April 2000. "The innocent children of the state of Florida need to be protected from the state of Florida," Abbott told members of the Senate committee. The Associated Press
15 June 2000. "Meanwhile, a 5-year-old Miramar girl has spent the past 26 months in an emergency shelter without the benefit of a formal hearing placing her in foster care, even though state law requires such a hearing be held within 30 days of a child being removed from his or her home." Three Sun-Sentinel articles.
11 July 2000. "In an unusual move, the father of a 5-year-old girl held more than two years in an emergency shelter has asked a state appeals court to order her immediate release from state custody. Paul Scott Abbott, whose daughter Ashleigh Danielle Abbott was removed from her father's home by state officials in April 1998, filed a habeas corpus petition Monday before the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. The petition claims Ashleigh is being held illegally and should be released back into her father's custody. Ashleigh currently lives at the Children's Home Society emergency shelter in Broward. Seven different judges have been assigned to hear her case, and Ashleigh as yet has never had a completed hearing to determine whether she should remain a dependent of the state or be returned to her father. Experts said Monday it is fairly unusual for lawyers to file habeas corpus petitions for children who are alleged to be dependents of the state. Usually, such petitions are filed by jail or prison inmates claiming to be held without due process." Full Text, the Miami Herald
12 October. Judge Daniel True Andrews signed the adjudication order submitted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, ruling against Ashleigh's father and formally making the 5 1/2-year-old girl a ward of the state. The written ruling came after a weeklong trial during which the state failed to present any evidence to justify the seizure of Ashleigh Danielle Abbott from her Miramar dad in April 1998, let alone her 2 1/2 years of incarceration in a group emergency shelter (the longest such stay without adjudication against a protective parent in U.S. history.)

Read story in Sun-Sentinel

Miami Herald article, and additional information

2 Oct. Federal lawsuit against Jeb Bush filed. Florida’s Governor in millions dollar hot seat over child abuse case.

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 2 Oct. Closing arguments were made in Ashleigh case 2 Oct. Judge ordered all sides — lawyers from the Florida Attorney General's Office representing the Department of Children and Families in Broward dependency court, the Guardian Ad Litem lawyers, and Abbott, father of Ashleigh, to submit proposed orders citing case law that would stand up on appeal by Oct. 10, at 10 am

Also, Attorney Dowd filed federal lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale on behalf of Paul Scott Abbott against Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush; DCF’s Secretary Kathleen Kearney, and a dozen other defendants. The suit seeks Ashleigh’s immediate return, damages of 100 million dollars, plus two hundred thousand dollars for each of the 900 days she has been in captivity. Hearing set before Federal Judge Graham and Magistrate Turnoff. Suit cites numerous constitutional violations including wire fraud, mail fraud, cites the RICCO Act-racketeering on part of government and others.

To view section of lawsuit, click here. (110K) No hearing date set.

Previous News:

2 Oct. 11:50 am EDT
Closing arguments Monday, 2 Oct. 8 am. Room 540, Broward County Courthouse, starting 8 a.m. State lawyers outnumbered spectators on 29 Sept., closing day of trial, yet despite the gov't financed legal machine, expert testimony for the father whittled into the trumped up charges of molestation, and thwarted the outlandish character assassination. Click for more.

Without approval or a vote, our tax dollars are paying for DCF's defense. Paul needs your help. PLEASE go to your local Bank of America branch and deposit whatever you can in "Free Ashleigh Fund."

28 Sept.
Dad and final expert witness for father slated to testify Friday. PLEASE try to be in the courtroom Friday (9-29) as Ashleigh trial concludes. Begins at 8 a.m. with Dad's testimony, Room 540, Broward County Courthouse.

27 Sept.
You are REALLY needed as we put on OUR case Thursday and Friday, following 12 1/2 hours of outrageous unsubstantiated testimony of a court-appointed psychologist alleging Dad sex-abuse of 5-year-old daughter on day 3 of witch hunt trial. Room 540, Broward County Courthouse, starting 8 a.m. each day.

