Let's Get Honest! Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

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Soccer Mom comments on Missing Mom…

with 4 comments


OK Folks, I will NOT stay quiet on this one from Northern California. I guess the on-line debate on putting the sex back in sex education, between Mr. Carey, who calls immigrant women showing up at battered women’s shelters “female illegals” and what appears to be a feminist attorney, Erika Sussman of the 2006ff (??)  “The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice.” 

By the way, free laptops are welcome — I’ll produce better posts.  Can someone (including the agency formerly called “LAPTOP” out of PCADV) help this particular “survivor” with one?

I’m also a survivor of right-under-your-nose evidence when law enforcement will, and when they will NOT, report child-stealing.  I ought to put out an advertisement for any moms who actually prosecuted under this law in California, since it was passed.


Continuing saga of when California 278.5 is taken seriously, and when it is not.  I looked up “Michael Smith Elizabeth Stratton” (more to be found that what I am posting here — time constraints) and you will find, among other things, this article, and comments on it…


(The above photos show Zachary Stratton Smith and Chelsea Paige Smith, kidnapped by their noncustodial mother in 1997. Zachary’s picture is shown age-progressed to 20 years and Chelsea’s picture is shown age-progressed to 17 years by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. For more information about their case, visit the Polly Klaas Foundation.)
Last week, we learned about the recovery, after 15 years, of  Jessica Click-Hill. She was kidnapped at age 8 from her Walnut Creek father in the midst of a bitter custody battle.  Before kidnapping Jessica in 1995, Jessica’s mother, Wendy Dawn Hill, alleged that her ex-husband, Dean Click, had molested the girl.
The Contra Costa Times is reporting that another Walnut Creek father, Michael Smith, was also accused of molesting his son and daughter before his estranged wife took off with the children in 1997. Smith has not seen his children, Zachary, then 9, and Chelsea, then 6, since then.

During the custody which she eventually lost, Elizabeth Stratton repeatedly accused Michael Smith of molesting their children. The last known sighting of Elizabeth Stratton and her children was in Atlanta shortly after they left the Bay Area. Police suspect she received help for disappearing from an organization called Children of the Underground.

The Times spoke to Michael Smith as a follow-up to news last week of Jessica Click-Hill’s recovery.  Smith says that the police finding Jessica, now 22, gives him hope that he’ll see his children again after so many years. But the odds are not in his favor. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows that less then 1 percent of children reported to the agency as abducted by relatives were found after being gone 10 or more years, the Times reports.
Given the volatile emotions at the center of some divorce and child custody cases, it’s no surprise that angry, emotional debates rage between the two main camps representing the interests of fathers, and those advocating for the rights of mothers.
Father’s rights groups have created their bogeymen–or women. These are the “shortsighted and abusive” mothers who, in high-conflict divorces, become so enraged at their estranged spouse that they will do anything they can to eliminate his presence from their own lives and their chiildren’s lives. These women, according to father’s rights advocates and attorneys, often become prey to what they call the Parental Alienation Syndrome. This termed was coined by Columbia University psychiatry professor Richard Gardner in the early 1980s. He described it as a disorder in which one parent deliberately or unconsciously attempts to alienate a child from the other parent. Gardner tended to see mothers as being the main culprits in parental alienation syndrome. 
Father’s rights attorneys have liked using Parental Alienation Syndrome as a defense against mother’s allegations that a father sexually or physically abused his children. But women’s rights groups fired back against this strategy, saying that Gardner’s science on this topic was shaky. Over the years, this syndrome has been  rejected by clinical and legal organizations. Mothers’ rights groups charge that it is being used by fathers who are trying to marginalize mothers’ genuine concerns about physical and sexual abuse. 

Elizabeth Stratton (left) said she was fleeing with her children to protect them from their father’s abuse. But, as the Times says, several law enforcement agencies investigated the molestation allegations against Michael Stmith and found no evidence to support them.

There has been was talk about an “epidemic” of false allegations of sexual abuse in divorce and child custody cases. One researcher at the University of Washington, Merrilyn McDonald, dismissed this epidemic idea in an article published in the journal Court Review. She cites a study by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Research Unit in Denver that found that of 9,000 families appearing in divorce court during a six-month period, less than 2 percent reported allegations of sexual abuse. McDonald also says that false allegations of sexual abuse are not widespread.
McDonald agrees that “allegations that arise in the context of divorce are immediately suspect in many people’s minds.” And, she says, “the belief that women frequently make false allegations to take revenge on ex-spouses is entrenched in popular culture.” 

However, she argues, this belief is “false” because: 1) sexual abuse allegations themselves are rare in divorce cases; and 2) of cases where such allegations arise, half of those charges end up being confirmed.

On the other hand, in the same study, McDonald found that no abuse was determined to have taken place in 33 percent of the cases. So, even her own research shows that false allegations do happen. 

Debates about Parental Alienation Syndrome and sexual abuse allegations in custody cases will continue. It would be nice if these two groups would stop bickering so much and think more carefully about what’s in the best interest of the children. What a novel concept. 

