April 1, 2009 (McClean County, Ill.) (WLS) --
An Illinois judge is under fire after allowing Michael Connolly unsupervised visitation with his two sons, whom he killed.
The boys -- Jack and Duncan-- disappeared in early March and their bodies were found in Connolly's car last weekend in Putnam County, Ill. Michael Connolly had hung himself from a nearby tree.
As their mother asks for privacy as she plans their funeral, an online petition against the judge who awarded Connolly unsupervised custody is gaining momentum. The office of Judge James Souk is referring all calls to the to judge in McClean County.
The petition- which states the judge is 'guilty as Michael Connolly' because there were 'signs of trouble'- was posted on a website originally designed to help find Duncan, 9, and Jack, 7, when the boys were believed to be alive. The boys' mother had an order of protection against Connolly and fought her way through the legal system.
Attorney Denise Brewer, who works on these types of custody cases, said the children's safety and voice are the utmost concern.
"I strongly advocate you get an attorney for the child involved. (The) court wants to hear what is the best interest of the child on visitation and custody issues," said Brewer.
The online petition states there was an order of protection and Connolly had more than 50 violations in a year. That sort of behavior is a red flag, according to experts, since the case was complex- involving criminal, divorce and custody.
"What we needed was to bring all of that together in one fabric so that the judge and others who have to deal with that family - get the full picture. So much of that...victim who is expected to make all those connections," said Leslie Landis, Chicago Office on Domestic Violence.
Landis recommends people in similar situations:
Ask themselves if they are in an abusive relationship
Are you worried about your partner's temper
Do you have arguments
Does your partner call you names? Or is he/she extremely jealous?
Anyone who needs help should call the multilingual City of Chicago domestic violence help line, which is available 24 hours a day, at 877 863 6338.
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Judge criticized for allowing Connolly custody - 4/01/09 - Chicago News - abc7chicago.com
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