Dr. David Menchell never dreamed when he reported bruises on his older son's body that it would lead to Child Protective Services investigating him. He first noticed the bruises when he took his children to the Poconos for a vacation. While at a water park, he asked his son where they came from. His son has emotional issues, so it was difficult to find out from him how he had gotten bruised.
Later that weekend, Dr. Menchell's mother talked to her grandson. She then told Dr. Menchell the child had implied that an older child at school had been fighting with him and had bruised him.
The next day, Dr. Menchell phoned the school and talked to the psychologist who works with his son. She assured him that the students were usually supervised, and it would be unlikely for his son to be in a fight without someone knowing about it. She said, however, that she would follow up with his teachers and also call Dr. Menchell's ex-wife to discuss the situation.
The next day Dr. Menchell's ex-wife took the boy to the pediatrician, and he documented the same bruises. The day after that, Dr. Menchell received a call from Child Protective Services stating that they were investigating the boy's bruises. Dr. Menchell responded that he had expected that they would do that. It was then that Child Protective Services informed Dr. Menchell that he was the subject of the investigation.
Dr. Menchell's rights to visit his children were immediately suspended, and he has not seen his children for three months. Child Protective Services indicated the report, meaning that the investigator claims to have found some credible evidence that he committed the abuse. Some credible evidence is an extremely low standard of proof. It is not unusual for an investigator to indicate a report when there is little or even no evidence.
When Dr. Menchell goes before an administrative law judge to get the indicated report amended to unfounded, Child Protective Services will have to meet a higher standard of proof--a fair preponderance of evidence. Doctor Menchell understands this because he was put through the same ringer on another occasion.
Following the first investigation, Dr. Menchell was not allowed to see his children for two months. After Dr. Menchell was interrogated by a court appointed psychologist, he was allowed visits with his children but only if they were supervised.
While he was finally exonerated of any wrong doing following a fair hearing, the doctor had this to say.
"...it was an easy matter to disprove the inept findings of the report and reverse the decision of CPS, but it took two years, stuck me with a label of child abuser, cost a fortune in psychologist's and attorney's fees, and disrupted the normal parenting time I might have had with my children."
Dr. Menchell is confident that the results of the second investigation will be overturned as well. He says, "I don't doubt that I will overturn this additional finding from CPS. The very fact that I have had to endure this insult twice is an indictment of the system. The principles that apply in other venues, like criminal court, should extend to CPS and Family Court: the right to a fair trial or hearing, the assumption of innocence, the right to address your accusers. Until these issues are addressed and CPS is held accountable, there will be continued abuse and injustice perpetrated by CPS and the courts. And our children and their parents are both the victims."
While Child Protective Services does not divulge the names of people making calls to the child abuse hotline, Doctor Menchell attributes his problems with Child Protective Services to a marriage gone sour.
Many estranged or divorced spouses have testified to similar problems.
Ledger.com reported yesterday that a Lakeland, Florida father, William Dunn, is suing the Florida Department of Children and Families for not allowing him to see his daughter for eleven months after he was falsely accused of sexually abusing her. The judge who ruled that Dunn did not abuse his daughter and returned her to his care expressed concern that the girl's mother coached her to say that she had been abused, although the mother denies it. Both the father and daughter have suffered physical and emotional problems due to the false allegations.
Earlier this week, the grown children of Clyde Raye Spencer testified at a hearing that their father never abused them. Spencer has served 19 years in prison for child abuse. Both of Spencer's children say that their mother told them they were just blocking out the memory of the abuse when they told her they had not been abused.
Dean Tong, who is an expert on false allegations of abuse, spent $150,000 and ten years to clear his name after his estranged wife accused him of sexually abusing his daughter. He has since become an author and a leading expert witness on parent alienation syndrome, and false allegations of sexual and other forms of abuse during or after a divorce,
Tong has this to say about divorce and false allegations of abuse.
"Even in so called "no-fault" divorce states, parents and relatives of divorcing parties seeking to gain an upper hand in custody and financial arrangements file false or unfounded allegations of domestic violence or child abuse. Once falsely accused, an innocent party oftentimes must spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars defending their good name while finding it nearly impossible to remove the stain of abuse allegations. Such allegations also damage the children involved by forcing them to participate unnecessarily in intrusive psychological examinations and courtroom proceedings."
Divorce and false allegations of child abuse - the story of Dr. David Menchell
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