Court Orders Blogger to Stop Writing About A Pending Case and Children

In a very difficult and interesting first amendment case, a family court in Providence has ordered a blogger to stop writing about her own case on Rev. Anne Grant — who heads the Parenting Project based at the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence — is challenging Family Court Judge John A. Mutter’s before the state supreme court on first speech grounds.

Grant created the blog to discuss the case, using “Sara Doe” and “Mary Doe” as the names of the children in a case of alleged sexual abuse. In the blog, she attacks the state Department of Children, Youth and Families. She insists that the agency used a “bogus” theory to take the girls away and then send one of them to live with the father, who was accused of sexual abuse.

At DCYF’s request, a Family Court judge ordered the state agency to “advise” the Rev. Anne Grant to stop publishing the blog “as it pertains” to the two children. While the blog used fake names for the girls, DCYF said the blog included the children’s photographs, diary entries and medical information, and the site repeated the sexual abuse claim that a DCYF hearing officer had deemed “unfounded.”

Mutter’s order does appear a bit broad, even when one considers the exception given to limitations needed to protect children: “DCYF, as temporary custodian of the children, is to advise Anne Grant, author of, to remove any and all written and pictorial information pertaining to the children in the above matter, from the inception of publication to the present and henceforth, and to cease publication of the blog as it pertains to these children. That mother and father are ordered to facilitate cooperation in this process.” This would prevent Grant from discussing any aspect of the case; protecting the court itself from public criticism.

The case involves the controversial parental alienation syndrome, a theory was developed by child psychologist Richard A. Gardner “to describe his clinical impressions of cases he believed involved false allegations of child abuse.”While Grant did not use their names, other identifying information and pictures of the children appear on the site, such as a picture of the 3-year-old girl was surrounded by toys in the bathtub to show that “there was absolutely nothing prurient about that photo.”

Initially, reports seemed to suggest that Rev. Grant was one of the parents. I heard from her, however, and she notes that she is merely trying to draw attention to an abusive judicial ruling. The effort to restrict third parties creates a classic conflict between court seals and public speech. Interestingly, courts are trying to control even non-parties discussing cases in the media, a troubling trend. While the court would be on stronger grounds to restrict a parent or at least punish a parent for exposing children to such public attention, it is far more troubling if the blogger is an non-party. The Court can seal the case and restrict parties. However, limited the media and bloggers assumes sweeping authority. Newspapers, of course, have adopted policies like not naming victims of rape and child abuse. However, despite some legislation in the area, this is a voluntary policy and an attempt to order such restraint would be highly suspect on a constitutional basis.

Moreover, as noted here, courts have been more aggressive in dealing with critics, including bloggers.

For the full story out of Rhode Island, click here

4 thoughts on “Court Orders Blogger to Stop Writing About A Pending Case and Children”

  1. These same injustices to children are going on all over the country. The fictitious “parental alienation syndrome” is not a valid scientific theory – it was made up by a pro-pedophilia doctor who is now dead after repeatedly stabbing himself. Gardner’s cult like beliefs have been copied by unethical psychologists to make large amounts of money by excusing away physical and sexual abuse of womnen and children. Any medical professional using this sick philosophy that torments children, removes them from their protective parent, and subjects the child to further abuse, should be subject to punishment for the use of a FALSE DIAGNOSIS. The theory does not meet any criteria needed for scientific acceptance. Victim blaming and mother bashing is an abomination. Anyone using this theory needs to be exposed for intentionally covering up child abuse. There are not enough words to express the disgust for anyone pushing this innane theory. And anyone buying into the bogus beliefs should imagine themself in the place of an abused child who is not being listened to and is being forcefully separated from their protector.

    It’s time to end this re-victimization of the victims.

  2. I have suffered a lot of injustice at the hands of a Family Court in New York State. I would not have thought it possible, but Family Court Judges can and will profit from their excesses.

    Certainly, child adoption could have potential for any corrupt family court Judge and could run the gammot from helping friends adopt a child to selling kids – all the way into trafficking in child slavery and prostitution.

    The potential for corruption of the child support process had not been epidemic until recently when the federal government began to match funds and to reward the States with the most increases in child support payments. Profits made by Judges in child support orders has become common now that Title IV-D Child Enforcement program are in place nationwide providing federal funds to states based on increases in child support. This program is a welfare program with the intended result of saving the taxpayer from paying for welfare moms, but make the fathers to pay for the support of their own kids.

    Since this IV-D enforcement effort began providing matching funds, they do not ask and do not tell where the funds go, nor do they require a lot of accounting or verifications. The money can go to increasing the Judges salaries and to pay the custodial parent. Rather than it being used as the welfare program that it is, they use it, instead, for the benefit of the middle and even the upper class litigants as these clients increase child support payments to a far greater degree than welfare moms could. Normally, programs like this are strictly for the poor. But in the case of this child support program, income is not being checked nor are the assets and virtually anyone can be signed up under the new welfare program at least in regards to child support. The proceeds can be used to pay for anything including tax credits and attorneys fees payed to middle and upper income litigants or custodial moms. The welfare application does not even ask their income nor enquire about their assets. In New York, all that is required is that they enroll the custodial parent in Social Service Law 111G which makes it welfare and makes it qualify for matching federal funds automatically.

    I had never heard of this before my own personal research. Never saw it written in my local news paper or seen it on the nightly news. This is a huge program to have so few people who know anything about it. Did you know that it doubled the amount of child support non custodial parents have to pay and at the same time it has increased the money required from taxpayers to run it with its bureaucracy ballooning up ten fold in costs and expenses. More parents are going to jail for child support crimes.

    You can search Title IV-D Enforcement or even find the application forms that do not ask and do not show income or assets, as i did. I think it would be wise to take away the incentive for this dishonest activity.

  3. I will certainly do so and sorry for the oversight. Please do keep me informed on the case. Thank You.

  4. Dear Professor Turley,

    Please correct this summary of the story (which is understandably quite confusing). The children in question are not my own. I have never even met them.

    I began researching the case, examining documents, and interviewing neighbors, teachers and others after people in their hometown contacted me, horrified that these girls had been removed from their mother, home, schools, church and town. They have been held in Rhode Island state custody (primarily in a shelter) for 21 months, since they were five and nine years old, with no charges filed against the mother. The younger one has now been given to her father, whose alleged sexual abuse she described, drew and re-enacted since she was three.

    DCYF’s attempt to suppress this information and to ignore dozens of letters sent by neighbors, teachers, and others who learned of the case gave rise to the blog as the only way to get legislators to pay attention.

    I will attempt to send you the Freedom of Information report we released on this case in October. We welcome your concern and interest.

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