26 Sept
Trial resume Weds. 27 September

Miami Herald story, ex-wife testifies

Sun-Sentinel story, trial begins

Trial continues 26 Sept. During Monday's hearing (25 Sept.) the state failed to present any evidence justifying the April 1998 seizure of Ashleigh Danielle Abbott from her father. Most of the day was devoted to testimony of the mother who admitted, at least in part, to well-documented felony child abuse of a first child from a first marriage, battery on the father and commitment to a mental institution for a suicide attempt when pregnant with Ashleigh. Click to current press releases.

Latest: Hearing set for 25 September. Click for latest advisories.

24 Sept.
Please Attend Trial 25 September. Make plans now to be at the trial -- finally -- through which 5-year-old Ashleigh may finally be returned to the home from which she was abducted by the State of Florida 2 1/2 years ago and illegally held ever since in a group emergency shelter in which she has been subjected to repeated abuse.

Trial starts Monday, Sept. 25, at 8 a.m., with opening statements in Room 540, Broward County Courthouse, 201 S.E. 6th St., Fort Lauderdale. Badges with Ashleigh's photo, saying "Let Me Go Home," will be distributed to her supporters.

15 Sept.
Sneaky hearing set for 9-15 at 1 p.m. in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. CANCELLED. Today's Ashleigh hearing was called off, which we think is good legally, as judge has decided to wait until trial to determine if he'll admit Ashleigh's hearsay statements, thereby eliminating the possibility of an appeal stay by the state.

(Although the state kept its motives deliberately vague, they apparently dealt with further efforts to introduce child hearsay that centers around Ashleigh's masturbatory activity that began upon her kidnapping by the state and has continued throughout her nearly 2 1/2-year illegal incarceration in the group emergency shelter.)

7 Sept.
Trial continued - delayed until 25 September — hoop jumping takes on new significance

"As the witnesses have failed to establish a tie between the child's actions and any impropriety on the part of the father, Paul Scott Abbott, 43, Assistant Attorney General Jill Bennett has been forced to concede that the state has no evidence of any kind of abuse on the part of the father but rather has held Ashleigh all this time on the notion she is somehow "at risk."

6 Sept.
TV Camera Tossed from Court in Case of Broward 5-year-old; Controversial Hearing Resumes Wednesday (Sept. 6) at 8 a.m. While innocent girl remains in emergency shelter 30th months, state low-blows with sexual charges to pump its case.

Click to Miami Herald articles

Click to Sun-Sentinel article

4 Sept.
Trial Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 8 a.m., and continuing throughout the week or until completion. Judge Andrews has vowed to move the case along as swiftly as possible, pursuant to an order to expedite from the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Click to read new media advisory.

28 Aug.
Hearing Motion for immediate return states,"The perverts who have pathologized this child are the state and its agents" following a Miami Herald article shifting the blame for sexual overtones on 5 -year-old Ashleigh while under the state's care. Click here for media page relating to trial including Sun-Sentinel articles.

27 Aug.
(Click to Miami Herald editorial, 25 Aug.)

24 August
Motion filed 24 Aug. states,"The perverts who have pathologized this child are the state and its agents." Click here for 28 Aug. hearing Motion and Herald story.

Axed: 23 Aug.
Hearing set following Aug.11 order of Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach giving state 20 days to show why it should not grant a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to immediately return Ashleigh to her home with her dad. Click for details.

14 Aug.
Hearing near for tot Dad wants back from state - Fourth District Court of Appeal agrees with dad that his daughter was unlawfully seized.** High profile JUDGE DANIEL TRUE ANDREWS to hear Ashleigh case. Trial set for 5 Sept. Click for details

12 Aug.
The Children's Home Society, under investigation for failing to notify authorities about the alleged sexual abuse of 5-year-old Ashleigh, has been faulted in the past for failing to inform child welfare officials of suspected abuse. `It's not like the CHS, at any time, tried to hide anything from anybody," the executive director said. Read several articles from Miami Herald including "Agency lax in reporting supected abuse."

12 Aug.
Florida witch hunt spreads as political wife enters dispute. This Internet publisher/ newsletter cited in re-thinking attitudes. Click here for Miami Herald story, "Clerk's wife lands in controversy by backing man in custody fight."

11 Aug.
Agency attempts to abort visitation before planned visit. Well respected woman deemed unsuitable supervisor. Click for details.

CHILD MOLESTED in SHELTER . See below and click here for latest Miami Herald story.

