PART 3 of 5: Brooke (14 ½) and Summer (11) “Grabbed” by DCF While at School
DCF: Arrogance, Acrimony, Distortions, and Prejudices
by Lonnie Brennan
Non-caring. Heavy-handed. Unfeeling. Obnoxious. Zombies. Sociopaths. We’ve heard it all and we’ve witnessed most: DCF employees who ignore the heartstrings that bind children to their families, rip families apart, bounce children from site to site, then congratulate themselves for a job well done and point to their heavy caseloads and ask to add more employees. And during the past 27 issues of this newspaper, we’ve covered several such atrocities, including the DCF kidnapping case of Justina Pelletier, a girl who, by DCF actions, was abused and neglected, medically, physically, and emotionally, and deprived of her religious and individual freedom.
The problem is money. DCF has too much.
Forget about the pure B.S. that is pitched by DCF chiefs in their articles in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. DCF runs on money. Lots of money. More than $900 million. And more than 3,600 employees. They are the problem, not the solution. They find problems where there are none, and miss problems where they are obvious. And there’s virtually no accountability. NO accountability. And they rack up kids as statistics, rip families apart, and ask for more money and employees.
Mueller (father) vs. Tolentino (mother)
We started a multi-part series on DCF when The Boston Broadside received a phone call from a grandfather in East Falmouth concerning his granddaughters’ treatment at the hands of an indifferent and obnoxious DCF (one of many cases we are currently collecting data on). The grandfather explained about the DCF grabbing his two granddaughters out of school in Falmouth, and shuttling them off to a foster home in Fall River. The girls became DCF gypsies – living out of suitcases and trash bags – from one foster home to the next. The grandfather shared a court schedule.
Since then (see prior Broadside issues and online), multiple Boston Broadside staff members have attended court proceedings, protests, and sorted through piles of court filings and other documents. In short, what we’ve seen is a DCF that is arrogant, rude, and has the collective bedside manner of Attila the Hun. Specifically, Hyannis office-based case worker Brian Gordon and supervisor Mary Burkinshaw serve as perhaps the worst examples of compassion and intelligence. A disgrace of taxpayer funding.
As August ended, two players in the Russian Roulette of DCF-Twilight Zone, Kurt Mueller and his ex-wife, Ginamarie Tolentino, faced off for their fourth and final day of court testimony in the latest custody battle over their children, Brooke and Summer. To summarize, the two have gone through a horrific divorce (aren’t they all?) and admittedly do not communicate. Mr. Mueller has a history of court petitions against Ginamarie, to the point where Barnstable Probate court officials will probably owe him Christmas presents as a thank-you for keeping the court schedule filled-up.
Where is the truth?
As in most things, when you strip away the years of acrimony, the truth rests somewhere in the middle. Kurt charged Ginamarie with alienation of his daughters against him and seeks full-custody of the kids and elimination of child support payments. Ginamarie counters that Kurt has physically and emotionally abused their two daughters. Letters from the daughters support her. DCF internal memos – almost entirely ignored in the trial – support the abuse (and note incidents of the father dragging the strong-willed defiant girls up stairs – rug burns – being locked in a basement, contact with a wall, a floor, a counter, etc.). Accident or anger, facts are facts. But the father presents himself as a nice guy, and the mother presents herself as a determined and protective mother. Both present themselves as very intelligent and strong-willed people. Perhaps that’s what produced their apparently exceptional daughters.
DCF sided with the father. The children sided with the mother. When given a choice of living with their father or going into foster care, the children chose foster care. Subsequent to a series of temporary foster-home stays, the court then ordered the children to live with their father for the summer.
The Final Day of Court
In court, the father’s attorney Jeremy M. Carter threw every piece of dirt he could against the mother. Relentlessly. His barrage included questions and innuendo, and separating fact from fiction was challenging at best, as some of his statements were so conflicted with reality that it was clear he was more intent in smearing the mother than in seeking any truth. (For example, he charged the mother with demonstrating in front of DCF with posters of her children’s faces. A lie. At all protests, at least two Boston Broadside staff members had been present and photographed each and every sign. Not once had the children’s faces been placed on public display. For that matter, while the Boston Broadside has obtained multiple photos of the children, our intent in the coverage has been to learn more about DCF and not add to the harm given to the children. For that reason we have held off on printing their images.) Indeed, the attorney’s barrage was so silly, contrived and convoluted that it appeared at times just for show and did no party any good, as Ginamarie fended off, for example, a barrage of 19 questions logged in less than two minutes. The line between insult and injury was blurred. For two hours and twenty minutes of her second session on the stand, she responded to every question and did so with either emotion, confusion, or defiance, but always with clarity of purpose: allow her daughters to benefit from association with both their mother AND their father.
There were no winners. There never are in most divorce cases. The taxpayers spent thousands on court employees. We’ll know the judge’s decision in late September and will post a summary of the trial and decision in a subsequent issue. Anything less than a new, shared custody plan, with some method to ensure parental communication and external observation, with absolute clarity, would be a disservice to Brooke and Summer, and the taxpayers.