DECEMBER 2000 PRINT EDITION
Workers Discredit Court's
mental health professionals have made startling admissions to
Massachusetts News that discredit a court-ordered report which quoted
them as sources. The father says the report "has poisoned my case from
beginning to end."
admissions are important because Attorney Lisa Steckler was appointed to
represent the interests of the boy and to file a report with the court. Such a
person is called a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). Atty. Steckler filed her report in
1994 saying that the mental health professionals that she contacted at the
request of the mother recommended that the father be compelled to seek
counseling for abusive and violent behavior. She said they also recommended that
a restraining order be continued against him.
these professionals tell MassNews they never met nor interviewed the father, Zed
McLarnon. They also have admitted to MassNews that they are friends and
associates of the mother and her husband, David Douglas.
report from Atty. Steckler was supposed to be impounded and never seen by
outsiders. But it was not impounded nor was it ever docketed (i.e., entered into
the official court records).
a consequence, it was available in the public files and has mysteriously shown
up in many other places, such as in the boy's medical, school, DSS and probation
files, thereby damaging the father's credibility and "poisoning the
well" on resolving his case.
of the reports that are favorable to the father from doctors and therapists are
missing from various files, but the Steckler report is a constant.
the father puts it, the docket was illegally used to taint him and only now is
it docketed, impounded and backdated like nothing had happened.
to the father, the Steckler Report was "struck" by a judge back in
1994 for the very reasons MassNews has confirmed were problems with it. However,
the "striking" of the report by the judge was edited out of the
hearing tape, says the father. When the report of GAL Steckler was struck, a new
GAL was appointed, Massachusetts General Hospital.
records show MGH has failed to produce a court ordered evaluation although the
father paid them $3000. The father is currently suing MGH for breach of
contract. His attorney says the lack of an evaluation has prevented the father
from having an evidentiary hearing that he should have had six years ago. As a
result, the father and his son have been deprived of a relationship all those
of the professionals contacted by GAL Steckler was David Adams Ph.D., a licensed
certified psychologist who was Program Director of the batterers' program
wrote in her report, "Mr. Adams told me that he met with Virginia Jokisch
[the mother] who related incidents of abuse by the father. She seems credible to
him. As a result of their meeting, Mr. Adams is concerned with the effects of
the father's anger and history of abuse on the son, the son. He recommends
treatment for the father which addresses abusive and violent behavior."
Talked with Father
wrote that Dr. Adams "confirmed the following in a letter he wrote on
behalf of the mother, Virginia Jokisch." She then reproduced three
paragraphs from an Adams letter where he spoke in the general sense about
abusive men, although Steckler characterized the letter as though it were
written specifically about the father. The complete letter is not included in
her report. Adams wrote in his letter about "violent,"
"abusive" and "manipulative" men. He said that courts
"should not hesitate to refer abusive men [to batterers' programs] simply
because they minimize their abuse or express reluctance to attend such
programs." The psychologist now says the letter was not written
specifically about the father.
a hearing a month after the Steckler report was filed, the attorney for Douglas
and his wife requested in a motion that the father be treated at EMERGE, where
Douglas had worked for four years until 1990 and where the psychologist, Adams,
was Program Director.
second professional that Steckler contacted for her report was Lisa Tieszen
Gary, a licensed independent clinical social worker. She is the Director of
"Safe Transitions: Domestic Violence Program" at Beth Israel Hospital,
Boston. Her name is now Lisa Tieszen.
told MassNews that both Douglas and his wife referred her to GAL Steckler even
though Steckler mentioned only the mother in her report. In her first
conversation with MassNews, Tieszen said she only knew of Douglas through
professional contacts. In the second interview she admitted knowing Douglas
personally since the late eighties. She said she did not ever speak to the
asked Lisa Tieszen if she makes it a practice to reach a clinical conclusion
about somebody without interviewing him. She gave a startling answer.
is not my practice to interview those who are the alleged perpetrators of
domestic violence. Those recommendations were based on what would be protective
for those who are being victimized and to hold the father, in this case,
accountable for his behavior."
said she spoke to the son and the mother. It was based on these anecdotal
stories that she recommended in her report to continue the current restraining
order, mandate batterer's treatment for the father and discontinue his visits
with the son.
father's therapist, Bruce Jason, was given short shrift in the Steckler Report.
He later said he was mischaracterized and misquoted. A statement by him in the
last sentence of the Steckler Report contains the only positive statement about
the father to be found. "The father has a well structured relationship with
MassNews reached Lisa Steckler and managed to ask if she still writes GAL reports before she hung up the phone.
attorney for the father, William August, wrote in a May, 1995 letter to Probate
Court, "I am of the opinion that the Guardian Ad Litem's report did not
address several affidavits and letters showing Mr.McLarnons's fitness for
custody or visitation and apparently did not give due weight to Mr. McLarnon's
evidence, actual experience with his child or reasonable rights to at least have
One such evaluation was by Doctor Norman Zinberg of Harvard Medical School. According to the father's therapist, Bruce Jason, this evaluation showed, "Mr. McLarnon and the son had a basically well functioning relationship with adequate structure and affection. He found no evidence of abuse, past or present. Nor did he find any problems resulting from physical mishandling. He had a minor concern regarding impulse control resulting in raised voices, which is common in today's parenting relationships. He did not think this serious."