Mom Commits Suicide Rather than Face Life without Children
"I might never see my children again if I'm prosecuted under a very aggressive judicial system in the States…They cannot extradite a corpse."
Michele, shortly before taking her life in jail while awaiting extradition
“Michele knew with certainty in her soul that she would not receive a fair trial, would be housed indefinitely in a private, for-profit prison, and would serve long years for an alleged offence that provided her no proper defence in Georgia.”
Matthew Behrens, refugee advocate
Michele feared never seeing her children again if extradited from Canada to U.S. on charges of interfering with custody/abducting her children. She was facing a long prison term in Georgia for “abduction”.
Michele had just been arrested and was being readied for extradition when she was found dead in her jail cell of an apparent suicide.
Michele had made it clear she may commit suicide if extradited, saying, “You can’t extradite a corpse.” But this made no difference to authorities. The Supreme Court, in a hotly contested decision, voted 4 to 3 to approve extradition, with the dissenting jusices calling that decision “kafkaesque”.
The Canadian Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould could have stopped the extradition but did not. She had agreed to review the case after an intense social media campaign, which The Women’s Coalition took part in, however, she eventually allowed for the extradition. She has recently resigned amidst a scandal.
Fortunately the case took a long time to wind its way through all the different courts and appeals and her children are now adults, so they cannot be forced to return to their abusive father in Georgia. So the good news is that she was successful in protecting her children, even though she lost her life doing it.
Family Court in Georgia gave sole custody of her three children to their abusive father. The children ran away from his house at ages 9, 10 and 14 and Michele took them to her native Canada.
Her case got a lot of attention and support there and a social media campaign followed. Matthew Behrens, a refugee advocate, covered her case.
FOLLOWING are excerpts from Matthew’s final report on Michele’s case:
The last three weeks of 58-year-old single mother and abuse survivor Michele M's life were spent on the run from a multi-generational history of male violence against women and children.
Despite having saved herself and her children nine years ago from an abusive ex-spouse, Michele was treated as a serious criminal by a Canadian state that, despite white ribbons and feminist window dressing, refused to acknowledge and believe the well-established history of abuse she and her children had suffered.
While it was reported that Michele took her own life the evening of November 5 at the notorious Leclerc prison, it would be more accurate to conclude that her life had been stolen from her long ago by male abusers, police, judges, social services agents, media, and a system that refuses to believe or understand the reality of male violence against women. While Michele had tried with the greatest of dignity to win back piece after piece of her life through the years, she tragically ran out of hope three weeks after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear her appeal for a second time.
A former U.S. resident, Michele had been sought since 2010 for extradition from Canada to the state of Georgia to face trial for the alleged crime of interstate interference with custody.
… Rather than report for custody last month, she went on the run from a forced return to the state of Georgia where, like every other U.S. jurisdiction, "domestic violence survivors have been criminalized, prosecuted, and imprisoned for acts carried out by their abusive partners. Often, these were actions that they either knew nothing about or were powerless to stop. But at trial, their experiences of abuse are often downplayed or outright dismissed."
In the end, the RCMP tracked her down and arrested her in Quebec after Michele spent two weeks resisting surrender to prison. Her life ended four days later.
… "Why, why, why why, why do they keep doing this to me?" she would plead with me. "Why isn't he in jail?" she asked, referencing the abusive ex-spouse who had repeatedly told the children that his goal was to see Michele either jailed for life or six feet under. Much as she feared more jail and more courts, she ultimately feared seeing him again.
… I last spoke with Michele the day before she was discovered without vital signs in her jail cell. She had been arrested the previous Friday after a frantic two-week journey. She had refused to report to prison, and an arrest warrant went out for her.
An act of institutional femicide: remembering the life of Michele M
Supreme Court Orders Extradition to U.S. on "Kidnapping" Charges: Faces 15 Years Behind Bars
Dissenting Female Justices Call Ruling "Kafkaesque"
Christmas Victory for Hunger Striking Mom in Canadian Prison!
Amazingly, an article in the New York Times pinpoints the crucial issue underpinning the new docu-series “Allen v. Farrow. That is that women who challenge male authority in any way, but especially when reporting abuse, and even more especially when reporting sexual abuse, a long-existing cultural narrative positions them as “conniving and untrustworthy” i.e. devious liars.
Kudos to journalist Alexis Soloski [pictured] for getting it right.
FOLLOWING are excerpts from the article (linked below), but it should be read in its entirety.
There are two stories. In one, a father molests his 7-year-old daughter. In the other, a mother coaches that daughter to falsely accuse the father. These stories, one proposed by Mia Farrow and her advocates, one by Woody Allen and his, clearly contradict each other. No sane person can accept both. Crucially, only one lets you feel mostly OK about watching “Annie Hall” again.