Section Update — Florida's convoluted

Believe it or Not!'

Dateline: South Florida 9-23 Aug. 2000.

"In her more than two years of state care, Paul Scott Abbott's young daughter has somehow graduated from a suspected victim of sexual abuse to an alleged perpetrator," says Fla.'s child care agency.

Click here for full Miami Herald article,"Bizarre Twist in custody battle."

Also see Miami Herald article initially reporting abuse and read story below

Florida dad insists child safe with him. Paul Abbott's daughter has been in state custody for nearly half her life. Florida now accuses 5-yr-old of being sexual aggressor following her 21/3 years in state captivity. Learned behavior in shelter is now turned against her by Florida's Department of Children and Families.


Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Aug. 9. 5-year-old Ashleigh molested while incarcerated by state of Florida. Child still not returned to father despite his pleas for her return. Click to series of Miami Herald articles.

In the latest tragic saga of Ashleigh Abbott, child care workers are reviewing charges that she has been abused while in state custody. "If the state heard of a child being molested at home, that child would be immediately removed, but the same rules do not apply in state facilities," said Paul Abbott, the child's father. He had alerted the authorities more than 2-plus years ago when his child returned from a visit with her mother with a busted lip. Weeks later Ashleigh was taken away and imprisoned in the emergency shelter where she now resides.

The state claims Abbott "had failed to protect the child from abuse she received during a supervised visitation with her mother." He is also faulted "for attempting to deprive his ex-wife -- whom caseworkers had repeatedly accused of being abusive -- of visitations." His former wife had her revoked professional license reinstated, but is prohibited from working with children. She was ordered away from a child from a previous marriage after being found abusive. "She is very convincing in her stories," Abbott said. "Look how she has convinced the courts that I am the bad guy. Her false accusations have kept my daughter imprisoned."

To date, witnesses have not been allowed to testify on the father's behalf.

To date, despite a court order, Abbott still has not seen his own records.

To date, Gov. Jeb Bush remains defiantly resolute in not responding to a 27 July subpoena to give his deposition re in the tragic case of child seized 2 1/4 years ago at age 3 and illegally held since in a Broward group emergency shelter.

03 Aug.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. State Concedes Kearney Failed to Enter Disposition Order in Case in which Broward 5-year-old Held 2 1/4 Years; Attorney General's Office Trying to Get Order Now, Backdated to 1998. Click here to read story.

03 Aug.- 31 July.
Florida's Republican Gov. Jeb Bush not bound by laws that govern the rest of us. Termed Ashleigh's "ultimate captor" in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Gov.has ignored a 27 July subpoena to give his deposition re in the tragic case of child seized 2 1/4 years ago at age 3 and illegally held since in a Broward group emergency shelter.
Bush Ignores subpoena, new judge handed case.

20 July.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Ultimate Captor" Gov. Jeb Bush Subpoenaed in Effort Seeking State-Abducted 5-Year-Old's Return to Dad Filing highlights efforts to get return of Ashleigh Danielle Abbott, now 5, to her father, from whom she has been illegally kept for 27 months. Click to read.

10 July.
Abbott filed a habeas corpus petition before the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach asking for the release of his daughter. Usually such is filed on behalf of criminals. In a petition seeking Ashleigh's designation as a dependent of the state, "the agency said Paul Abbott had failed to protect the child from abuse she received during a supervised visitation with her mother. In a later complaint, the state faulted Abbott for attempting to deprive his ex-wife -- whom caseworkers had repeatedly accused of being abusive -- of visitations."

[Ed. Note: How could the father be around when the child was with her mother? Generally, supervised visitation means the mother and child are in the presence of a third party - not the father!] Click here for Herald story

See below for lawsuits filed June 15 and June 07, both in federal courts.

Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) is headed by Secretary Kathleen Kearney, who was appointed by our Republican Governor, Jeb Bush. Rather than listen to reason, the Bush administration decided to defend the hiring of Kearney, despite a decidedly curious reign while a judge in the Fort Lauderdale area. To date, 11 different judges have heard Ashleigh's case. Ashleigh's continued imprisonment sets a record in the US: it is the longest a child has been held without adjudication against a parent. It has also come to light that Jeb Bush’s wife, and the GOP Chair whose law firm was hired to defend DCF are cousins. The state's deployment also assures that Ashleigh, an innocent 5-year-old victim, will continue her incarceration saga.

