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Dear Editor: Fatherhood Coalition laments it wasn't contacted for story

Fatherhood Coalition response to Sentinel & Enterprise story on restraining order abuses

By Mark Charalambous, [Fitchburg, MA] Sentinel & Enterprise, Jan. 30, 2002

PLUS: Letter from Mary Charpentier


To the editor:

The news story on the abuse of 209A restraining orders "Abuse law's infringements on rights criticized even as it offers protection," (Sentinel & Enterprise, Sunday, Jan. 20) was very informative, if long overdue.

The Fatherhood Coalition has been howling for many years now about the routine abuse of 209A orders, especially in divorce cases involving custody. The coalition has had a chapter in Leominster for about five years. I was surprised it wasn't contacted for this report.

The story quotes the acting Fitchburg police chief, several attorneys, the executive director of Battered Womens Resources, who quite naturally is a proponent of the due process and civil liberty shortcomings of 209A.

Also quoted is an assistant Worcester County district attorney, and a female social worker well-schooled in victim-feminism, who apparently is incapable of believing that women are capable of lying in these highly emotional matters.

What is missing is the voice of those who have been working incredibly hard for about the past eight years to make it possible to have a story such as this see the light of day!

Until the Fatherhood Coalition began publicizing the rampant abuse of 209A orders in divorce court and the horrendous repercussions that sometimes follow, including homicide and suicide often directly caused by fraudulent 209A orders, political correctness usually prevented such stories from surviving the editor's in-box.

Statewide, we hear on a daily basis from fathers who have been victimized by 209A. If the reporter had contacted us, he could have attended our January meeting in Leominster where he would have heard first-hand from a father who was recently assaulted by his wife and is now an official "abuser" with a 209A order against him.

In addition, for the past two legislative sessions we have written bills and testified at the State House for 209A reform (state (sic) bills 952 and 953).

The story, and thus your readers, would have benefited if advocates for 209A reform had their opinions represented.

Mark Charalambous

(Editor's note: Mark Charalambous is a spokesman for The Fatherhood Coalition.)



Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 5:45:35 AM MST

Reader: Is there protection in the Abuse Prevention Act?

To the editor:

I read the news story "Law designed to protect victims of abuse remain problematic" (Sentinel & Enterprise, Monday, Jan. 21) concerning the Abuse Prevention Act.

I feel the need to point out a troubling remark. Joyce Johnson, an assistant Worcester County district attorney, pointed out that "if a person is arrested because of a false allegation of a violation, 'he' can 'disprove' the allegations in court."

I thought people - yes, males are people - were innocent until proven guilty. If this works well for domestic abuse, then why don't we prosecute all cases like that? People charged with crimes can be guilty until they "disprove" their guilt. I bet that would even help the budget shortfall, but we might have to change the Constitution first. Maybe in Massachusetts we can do whatever we want with the Constitution.

The plain truth is the Abuse Prevention Act allows, and even promotes false allegations of abuse to gain the best legal standing in divorce and custody disputes. I've seen it happen. This act needs to address prevention of the abuse suffered by those who are falsely accused before I consider it anything more than a new method of abuse.

Mary Charpentier

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