…In January 1992, Farrow discovered explicit Polaroids that Allen had taken of another of her daughters, her eldest, Soon-Yi Previn, then 21. That August, Dylan Farrow has said, she was abused when Allen was alone with her for perhaps 20 minutes during his visit to Mia Farrow’s home in Connecticut. Concerned by reports from babysitters and by statements that Dylan allegedly made, Farrow took the child to a pediatrician. The pediatrician reported the suspected abuse to law enforcement. Allen sued for custody. A criminal investigation began. The news media chronicled it all with the kind of fervid enthusiasm you mostly see in circus parades. (Allen has consistently denied the accusations.)
…The documentary shows evidence supporting Allen, chiefly a report from the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, which concluded that Dylan was either fantasizing or had been coached by her mother. On the other side is the testimony, in court and for the camera, of babysitters, family friends and Dylan herself. The judge in the custody trial ultimately labeled Allen’s behavior “grossly inappropriate.”
…But at the arrhythmic heart of the matter were these two stories. Until very recently, the public preferred the one that allowed Allen to keep making movies, movies in which comparatively powerless young women willingly enter into relationships with older, more powerful men.
…These stories run a big-haired gamut in terms of individual culpability, but in every case, popular culture found a way to blame the woman, often to excuse a more blameworthy man.
…I asked Sarah Marshall, a journalist and a host of “You’re Wrong About,” why popular culture likes to portray women as complicit and deserving of contempt. “It justifies subjugating them,” she said. “If women are randomly taken down for possessing what we see as an alarming degree of power, even if it isn’t, then maybe they’ll be more fearful about how they wield it.”
…“I don’t think we were equipped to deal with stories of abuse at that moment,” she said. Now she sees “a larger shift in our apparatus of language to understand and condemn when it comes to abuse,” [Anne Helen Peterson] said.
…The “Allen v. Farrow” series, in part because it sides so unequivocally and uncritically with Mia Farrow, will convince some but not all. Still, no matter what did or didn’t happen in that Connecticut crawl space in 1992, and even though we know, or we should know, that child sexual abuse is frighteningly common and that false reports of abuse are rare, there was one story that our culture believed. Here’s how a now adult Dylan Farrow put it in a CBS interview from 2018: “What I don’t understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?”
How? Because that story reinforces norms of power and control. Because it supports an idea of women as conniving and untrustworthy. Because making women wrong — for their knees, for their autonomy — is what our culture loves to do. And if a woman like Mia Farrow — pretty, successful, comparatively wealthy — could be exposed as a villain, it becomes that much easier to delegitimize the rest of us, particularly women of color, who are more likely to experience sexual violence and less likely to report it.
If you believe Allen, his story is a happy one, at least until #MeToo came along and complicated it. He marries [Mia’s adopted daughter] Previn. He makes movie after movie. He even wins another Oscar. If you believe Dylan Farrow, you recognize she grew up knowing that her abuser went unpunished, that his career flourished. That’s a terrible ending. What attitudes would our culture have to sacrifice to imagine a better one?
TWC NOTE: The 3rd episode in the series will talk about Family Court involvement in the case. Watch this space for a critique of that. Will they get it right? Or not?
Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and What Popular Culture Wants to Believe
The new HBO documentary revisits a 1990s scandal. What viewers take away from it may depend on the stories they trust about women and why.
Pictured: Alexis Soloski, author of article
I was only with my daughter’s father for 8 months; however, it took me 7 years to finally get away from him. He had originally not been interested in my pregnancy, however after I finally left, he was able to use the court system as another form of control and abuse.
We were in and out of the family court for seven years, with the final court case lasting three years. My ex had a well-documented criminal history of drug abuse and domestic violence, which the judge deemed irrelevant. There were also many documented incidences of violent behaviour towards other women, but these were also dismissed.
Communication kept breaking down due to his violent outbursts, so I asked for contact to be returned to a contact centre to protect myself. Social services had said if I continued to let him hit me in front of my daughter, they would remove her from my care and possibly give her to him. I was absolutely dumbfounded.
He retaliated by taking filing for overnight access, something he had never had. He was entitled to legal aid as he supposedly didn’t work. I did work so could not get legal aid, but also couldn’t afford an attorney. It was a vertical learning curve.
I asked for a psychological assessment, which the judge was extremely reluctant to allow. Two years later, after all other means had failed, including a warrant for me to serve 10 days in prison, it was finally granted.
