Fathers rights movement protests child custody system

By JK Dineen, Salem Evening News


March 30, 1999

SALEM--Like many fathers, Kevin Fallis carries around photographs of his two boys.

The only problem with his pictures is they are not very recent.

There is his son Aaron on Aug. 18, 1991, a small boy wearing a green raincoat and running across Victory Road in Beverly.

That was the last time Fallis saw him--thanks to a restraining order that prohibits him from contact with both of his ex-wives and both of his children.

Fallis--a Vietnam veteran who stands 6-foot-8 and was wearing an American flag necktie yesterday--was one of a group of protesters from the fathers rights movement standing in front of Probate Court yesterday morning.

He said the tie is a display of patriotism.

"It's to show I have respect for the system," he said. "But right now the system is biased and discriminating."

The two groups represented in yesterday's modest gathering were the Fathers and Families Coalition and the Preservation of Fatherhood.

The protesters chose the Salem Probate Court because Fallis had a hearing yesterday, at which he asked the judge to make a fresh investigation into his custody case. He is hoping to achieve shared legal custody of his children.

Fallis, who has 13 domestic violence arrests on his record and did time in the county jail in Middleton for assault, said he has not had any problems with police since 1994.

"I'm fighting very strong for my children," he said. "I don't have time to worry about getting myself in trouble."

One protester, Zahra Bagheri, is a day care provider who said she runs into fatherless children every day.

"I see a great need for both fathers and mothers in the lives of the boys and girls, "she said. "When children feel an absence of their father, they get messed up, they get depressed."

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[caption]"Zahra Bagheri left, and the Rev. Harry Stewart of Quincy, from the Fatherhood Coalition were among those at Probate Court in Salem to advocate for fathers' rights."

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