to the teen being placed under the same roof as Jones.
In March 1999, the teen's father petitioned the court for custody of the then-6-year-old. According to the court documents, the father told authorities that he was worried that the teen's mother "neglects the child's supervision, nutrition and hygiene" and had a "history of drug use."
The father also claimed that his daughter suffered from "chronic head lice infestations" because of the "filthy home" the mother kept, according to the court documents.
The investigator found that while the teen's mother had provided the majority of the teen's care since she was born, she was doing so inadequately and awarded primary custody to the father.
Also included in the investigator's recommendation was that any contact between the child and the sex offender grandfather "be supervised by either the father or the paternal grandmother."
The teen's lawyer referred to that recommendation as "outrageous," and called the county's decision to place the child with Jones "egregious."
The teen's lawyer said that his client decided to bring her case to the public's attention in hopes of helping other children like her who have become victims because of the "egregious actions" of Cowlitz County.
"She hopes that bringing visibility to her case will be a form of justice to her," said Beauregard.

Men's murderous revenge

Men's murderous revenge

Debbie Kirkwood
March 31, 2011
Illustration: Spooner

Illustration: Spooner

It's not angst over custody: fathers kill their children to punish their ex-partners.

Since Arthur Freeman was found guilty of murdering his four-year-old daughter, Darcey, much of the media focus has been on the distress of fathers going through separation and custody disputes. There has been a call for more support for fathers.

However, we must ask ourselves whether we are losing sight of the victims and, more importantly, whether this is the best approach to preventing these deaths from occurring in the future.

While the community understandably struggles to comprehend a parent killing a child, our research shows that these are not inexplicable tragedies. There is a particular type of filicide (the killing of children by parents) that occurs in the context of the separation of the parents.

In these ''spousal revenge'' cases - as recognised by the Freeman jury - fathers kill their children to punish their ex-partners. There is usually no prior violence against the children. In fact, they appear to love their children. The act of killing is directed towards harming the child's mother. The motive is revenge.

In the case of Freeman and Robert Farquharson (found guilty of three counts of murder of his sons Bailey, Tyler and Jai, aged two to 10, who drowned in a dam near Winchelsea), both fathers indicated that they wished to punish their ex-partner. Shortly before killing Darcey, Freeman told his ex-wife to say goodbye to her children and that she would never see them again - clearly to make her suffer. Farquharson told a friend that he would make his ex-wife suffer by taking what mattered to her most - her children.

Contrary to some claims, these cases are not about fathers losing access to their children. The reality is that in both cases, the fathers had access to their children and, in both cases, killed them during it.

There is no logic to the thinking that if a person is distressed about not spending enough time with their kids they would decide to kill them.

If, however, they are consumed with anger and hatred towards their ex-partner and wish to hurt them, then it is, tragically, a very effective means to do so.

The killing of the children in such cases should be recognised as a form of violence against the mother. We need to explore the relationship between the parents in order to understand the killing of children. In particular, the father's attitudes and behaviour towards the mother before, and after, separation must be examined. VicHealth has clearly identified the underlying causes of violence against women as including belief in rigid gender roles and a masculine sense of entitlement.

What we really need to challenge is the sense of entitlement that some men have over their families, an entitlement that leads them to believe that their partner has no right to leave them and no right to form a new relationship, and that punishing her is justified because of the suffering they themselves experience.

The current focus of commentary suggests that men are victims of the family law system. The mothers seem to be implicitly blamed for the distress their partners experienced when they left them.

Let's be clear: the first and foremost victims here are the children whose lives are taken. The mothers, whose children have died in perhaps the worst way imaginable, are also the victims, as are remaining siblings and other family members. Darcey Freeman's mother, Peta Barnes, had expressed concerns about the safety of her children before Darcey's death. She also expressed concerns about Arthur Freeman's ''anger management issues'' and mood swings. It is important that such concerns are heard and responded to appropriately by a broad range of professionals coming into contact with separating parents, as well as by family and friends.

The family law process must make children's safety its absolute priority. Importantly, the federal government has a family law bill before Parliament that prioritises the safety of children in family law matters.

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria acknowledges that separation and family breakdown can be incredibly difficult for parents. Parents should be assisted to deal with separation and encouraged to take responsibility for their behaviour. As a community, we need to focus on building positive and respectful relationships.

We support the call for greater services and support. We ask that these services be equipped to identify and respond to risks to the safety and wellbeing of children and their parents. We need to ensure there is accurate and reliable screening and risk assessment for all forms of family violence. These cases demonstrate that the risk of harm to children is closely linked to risks of harm to the mother.

Cases such as Freeman's have a profound impact on the community and we are right to search for answers. Unfortunately, there has been very little research on parents who kill their children in the past decade in Australia. If we are to find ways to prevent these deaths, we need a far better understanding of why and how they occur.

Dr Debbie Kirkwood is a researcher at the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria and is writing a paper on filicide in the context of parental separation.

