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Dr. Robert:

I stumbled across your website and I was wondering if I could trouble you with a question?

Two years ago, as part of a child custody dispute, mom thought it would help her win custody if she claimed I sexually assaulted my little girl (then 3 years old). She went as far as to teach my baby to say that I had put my "pee-pee" in her mouth. After two years of investigations by countless child protection agencies, police departments, Harvard trained psychologist and psychiatrist, two medical doctors, and a digital polygraph, it has been determined that mom has been teaching my daughter to say these things.

The entire time this investigation was going on, the Court prevented me from having any contact with my daughter. Now that the multitude of investigations have been completed, the Court is saying that it would be more harmful to return my daughter to me (a loving father) than to leave her with her mom. The Court ordered mom not to engage in any further alienation, but the professionals say it is totally unlikely that this behavior will stop and that my baby will suffer long-term mental health problems if this continues.

Will you comment on this? Is my daughter better off staying with mom and being subjected to this "brain washing" than to be returned to a loving father? All I want is a normal healthy relationship with my baby. I want her to grow up to be a normal, healthy adult. If the Court is right and returning her to me would be harmful to her, I need to know. If the Court of Appeals orders my daughter returned, is there anything I can do to make the transition easier for my baby?


ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Hello, Jim--

Your story is a sad one, and, unfortunately, not uncommon. I am sorry for your suffering.

Many courts presume that a young child will be better off living with mom than with dad, and so do not even go deeply into trying to make a fair assessment of what really would be best for the child. This is, in my view, both a mistake and an abdication of judicial responsibility. In my experience, it seems obvious that an honest and upright father who is concerned only about the wellbeing of his daughter would be better parent for a child than a mother who is willing to lie and present false accusations about child sexual abuse just to win a court case.

Sadly, no matter how this case is decided on appeal, your child will end up the loser. If the court does not reverse this decision, your daughter will remain living with her mother, who, as you correctly say, will probably continue to lie about you. If the decision is reversed (which in my opinion, based on what you have written, would be correct), your daughter will suffer the trauma of being taken away from her mother.

If the court of appeals affirms the decision of the family court, try not to despair. Although your daughter probably will continue to be misinformed about you, the time will come for a reconciliation with her. Sooner or later, she will want to know you and then, when she is older, you will be able to tell her your truth. You will have to be patient, and just try to love your little girl whenever you do get to be with her.

If the decision is reversed, and your daughter returned to your custody, I would suggest that you meet with a psychotherapist who specializes in child and family therapy to get personalized help in how best to mitigate the damage to your child. One tip in general: no matter how badly you have been treated by your ex, please continue to speak well of her when you are in the presence of your daughter, even if you think that your little girl is not listening. It is more important for a young child to feel that her world is solid, and her caregivers capable, than to get the "truth."

I feel your pain, and I am sorry that I cannot offer more.

Be well.

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page last modified January 3, 2007

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