MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., May 5, 2017- Filed in March 2017, new Federal Civil Rights lawsuit in Minnesota hopes to strike a dagger in the heart of corruption in family courts.
Annalise Rice, 19, currently a freshman at the University of North Dakota, recently filed that lawsuit against her father, Brent Rice, a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, as well as Hennepin and Carver counties, a judge and several court professionals and social workers. All were involved in her family court case that, she argues, deprived her of her civil rights.
All were involved in her family court case that, she argues, deprived her of her civil rights.
In an exclusive interview with this CDN reporter, Annalise Rice described a nightmarish childhood in which she was taken away from her mother without explanation and forced to live with a father who, she alleges, while mostly absent, she alleges he was abusive when he was present. Rice ran away multiple times, including on incident during which she spent approximately one month on the run with her mother.
Rice ran away multiple times, including on incident during which she spent approximately one month on the run with her mother.
She was repeatedly forced to live in foster care when not living with her father.
Rice argues in her lawsuit that the family court repeatedly violated her due process rights and used pseudo-science to support forcing her to live with her abusive father while being kept away from her mother. In part,
In part, the lawsuit states
“By coercing and financially harassing Plaintiffs mother into abandoning her legal efforts to protect Annelise through the courts, by knowingly allowing the introduction of false testimony, by allowing into evidence and/or the court’s consideration the bogus, disreputable, and pro child-abuser ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ theory concocted by the discredited misogynist Richard Gardner, by failing to disclose to the court the unethical and prejudicial relationship between Defendant Brent Rice and Defendants, by prohibiting Annelise Rice (or any older siblings) from testifying on her own behalf in order to obtain protection from the abuse, by falsifying child protective services reports on Plaintiffs abuse, and other acts.”
Richard Gardner and Parental Alienation Syndrome
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) – allegedly triggered in Annalise Rice by the behavior of her mother, Caroline Rice – and Richard Gardner himself are extremely controversial in the precincts of family law. As noted in the language of the current suit, Gardner has made a series of pro-pedophile and misogynistic statements that tend to undercut his theory.
“There is a bit of pedophilia in every one of us,” Gardner once wrote, observing that “pedophilia has been considered the norm by the vast majority of individuals in the history of the world.”
Parental Alienation Syndrome theory claims that parents – almost exclusively women – put abuse allegations into the heads of their children to alienate them from their fathers. The theory has largely been dismissed by all courts, law enforcement personnel, and psychologists, save for those working in family courts.
The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York instructed that “Prosecutors should diligently question any case law or article that is cited as supporting PAS theory.”
Annalise Rice Tells her Tale
“Since I could remember, my dad beat me and mom up,” Annalise Rice said.
She stated that because of repeated domestic abuse at the hands of her father when she was in second or third grade, her mother got a restraining order against Brent Rice and Annalise began living with her.
About a year later, a woman Annalise didn’t know – since identified as Susan Olson, an attorney, and the guardian ad litem* in the case, picked up her up taking her to her father’s house. She then began living with her father, with no explanation for why she could no longer see her mother. (Olson is also named as a defendant in the current case.)
What Annalise did not know at the time was that the court – including Olson – had accused her mother of inducing Parental Alienation Syndrome – and awarded Brent Rice sole custody of Annalise as a result.
“A Guardian Ad Litem report written by Defendant Jean Peterson recommended the split custody that the court later adopted on 08/18/05. No testimony was received into the record as to why the children were separated, and no findings were made that justified the separation,” the lawsuit stated, explaining what was happening in court.
No one explained this to Annalise Rice, however.
Caroline Rice said that Olson, along with Jean Peterson, was one of several guardians ad litem appointed to the case.
One day, after Annalise had spent several months living with her father, Olson called her at home and told her she was no longer going to see her mother before abruptly hanging up the phone with no further explanation.
“I threw the phone against the wall,” Rice said of learning the news.
Olson did not respond to a message left at her law office.
Rice said her father was mostly an absentee dad, and she was raised by a nanny. Yet when he was around, she says he was physically abusive.
During one physical altercation, she was thrown against the refrigerator. During another, her father broke her arm. Brent Rice denied either of these events happened.
However, Annalise Rice said the police were called on one occasion, and the police officer involved spent the entire time grilling her older sister, suggesting the physical confrontation was her sister’s fault.
“Go ahead and tell the police. No one will believe you,” Annalise said she remembered her father saying repeatedly.
After one of the beatings, which took place around the time she was in fifth grade, Rice ran away from her father’s home, walking several miles alone and at night to her grandparents’ house. Her grandparents, the parents of Caroline Rice, promptly and successfully filed for another restraining order against Brent Rice. As a result, Annalise was ordered to live with them.
After about a month of living with her grandparents, Rice was again placed into a series of foster homes without explanation and eventually found herself back in a courtroom where she was told she’d be living with her father.