Darcy's murderer gets sentenced

Sentenced to life, bridge killer lets fly with bizarre courtroom rant

Thomas Hunter
April 11, 2011
Arthur Freeman sentenced to life in prison for throwing his daughter off the West Gate Bridge.

A Melbourne father who murdered his daughter by throwing her off the West Gate Bridge had to be forcibly removed from the dock following a bizarre courtroom outburst just moments after being handed a life sentence.

Arthur Phillip Freeman, who tossed four-year-old Darcey Freeman 58 metres to her death two years ago, will not be eligible for release until January 29, 2041 after Victorian Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan set a non-parole period of 32 years.

Freeman was last month found guilty by a jury.

Darcey Freeman.

Darcey Freeman. Photo: Supplied

He had stood motionless as he was being sentenced while his former wife Peta Barnes also showed no emotion.

Later, Freeman, 37, began ranting about a Barnes family member’s involvement in the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia and had to be pulled from the dock by three security staff.

In handing down his sentence, Justice Coghlan said he had no doubt Freeman's behaviour at a family court hearing - when he broke down and sobbed - "was a result of your realising the enormity and awfulness of what you have done".

Arthur Freeman arrives at the Supreme Court during the trial.

Arthur Freeman arrives at the Supreme Court during the trial. Photo: Jason South

"[Darcey's] last thoughts bear not thinking about. Her death must have been painful," he said.

"[The] killing [was done] in the presence of your sons Ben, who was six, and son Jack, who was two at the time. The community hopes he will be too young to remember.

"You used your daughter to hurt your former wife as profoundly as possible. You chose a place remarkably public and would have the most dramatic impact."

Justice Coghlan said he was not satisfied Freeman's behaviour showed remorse, that he was self-centred and was "yet to say sorry for what you had done".

He said he was satisfied Freeman continued to lack insight into what he had done and described his prospects for rehabilitation as "bleak".

"I understand that many will say that your crime is so serious in so many respects that I should not impose a non-parole period. That is, you deserve to be locked away for ever. I see the attractiveness of that argument, but the sentencing process is not as simple as that."

Justice Coghlan said he took into account Freeman's age.

"Whatever happens, you will spend what will be regarded by many as the best years of your life in prison. I have come to the conclusion it is appropriate to fix a non-parole period.

"I do not regard you a being beyond redemption. You are only 37 years of age. I've had regard to your mental illness and ... I have taken it into account in deciding both whether I should fix a non-parole period and deciding what that non-parole period should be."

He said Freeman's previous good behaviour, his character references and the support he had from his family were taken into account.

But he said one of the very unfortunate features of the case was that others seemed to "blame themselves for what you have done".

"They should not. You did what you did. You are responsible for it, and nobody else is."

Minutes before the murder, Freeman phoned Ms Barnes and told her to "Say goodbye to your children".

He parked his four-wheel-drive in the left-hand emergency lane of the bridge, coaxed Darcey out of the car and picked her up.

Freeman then carried the child in his arms to the edge of the bridge and threw her over the edge.

During his three-week trial Freeman did not deny killing Darcey, but his barrister argued Freeman was "mad not bad" when he threw her from the bridge.

He pleaded not guilty on the grounds of mental impairment but a jury last month found him guilty of murder.

Neither Freeman’s parents, nor the Barnes family, commented as they left the court.

family puts women and kids at risk

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She once escaped a killer - under today's laws she would still be trapped

Adele Horin
April 7, 2011
Author Helen Cummings

Author Helen Cummings with her daughter, actress Sarah Wynter.

IT WAS the summer of 1976 when Helen Cummings found the courage to leave her violent husband, take the children, pack the car and head for a new life.

Her husband, Stuart Wynter, was a respected doctor but in the privacy of his home he was a tyrant. His tirades, physical abuse, need for absolute obedience and a growing interest in guns finally compelled her to escape. Eight years later, his second wife and their child were not so lucky. He killed them both and then himself.

Now Ms Cummings wonders whether she would leave that marriage today given the Family Law Act's emphasis since the 2006 amendments on children maintaining a ''meaningful relationship'' with both parents. She thinks she would probably stay rather than leave her two children alone with their father in some shared care arrangement the court might order.

elen Cummings, with her daughter, actress Sarah Wynter and son Brendan.

Helen Cummings with her young children

''What scares me is that today I would not have left. It was easier to leave then; family law in the 1970s and 1980s offered a degree of protection to women like me.''

She describes herself as the daughter of a famous mother and the mother of a famous daughter. Her mother was the late Joy Cummings, Australia's first female lord mayor, and mayor of Newcastle from 1974-84; her daughter is the US-based actor Sarah Wynter.

But with the publication of her memoir, Blood Vows (The Five Mile Press), Ms Cummings, 61, is achieving fame herself. Her graphic account sheds light on a particular kind of domestic despot, the middle-class professional, much admired by outsiders, who treats his wife as property. It also shows how a woman can blame herself for a man's violence, look to her own behaviour as a possible trigger and live in fear. And it is a valedictory to Rakentati Wynter, Stuart's second wife, and their four-year-old daughter, Binatia.

