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How Deranged Mom Gets Kids

October 26, 2006 permalink

Christie Blatchford has spent a week reading and understanding the documents in the Campione divorce file. It follows a common pattern of the high-conflict divorce. Many of the child protection cases in this news site are not typical, but (aside from the deaths) this one is. It is what we call a divorce continuation — CAS gets involved after the parents are already separated. They employ lots of therapists and shrinks, but do not use their resources to figure out which parent is the better custodian for the children.



POSTED ON 26/10/06

Father dealt difficult hand by the system


Even last week, when the family court file of Elaine and Leo Campione was released to the press -- in significant measure because Mr. Campione didn't oppose the media's bid to see it -- most of the coverage that followed was exquisitely balanced, or what in the modern world has come to be deemed balanced.

It was a nifty mirror of how the police, courts and social service agencies, which so often are drawn into and/or influence these kinds of proceedings, see and treat the warring married couple.

There is, to be frank, an underlying perspective of feminist oppression from which all else springs.

Women are seen first as victims -- generally of male power and particularly of husband power -- and presumed to be truth-tellers and good mothers until proven otherwise. The starting point for men is that they are abusers and deadbeat dads in the making unless they can prove the contrary, and if it takes years for them to demonstrate that, oh well.

A careful reading of the voluminous Campione court file would suggest another scenario entirely, that of a husband and father who appears the victim first of a mentally unstable and thoroughly unpleasant woman (one can be both) and then of the socio-judicial system that viewed her always as honest and reliable though evidence to the contrary was steadily mounting.

Yet even blessed with the wisdom of retrospect -- it is the missus, after all, who stands accused of killing the couple's two little girls, not their allegedly violent, allegedly alcoholic and allegedly so troubled father -- the media in the main ignored the end product that emerged, just as the courts and other agencies were deaf, blind and dumb to the picture as it was emerging.

Consider the position that Mr. Campione was in for an entire year, beginning in June of 2005.

The couple separated at that time, she fleeing the house allegedly in fear for her life.

In a lengthy affidavit filed shortly thereafter, Ms. Campione was florid in her accusations, alleging he assaulted her and the older little girl, that he had a drinking and drugs problem and demanding that he have nothing but supervised access to their little girls.

In various documents she signed that same day -- June 13, 2005 -- Ms. Campione simultaneously demanded to be allowed to go to New Brunswick with the children because she wouldn't possibly be safe in Ontario, demanded the matrimonial home be sold within 10 days and demanded to be allowed to move back into it, with the security code changed, because she had nowhere else to live.

Mr. Campione, meantime, had been forbidden to go anywhere near the house as a result of the bail conditions imposed on him due to the criminal charges he was then facing as a result of his wife's allegations. He was living with his parents and his sister, who was also his surety on his bail.

And, for almost a year, until this June when the sale of that house was finally complete (despite Ms. Campione's last-minute refusal to agree, against the advice of her own lawyer, to an electronic transfer of the change in title), it remained empty, a symbol of Mr. Campione's official impotence.

Throughout, he was of course still responsible for the mortgage payments and all the bills, while Ms. Campione was refusing to move into it, though she had asked to do precisely that, and at some early point moving instead to an apartment.

Again, through that time, Mr. Campione, of course, wasn't able to see his children, because of those bail conditions. Even when he won a court order for supervised access in March of this year, the waiting list was such that he didn't actually get to see his little girls for a whole year, until July.

And when on at least two occasions Mr. Campione's parents cared for the girls when Ms. Campione either dumped them on the grandparents' doorstep or was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, Mr. Campione and his sister had to move out of their parents' house and in with an uncle, so as not to breach the conditions of his bail.

It appears, by the way, that there were at least three such hospitalizations -- in October of last year, in April of this year and in May-June of this year.

There were other clues that perhaps Ms. Campione was ill and at the least irrational: She went through lawyers like dung through a goose, four in little more than a year; this past July, after she got out of hospital and got the little girls back, she refused to allow their grandparents, the very people who had been looking after them all that time, to see them except at the access centre; when the access centre produced a glowing report of Mr. Campione's visits with the children, she nonetheless refused to allow their frequency to be increased.

Neither did Mr. Campione ever avoid supporting his children; before he was ordered by the courts to pay $950 a month, he had been paying $650 a month all along, in addition to maintaining the empty house. As for his alleged alcohol problem, the counsellor he saw faithfully noted Mr. Campione didn't appear to have one, though he dutifully attended sessions anyway.

Ms. Campione, meantime, despite the clear indications she was struggling, appears to have received through the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County (which ought to have been concerned only with the safety of the youngsters) and other agencies plenty of "support" as an alleged victim of alleged domestic violence, but little scrutiny.

Mere allegations of Mr. Campione's failings saw him unable to see his children or live in the empty house he was paying for, but Ms. Campione's documented history of suicide attempts and hospitalizations appears not to have raised concern about her ability to parent two young children -- or at least not sufficient concern such that anyone did anything about it.

It doesn't appear Mr. Campione was the beast his wife described, albeit in such ever-changing detail. But the one sure thing is, it's not him now accused of killing the kids, is it?

Source: Globe and Mail