The psychological assessment exposed him for exactly what he was. It proved I had not been lying and that he posed a serious risk to both me and my daughter.
That was 15 years ago. It saddens me that nothing has changed.
FROM: "Faces of the Crisis" a Women's Coalition Exhibit
SHARE, comment and react in support of Emma!
MORE Posts of Faces & Stories:
Why are women losing custody in epidemic numbers?
"The Custody Crisis: Why It's Happening & How We Can End It"
"FACES OF THE CRISIS" is an exhibit created by The Women's Coalition to raise awareness about the international epidemic of judges switching custody to self-serving and abusive men: https://www.womenscoalitioninternational.org
Participate in the exhibit by sending your photo to:
WomensCoalitionIntl@gmail.comWomensCoalitionIntl@gmail.com. You may include a brief account of how you lost custody or were unable to protect your child(ren) if you want. [NOTE: your submission may be edited for clarity, brevity or anonymity.]
COLLECTION of stories from submissions:
Join The Women's Coalition to help raise awareness and fight for a new system: join@WomensCoalitionInternational.org
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The first documented Custody Crisis case that we know of was recorded by Louise Armstrong [pictured] in her book “Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics”. It is the story of a mother who tried desperately to protect her child from serial sexual assault by the father in 1976. Despite abundant supporting evidence, including substantiation by a psychiatrist and psychologist, the judge found her to be a liar, to have coached her child to disclose. Sole custody was given to the father and she was sentenced to jail for three months. She never saw her child again.
Here is her story as told by Louise:
From the court documents now before me, we learn that Mary Lou had been divorced from "Harry" in 1975. Custody of the infant child had been granted to Mary Lou with visitation to Harry.
In the winter of 1976, Alice, then five years old, had complained to Mary Lou that Harry had sexually molested her. At once bewildered, perplexed, and alarmed, Mary Lou turned to a local but nationally respected child psychiatrist, 'Dr. Smith,' as well as to a local clinical psychologist, "Dr. Judith Wright." Their separate opinions were that Harry had indeed sexually molested the child. And Dr. Smith advised Mary Lou not to allow Harry further visitation (Remember, we are dealing with 1976 here, two years before incest would explode on the human interest pages of newspapers nationwide. Dr. Smith was operating on child-protective common sense.)
The following month, Harry filed in the trial court, seeking to have Mary Lou held in contempt for failure to allow visitation, and seeking custody for himself. Mary Lou’s attorney filed to overrule that motion, appending the evaluations of Dr. Smith and Dr. Wright, and seeking to curtail visitation or at least forbid it to be unsupervised.
The judge, 'Judge Cain,' proceeded to trail, commanding Mary Lou to proceed with proof in support of her motion to terminate visitation.
At the trial of the case some four months later, Judge Cain began by commenting that it was up to Mary Lou to prove reason to terminate visitation, and up to Harry to prove reason for a reversal of custody. No further mention was made at that time of any charge of contempt of court.
The court’s findings and judgment, however, included a specific finding of contempt against Mary Lou: "The petitioner has an excuse for at least the denial of visitation, that being a psychiatrist and a psychologist believed the child’s statement of child molesting. The question is not what they believed, hearing only part of the version and not knowing the background or the full factual situation: the question is what the petitioner believed, and … court firmly believed the petitioner … caused the child to make statements, knowing full well the falsity thereof" (italics mine).
And so we witness here, for the first time I am aware of, the tactical shift from implicating the child (as an accomplice-witness) and thus exonerating the offender, to the focus on the mother as the source of all lies (thus exonerating the offender). With this result for Alice:
"The custody of the minor child may be and is hereby transferred from the petitioner to the respondent, effective immediately, such being in the child’s best interest … The petitioner is found and adjudged to be in contempt of court for her willful, flagrant, and various violations of the orders of the court. As punishment, the petitioner shall be confined to the County Jail for a period of 90 days.”
Could this have been taken, back then, as a premonition of the later backlash against child-protective women? Yes—if we could also have read at the time the impending change in social context, the vigorous efforts to once again silence women, to repeal their so-recently gained rights.
One burr in Judge Cain’s saddle, as it turned out, was that Mary Lou worked at that time for an outspoken feminist and writer, whom the judge referred to as a man-hater with a poor opinion of marriage, and who he said was brainwashing Mary Lou. This southern judge would seem to have been punishing Mary Lou for, in his view, having fallen among persons with seditious ideas.
At Harry’s request, Judge Cain further embellished his decision by restraining Mary Lou from all communication, direct or indirect, with the child Alice—even by use of tape recordings or through third parties.
A great deal of wrangling followed, but the upshot is that Mary Lou has never since heard from or been allowed to communicate with her child (now, of course, no longer a child).