Author Helen Cummings

Author Helen Cummings with her husband, Stuart Wynter.

''In writing our story, I hope I've resurrected a little of the life that was taken from them.''

It took Ms Cummings six years to leave. She was 20 when she married, madly in love and in awe. He was a leader in the anti-Vietnam war movement. She was an accomplished singer. They made their home in Gloucester, north of Newcastle, where she devoted herself to Sarah and son Brendan while her husband won the esteem of his patients.

He rarely left bruises but he pushed her through cupboards, held her down to the floor, yanked her hair, chased her with a fishing knife and kept guns. He smashed furniture and, at one time, her precious guitar. More often he ruled through verbal abuse. ''It was like being in a war zone, only in a war zone there are mates to share the experience.''

In today's family court system it would be her word against his, says Ms Cummings, who later worked in the Newcastle registry of the Family Court for 20 years.

She had no proof of his violence and her husband presented so well he could have made out it was she who was unstable. He did not think of fighting for custody then; today he could grasp shared care as a weapon to use against her. ''Today, he would not have let us go so easily,'' she says.

Today she would be required by law to force the children to stay with him even when they were too afraid to go, she says. She would be told that he had never hurt the children. ''Men hurt the children when they hurt their mothers,'' she argues. ''Stuart never hit a child but in the end he took Binatia's life.''

The Labor government recently announced proposed amendments to the Family Law Act that will address some of Ms Cummings's concerns. A Senate committee is assessing them. But she believes the changes do not go far enough and that the court should be given powers and resources to properly investigate claims of violence so that women's and children's lives are not put

From DV Clearing House



Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) releases final Issues Papers for Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws Inquiry


In March 2011, the ALRC released the remaining Issues Papers for comment. Submissions may be made in writing, by email or using the online submission form.


The Immigration Law (IP 37) Issues Paper considers several aspects of the ‘family violence exception’ in the Migration Regulations 1994 and whether the current provisions in the Migration Act 1958 are adequate to protect the safety of refugees experiencing family violence. Closing date is 12 April 2011.—immigration-law-ip-37


The Child Support and Family Assistance (IP 38) Issues Paper addresses the treatment of family violence in child support and family assistance laws. Closing date is 21 April 2011.


The Social Security Law (IP 39) Issues Paper addresses the treatment of family violence in Commonwealth social security law, including income management. Closing date is 27 April 2011.



Family Law Amendment Bill introduced, Senate submissions open


This landmark legislation will provide greater protections for children within the family law system and combat family violence. The proposed amendments will prioritise the safety of children, encourage people to bring forward evidence of family violence and child abuse, and help families, family law professionals and the courts to better identify harmful behaviour through new definitions of ‘family violence’ and ‘child abuse’. On 25 March 2011 the Senate referred the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 for inquiry and report. The Committee is seeking written submissions from interested individuals and organisations by 29 April 2011.


See the Attorney General Media Release, 24 March 2011:


Submission information from the Senate Committee is online at:



Family Law Council reviews needs of Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse clients

The Attorney General has asked the Family Law Council by November 2011 to examine issues facing clients from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in using the family law system. Inquiries and submissions can be directed to Kim Howatson at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



National register for domestic and family violence orders proposed


On 4 March 2011, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General agreed to implement a national scheme for domestic and family violence orders that will improve protection for victims of domestic violence. The proposed scheme, to be applied Australia-wide, will allow a domestic or family violence order (DVO) issued by a court in one jurisdiction to be automatically recognised in other jurisdictions.  Additionally, subject to Police Ministers’ agreement, a national DVO information-sharing capability using CrimTrac’s National Police Reference System will be established and funded.



First annual report on the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children released


The first Annual Report on the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 outlines actions taken in the first year of the National Framework and brings together data that the Council of Australian Governments will use to measure progress in protecting Australia's children.



White Ribbon Blog Launched


The White Ribbon Foundation has launched a blog as an interactive portal for sharing interesting articles on the issue of violence against women and commenting on the Campaign.






Kirkwood D 2011, ‘Men’s murderous revenge’, The Age, 31 March


Karvelas P 2011, ‘Libs back family law backdown’, The Australian, 25 March


Karvelas P 2011, ‘Family law revamp to keep shared care’, The Australian, 24 March


Townsend I 2011, ‘Floods make life tougher for Qld domestic violence victims’, ABC, Radio National Breakfast, 22 March


Byrne S 2011, ‘Wagga brothers against domestic violence’, ABC Riverina NSW, 8 March


Herbet B 2011, ‘Domestic violence costs $13bn a year’, ABC News, 7 March


2011, ‘Financial worries trap abused women’, ABC News, 7 March


Farnsworth S 2011, ‘Wife convicted of defensive homicide’, ABC News, 3 March


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