For Immediate Release

Fatherhood Coalition Officer Jailed Without Trial

Supporters to hold first protest outside Cambridge jail Tuesday

BOSTON, Nov. 10 Yesterday the Federal Circuit Court in Boston denied John Flaherty's request for a writ of Habeas Corpus for an immediate release from the Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge, where he began serving a five-month sentence on Monday. Flaherty was sentenced to jail October 1 by Probate & Family Court Judge Beverly Boorstein for non-payment of a manufactured $10,000 child support arrearage.

The Fatherhood Coalition will be holding the first of what is expected to be a continual series of protests in support of Flaherty, this Tuesday, November 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Middlesex County Probate & Family Court, Cambridge.

Flaherty was denied a trial by Judge Boorstein, who, after listening to his ex-wife's testimony, ordered him to immediately pay $10,000 or go to jail for five months. Flaherty vehemently denies all the charges and asserts that he would easily disprove them if he had been given a trial.

As an officer for the Fatherhood Coalition and founder of Liberty Bell Union, Flaherty has helped educate the public and fathers about the courts, and what fathers need to know in order to best represent themselves in P&F court. The Coalition speculate that his jailing may be retaliation by the courts against the organization, which has garnered much publicity and sympathy for non-custodial fathers by staging courthouse protests across the state.

Flaherty had been teaching math and physics at several colleges. His departure mid-semester may permanently inhibit his ability to teach in the future. His mother and sister, Suzanne Sargeant, are both devastated by the turn of events:

"We are a family devastated by a court that seemed to not protect the rights of John and had no regard for his children's love for him, and their right for a future with both parents in their lives." says Seargent. "We know his children are suffering the cost of this and their mother's manipulation of the courts."


Judge's failure to write Findings enabled initial release

When Flaherty was first sentenced by Judge Boorstein, not only was he refused a trial, but she failed to even issue Findings of Fact. As a result, Flaherty was able to obtain his release within hours by gaining an emergency stay of the sentence from the Massachusetts Appeal Court. The temporary stay only lasted until Judge Boorstein produced Findings of Fact to justify her decision, three weeks later.

In her Findings, Boorstein paints Flaherty as a scofflaw who hides his income to avoid supporting his children. Not surprisingly, Flaherty has a very different interpretation. According to Coalition Spokesman Mark Charalambous, trying to find the truth between the vastly different accounts is asking the wrong question:

" Jailing people for debts--real or fraudulent--is a medieval practice that has no place in a modern, free society. It is only because of the thirty-plus-year feminist War on Fatherhood that jailing men for alleged non-payment of child support and other domestic non-crimes is not only accepted but encouraged."

There are many good fathers paying hundreds of dollars in child support weekly to women that have, with the complicity of the courts, prevented them from having any contact at all with their children, often by manufacturing allegations of horrendous crimes. That the courts accommodate and thus encourage this reprehensible behavior is a true crime against these fathers and their children.

Several years ago a Worcester family was dragged through the mud by false allegations of child sexual abuse made by an unthinking, vindictive woman seeking to eliminate her ex-husband from their children's lives for her own selfish reasons. The father's 68-year-old mother was taken from her place of work in handcuffs. Eventually, the prosecution decided that there was no child-sexual-abuse ring, but nonetheless insisted on prosecuting the hapless young father. Though he was acquitted, his two children have been permanently psychologically scarred and remain estranged from him. Does anyone believe that such reprehensible behavior should actually be rewarded by forcing this man and his new family to pay his ex-wife over $200 per week in "child support"?

This is the absurd logical conclusion that follows blind acceptance of the current policy of holding fathers responsible for child support regardless of the circumstances. That child support under the Massachusetts regime provides for absurdly high awards, exceeding 40% of gross income in some cases fully two standard deviations from the national average is further reason why John Flaherty and the Fatherhood Coalition encourage non-custodial fathers to resist the child support regime.


Brutal divorce judgment led to later problems

In Flaherty's case, he was a devoted and responsible father during the marriage, and sought shared custody of his two children following the dissolution of the marriage. Following a brutal divorce judgment in 1994 which granted ex-wife Nancy $125,000 of the family assets and left John Flaherty holding a bag of $20,000 in debts, his efforts to share in the parenting of his children were stymied and all contact was eventually terminated. Over the next few years he would be in court on average once per month.

According to Flaherty,

"Judge Dilday in the 1 1/2 day divorce trial sat back and took no notes. She simply copied most all the findings and facts and proposed order submitted by my ex wife (Nancy Flaherty) and her lawyer (Rudolph Jaworksi) and made them the 'judge's findings of facts and orders'. Most of these findings never occurred in court. They were just made up by the opposing lawyer and ex-wife with full knowledge that the judge would mostly likely copy them as her own -- as so often happens these days."

Flaherty has been repeatedly brought into court since the divorce over money. In addition to winning an appeal on his divorce judgment in 1996, he has successfully had three court judgments reversed and has filed no less than nine different Judicial Misconduct Complaints against six judges. It should come as no surprise that in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court, John Flaherty is persona non-grata.

Flaherty continues:

"I had no pension; I had nothing left after years of work as a Ph.D. in physics. I was 46 years old with some 15 years of child support to pay ahead of me that would not allow me to save a cent, as the mathematics of child support unmistakably attest. The court set aside no assets for future college costs. All my wife's assets disappeared over the next year. Her brother is a divorce lawyer and knew just how to organize her case..."

"I won my appeal, Flaherty v. Flaherty, 40 Mass.App. Ct. 289, N.E. 2d 280 (1996) which vacated in February of 1996 the 8/11/94 Divorce judgment's $400/wk child support order. I had another appeal docketed and ready to submit on the remaining two contempt judgments (Dilday and Ginsburg), but having won the first appeal, I motioned to the Appeals Court to vacate the remaining contempt judgments. They did -- cleaning my record.

However, the heat turned up even higher two years ago when Flaherty attempted to effect a change of custody for his son. This led to a new, even more virulent round of aggressive actions by his ex-wife, eventually culminating in his jailing this past Monday.

Flaherty says:

"My ex-wife slowly started the typical process of alienation of my children. I had been very close to my children, but when children don't spend significant time with their father, a malicious mother can have a growing and detrimental effect on the psychology of any child.

"Last April, when my son was about to reach16 years of age, he agreed to live with me, in Danvers, and signed a notarized affidavit to that effect. I moved to Danvers in August --when he turned 16 --with his help at which time he was simply going to move in with me; then, we would go to court. He knew his mother would object. Nevertheless, after he stayed with me the first night, his mother so threatened him on the change in custody that would occur, that he has cut-off all contact with me to appease her threats."

Spokesman Charalambous promises that the Coalition will launch a grassroots effort to draw public attention to John Flaherty's case, including protests in Cambridge and a continuation of the protests outside Dedham P&F Court as well as at the Berkshire and Hampshire County Courts:

"What we presently have in domestic jurisprudence is nothing less than a Taliban-in-reverse. Every day, judges routinely turn to female plaintiffs demanding what John Flaherty referred to as "child extortion," and ask them if they want their ex-husbands jailed. That no one in the judicial system finds anything wrong with this practice speaks volumes about the degree to which women have been empowered over men in the family courts."


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More detailed information including a detailed account of the Flaherty case is also available online at:

For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous

CPF Spokesman

(978) 840-0268

Earl Henry Sholley

Southwest Metro Director

(508) 243-6009

Suzanne Sargeant

Sister of John Flaherty

(508) 528-3680

Bill Leisk

Friend of John Flaherty

(781) 784-6241

CPF / The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994