TWC NOTE: Before 1976, women did not have the power to leave men without being impoverished and knew they would lose their children if they left anyway. It was only after women gained financial independence and supposed equality in the 70's, that they began leaving and hence Custody Crisis cases began.
Notice this case occurred before the use of court-appointed minor’s counsels and evaluators who give judges cover. It was also before “parental alienation” gave judges something easy to hang their hat on. This shows the agenda to entitle fathers while blaming, punishing and silencing mothers and children operated even without these tactics.
A Montana Family Court judge ordered shared custody, despite Nicole's tenacious battle to maintain primary custody and protect her young son and herself from her ex, who had threatened to kill her.
It was Nicole who had to drive 2 hours to pick up her 5 year-old son from the father's house for her allotted visitation.
When Nicole arrived to pick up her son, her ex opened the door and shot her in the face. When she tried to get up, he shot her again in the head.
At the arraignment, the D.A. said there had been a “longstanding history of custody disputes” and that at one of the hearings, a witness had testified that the shooter/father had said he was going to buy a gun and kill Nicole.
Despite this testimony, the Family Court judge still gave the father shared custody, endangering both Nicole and her son.
The judge is, therefore, complicit in Nicole’s murder, and in depriving a little boy of his mother, a deep sorrow he will carry for the rest of his life.
ENOUGH of this Systemic Male Entitlement in Family Court!
Women must join together and take back our power to keep and protect our children!
What can you do?
1. Share, react, comment!
2. Join the Coalition! WomensCoalitionInternational.org
3. Help raise awareness by telling friends, family and acquaintances that women are losing custody in epidemic numbers and unable to protect our children due to Systemic Discrimination against Women/Sexism, and that we are uniting to demand a new system. Let them know they can go to the Coalition website for more information.
[Watch the "Custody Crisis" powerpoint video for help in explaining why this crisis is occurring: https://bit.ly/CustodyCrisis]
NOTE: It is unknown if there was other domestic violence or child abuse or who the Family Court judge was. If you know plz pm with that info.
Ennis neighborhood shocked after woman fatally shot in front of residence
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The “Abuse Rabbit Hole” is one of many rabbit holes women get caught in when trying to make sense of why they lost custody or were not able to protect their children in Family Court. The “Custody Crisis Rabbit Holes” series reveals the most common ways women get sidetracked from understanding and fighting the core cause of the Custody Crisis. It is important to recognize these rabbit holes divert from what is really going on in contested custody cases, because it is only by attacking and eliminating the root cause of the crisis--systemic male entitlement--that women will be able to stop the rampant, unjust switching of custody to abusive and self-serving fathers.
The Abuse Rabbit Hole is by far the most populous of the Custody Crisis rabbit holes, in part because most contested custody cases involve reports of abuse by women and/or children, hence abuse appears to be the fundamental issue. Also, because women whose cases involve abuse are much more likely to become activists or join social media groups due to the serious nature of their situation. But also in large part because organizations, groups, professionals, and activists have misled mothers into believing the crisis is essentially about abuse, i.e. that that “judges are giving custody to abusers”, rather than “judges are switching custody to fathers”.
MISIDENTIFICATION OF THE CENTRAL ISSUE
The main problem with the abuse rabbit hole is the fundamental issue of the custody crisis is misidentified as abuse. However, abuse cannot be the core issue because it is not the common denominator in all Custody Crisis cases. Approximately one quarter of cases do not involve reports of abuse, yet judges still switch custody to fathers, many of whom want to avoid child support, maintain control, or seek revenge. The only common denominator in Custody Crisis cases, in fact, is disparity in the judicial delegation of power--the empowerment of fathers to take custody of children, and abuse them if they so choose; and the disempowerment of mothers to maintain custody and protect their children.
Abuse groups misidentify how and why the crisis is happening as well. They endorse the false narrative that judges disbelieve mothers’ reports of abuse and believe fathers’ denials due to lack of education or training. In fact, judges don’t disbelieve women; they discredit them. And they don’t believe fathers; they credit them. Judges routinely falsely find women to be liars, alienators, mentally ill or emotionally abusive simply as a tactic to switch custody. They commonly disregard and conceal credible evidence of abuse by fathers in the process.
ABUSE IS GENDER NEUTRAL
A major problem with the abuse perspective is that it is essentially gender neutral, since, of course, abuse is bad regardless of whether fathers or mothers commit it. But that deflects from the fact that in contested custody cases, the only injustice happening in epidemic numbers is good mothers losing custody to abusive and self-serving fathers. In the relatively rare cases in which a judge takes custody away from a good father and switches to an abusive mother, it happens for different reasons. Conflating cases involving mothers who are being discriminated against, with fathers losing custody because of a bad judge, leads to confusion and division, and diverts from an effective solution.