Upon learning that the law firm of GOP Chair was hired by DCF to defend, Bob Short, a legislative assistant and former Republican presidential appointee said: "I've spoken with folks at the Children's Advocacy about the DCF situation and the pending lawsuit against the Governor and Kearney. The Cardenas role comes as a complete surprise. Imagine the Chair of the State Republican Party defending the DCF, whose jurisdiction falls under Jeb Bush, our Republican Governor, who in turn, must also defend his appointment of DCF Secretary Kathleen Kearney. To me, this seems unethical."

Lawsuits: Florida's child welfare system abusive, two suits cite the Dept. of Children and Families and Gov. Jeb Bush

'Terrorized' families sue state in West Palm Beach and Orlando federal courts

On 15 June, a 51-page lawsuit on behalf of more than 14,000 Florida children was filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach accusing the state Department of Children and Families of being the worst "abuser, neglecter and exploiter of children in Florida.''

Ashleigh's father, 43-year-old Paul Abbott, pleaded with state officials to return his daughter who has been captive in a Broward emergency shelter for more than 2 years.

"This is a horrendous witch hunt,'' he said. "And the victim of this witch hunt is an innocent little girl who has spent now nearly half her life growing up in a group emergency shelter.''

Other children cited include an11-year-old Miami-Dade County girl separated from her siblings and placed in a foster home in which the father had been convicted of sexually abusing children, the lawsuit says. She since has been removed, but is devastated, according to the lawsuit. In one overcrowded foster home, the lawsuit contends, children were subjected to beatings and "sadistic abuse," including having hot sauce applied to their tongues and their faces dunked in a toilet until they gasped for breath.

The lawsuit also claims more than 70 percent of the state's foster children had been in care longer than 12 months as of January 21. Federal law limits their stay in temporary custody to one year.
(see story in Sun-Sentinel)

Although this site highlights Ashleigh Abbott, it speaks to all of Florida's children caught in DCF's insidious web.
How you can help. With a link to "The Power to Harm" from Seattle.
7 June. Robert Dowd, an Orlando attorney filed a class-action lawsuit against the state's child welfare system in federal district court, alleging the system engages in "fantastic abuses'' of the constitutional rights of parents and children. The suit says the desire to draw federal funds to Florida drives the state's child protection laws and compromises the legal rights of parents whose children have been removed from their care.

The Orlando suit names 13 families and 50 anonymous children as plaintiffs, and targets as defendants a number of caseworkers and juvenile-court judges. Children & Families Secretary Kathleen Kearney also is named in her current job, in her former job as a Broward County juvenile judge and as an individual. No court date was set for the suit.

A spokeswoman for the Children & Families office in Orlando said business will go as usual. "These cases will continue to go through the system," she said. "We can't ignore our role with child welfare because we have a lawsuit against us."

Among the plaintiffs, who come from across the state: a Miramar man, Paul Scott Abbott, whose daughter, Ashleigh, (above) has spent more than two years in an emergency shelter, and the mother of 6-year-old Kayla McKean, whose father beat her to death, prompting a reform in child protection laws. Department workers took away Elisabeth McKean's other daughter in an attempt to restrict her conversations with the press, the suit alleges.

The suit presents numerous alleged missteps on the department's part, including interviewing and removing children at school or day care. Often, department officials remove children on Fridays, giving them the weekend to prepare their case before they go to court.

Return to Ashleigh Home Site Usage Return to ExtraLove Tributes and Accolades Foster kids may get own lawyers
The Associated Press
How you can help. State, DCF slapped with federal suit.

15 June 2000 Sun-Sentinel

News: Take the Child and Run. New Times
Recent Internal Press Releases Press Release of

15 May 2000

Press Release of

25 May 2000

News: State is sued again. Miami Herald, 25 June 2000
Dad to Court:

Remove child from shelter

11 July 2000

Contact page -- Florida lawmakers and others Articles from Miami Herald including re: abuse by state "Clerk's wife lands in controversy by backing man in custody fight." Miami Herald