Meanwhile, it looks like the mothers in our nasty local custody and child kidnapping cases lost authorities’ sympathy a long time ago and now risk paying a high price for deciding to flee with their kids.

Elizabeth Stratton is being sought by authorities on charges of parent abduction. Wendy Dawn Hill was arrested in Southern California last week. She was brought back to Contra Costa County and booked into County Jail in Martinez on abduction charges. Click Here to Read More..

Posted by AKA Soccer Mom at 6:31 AM 7 comments
I’d sure like to read the case history, case file on this one…
The newspaper article reads:

In Walnut Creek, another father continues search for children

Posted: 03/11/2010 12:27:40 PM PST

Updated: 03/12/2010 01:56:51 PM PST
Click photo to enlarge

Family photos of Michael Smith missing children displayed at his home in Walnut Creek, Calif.,…

The discovery last week of Jessica Click-Hill and the arrest of her mother, nearly 15 years after the girl was abducted from her father in Walnut Creek, brought a glimmer of hope to another Walnut Creek father.

Michael Smith’s two children — Zachary, then 9, and Chelsea, then 6 — were abducted by their mother in December 1997, according to police. Smith has not heard from them since.

The children’s mother, Elizabeth Stratton, left her Clearbrook Road home in Antioch with Zachary and Chelsea Smith in December 1997.

During a divorce and custody battle, Stratton repeatedly accused her ex-husband of molesting their children. Stratton said in writing she was fleeing to protect the children from their father. But several law enforcement agencies investigated the molestation allegations and found no evidence to support them.

Smith said this week he believes his ex-wife fled with the children because she had lost custody of them in court.

“My ex-wife stole my children from me,” he said.

. . . .

Still, Smith has not lost hope of seeing his children again. He said he is glad that the FBI and county prosecutors care about “these old cases.”

Now remarried, Smith lives in the same Walnut Creek neighborhood, hoping Zachary and Chelsea — who would now be 21 and 18 — will find him. He has a stepson who will soon marry.

“My children are victims,” he said. “They may not see themselves as victims, but not having a father around will play with their psyches.”

Mr. Smith is himself a stepfather, so his stepson has a “father” around — at least a male.  Did it occur to him his daughters also might, or might have?

Being 21 & 18, they can contact him, if they wish to particularly if their victimization was NOT having in the home, as opposed to being molested by him.  From what we know here (as reading the paper), either side is hearsay to us.  WHICH law enforcement agencies (CPS involved?  Medical personnel involved?) determined the charges were false? 

Not enough evidence to support doesn’t necessarily mean the charges were false.

Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

March 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Are there any guardian angels out there that can recommend a great family law attorney in the Walnut Creek/Concord area? My 2 children (ages 7 and 8) have been through a lot this past year and are losing their voice in this horrible situation of divorce and child custody. Seems an awful lot like all the “family court” systems are just put in place to create “broken children”…kids who grow up to be depressed and untrusting individuals after they have put put through the ringer as pawns in this game.
    I’m looking for a lawyer that believes in working within God’s plan of truth and justice. I don’t have much money at the moment (still looking for that laptop too 😉
    But, I have a good case, I’m a good mom and my kids need me!
    Please call me 925.490.3762

    Thank you so much!


    January 2, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    • I’m publishing this, but unsure how many people are still viewing the page. Are you sure you want your phone number on here? In addition as blog owner, I have your IP address; it took only minutes to get a location. If you want me to “Unapprove” it for any reason, I can (within 24 hours or so).

      Would this be a DV-involved situation?

      There is a lot more than what your lawyer believes in the mix in any court area. I agree that the courts break kids, and am unsure where you expect the family courts to coincide with “God’s plan of truth and justice.” That’s not what these courts are about, but as to the religious factor, indicators are (and my experience has been), that is going to weigh more favorably on the father’s side and less favorably on the mothers’ side — because of social policy promoting marriage/fatherhood, and fiscal policy promoting repeated and extended court struggles. See table of contents page on the blog, and I recommend if you can, browse the contents. This is what I wish I’d known when my own children were about the same age, before I compromised one iota of anything in the family court case, believing that who’s right or what’s right (truth and justice, so to speak) were on the table.

      It sounds as though you are a noncustodial mother, with possibly visitation rights or possibly not. Is that so?

      I don’t feel comfortable calling now, but if I do, I will. Most parents I know are overwhelmed and underfunded with their own situations. I put this blog together for the public at large so others may see which factors may be at play in their local arenas.

      Please reply to this comment. I’ve found that a key to getting good answers is asking the right questions, which may take time to figure out.

      Let's Get Honest

      January 3, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    • (2nd reply) I see that you may have searched on the city name in coming to this post. My post is from 2010. I’ve learned a lot since then, and written it up. Please see blog home address (https://familycourtmatters.wordpress.com with no extensions)

      Let's Get Honest

      January 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    • I was replying to another comment on this thread — just checking back; did you find an attorney yet?

      Do you want to talk?
      What led you to this blog? (What is “God’s plan of truth?”)

      I am local, but I am also cautious.

      Let's Get Honest

      February 4, 2015 at 2:16 am

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