Vancouver Province

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Court throws out mom's allegations of abuse by dad

John Bermingham
The Province

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered that two small children live with their father after he threw out sex-abuse allegations by their mother.

The mother claimed the father,46, sexually abused their eight-year-old girl, but in his Aug. 31 judgment, Justice Harry Slade said the claims were untrue.

The couple, who are evangelical Christians, married in 1990 and separated in 1999, when she took the kids into the B.C. Interior without telling him.

During the four-week trial, the 40-year-old mother said she saw him touch the child's vagina and sit her on his genitals.

Slade said the woman portrayed her ex-husband "as an angry, obsessive, controlling, reckless, insensitive, abusive individual."

Slade said the evidence showed she was "an irrationally fearful person, overly protective of the children, and dependent on the children's . . . approval and love for her."

He awarded the couple interim joint custody and joint guardianship of the girls, but gave the mother one-third access only if she moves back to the Lower Mainland.

Slade will award permanent custody next year.

"The hoops that I had to jump through were incredible," the father said on Friday. "It was horrible.

"In family law, when an accusation is made against the father, he is guilty, and has to spend thousands of dollars to prove his innocence."

The man said he spent $100,000 on the legal fight, which is not over yet -- the mother filed an appeal last week.

The mother's lawyer, Cathleen McClughan, said her client is "understandably devastated" by the judgment. "This decision is not in the best interests of the children," said McClughan. "We believe there have been some errors made."

She said her client disagrees with the judge that she was "poisoning" the children against their father.

The father said the children are having a difficult time adjusting to their new home.

"I am the meanie. I took them away from mom," he said. "It's hard. It's very, very hard. It's what my kids have gone through. It leaves a stench in the children's nostrils," he said.

© Copyright 2001 The Province