Campaign Update: PBS BOMBSHELL

November 1, 2005

 

PBS Portrays Known Child Abuser as Hero:
Juvenile Court, CPS, Family Court Records Detail Mother's Physical Abuse

Sadia Loeliger, one of the central characters in Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, is portrayed by the filmmakers as a heroic mom. The filmmakers spotlight and applaud her fight  to gain custody of her daughter Fatima, who is also featured.

After the film's debut I was contacted by Dr. Scott Loeliger, Sadia's ex-husband, and we are now revealing, for the first time publicly, Sadia's long, documented history of child abuse--a history which the film's producers chose to ignore despite repeated warnings.

We are launching Round 2 of our campaign against Breaking the Silence today--read the shocking Loeliger revelations here and then return to this E-newsletter for instructions on how you can participate.


Round 2 of the Campaign Begins

To date, we have generated over 4,000 calls and letters to PBS protesting Breaking the Silence. Round 2 begins now--I want all of you to join our campaign by clicking here.

There have been many indications, some of which I am not at liberty to discuss, that our protests have concerned PBS. The film, which aired on some PBS affiliates on October 20 and will air on many others in the coming weeks, is a direct assault on fatherhood. The film portrays fathers as batterers and child molesters who steal children from their mothers. We want PBS to allow both sides of this issue to be heard.

Again, I want all of you to join our campaign by clicking here.


Our Side Gets Chance to Speak on Houston PBS

To its credit, Houston PBS followed through on its commitment to allow our side to air its view of Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories and Parental Alienation Syndrome on its round-table discussion show The Connection on Friday, October 28 at 8 PM CST and again on Sunday, October 30 at 5 PM CST.

The show featured Dr. Reena Sommer, an expert on Parental Alienation Syndrome, as well as Andy Sperling, director of Fathers for Equal Rights in Houston. The opposition was represented by Thomas H. Burton III, General Counsel for the nonprofit organization Justice for Children.

Burton labeled Parental Alienation Syndrome "junk science" and his group's website calls claims of PAS an "unethical, immoral" tactic.

According to Barbara Sweet of Help Stop PAS Inc, our side's points came across loud and clear.

Thanks to Sweet, who has done a lot of good work on this issue, as well as to Sommer and Sperling.

Also, I suggest you commend Ken Lawrence, the Director of Programming for PBS of Houston, for his evenhandedness--to write him, click here.

To read a more detailed description of the Houston broadcast, click here.

I'm disappointed and a little surprised at the position Justice for Children is taking on PAS. I had one of their leaders, Donnalee Sarda, on His Side with Glenn Sacks earlier this year, and while Donna and I certainly don't see eye to eye on everything, she seems much more reasonable than what is posted on their website.

I receive a steady stream of letters from target parents of PAS, and I told some of the stories I was able to investigate in the first part of my co-authored column PBS Declares War on Dads (World Net Daily, 10/20/05).  To deny that alienation exists, or that children can buy into the alienation and align themselves with the alienating parent against the target parent, seems to me to be an intellectually untenable position.

However, this is certainly not to say that claims of PAS are not misused--in my co-authored column PBS' Breaking the Silence: Family Law in the Funhouse Mirror (Albany Times Union, 10/20/05, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 10/24/05) I noted:

"To be fair, it is true that there are fathers who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who unfairly blame their children's mothers by claiming PAS. Yet parental alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon. For example, a longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 'high conflict' divorce cases over a 12 year period, and found that elements of PAS were present in the vast majority of them."

To hear Sommer and Judy Jones of Help Stop PAS Inc on His Side, see The Lohstroh Case: Alienating Mother Pushes 10 Year-Old Boy to Kill Father (10/31/04).


More News on Breaking the Silence Protests

Sacks Discusses PBS Campaign on NPR's CrossTalk (11/1/05)

Sacks Discusses PBS Campaign on 700 WLW in Cincinnati (11/1/05)

Judge Featured in Breaking the Silence Attacks Sacks in LA Newspaper

Jeff Leving & Glenn Sacks--"Film Goes Too Far as Advocate for Cutting Fathers Off From Kids"
(Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, 11/1/05)
 

No Justice for Dads/Dads Protest Too Much
(Norfolk Virginian Pilot, 10/31/05)

Documentary failed to show the system also victimizes men
(Albany Times Union, 10/29/05)

New documentary shines light on bitter custody fights, draws fire from fathers
(Sacramento News & Review, 10/27/05)

Columnist: PBS Film Unfairly Represents Fatherhood
(Agape Press, 10/27/05)

PBS Documentary Has Fathers Seething
(Family News In Focus, 10/26/05)


Mental Health Professionals Condemn PBS's Breaking the Silence, Endorse Campaign

Last E-newsletter we announced that the American Psychological Association Says Breaking the Silence Misrepresents Its Position on PAS. Over two dozen mental health professionals have now endorsed our campaign. To read their statement, click here.


