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Published Friday, August 25, 2000, in the Miami Herald, Broward Edition


Herald editorial text (copyrighted)
Opinion page (10B)


Yes, do let the courts decide -- finally -- if a 5-year-old Miramar girl belongs with one of her parents or whether she needs another home where she can stay until grown. And then let an independent agency, perhaps the Broward Grand Jury, assess what went so wrong here and why the child was kept in an emergency shelter for 28 months.

Her father had custody of the child because of alleged abuse by her mother, but then she was taken from him by the state in April 1998 because of reported concerns about his anger. From there, the case became a tangled knot with at least seven judges hearing parts of the case.

Now an appellate court has ordered a speedy resolution. That's not a moment too soon as now there are allegations that the child was abused in the shelter. Then given the decades of problems with children's services in Broward, this should be a case study of what can go wrong and how never to let it happen again.

The father's response:

Plaudits to The Herald for your concern, both in news columns and on the opinion page, regarding my 5-year-old daughter, who now has been illegally held nearly half her life in a Broward emergency shelter. As this has unnecessarily, thanks to the state's smokescreens and downright malicious tactics, become exceedingly complex and muddied with untruths, it is no wonder that the Aug. 25 editorial stated something not exactly accurate.

While the editorial said my daughter was taken from me in April 1998 "because of reported concerns about [my] anger," the reality is that such allegations were not made until the state's fourth petition -- a petition filed 1 1/2 years after her seizure. The initial petitions said the reason was that I "failed to protect" her because she returned home from a court-ordered supervised visit with her mother with a fat lip.

As for a Broward Grand Jury probe, that is a great idea. I can tell you right now that they might be well-served to look at the fact that it was Judge Kathleen Kearney who repeatedly returned my daughter to the emergency shelter beyond statutory limits. This is the same Kathleen Kearney who now, as Gov. Bush's appointee as our state's secretary of the Department of Children & Families, is leading the campaign of retalitation against my daughter and myself. And that demands a great deal of investigation.

7130 Granada Blvd.
Miramar, FL 33023

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