Family Law

Judge orders 'brainwashed' kids to live in juvenile facility for refusing to interact with their dad

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Judge Lisa Gorcyca

Judge Lisa Gorcyca.

A Michigan lawyer has filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of three children placed in a juvenile facility by a judge who claimed they had been brainwashed in a case that rivaled the worst example of parental alienation she had ever seen.

Judge Lisa Gorcyca of Oakland County, Michigan, said last month that the children, ages 9, 10 and 15, were in contempt of court because they refused to have a relationship with their father or even to go to lunch with him, report the Daily Tribune, ClickOnDetroit, the Detroit News and MyFox Detroit.

Bloomfield Hills attorney Lisa Stern filed the habeas writ, which is scheduled for a July 15 hearing, the Daily Tribune says. The children’s parents are a pediatric ophthalmologist and a General Motors engineer, the Detroit News reports.

Supporters of the children posted on social media and staged a small courthouse rally.

The June 24 court hearing began with the 15-year-old boy telling Gorcyca he apologized for anything he may have done to the judge but he doesn’t apologize for refusing to talk to his father, according to the transcript (PDF). “He’s violent and he—I saw him hit my mom and I’m not going to talk to him,” the boy said of his father. The youth was represented by a lawyer who said he had explained to him he could communicate with his father in supervised visits or he could be held in contempt and placed in Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility.

At that point, Gorcyca said she was holding the youth in civil contempt for failing to obey her order to talk with his father. “I ordered you to have a healthy relationship with your father,” she said. “I witnessed your mother at 11:30 tell you very impassionedly that she wants you to talk to your dad, to talk to your dad, that he loves you, that he’s not gonna hurt you, that he’s not gonna hurt her. You are a defiant, contemptuous young man and I’m ordering you to spend the rest of the summer–and we’ll review it when school starts, and you may be going to school there.”

The boy interjected, saying he thought there were rules about not hitting someone.

“I ordered you,” Gorcyca replied. “I will say this again, and apparently you’re—you’re supposed to have a high IQ, which I’m doubting right now because of the way you act. You’re very defiant, you have no manners. … There is no reason why you do not have a relationship with your father. Your father has never been charged with anything. Your father’s never been convicted of anything. Your father doesn’t have a personal protection order against him. Your father is well-liked and loved by the community, his co-workers, his family [and] his colleagues. You, young man, have got it wrong. I think your father is a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you.”

The mother’s lawyer then told the judge that she had complied with the court’s directives and asked the children to speak with the father. Gorcyca replied: “Mother, I appreciate that you did say that. It probably was way too late. Your children—you need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has. Your behavior in the hall with me months ago, your behavior in this courtroom, your behavior back there, is unlike anything I have seen in 46,000 cases.

“You, young man, are the worst one. So you have bought yourself living in Children’s Village, going to the bathroom in public, and maybe summer school.”

Later, Gorcyca questioned the two younger children, who at first indicated they would try to communicate with their father during visits. Both children were also represented by lawyers.

Gorcyca said all three children should start by having lunch with their father in the cafeteria. At that point, the 10-year-old boy said he would go to Children’s Village and the 9-year-old girl said she didn’t want to have lunch with her father.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gorcyca said. “One day you can watch this video and realize that you too have been brainwashed. …. Your dad is a good man. And wipe that smirk off your face.”

The 10-year-old tells the judge it’s not a smirk, and she replies, “You’re a defiant, contemptuous young man and the court finds both of you in direct contempt. You both are going to live in Children’s Village.”

Gorcyca told all the children that her placement order was being made over the objections of both parents. While at Children’s Village, they could not visit with their mother, the judge said. She also ordered that the siblings be kept from interacting with each other. She promised to review her order when they are ready to have lunch or dinner with their father and be “normal human beings.”

The judge appointed individual lawyers for each child, according to CBSDetroit.

“This situation is traumatic for everyone involved, and it is unfortunate that the mother’s actions have resulted in this situation,” said the father’s attorney Keri Middleditch in a statement. “The children have legal counsel, including a court appointed guardian ad litem. Each of the minors also has experienced children’s attorney [sic] which have been appointed by the court. They have not objected to the ruling in question.”

The mother’s attorney Lisa Stern has declined comment to various news outlets.

The New York Observer asked the father what he may have done to keep his children from speaking with him. The father recounted an incident about five years ago when he was visiting the children in a park. The children’s mother was circling the park in her car and the children eventually got into the car, he said. “I tried to prevent her from leaving because it was my time with the children,” the father said. “I was very careful not to do anything but she claimed that I pushed her. She screamed at the children, ‘Call 911! Call 911!’” The father said the police showed up but they determined nothing had happened.

The children’s mother told MyFox Detroit she was in shock after the court hearing. Oakland County Chief Judge Nanci Grant told the broadcast station that Gorcyca felt there was nothing left she could do to reunite the family. Grant also said the mother has had multiple attorneys and has ignored several court orders.

Subsequent coverage: “Children sent to juvenile facility for refusing relationship with dad are now going to summer camp”

Updated at 4:52 p.m. to add new information about the lawyers appointed for the children. Updated on Monday to link to subsequent coverage.

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