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Judge Lyons Denies Protection for Child and Father
Fatherhood Coalition Press Release, Massachusetts News, May 2, 2001
In a recent hearing before Judge Marie E. Lyons, a Springfield man and his 2-year-old son were denied protection from the boy's mother who threatened to kill the father if he tries to see his son again.
Richard Stebbins reported to Hampden Probate and Family Court Apr. 9 with clear evidence to request a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend, Shannon Forgues, and mother of his son, Nathan.
Stebbins gave Judge Lyons a copy of an Apr. 8 America On-Line Instant Message from Forgues in which there was written threats to kill him. He also made available to Lyons a videotape that he produced of the "instant" message as it transmitted to his computer electronically from Forgues' e-mail account.
Forgues begins her message to Stebbins by trying to incite him to respond when she said, "Hello Rick. I know your there. Don't fucking ignore me. I know your there. I want to talk to you." He claims he did not respond because he is court ordered not to have contact and would likely have been arrested if he did so.
Forgues then said, "I think that you would've fucking learned by now not to piss me off," and later made statements that she hurt a 4-year old boy she had with another man.
"You made me hurt Dustin that night. I didn't want to but you left me no choice. You made me do it," she said. Apparently upset with Stebbins because, she claims, he "never changed his diapers or wanted to spend time with him."
"These comments are cause for serious concern," said Mark Charalambous, State Spokesperson for The Fatherhood Coalition. Charalambous and other fathers with the coalition are fully aware of the facts and realities of child abuse and the myths of domestic violence.
In a book by Warren Farrell, Ph.D., "Father and Child Reunion," Doctor Farrell cites a 1997 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect that says when children are killed by single parents, single moms are 24 times more likely to be the perpetrators than single dads.
Additionally, a 1994 U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics report, "Murder in Families," reveals that single mothers are nearly twice as likely to murder their sons as their daughters. Sixty-four percent of such victims are boys versus 36 percent girls. Forgues ends her message to Stebbins by further threatening his relationship with his son when she says, "You think your going to get visitation? You better think twice about that. You'll never see Nathan. If you get it (the restraining order) removed, I'll fucking kill you. You'll never see him as long as you live. I'm going to make dam fucking sure of that."
On the record Lyons remarked, "I don't understand this... I really don't see anything here that rises to the level of the request," she said. Initially, Lyons also did not seem to understand how Stebbins knew it was Forgues. The judge even asked how he had gotten on her computer. After he explained to the judge that he had been on his computer and not hers, and how instant messaging technology works, Lyons seemed to confirm the authenticity of the message when she gave evidentiary weight to an accusation of which Stebbins had previously been cleared though a "fair hearing" by the Department of Social Services.
However, Lyons continued to deny any understanding about the current facts and Stebbins' request for a restraining order, and ended the hearing when she said, "Sir, it's not going to issue."
"She willfully disregarded the law once again," Charalambous said. "When a judge overlooks threats on one's life or admitted child abuse, this should be investigated thoroughly.
"We need to ask, is the judge's behavior a result of some kind of bias, incompetence or both," he said. "If this can be established, then she must be impeached for the protection of the public."
"I don't understand," Stebbins responded. "I went to court for protection and Judge Lyons claimed that she didn't see the threat.
"I don't know how else to tell the Court that I'm scared for my life and for my boy's safety," he said.
Lyons is currently being charged with 21 counts of violating three sections of the state's ethical code listed in the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Her charges will be heard publicly, June 4, in the Springfield Court. Her attorney, Samuel A. Marsella, will attempt to refute the charges that Lyons issued rulings without allowing people to be heard, failed to stick to the law when issuing decisions, and that she failed to be "patient, dignified and courteous" to lawyers and their clients.
Lyons was appointed to the bench in 1990 by former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. Prior to being appointed to Probate and Family Court she spent two years as a circuit judge.
The Fatherhood Coalition, a non-profit all volunteer organization founded in 1994, is comprised of men and women dedicated to educating the public on the importance of fatherhood. The group supports "shared parenting" through mediation and conflict resolution, and seeks to promote fairness in the adjudication of family law. For more information you may contact us through the Fathers' Rights Hotline at 1-413-295-DADS or via our website at www.fatherhoodcoalition.org.
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