CONNECTICUT, July 22, 2014 — In a hearing yesterday in Hartford Superior Court, accused pedophile rapists Dennis Harasz, 48, and Douglas Wirth, 43, waived their right to a jury trial in favor of a trial before Judge Julia Dewey. This is not surprising given how well things have gone for the defense, now that a GAL affiliated with one of the defense attorneys’ and the judge herself has been appointed onto the case to determine their fate.
Harasz and Wirth are now facing charges for raping some of the nine boys the couple had adopted since 2001, all of whom were removed from their care in 2011 by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. The couple’s parental rights were also terminated by the Superior Court in 2012, and currently the victims remain in DCF care.
As reported by Communities Digital News last weekend, things have not been going DCF’s way lately. In court orders issued on July 9, 2014, Judge Julia Dewey cited the “appearance of propriety” and the fact that the court perceived DCF to have an unspecified conflict of interest to justify her decision to grant Wirth’s motion to appoint a guardian ad litem onto the criminal case to assess whether or not the victim, now age 8, should be allowed to testify against the defendants. Dewey then selected a GAL who is not only her own coworker, but tied to the defendant’s attorney’s law partner.
Communities Digital news has uncovered new evidence linking Dewey to other conflicts of interest on this case, raising serious questions about corruption. In 2013 and 2014, a little known corporation called the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts made headlines during legislative hearings where parents testified that the Connecticut family courts and the AFCC based GAL certification program were riddled with fraud and steering cases to corrupt AFCC professionals and programs who bankrupted entire families and trafficking their kids into the care of unfit parents, even pedophiles.
When it comes to the Glastonbury rape case, Dewey failed to disclose her own past business dealings with the controversial court vendor run by her own co-workers. This mistake may have a role in influencing Dewey to decide the case in favor of these potentially dangerous defendants.
DEWEY’S BUSINESS PRACTICES LACK PROPRIETY, RIG CASE IN FAVOR OF DEFENSE
By the time Dewey was tapped to preside over the Glastonbury rape cases, she already had over 40-years of combined training and experience presiding over many of the systems most difficult cases. So why did Dewey feel unqualified or ill equipped to proceed without instructions from a GAL certified under questionable circumstances?
In 1994, Dewey was tapped by Governor John Rowland to become a judge while employed as an Assistant Prosecutor for the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s office. According to the New York Times, Rowland was convicted in 2005 unrelated corruption charges for which he did a stretch in federal prison, and in 2014, Rowland was again indicted on campaign fraud charges related to offenses he allegedly committed in 2012.
Before taking the bench in criminal court, Dewey served as Connecticut’s chief administrative judge for the family division where part of her duties included overseeing the contracts, programs and services relevant to the family courts.
During the time Dewey oversaw administration of the family court, the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) also awarded at least one significant contract to a controversial corporation with a checkered past called the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Inc., which according to the Washington Times, was founded and operated by Connecticut family court judges and administrators, as well as the family court industry professionals who appear before them. According to the original incorporating documents, one of the original founding officers was former CSSD Director Anthony Salius.
As the Chief Administrative Judge of the Family Courts, it would have been Dewey’s responsibility to know that CSSD administrators who also served as AFCC officers, had for decades been raising money for the AFCC on the local and national level and through their Judicial Branch offices from the same public and family court industry professionals who came through their courts. Older AFCC newsletters actual contain instructions to instructions for AFCC sponsors to mail fees and donations directly to Salius at his Hartford Judicial Branch offices during times when the corporation was not registered to do business in Connecticut.
These same Judicial Branch administrators affiliated with the AFCC also oversaw federally funded programs and services in Dewey’s courts. In 2001, CSSD director Robert Tompkins received an award from AFCC for his outstanding member contributions to the AFCC. By 2002, current CSSD director Stephen Grant sat on the AFCC’s Board of Directors, which is when CSSD awarded the AFCC a [taxpayer funded] contract to overhaul the family court’s case intake protocols and address the court’s federal Access and Visitation program and growing number of “high conflict” cases. Although the Family Civil Intake Assessment Project in the Connecticut family courts reports were apparently peddled as “independent research,” a collaboration between disinterested professionals and the researchers from AFCC.
