WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2015 – The judge in an explosive and controversial Michigan custody case has insisted that three children spend time with their father, despite his long history of documented domestic violence.
On Wednesday Oakland County Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca sent the three Tsimhoni children to a five- day intensive reunification therapy and gave the father temporary sole custody for 90 days. That ruling came after another ruling last month, where Gorcyca sentenced the children to juvenile hall, citing parental alienation.
That decision came after the children refused to see their father.
An analysis of court records, police reports, and Child Protective Services reports suggests that the reason behind the refusal of the children to see their father stems from fear. These records show documented incidents of domestic violence by the father, Omer Tsimhoni, since at least 2010.
“Lim was apparently too afraid to come down from the jungle gym because his father threatened to kill him. Maya claims that she came to the park at this point and two of the kids were inside Omer’s car. Omer began pushing her around his vehicle and she was scared he was going to hit her,” a police report from the West Bloomfield Township Police Department from Aug. 17, 2010, stated. “Maya Tsimhoni advised that the kids call 911 while they were inside Omer’s vehicle.”
This incident was confirmed by a Child Protective Services report from Sept.1, 2010. “Children state their father ‘threatened to kill them’ while at a park in West Bloomfield on Aug. 27, 2010.”
This CPS report became the subject of an ancillary legal procedure when Omer Tsimhoni’s lawyer, Keri Middleditch, sent a subpoena to Twitter for the account #JusticeTsimhoni because that account released the CPS report.
The owner of the account, Shawna Shakespeare, a Missouri mother of two with no direct link to the case, has since outed herself but the case continues.
The 2010 incident was not the only incident of domestic violence allegedly perpetrated by Omer Tsimhoni.
A court filing from March 20, 2015, notes, “Defendant (Omer) forcefully grabbed RT’s (one of the children) by the arms. Defendant held RT at the wrists, pinning RT against the wall with RT’s hands above his head and with defendant pressing his knees into RT’s stomach. Defendant that (sic) pulled RT down and pinned him to the floor. Defendant screamed at mother to get out of the house and the door was closed and locked after mother left.”
“Father attacked him, grabbed him by both arms; father put his knees in his stomach and father’s other hand on his shoulder and father shoved him into the wall and threw him to the floor- mom and supervisor were present,” according to another court filing.
Medical reports submitted to the court confirmed that the children involved had bruising consistent with these allegations.
Despite this evidence, Judge Lisa Gorcyca and the guardian ad litem, Bill Lansat, a divorce attorney, both insist that the issue is parental alienation.
Michigan is not alone in ignoring cases of domestic violence and instead blaming parental alienation.
In Connecticut, Angelo Hickman was convicted in 2007 of several counts of domestic violence, including kidnapping, spousal sexual assault, threatening and risk of injury to a child.
In 2011, Dr. Stephanie Liete, who was assigned to the case, eschewed the domestic violence in favor of parental alienation. “This case sticks out in my mind, in the last 10 years, as the clearest case of alienation I have seen.”
A reunification therapist in the case, Deborah Datz, went so far as to say that participation in reunification therapy was mandatory if Angela, the mother, wanted to see her children:
“Ms. Hickman, please be aware that when you are provided with the opportunity to have the initial renewed contact with your children, their father will be present.”
As in the Tsimhoni case, the court professionals recommended reunification therapy, which would have have put Angela Hickman in therapy with her abuser. When she refused, due to her post traumatic stress disorder, the judge, Maureen Murphy, gave sole custody to the convicted abuser, Angelo Hickman.
Similarly, Judge Gorcyca used the same over the top language, saying, “I see kids who have been physically abused, tortured, raped, who still want to talk to their father, that still respect their father. Your kids have none of those things,” and this case is “tied for my worst parental alienation case.”
The GAL in the case, William Lansat, used similar language.
“You have to give her credit,” Lansat told the court in a July 2015 hearing. “Whatever she did, she has been successful. She’s been on a campaign and she had damaged the children.”
Judge Gorcyca has given temporary sole custody to the alleged abuser in the Tsimnhoni case, Omer Tsimhoni.
Arguably the most controversial case regarding domestic violence and parental alienation is in Minnesota. In the Grazzini-Rucki case, both the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a former contestant on Mrs. America, and her two daughters alleged domestic violence.
“Please let us live with our mom and enjoy our childhood,” one of the daughters stated.
Judge David Knutson, along with a parental alienation specialist, considered the case parental alienation and sent them, like the Tsimhoni children, to a reunification therapy.
The two girls have since gone missing and have not been heard from by anyone for about two years.
Parental alienation is not clearly defined but is a group of behaviors which causes children to unreasonably reject one parent, making it impossible for the parent to have a normal relationship with his or her children.
Advocates on behalf of protective mothers argue that abusers often claim parental alienation to explain away their abuse.
Connie Valentine runs the California Protective Parents Association: “In our national survey of 399 mothers attempting to protect their children from abuse, 75% were labeled with ‘parental alienation syndrome’ or ‘alienator’. The children were removed from the mothers and given to their named abusers. In California, some judges are beginning to move away from using the label ‘alienator’ but they replace it with ‘liar.’ Mothers and children who report they were domestically abused, even with compelling evidence, are disbelieved. Fathers who deny committing such abuse are believed.”
Lansat declined to respond to comment from CDN. Attorneys for both Omer and Maya Tsimhoni declined comment due to the gag order in place on this case. Judge Gorcyca’s chambers said it would be inappropriate to comment because the case is ongoing. The West Bloomfield Township Police Department declined comment and CPS didn’t return a phone call. An email to Omer Tsimhoni was also left unreturned.