“They (the court) told me if I ran again I’d go to juvie [juvenile hall],” Annalise said, describing the threats used to force her to live with her father. During this period, Annalise Rice said she was taken to the hospital because she had become suicidal.
Stated the lawsuit in part,
“Plaintiff (Annalise Rice) is hospitalized on June 10, 2008 for Suicidal Ideation due to the stress Defendant Brent Rice and other Defendants have placed on her by interfering with the Mother-Child Relationship. Reports state: ‘The patient states that she lives with her father but she is scared of him and doesn’t feel safe at home.’”
Annalise was convinced by her older sister to go back home while she was still in her hospital bed. “She told me we’d do it together,” she said.
Annalise Rice said that after her arm was broken, she was taken by her step-mother (Brent Rice had remarried) to the hospital where her step-mother said the broken arm was due to horseplay that got out of control. Though she was in the presence of her step-mother the entire time, Rice said she did tell one doctor that the broken arm was due to her father hitting her. This, however, was not reported.
After that incident, Rice said she ran away again and got hold of a family friend who, in turn, contacted her mother. The two of them went on the run, finally ending up in Canada. After a month on the run, however, they crossed back into Michigan and were promptly detained.
Her mother subsequently became the first person in Minnesota history tried for parental deprivation. She was convicted and sentenced to approximately two months in prison, but her conviction was overturned.
“This week, Minnesota’s State Court of Appeals sent a strong message of support to abused children trapped in the system when it overturned Caroline Rice’s convictions on three counts of deprivation of parental rights. In the case of State v. Rice, the Appellate Court decided that the reason why Caroline’s convictions were illegitimate was that Judge (Richard) Perkins and the State’s prosecutor had engaged in various forms of misconduct during the trial that violated Caroline’s civil rights and deprived her of a fair hearing.”
Annalise Rice said she testified, but the judge repeatedly interrupted her nearly fifty times as she did so, also interrupting her sister ninety times during the course of her testimony.
An email to Beau Berentson, public affairs officer for the Minnesota Courts, for an explanation of Judge Perkins’ behavior was left unreturned. Perkins retired from the bench in 2015 and was never formally reprimanded for his behavior in the case.
Brent Rice Speaks
CDN interviewed Brent Rice, who denied all allegations in the case. Said Rice, “What I’ve been put through over the last twenty years, I could write a book.” He suggested any difficulties in the divorce were caused by an unspecified mental illness of his ex-wife.
Caroline Rice and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki
The second person to be convicted of parental deprivation in Minnesota was Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a case that has been covered extensively by CDN. Both cases share a number of similarities.
Not only did the children run away in both cases after their allegations of abuse were ignored, but both Grazzini-Rucki and Rice were accused of Parental Alienation Syndrome. This CDN reporter’s investigation also found judicial misconduct in the Grazzini-Rucki case, during which the judge, Karen Asphaug, disallowed all evidence of paternal abuse.
Caroline Rice said she was in the courtroom when Grazzini-Rucki’s daughter, Samantha Rucki – who also ran away after allegations of abuse – was allowed to testify via Skype, with her father present just outside the room where she was located.
Rice called this “unprecedented.”
The Nightmare Concludes:
After Annalise Rice was picked up in Michigan, she was then back once again to her father. But now that she was older, she said she spent most of her time at the homes of friends, with the remaining time spent in her father’s custody, endeavoring to do anything she could to avoid any contact with him.
By her sophomore year, Rice said her father backed off and was less violent and controlling. Behind the scenes, however, this was because her mother had filed an appeal with a new attorney. The result of that appeal was that the original decision was overturned:
The result of that appeal was that the original decision was overturned:
“In September of 2013, the Minnesota Appellate Court reversed Carver County Court Decision against Plaintiff s mother. According to the Minnesota Law Joumal, ‘The reversal for prejudicial judicial conduct is unusual,’ said Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke. ‘The fact that I have been a judge almost 30 years and can remember one other case, it doesn’t happen very often,’ Burke said.”
After the decision was overturned, the case was sent back to the trial court and the custody arrangement stayed in place. But Annalise Rice said she began seeing her mother regularly, even though there was a court order forbidding it. “No one ever did anything,” about the violation of the restraining order, she said.
When she turned eighteen, Annalise moved out of her father’s house and said she no longer has a relationship with him, a charge Brent Rice has denied.
Her current lawsuit, alleging the deprivation of civil rights, is for $240 million total, and she is asking for $15 million from her father.
Rice said she’s been contacted by other victims from all over the country since that filing, and hopes to turn her lawsuit into a class action suit, taking on corruption in family courts nationwide.
*A term used in law that refers to the appointment by a court of one party to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party deemed unable to do so, such as a minor child.