Although some abuse groups acknowledge gender bias occurs, it is usually attributed it to individual judges’ unconscious biases or ignorance, which could be remedied through education or new laws. This misses the crux of the issue: that it is the system itself that is the problem, with its underlying agenda to keep the father entitled and empowered in his family after divorce, so training judges and court-affiliated professionals and new DV and child protection laws will not a significant difference in the crisis.
A major problem with gender neutral abuse groups is that they often include fathers’ rights activists [FRA’s] who claim their ex-wife has made false allegations of abuse against them, accusing her of “parental alienation” [another convoluted Rabbit Hole]. FRA’s started by claiming that men are being discriminated against in Family Court, but have branched off into gender neutral “parents”, “family” and “children” focused groups after failing to prove systemic discrimination against fathers. These offshoots, which now make up the bulk of the FRA movement, assert generic Family Court corruption, i.e. the “divorce industry”, is the problem; and mandatory equal parenting, which is very harmful to women and children, is the solution. This gender neutral approach also sows confusion and division and will be discussed in the “Gender Neutral” Rabbit Hole.
OFFSHOOTS IN THE ABUSE RABBIT HOLE
There are many offshoots within the abuse rabbit hole. Some “abuse groups” focus on child abuse, some on spousal abuse or domestic violence, and some are inclusive of different forms of abuse. Some prominent abuse groups focus on sexual abuse, narcissistic abuse and Child Protective Services mishandling of abuse cases.
A substantial percentage of cases involve reports of sexual abuse--approximately 50%, according to respondents of a TWC poll. So it’s not surprising women get detoured into the groups opposing pedophilia, organized sexual abuse or ritual abuse. Some activists contend “sex trafficking” is what is occurring, which comes under the “children as commodities” explanation. Although some court officials do profit from sexual abuse cases, financial incentives do not explain all, or even most, Custody Crisis cases. [The “Money Rabbit Hole” discusses the financial motivation theory in depth.] Although there are some cases in which the father is involved in organized abuse, it is important to recognize that the vast majority of sexual abuse cases involve otherwise upstanding fathers, who are simply abusing their parental power.
The narcissistic abuse rabbit hole is also quite populous. It is safe to say that most men who would launch a custody battle from hell and deprive children of a loving mother would have narcissistic traits, if not full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. That means most mothers in Family Court are battling narcissistic exes; hence, it’s a popular place for women to relate, vent and commiserate. However, these mothers are being misled into thinking the crisis is caused by judges not understanding narcissism, whether the mother or the father, and that educating them is the solution.
Another branch of the abuse rabbit hole is occupied by Child Protective Services [CPS] activists, as many mothers blame CPS for their loss of custody. Either social workers didn’t do a proper investigation of abuse by the father, didn’t substantiate the abuse, or, worse, reported falsely that the mother was abusive. The fact is, CPS rarely does decent investigations or substantiates abuse by middle to upper class fathers. They are acutely aware of the possibility of being sued by middle class fathers, so they usually only pick on powerless poor fathers and single mothers. CPS shunts cases into family court, fully aware judges ignore or minimize abuse by fathers. Not uncommonly, CPS colludes with a Family Court judge and removes children into foster care as an intermediate step to placing them with the father. And, while some mothers get involved in “legal kidnapping” or “forced adoption” advocacy, in which CPS removes children into foster care, it’s important to recognize that dependency cases are different than contested custody cases and require different solutions.
Misidentification of the central issue of the crisis as being abuse has led to advocacy for ineffective solutions, which is apparently a major reason why, for decades, nothing has changed. Two main categories of solutions pursued by abuse groups are: 1) training/educating judges and court-affiliated professionals; and 2) enactment of new child protection and domestic violence laws.
But education won’t help, as evidenced by judges’ deliberate disregard and suppression of credible evidence of abuse by fathers and the fabrication of negative evidence about mothers. And new child protection/DV laws won’t help, because Family Court judges violate laws (and rights) with impunity. Mothers commonly cry, “Judges need more oversight/accountability!” But there is no way to hold judges accountable within the Family Court system: that is the point. The system is designed specifically so that they have virtually unlimited discretion, i.e. nearly absolute power, and can use it to keep men empowered in their family.
