DECEMBER 2000 PRINT EDITION



Middlesex County Court
Charged With Corruption
Who Altered Court Hearing
Tapes and Other Records?

By Ed Oliver
December 2000

A father has been separated from his son because "insiders" in the Middlesex County Probate and Family Court in Cambridge are friends and associates of his ex-wife's new husband, a father has charged.

There has also been deliberate manipulation of court files and hearing tapes, his attorney says. This and other irregularities have kept the father from his son for six years without any evidentiary hearing ever having taken place.

As a result, the boy has developed serious problems and was eventually turned over to DSS by the mother and her new husband.

The father believes that what happened to him could only be possible because the system is run by people who adhere to a feminist ideology which automatically assumes men are violent and dangerous. The wrongdoers include Chief Justice Sheila McGovern, the father states.

A Supreme Court Justice will hear the father's petition for intervention in the case this month.

Justice Is 'Mocked'
"There is ample evidence that insiders in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court have removed documents from his case file, falsified the case docket, refused to docket motions and hearings in the public record, and withheld the public file for nine months," Attorney Gregory Hession told Massachusetts News. He says someone has even edited several hearing tapes.

The attorney added, "In addition, the court granted many restraining orders against the father without any legal grounds to do so, and sometimes without any testimony from the complainant.

"All these things are illegal and mock justice. If a court can engage in this kind of behavior and get away with it, can anyone with a case in the Commonwealth believe he will get fair and impartial justice?"

Judge McGovern said in a ruling this August that some of the tapes have been destroyed even though the law forbids their destruction if any matter is pending or subject to appeal. Some of the tapes which were destroyed were those which were the most altered.

'Domestic Violence Expert' Involved
The father, Edward "Zed" McLarnon, claims that a prominent "domestic violence expert," David Douglas, who works closely with the courts in conducting mandatory classes for men who have been accused of being violent to their wives, is responsible for the corruption.

Douglas became involved with the father's ex-wife in 1989. The father was divorced in 1986 after a two-year custody battle. He was awarded joint physical custody of his son.

In 1994 the ex-wife and her husband, Douglas, obtained the first of a series of restraining orders against him under false pretenses, the father claims. He says Douglas was able to use his influence in the courts and with his fellow social workers to falsely brand the father as a past abuser in order to separate him from his son. However, the father is able to point to evidence from the divorce in 1986 where the mother admitted under oath that her alleged injuries were perpetrated by her former boyfriend, Gabriel Garcia, not by the father.

He says that Douglas used his influence to manipulate the court files, edit hearing tapes, generate damning evaluations against him, prejudice judges and lawyers against him and maliciously prosecute him.

He also says his ex-wife and her social worker husband poisoned his relationship with his son.

He says they did this by creating a cult-like atmosphere around the boy by separating him from the truth and repeatedly telling him his father is a dangerous man. He said the boy answered questions of judges and evaluators with social worker sounding phrases not consistent with a child's speech patterns.

Photo: Father and son.

Douglas Had Influence in Courts
Douglas listed his credentials in a 1994 court affidavit as a clinical social worker who was "licensed at the highest level in Massachusetts." He said he served on several domestic violence commissions for Governor Weld.

"I regularly train counselors, probation officers, judges, court personnel, police, shelter workers, and others," said Douglas in the document. "I do this nationally and internationally. I am experienced in four models of batterer treatment."

He says he helped establish court-ordered treatment standards for offenders in Massachusetts and helped establish police standards for handling domestic violence cases. He also says he co-founded and was the co-director of  "Common Purpose, Inc.," a program for alleged "batterers."

The father says incredible roadblocks have appeared at every turn in his quest to be reunited with his son. This indicates to him that somebody has been pulling strings who knows his case intimately and is well connected in the domestic violence industry.

For example, several documents favorable to him have disappeared from the file, the father says. One of these, according to court records, was a report which was later "found" in Douglas' home with a portion redacted which the father says had contained exculpatory information from a doctor. The incomplete report "found" by the ex-wife was then officially docketed into his impounded file.

The father has also been haunted by a 1994 report by a lawyer who was appointed by the court to advise it on the best interests of the child. The report from the lawyer, Lisa Steckler, included recommendations from two social workers for treatment of the father. The social workers were friends and associates of Douglas who had never met nor interviewed the father. MassNews spoke with both of the social workers and their admissions seriously discredit the report.

The father even says he has been physically assaulted. He claims he was dragged from his car in July 1996 and assaulted by two men who appeared to be police officers by the shoes they wore and the car they drove. He says the men threatened him to stay away from court if he wanted to see his son again. A Malden Hospital Emergency Room report confirms he was assaulted and cut. Massachusetts News also checked with the Malden Police who were unable to locate a report of the incident.

