This report is part 12 of an investigative series looking into reported corruption in the Missouri Judiciary and family courts. For the rest of the investigation visit the catalog here.
PJ Media cameras recorded a press conference on Tuesday in St. Louis Missouri in front of the 21st Judicial Circuit Court, where parents spoke out about what they call an egregious abuse of power in the family courts, and especially the guardian ad litem (GAL) program. Three former child victims also came forward to talk about the abuse they suffered at the hands of molesters, abusers, and court guardians. PJM has reported on this developing scandal doggedly over the last few months. The St. Louis press, on the other hand, has erected a wall of silence around this story, and though every one of the city’s major channels was in attendance at the event, not a single local channel aired one bit of the footage. Instead of reporting on local parents and children who say the judiciary and guardians ad litem are conspiring to place children in danger with abusers for money, KMOV and KPLR ran stories about a dog pulling another dog out of a swimming pool, potholes destroying tire rims, the blessing of tractors by the archbishop, and a snake in a North Carolina Target slithering across some canned baked beans.
Meanwhile, parents and children in St. Louis County and the surrounding counties in Missouri told their emotional tales of sickening abuse and loss at the hands of the court to press cameras from media outlets that had no intention of broadcasting their pleas.
“Thank you for coming today to raise awareness of lawlessness that is taking place in St. Louis County and in the state of Missouri in family court proceedings,” said Evita Tolu, who filed a lawsuit against guardian Elaine Pudlowski, Dr. James Reid, and others involved in her case, which she says was weighted against her for profit.
“We will no longer be silent from the broken family court,” said Courtney Nolan. “This system and the players that operate within this system are not following federal and state laws. They do not abide by their own guidelines and court orders.”
Nolan read a statement from a parent who was not able to attend the press conference: “We treat animals better than our children in this system. The children are being raped, beaten, brainwashed, drugged, murdered, and permanently damaged by living in fear without recourse. If they don’t take their own lives they are taught that they don’t matter. They do matter, their voices need to be heard and they need to have a choice in their own lives.”
Kristen Dodson said her guardian ad litem, Brian Dunlap, kidnapped her child from her at the age of five when the child disclosed sexual abuse and no one believed the child or her mother. Instead, the court actors removed Dodson’s custody and gave the child to the alleged abuser. “They have no care whatsoever for these children and that’s their job,” said Dodson.
Brad Fercho, former CEO and a father who went through the divorce court, said, “I believe this is a systemic corrupted process. Why would all 31 judges recuse themselves from a case on hearing a charge on corruption within the guardian ad litem system?” PJ Media broke that story in March. St. Louis press never reported that their entire judiciary stepped down from one lawsuit.
“This is about one thing…profit for personal gain by the people who are involved,” said Fercho. “They use a circle of psychologists, behavioral health professionals, who they self-refer and who have trumped-up, in many cases, charges of mental and psychological problems that then allow them to take the children—and in many many cases place them in a position where they are in harm.”
“This is extortion for personal gain. It devastates parents. It also devastates children,” continued Fercho. “I’m here to say this must stop.” Fercho then went on to castigate the St. Louis media for not reporting this story. “Why would the St. Louis Post Dispatch ignore this story? I have repeatedly contacted them. The media needs to get involved. The media needs to take ownership of this because that’s what the media is for—to protect the vulnerable and get the word out.” (In case you forgot: the local channels took the video of the press conference and went back to their studios and shelved it in favor of snakes on baked beans. Journalism!)
VIDEO: Woman finds snake slithering across canned beans at Target https://t.co/qplNJpKTeB
— KMOV (@KMOV) April 21, 2021
Julie Hayes is a grieving mother who lost her daughter to the system. “My daughter was taken from me. I haven’t seen her in fifteen months and [she was] put back into an abusive situation,” she said. “I left a domestic violence situation and they ignored me. I raised my voice and no one listened and they just threw out more lies and punishment and took more money from me.”
Many survivors of domestic violence say that St. Louis County Courts never believe them when they make allegations of abuse. In case after case, the parents who allege violence or molestation are punished with less time with their children, if not removed from their lives entirely.
Cindy Haynes is a mother who lost her child to suicide because of this system. Her child, Mikaela, left a suicide note explaining that the court process was too much for her to bear. “I’m the mother of Mikaela Ann Haynes and I am her voice because she is no longer with us because she hanged herself on November 24, 2018, after her GAL would not help her. She couldn’t take it anymore.”
Mikaela was a victim of child sexual abuse by her father, who went to jail for raping her sister, but the courts still gave him unfettered access to Mikaela and another child, despite desperate affidavits by her therapist begging the court not to allow the abuser access to her.
Melissa Haynes, sister of Mikaela, bravely told the press about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather. “I’m here to be the voice of Mikaela Ann Haynes, my sister, who took her own life the day after she found out the GAL was going to testify as a character witness in the case against my stepdad, who molested me,” she explained. “She was a strong little girl and she was put through way too much. In her suicide note, she said, ‘I hope you make it through all this court stuff but I just can’t do it anymore.'”
“Children are literally losing their lives because no one will listen to them,” said Dodson. “We teach our children that if something bad is happening they should say something and then they are treated as if they are lying and, worse than that, they are put into the situation they said is abusive full-time!”
Dodson warned that the children affected by these traumas are ticking time bombs. “What these people are doing is not just a crime against us now but this is a crime against the entire nation. It’s a crime against humanity…these children, they grow up to have issues, they struggle, and who do you think that affects? Every single one of us.”
Kenneth Rosa of The Father’s Rights Movement talked about the leaked information that started the avalanche of fallout that PJM has been reporting. “Thanks to emails from presiding Judge Burton and a leaked video call of 39 attorneys and guardians ad litem from this county, we now had definitive proof that there are people and actors with this court [who are corrupt],” he said, referring to the video posted to YouTube by investigative journalist Michael Volpe. “My GAL is Elaine Pudlowski and she absolutely destroyed my two children’s lives and left them with the abusive parent who happens to be the mom in this case,” continued Rosa. “Parents who want to be in their children’s lives can’t jump through enough hoops or reach enough goals to satisfy these courts to become fit enough parents to be with their children. The target continues to move until the bank accounts are drained and assets are gone and we keep redistributing St. Louis County wealth back to the court actors, the GALs, the therapists, and all the people who are profiting from it.”
Rosa says it’s intentional. “It’s not a broken system. It’s working the way it’s supposed to for their benefit, not ours and not our kids’ benefits.” Rosa alleges that the lack of accountability has led to this disaster. “There is zero accountability, with the judiciary protecting itself from any scrutiny at any cost.”
including case fixing, ex parte communications, and members of ethics committees covering up illegal actions.”
You can watch the entire press conference below.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the Missouri family court corruption, please reach out to [email protected]