Hopefully, an understanding that the Custody Crisis is not being caused by judges unwittingly giving custody to abusers, but by judges deliberately switching custody to fathers, will help women escape the abuse rabbit hole and unite to fight the core cause of the epidemic: systemic male entitlement. Since the Family Court system is designed so judges can empower fathers and disempower mothers, the only way to end the crisis is for women to unite as a class, as half the population, and demand a new system. The Child Custody Act codes for a new system in which women’s right to due process and equal protection, and children’s right to safety and wellbeing are safeguarded.
Join The Women’s Coalition and help raise awareness and fight for the Child Custody Act.
We hereby petition U.S. Senators to permit Coral Anika Theill and other former members of People of Praise to testify at the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court of the United States.
Coral's request to U.S. Senators detailing her abuse:
Ms. Theill must be allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the public about the gender discrimination, subjugation and crimes committed against her in Amy Coney Barrett's sect. By being a leader in the sect, Judge Barrett is complicit in the subjugation and oppression of women and even of crimes, as Coral bravely details in her letter to Senators requesting to testify.
Judge Barrett declared, “A legal career is but a means to an end, and that end is building the kingdom of God.” This, along with statements supporting her destructive stance on women’s issues, makes it clear that Barrett’s ideology will influence her rulings and set women’s fight for equality and autonomy back a century.
We know from experience that patriarchal influence in our judiciary has very real, negative effects, as women are routinely discriminated against in Family Courts across the country. Judges are taking custody away from women in epidemic numbers and placing children under the control of abusive and self-serving fathers. A judge took Coral’s 8 children away from her, including a nursing infant, and allowed the father to turn them against her.
The California Judicial Council acknowledges, “Family Law is an area in which gender bias is rampant in the courts.” This form of discrimination is causing incalculable harm to countless women and their children. Women will never be equal or free until they have the power to maintain custody and protect their children after divorce.
If we mean to fix persisting sexism in our State and Federal courts, and we should, we cannot allow anyone who supports patriarchal control of women to be on the highest court in the land. In the name of gender equality, we take the stand that such serious allegations of complicity in the oppression and subjugation of women against Barrett must not go unaddressed or uninvestigated.
We need the truth of Amy Coney Barrett's involvement in her sexist sect to be debated in the public arena, in full view of voters. For that we need testimony of Coral Anika Theill.
For more information on the custody crisis:
October 8, 2020
Dear U. S. Senators,
My name is Coral Anika Theill, aka Kathryn Y. Warner (nee Hall). I legally changed my name in 1999 to Coral Anika Theill when I entered a state address confidentiality (protection) program for safety from my ex-husband, Marty Warner, i.e, V. Martin Warner, Independence, Oregon.
I would like to testify at the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as to the oppression, abuse and crimes that I and other women were victims of in the People of Praise sect, to which Amy belongs. Although men have ultimate authority in the sect, women leaders, like Amy, are complicit in the subordination and mistreatment of lower status women like me.
I became a member of the Vine and Branches sect in 1979 in Corvallis, Oregon. It was formally absorbed into People of Praise in 1982 and I escaped the group in 1984. My abuse became more severe after we became a People of Praise Community.
The entire time I was there, I was under the control of men and subjected to psychological abuse, including undue influence, threats, shaming, and shunning by leaders and my husband. Coercive persuasion was used on my children to turn them against me. My husband and community leaders used coercive control, isolation and intimidation to strip me of my personhood, safety and freedoms guaranteed to me as a United States citizen. They also launched a smear campaign when I finally got the courage to leave.
The actual crimes committed against me in the sect were: marital rape, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and illegal interrogation. I did not know these were crimes at the time. I believe these crimes are still occurring in People of Praise communities and need to be investigated.
The People of Praise Community that I was forced by my husband to join, was founded in South Bend, Indiana in 1971. I met and attended meetings with the founder, Paul DeCelles and attended a retreat which his wife, Jeanne DeCelles, led. They teach that men have total authority over their wives. Their policies are based on the domination of men and submission of women. They assert that men’s power is absolute and instill fear in women that great harm will come to whoever questions and/or defies that power.
I was told I had to obey my husband, who was my “head”. I was required to be a "helpmeet", which is a biblical term for a wife’s duty to “help” her husband, i.e. do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. This was a main reason my husband wanted to join the group—to give him complete control over me. I had to ask my husband if I could leave the house, go to the store or anywhere else. I was not permitted to do anything without his permission, even go to the store or the doctor. My husband instructed me in what kind of clothes I could wear, how to style my hair, whether I could wear make-up or not, when and what I could eat or drink. Even bodily functions were monitored.
He told me what books I could read and destroyed books if he disapproved of them,
including a favorite of mine, Our Bodies Ourselves: A Book by and for Women, by the Boston Women’s Health Collective. His comments toward me were consistently insulting and demeaning. I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes.