According to an AFCC report, Dewey played an essential role in the AFCC’s successful administration of the Connecticut family court screening and case steering project, which was carried out by CSSD managers who at the same time, also held key leadership and fundraising roles within the AFCC organization itself.
The authors would like to acknowledge the other members of the Civil Family Intake Screen project: Stephen Grant, Kathryn Ceruti, Joseph DiTunno from CSSD…none of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of the Judicial Branch, in particular Appellate Court Judge and former Chief Administrative Judge for Family F. Herbert Gruendel, Chief Administrative Judge for Family Julia Dewey and CSSD Executive Director William Carbone.
Then CSSD Executive Director Carbone himself promoted his employees involvement with these conflicted projects (some of which dealt with the handling of sexually abused children) in AFCC newsletter, while Gruendel was an AFCC conference presenter, and Ceruti herself has a history of assisting with AFCC operations on a national level.
But the programs weren’t just unethical, they may have also had serious consequences to public safety. Over the years, the programs repeatedly helped pedophile murderer Joshua Komisarjevsky with his bid for custody of the young daughter he never knew outside prison walls. In 2007, Judge Barry Pinkus granted Komisarjevsky sole custody of the 5-year old during an ex parte hearing to which the offender wore a GPS monitoring bracelet installed on his ankle by the Department of Corrections. A few weeks later, Komisarjevsky was arrested for his role in the grizzly rape and murders of Hayley Petit, 17, Michaela Petit, 11, and their mother, Jennifer Petit, for which he now sits on Connecticut’s death row.
2013-2014 LEGISLATORS HEAR ABOUT AFCC CORRUPTION
By the time the AFCC GAL fraud scandal hit the legislature in the fall of 2013, the AFCC was already under investigation by Connecticut authorities after Kulak and other Judicial Branch employees created a Connecticut AFCC corporate affiliate, then funded the private company’s activities through private donations and the taxpayer funded budgets of the family court departments they oversaw.
To date, the IRS does not list the CT Chapter of the AFCC as a public charity, and no federal employee identification number is listed in the records filed with the Secretary of State’s office which would be necessary for the company’s annual tax filings.
Currently, the US Department of Justice has a civil discrimination investigation open into the same troubled court programs formerly overseen by Dewey. The GAL certification program operated by AFCC affiliates has been “temporarily suspended” while the State figures out how to implement the reforms imposed by the legislature. This is a problem because State law mandates that all GAL’s who want to be appointed onto state paid cases involving wards of the State must complete the certification program, leaving questions as to whether any GAL’s in the state are qualified to represent the children currently assigned to their caseloads.
“They are supposed to go investigate the case, investigate the families, go and ask doctors, teachers, all that, and 98, 99 percent of the cases, that doesn’t happen,” said state Rep. Minnie Gonzales, D-Hartford during legislative hearings on GAL reform that took place last spring. “They don’t do their job, but they come up with a bill – $100,000, $150,000, $200,000, $75,000 – which is crazy.”
LOCAL NEWS, LAW ENFORCEMENT BLIND TO AFCC PROBLEM
Defense attorneys Hubie Santos and Michael Dwyer represent the interest of Dennis Harasz, 48, and Douglas Wirth, 43, now charged with sexually assaulting some of the nine boys the couple adopted. Harasz was charged with sexual assault in the first degree, two counts of injury to a minor, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault in the third degree and cruelty to persons. Wirth was also charged with sexual assault in the third degree and injury to a minor.
However, Santos and Dwyer do not represent the interests of the victims in this case, ages 8 and 17, or even the interests of public safety.
Despite obvious conflicts of interest in the selection, last Friday, Judge Dewey selected attorney Amy Horowitz, Dewey’s Judicial Branch coworker who is also tied to to defense attorney Hubie Santos’ law firm to serve as GAL for the younger victim in this case. According to State Representative Ed Vargas, Dewey’s decision lacked the appearance of propriety and Horowitz never should have accepted the role.
The FBI refused comment on the matter.
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