Breaking the Silence: More Credibility Problems

American Psychological Association Says Breaking the Silence Misrepresents Its Position on PAS

A spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association says that PBS's new documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories distorts the APA's position on Parental Alienation Syndrome.  The film criticizes PAS, which arises when one parent tries to turn his or her children against the other parent during a divorce or separation.

In the documentary Joan Meier, a professor of clinical law at George Washington University and one of the film's chief spokespersons, states that PAS  "has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Association." Connecticut Public Television, one of the film's producers, put out a press release promoting the film which stated that PAS had been "discredited by the American Psychological Association."

However, according to Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Director of Public and Member Communications of the American Psychological Association, these claims are "incorrect" and "inaccurate."  Farberman says that the APA "does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome--pro or con." She adds:

"The Connecticut Public Television press release is incorrect.   I have notified both Connecticut Public Television and their PR firm of the inaccuracy in their press release." 

To learn more, click here.


Leader of Domestic Violence Shelter Which Helped Fund Breaking the Silence Criticizes Film

Calling Breaking the Silence imbalanced and focused on extreme cases, Pam Kallsen, executive director of the Marjaree Mason Center, a domestic violence shelter in Fresno, California, contacted her

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local PBS affiliate and told them she was distressed that her shelter's name and logo were associated with the program.

Kallsen had been a staunch supporter of the film project, even helping to secure funding for it, but says she changed her mind after seeing the film.

To learn more, click here.


The National Organization for Women Attacks Our PBS Campaign, Urges Followers to Contact PBS

The National Organization for Women's national office and several other feminist groups have sounded the alarm over our campaign. According to the MND Newswire story PBS Bombarded by Protests over Father-Bashing Show:

"The National Organization for Women sent out an Action Alert urging its members to fight 'bogus 'fathers' rights' activists' and support the film. Irene Weiser of Stop Family Violence urged supporters to counter the protests by calling PBS and urging them to run the program. Toni Troop of Jane Doe Inc./The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence warned against the protesters, saying that film angers the 'mad dads whose tactics and efforts to further the abuse through the court systems are exposed.'"


PBS Internal Memo Tells Affiliates to Stonewall Protesters

A source at PBS sent us this confidential internal memo on Friday. The memo is an instruction sheet that PBS's national office has dispensed to their affiliates to instruct them as to how to deal with the thousands of people who have called or written them to protest Breaking the Silence. As you'll notice, the common theme of this memo is to stonewall protesters.


Manipulating Children into Making or Corroborating False Charges

An important element of Parental Alienation Syndrome is the way children can be manipulated into making or corroborating false charges. Ironically, the Los Angeles Times just published this article--McMartin Pre-Schooler: 'I Lied': A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case--which could serve as a textbook for the method. Kyle Zirpolo, now 30 years-old, writes:

"[As a child] I remember them asking extremely uncomfortable questions about whether Ray touched me and about all the teachers and what they did--and I remember telling them nothing happened to me. I remember them almost giggling and laughing, saying, 'Oh, we know these things happened to you. Why don't you just go ahead and tell us? Use these dolls if you're scared.'

"Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn't like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted...

"I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin...

"My parents were very encouraging when I said that things happened. It was almost like saying things happened was going to help get these people in jail and stop them from what they were trying to do to kids. Also, there were so many kids saying all these things happened that you didn't want to be the one who said nothing did. You wouldn't be believed if you said that.

"I remember feeling like they didn't pick just anybody--they picked me because I had a good memory of what they wanted, and they could rely on me to do a good job. I don't think they thought I was telling the truth, just that I was telling the same stories consistently, doing what needed to be done to get these teachers judged guilty. I felt special. Important.

"It always seemed like I was thinking. I would listen to what my parents would say if they were talking, or to what someone else would say if we were being questioned at the police station or anywhere. And I would repeat things. Or if it wasn't a story I'd heard, I would think of something in my head. I would try to think of the worst thing possible that would be harmful to a child. I remember once I said that if you had a cut, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it, the McMartin teachers would put on dirt, then put the Band-Aid over the dirt. That was just something in my head that was bad. I just thought of it and told [the investigators]...

"The lawyers had all my stories written down and knew exactly what I had said before. So I knew I would have to say those exact things again and not have anything be different, otherwise they would know I was lying. I put a lot of pressure on myself. At night in bed, I would think hard about things I had said in the past and try to repeat only the things I knew I'd said before..."


Male Domestic Violence Victim Sues over Being Denied Access to Services

My friend Marc Angelucci, Esq. is at it again, bringing a California lawsuit on behalf of a gentleman who was badly abused by his wife and repeatedly refused services by domestic violence treatment providers. The case has several interesting twists--see Men's Rights Group: Victim Support Only For Women or watch the video here. To write to CBS13 and commend them for their coverage of this important issue, click here.

Similar suits have been brought against California shelters in the past--to learn more, see my column Plaintiff in Suit Against LA DV Shelters is Right to Demand Services for Abused Men (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/12/03).