I was not allowed access to money or knowledge about our finances. I was forbidden to work outside the home or attend college classes. I was allowed to buy groceries and I purchased most of the children’s and my clothes and household items at second-hand shops. My husband read my incoming and outgoing mail. I was not allowed to read a newspaper.
I was forbidden to take birth control and was even accompanied by my husband to OBGYN appointments. I was required to submit to my husband's demands for sex at any time - even immediately after giving birth. My husband could rape me at will and that was fine with the leadership. The most serious crime committed against me while in the People of Praise were continuous marital rapes.
I had to attend weekly meetings, retreats, mandated women’s meetings and ministry meetings. Little time was left for family or self. The male “heads” of the sect, those in highest authority, were the main force in controlling members’ actions and thoughts. “Headship” involved matters such as the discipline of children, how to deal with a wife, how to help one’s wife see and deal with her problems, whether to have another baby, what kind of car or home to buy, etc. Husbands sometimes sought help by their own “heads,” on how to get their wives to fall in line—obey.
Each week I was forced to endure a “headship” meeting with my husband who would “correct” me and the children. He would remind me that I set an example for the children by obeying him in all things, and this was a direct correlation to how they would respond and obey him. My husband reported to leaders in his own “headship” meeting any comments I had made that questioned his absolute authority. He kept a black book and listed each of my infractions.
When I tried to share my feelings with my husband and the leaders, my feelings were dismissed. I was told how I should feel. They were the authorities and that fact gave them the right to rule over my emotions. I was required to tell my innermost thoughts and emotions to a woman leader called a “handmaid”, who reported what I said to the male leaders who then reported them to my husband, who could then “correct” me in our headship meeting.
When I dared to question or use my own reasoning processes, I was called a rebel and mentally ill and told I had to atone. The threat of being put in a mental institution was added to the litany of humiliations. I was subjected to exorcism and put in “special counseling” with Father Charles Harris, the People of Praise Community leader.
I was forced to attend a People of Praise Community women's retreat where the other women shunned me. They were not allowed to speak to me or look at me. I was often forced to sit on the floor, outside of Community meetings where members would pass by and shun me. I was an outcast, yet not allowed to leave the Community because my husband still was a member.
I was not permitted to see outside friends or relatives. My father died in 1984, during the beginning of my fourth pregnancy in 1984. My husband did not permit me to visit him in the I.C.U. at the hospital the night he died.
When my husband was out-of-town, he assigned other men in the community to “check-up” on me or leaders would enlist members from the Vancouver branch to "watch" me in my own home so I could not leave, call friends or escape.
I lived under the constant threat by my husband and the leaders that great harm would come to me if I didn’t obey them, including taking my children away. After I left, Family Court did their bidding and took custody of my children away from me and allowed my husband to alienate them from me. I was threatened they would put me in a mental institution if I did not submit to their authority. I now understand this was a crime: false imprisonment.
One example of the oppression I endured is that after my second miscarriage and D & C surgery in the spring of 1984, I was required to attend the mandatory People of Praise women’s meeting. I was still bleeding heavily and was weak from the surgery. The women wished to go on a shopping excursion that evening. I shared I would be unable to go shopping with them and walked out of the meeting. The “handmaid” of the women’s group, Connie Hackenbruck, immediately called my husband and reported my disobedience. My husband called another member, Bruce Bernning, to watch our three children and as soon as I arrived home, I was forced into a car and driven to the home of Ed Brown, my husband’s “head.” He told me that some people (like me) couldn’t “cut the mustard”—the narrow walk with Jesus Christ. I told him I was tired and wanted to go home but it was only after several more hours of interrogation, I was finally allowed to leave.
Because I was brought and kept at Ed’s house against my will and he used insults and threats during the interrogation, I believe this fits the crimes of kidnapping and illegal interrogation. The next day the members in the community were instructed to shun me – not to speak to me. I was considered “poisonous” and a danger to the community’s well-being, but still forced to attend meetings and women’s retreats. Shunning is a cruel and inhumane practice within many church groups and cults, a form of silent ridicule. My crime: I was in disobedience to the leaders.
I experienced much depression and anxiety as a result of all of this abuse. I still suffer from PTSD.
Head coordinators and their wives from South Bend, Indiana, Amy’s group, would visit our Community periodically presenting at retreats. Paul and Jeannie DeCelles and Bud and Sharon Rose were frequent speakers. Bud and Sharon Rose eventually moved from South Bend to live in Corvallis for a year, so there was much coordination and interaction between the two communities.
