The events that follow occurred with 24 hours of my last blog post. DO you see irony? This was written to ACLU attorneys for assistance and therefore, was not meant for publication but because of the enormous nature of the beginning of this insanity, I thought it more prudent to leave as is and then actually "write" on the next posts. The following is day 0, 1, and 2 of going on 66.
5/19/2015 Kate and Zeke play in our fenced front yard, with permission, while we put together a set of bunk beds. We, as well as the the children are in and out of the front yard and house, getting tools and doing stuff. Zeke comes in to tell us that Kate climbed the front fence and was in the driveway. Ammi runs outside, where Kate was already at the front door.
entire ordeal- less than 5 min, on our property.
By that evening, the horse fence style gate was referenced to be unclimbable.
Summary of Concerns:
I am being extremely brief in the summation of events involving the DCF and Sheriffs office on the dates including and proceeding 5/19/2015. The below is a list of events and statement made by DCF and Sheriffs office that we believe violated our rights.
5/20/2015 - Sheriffs officer's and DCF agent opened front gate and entered property. Knocked on front door. My wife answered the front door. After stating the intention of entering the house and interviewing the children, my wife asked for any warrant or court order. They stated that they did not need one and they need immediate access. My wife said without one you may not enter, she needed her attorney and husband home and asked them to close the door and leave. The officer and DCF agent refused to close the door and blocked the entry from being secured. They refused to leave the property and they told my wife and my children multiple times that they would arrest her and take the children. My wife told them if they are to arrest her then do so and but she needed to get dressed. The officer told her that he would take her in, without being dressed, she did not have the right to ask for any paperwork. It was at this point that my 14 yo called me at work. I spoke to the officer on the phone and told him without a warrant or court order they must leave the property immediately. I told him that I was on my way home to assist, as this point the officer again threatened multiple time to arrest my wife, take my children and I was to hurry up as I had a 20 min window.
When I arrived I drove on my property, I closed the gate behind me. I asked the officer for a warrant or court order and both DCF and the officer said they do not have to hand me anything and they will come on my property and arrest us and take our children. I told them that they can go through my attorney, they said I do not have a right to one. I told them if they will show any paperwork we would comply. They explained they do not have to show me anything. I told them that due to the consistent threats and lack of representation I do not give permission to be on my property or enter my home. That is when the officer said they will come back that night and take my children, that I will not like what they do to us. I said, that is fine I will be here. Afterwards I did call and make a complaint based on their actions to the Sheriffs Office.
2nd visit that same day -
After leaving I receive a phone call from my work stating that DCF was at my job looking for me. I told the manager to give the Agent my phone number. Inv Amanda Voice told me that I had to appear at court at 1:30 on 5/21. I asked her where and she told me to figure it out. I told her that this is unacceptable notification and why would she be at my job. I told her to come back to my house and I wanted her supervisor present. Amanda Voice, Seth Densen and Officer Unger arrived. Seth explained that this was my official notice of hearing, that he would provide no paperwork. I asked him where the case would be adjudicated and he provided address and directions. He did say that this will be an investigation and they will take as long as possible. That is when Officer Unger stated that he is part of the PM watch, that he will be "coming back tonight to kick in the door and take our children".
We attempted to obtain legal consul before the court hearing. It worked out that everyone we called stated they would help us but could not be there. We were advised to seek consul there and if we could not then ask the judge to delay adjudication until we could have legal consul present. I arrived at the court house. While waiting out front I was asked to fill out paperwork to see if I was indigent. I told them that I was not, but they said I had to anyhow and I would not be seen if the paperwork was not filled out. They did determine that I was indigent (unbeknownst to me) and I was asked to turn in the paperwork to the bailiff. When I entered the court room I did locate an attorney that said she would help. After the case she was working on was finished, she asked the judge if she could help me. I gave the bailiff my paperwork. I Explained to the judge that I do have an attorney that could not make it here due to short timing. Could we delay the proceedings? The judge said I did not have a right to consul, told me that he would not wait and he would not appoint an attorney for me. He asked if anyone in the room knew better, the court room was silent. That is when he sided with DCF. I was told I had to comply with the investigation. No one would tell me what that meant in regards to timing. I had to walk over to the DCF office and speak with a supervisor. She told me they were on there way to my home now. I asked her why no one was giving me any information. She said they did not have to.
They arrived around 445pm:
The Sheriffs officer said they are looking at the property because they are conducting a criminal investigation. I asked for a warrant and they said they do not need one and they would arrest me. DCF already had the court order to compel, so I complied with them. Along the 2 plus hour investigation:
1) multiple times we were told that we wanted an attorney present. We were told no, it was not our right.
2) multiple times the officers told us we were guilty until proven innocent
3) We asked for an attorney to be present during the questioning of our children, DCF and Sheriff told us we were not allowed to have one and they would not wait. Later on reading on the "Child Protection Rights sheet" that we did have the right and they should have stopped.
4) We were told that they will gather as much information as possible to find something.
5) We asked of the children's interviews to be audio recorded with our phone. Our first child was completely interviewed and the beginning of the second. Upon asking for supervisor to join them in the interrogation room, the audio recording mysteriously stopped and never was turned back on for the remaining 4 children.
6) Upon talking to the children about the process, our 7 yo- the one whom the audio stopped midway proceeded to tell us that the people had told him NOT to tell mommy and daddy what they said. After several minutes of speaking, we were unable to get him to further explain. He kept reiterating that they said he wasn't allowed to. He has since been having extreme night terrors, acting out and demonstrating odd behaviors of yelling and repeating statements for 10-20 minutes without any resolution. He has never acted like this before.
7) We were informed there would be another interview, at a center with psychologists in which an atty could be present but we could not. We were not even permitted by law to transport the children to the center and DCF would come and get them. When we pushed back that it was completely unacceptable to transport our children with strangers, the agent said that if we must, we could have a person of our choosing transport them, but we were not allowed to be in the car or present.
8) we were given a verbal list of things that any of the children may not do as well-
should not eat: hot dogs, marshmallows, grapes (as they are choking hazards)
could not eat unsupervised
they cannot go into our gated front or back yard unsupervised
they cannot be in another room without us, unsupervised
they cannot bathe unsupervised or be supervised by an older sibling
the baby could not co-sleep
the older children could not have developmentally appropriate toys because it would endanger the 2 yo.
9) we were given a list of items to correct before they returned the following tues which included:
locks on all freezers, pool alarms on doors to the outside (we have no pool) as well as secondary locks, coolers placed above a 7 yo reach so they do not fall in and suffocate, tools removed from garage or placed at the same height that the 7 yo could not reach, garage pathway created to have a fire escape path, locks put on garage external door so the children could not access door. (When asked why the path is necessary if we have to lock the only escape door, the officer said that we would have to work that out.) When questioned about some wood for bookcases, we explained we were in the process of building a chicken coop. The officer said he would let us know how many we were allowed to have. (We live on over an acre in unincorporated PBC and have, therefore, cancelled our chicken order).
With the help of a few well meaning advisors, the assumptions were DCF would be doing 1 of 2 things upon departure: going immediately to get a court order for our children OR going to follow up the following Tuesday to see if the items on their checklist were complete. Out of prudence, the children and I packed up a bag and left within the hour to start our Memorial Day trip a day early. Richard remained at home to go to work and complete the list. We had no idea that this saga would continue for another 60 days.