That particular incident, he says, occurred just three days after the couple sought unsuccessfully in District Court to have him jailed for violating his restraining order after his son contacted him. The father had an exception on his Restraining Order allowing the son to contact him, court documents show. The case was dismissed.

Boy Was Damaged
When the youngster was at home with his father, he had structure and chores. He played sports, learned music and did well in school. Documents show the son resented the discipline, such as making him write essays or do chores.

The father believes that his son was enticed to go along with the mother and stepfather's restraining orders against him because they allowed the boy to live virtually unsupervised as a young teen. But freedom was too much for a young boy to handle. There is documented evidence supporting that view.

According to court documents, Mass General Hospital's Barbara Beardsley wrote the Probate Court in September 1995 regarding Douglas and his wife. "I have become increasingly concerned that [the boy] is not receiving adequate supervision and is setting his own rules for living to an extent which puts him at considerable risk. My recommendation is that [the boy's] mother and stepfather need to institute a plan to regain control of [him]. If an effective plan cannot be created within a reasonable amount of time, then I will move to involve the Department of Social Services through a 51A."

When Douglas was faced with the embarrassing prospect of having a 51A Report (suspected child abuse report) lodged against him, he immediately wrote a letter to Beardsley to tell her that he was already working on the problem, according to a redacted letter the father obtained from the boy's DSS file.

Douglas wrote that he had had numerous contacts with various professionals about the boy, then detailed for Beardsley his service plan.

Problem: The boy not coming home at night.

Plan: "CHINS filed at Concord Court on 9/22/95. Court date 13 October 1995. Contacted Artie Smith at Concord District Court. Situation Dangerous. Notified Lexington Police. Spoke with Jack Gavin, Waltham District Court. May move to warrant for his arrest. See warrant."

Problem: The boy missing school.

Douglas' preferred plan was to consult with social workers and give the youngster a "CORE" evaluation to place him into a Special Ed "PLACE" program.

Problem: The boy trapped in exploitative relationship with 21-year-old woman. Drinking alcohol with her, possible drug use, possible sexual relationship.

"Plan A: Possible placement with DSS...

Plan B: Discovered yesterday that she is on probation. Exploring possibility of filing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor - gray area. Have her arrested."

DSS Steps In
At the request of Douglas and the mother, DSS stepped into the situation concerning the son. Files show the agency was aware that he was having a relationship with the older woman, Jennifer Marino. DSS files say the agency "advised her to not allow [the boy] to stay overnight at her apartment and to call the hotline if he refuses to go home."  The father says the woman had his son's child in June 1996 when he was 15-years-old.

In October of 1995, DSS worker Ann Panopolis wrote in her report, "[the son] stated to this worker that he can't stay at home due to parents' emotional and verbal abuse and requested placement (foster home)."

A Concord Probate Court official told DSS that the boy was lying when he said that Douglas and the mother were abusing him.

But the father tells MassNews: "This is so typical. If any other child told DSS that his mother and stepfather were verbally and emotionally abusing him, DSS would immediately file a 51A and most likely remove the child from the home. In this case, even though Mass General Hospital had threatened Douglas and my ex-wife with a 51A, the social workers at DSS decided that this child was lying. They knew the son was being victimized in a statutory rape situation and did nothing about it. He was eventually trapped into becoming a father at 15-years-old. That statement in the DSS report about the son lying was unsubstantiated, it has no reference to anything that's real."

According to the father, his 15-year-old son contacted him in the spring of 1996 to say he was "caught in a plot and doesn't know how to get out," apparently referring to bureaucratic steps Douglas began to take to get the son under control.

The father suddenly didn't seem so bad after all to his son. The father had a brief reunion with him, after the son contacted him, which almost landed the father in jail. According to him, they had an enjoyable visit. He made the boy a Scottish stew. They listened to music. The son told him he wanted to work with him as an assistant in his recording studio to learn the trade.

According to the father, his fifteen year old  son said Douglas had him arrested for sleeping in Harvard Square and his probation officer, Gil Sakakeeny, was a friend of Douglas. The officer always spoke with Douglas after the officer met the son.

The father didn't think much about the name until he went to demand the McLarnon-Jokisch DSS file. He noticed the only information in there about him was the damning report from the lawyer appointed by the court, Lisa Steckler, that included recommendations for treatment of the father by people who never met him. When he asked DSS where they got the Steckler report, they told him from Probation Officer Gil Sakakeeny. He suspects the unseen hand of Douglas worked behind the scenes in that instance and in a similar manner with his hearing tapes and files.

"The four clinical evaluations favorable to me were not there," he pointed out to MassNews, "including the findings of coercion and child abuse by Mass General against Douglas and my ex-wife."         

Douglas turned down a request for a personal interview and did not even want to answer questions over the phone. The mother also refused to comment. Douglas said not to contact the son for comment either.

To contact Mr. Mc. Clarmon, call 781-324-1989 or write to zmedia@world.std.com.