One of People of Praise’s first leaders, Notre Dame professor Adrian Reimer, confirms that the husband is always the “head of his wife" and the wife must “submit in all things”. He said a "married woman is expected always to reflect the fact that she is under her husband’s authority.” In his book, Not Reliable Guides, Reimers describes how a married woman in the People of Praise is "expected always to reflect the fact that she is under her husband's authority…This goes beyond an acknowledgment that the husband is 'head of the home' or head of the family; he is, in fact, her personal pastoral head. Whatever she does requires at least his tacit approval. The wife, as a good member of the community, has a prima facie obligation to obey her husband as the bearer of God's will. In practice, this means that the two do not—indeed, cannot—relate as equals." The "subordinate role of women to men is a fundamental cultural premise" for the group, he wrote.
People of Praise has released a statement to the media saying they were unaware of any abuse, but that is not true. They were actors in the abuse I suffered. There are numerous individuals who witnessed the abuse I have reported, some of whom are willing to testify. I documented the abuse I suffered in my published memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, in 2003 and 2013. No one has refuted my claims or sued me for defamation. My memoir has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon and has been cited in many articles and books.
At her nomination party at the White House, Amy deflected from accusations of the gender discrimination in her sect by saying she and her husband share domestic tasks. First of all, she is a leader in the community, so she has a much better life than most women who are expected to stay home, keep having babies, even when it is unhealthy or dangerous, and take care of children themselves, as I was forced to do. But the more important point is that there is not equality or autonomy for women in the sect, instead a serious imbalance of power between men and women.
It should be concerning to members of Congress that Amy did not disclose her membership in the sect to the Senate, while information about her involvement and leadership in the People of Praise Community has been scrubbed from the internet. It appears that she—and the male leaders she is beholden to—are trying to hide her leadership in the community; however, a Washington Post source has provided documentation supporting she is (or was) a handmaid and a top woman leader. The public has a right to hear about her sect’s commission of crimes and abuse of women.
I believe crimes and abuse against women are being committed systematically and methodically by People of Praise under the cover of religion. But this is not about religion. It is about power men are given to keep women under their control.
I have witnesses who can corroborate my abuse and know former members who can give written testimony (and perhaps in person) as to the abuse and subjugation of women in the People of Praise sect. The confirmation hearings should include this testimony.
I would very much like to testify to the Senate in person as I believe the public should hear first-hand about Amy Coney Barrett’s support of patriarchal ideology and resulting oppression of women. This should be a disqualifier for the highest court in the land.
Coral Anika Theill
Aka Kathryn Y. Warner (nee Hall)
Author, Advocate & Military Reporter
Memoir: BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine, “Short Rations
For Marines” & “RECLAMATION: A Survivor’s Anthology”
“I lived the Handmaid’s Tale [in “People of Praise”]…A lot of us suffered Stockholm syndrome and many of the women were on anti-depressants and tranquilizers.”
Coral Anika Theill
Coral Anika Theill, a mom who had eight children taken and alienated from her, is speaking on MSM [see link below] about the People of Praise “cult” to which Judge Amy Barrett, Trump’s favorite pick for US Supreme Court, belongs. This so-called cult germinated at Notre Dame University where Barrett teaches law, so she is apparently in deep.
Coral lived for decades in the People of Praise cult and says it was brutally oppressive to women. Men have complete control, which makes Barrett the perfect Trump nominee, as a main agenda of the Republican party is to control women’s reproduction.
The Custody Crisis is an extension of this age-old male agenda. They also want to control the fruits of reproduction: the children. So, when women gained the power to divorce and live independently, men created the Family Court system to give judges special power to enable men to take children and abuse and/or alienate them from the mother if they so choose.
Coral is a victim of this sexist system. A Family Court judge took away her EIGHT children, including a breastfeeding infant, and then allowed the father to completely alienate them from her. And the People of Praise community is just fine with a man eliminating the mother of his children.
If Barrett is nominated on Saturday, Coral will be calling all 100 US senators to warn them about her cult and object to her placement on the Supreme Court.
Activists: call your senators and say you are with the Women's Coalition and object to Amy Barrett being on the Supreme Court! Call (202) 224-3121and you’ll be transferred to any senator.
Reuters article: As U.S. Supreme Court nomination looms, a religious community draws fresh interest
For more information on how the Custody Crisis is caused by men's agenda to control women view "The Custody Crisis":
I Lived the Handmaid’s Tale, by Coral Theill
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Cindy Dumas, M.A. has been researching, writing, and raising awareness about the Custody Crisis since 2003, when she was unable to protect her children from their abusive father. She fled into hiding when Family Court failed her and was tricked into returning home, when her children were given to their abusive father.