by Dave Thomas
Children and Youth Services (CYS) has initiated new harassment tactics against C and his dad. One might even characterize the tactics as “retribution.”
For the last 2 of 4 weeks, CYS has denied the weekly visit between C and his father which were ordered by Judge Dominick Motto. It would seem denying these visits is a direct violation of Motto’s order requiring CYS to provide a one-hour weekly visit between C and each parent. One would surmise this action should call for sanction of William Betz, Director of CYS and CYS participants. We’ll have to wait to see if Motto lets them skate. Any bets? I have no doubt C’s mom has had the opportunity for her visits. Whether she used it—who knows?
Another recent tactic is supervising C’s visits with his dad using non-CYS agencies such as Community Alternatives, Inc. No correspondence, books, cards, postcards or small gifts can be transferred between C and his dad (or forwarded to C by anyone) unless censored and often copied by official CYS personnel for their files. CYS has forbidden C from having any sort of direct contact—visitation, written or verbal.
Some of the Motto-mandated visits are now being scheduled for Sunday morning. You will recall that Judge Motto, CYS, and the Krause Youth Center forbade C from joining his church-of-choice, which had been scheduled for the week after he was jailed. C had completed all study requirements previous to being jailed. Lawrence County officialdom is once again interfering with C’s opportunity to worship, as well as preventing his dad from Sunday worship time. One wonders if the same conditions would apply if C had chosen a church of the same religion as many of the Lawrence County officials.
CYS is again denying C education. CYS has insisted official visits (where they can censor materials given to him) be held in New Castle—1½ hours away from everyone. Of course the visits must coincide with CYS business hours—we wouldn’t want any CYS bureaucrat working off-schedule. Thursday’s visit required C being picked up from school around 11:00 am so there was time for lunch and travel before the scheduled meeting—7 hours out of C’s and the foster family’s day, which includes 3 hours’ exposure to unnecessary interstate traffic.
Thursday’s visit was scheduled by CYS Tuesday afternoon. This meant the foster family, dad and mom were required to rearrange work and social schedules on short notice, and travel 1½ hours each way. The foster family sits while the visits with dad and mom take place. The visit with mom typically lasts just a short portion out of the one-hour opportunity—her time is normally scheduled first. The rest of the hour and buffer time between dad and mom’s visit is dead time for all, except mom.
So C lives in Allegheny County, dad lives in Westmoreland County, mom lives in Butler County, and all the while Motto and CYS are orchestrating this circus from Lawrence County—hours away from all the primary participants. Surely there are CYS organizations near his foster family in Allegheny County or near his home in Westmorland County who could host the visits. Why won’t they do that you ask? Simply put, Lawrence County CYS, Judge Motto, other Lawrence County judiciary, County Commissioners and of course the maternal family want “No Outsiders” to have first-hand information of the abuse they continue to rain on this child and his father!
The platitude of politicians and bureaucrats: “Best interest of the child,” I leave it to you.
C has a court-appointed guardian ad litem, Larry Puntureri, and his own attorney, Steve Colafella (also appointed by Motto) to supposedly advocate for and protect C’s rights. Where are these two guys while the abuse continues? Wonder if they are still billing Lawrence County for representing C?
Interestingly, the CYS-denied visits and shifting of visits to Sunday coincide with my pressing requests to communicate with C. Betz’ email reply to my request to visit and communicate with C is below:
Speak with your son about your wishes to have visitation with your grandson. Possibly he can have his attorney speak with the other involved attorneys concerning your request.
The rest of the story.
Several weeks ago, my wife and I had planned a trip to go north to see family and friends.
While there, we learned CYS had changed foster homes for C. We were happy as it appeared CYS and Judge Motto was finally going to do something positive for C. They had placed him with our nephew and niece as a foster family who live in Allegheny County. He would be safe there and closer to dad, family and friends. He was going to be able to return to school; albeit, not his school from last year.
En route, I called William Betz, Director Lawrence County CYS. Betz readily recognized my name and relationship to C. I explained we would be in the Pittsburgh area for several days and wanted to visit with C at our nephew and niece’s home.
Betz stammered and said he would have to check with someone and call me back. I asked who he had to check with, as he is the head of CYS and CYS was appointed custody of C by Motto. Betz repeated he would have to call me back.
About 40 minutes later Betz returned the call. He stated there wasn’t enough time to arrange a visit since we would only be available in the area for 4 days. He needed a few days notice to do so. I asked if he would be more specific. He stated a week or so notice. I again asked him to be more specific, this time he said a week or two.
I asked “Why so long?” Betz said he would have to get approval from the judge and legal people. He said that was all he could do. and ended the conversation.
A couple weeks ago, I phoned Betz again requesting visitation and the ability to communicate with C. The receptionist contacted him. According to the receptionist, Betz asked to have me leave a voice mail; and he would return my call when he was free. He did not call. Several days passed; I emailed Betz re-asking the question.
A few more days passed and I received the above email from Betz.
Email and phone calls to Betz requesting the names of “the other involved attorneys” and their roles and their authority for determining CYS policy regarding our visitation and communication were futile. Steve Craig, Lawrence County Commissioner’s liaison for CYS, and Amber Kalp, Western PA Director of Human Services, were copied on the request. After hearing nothing from Betz or the others, I redirected my question to Ms. Kalp via email with a copy to her boss, Cathy Utz, PA Director, Human Services.
Kalp responded via email September 16: “I am in receipt of your email, and am in the process of obtaining additional information. Once I received the requested information, I will be in contact with you.” (Bureaucratic speak, meaning maybe he will go away if I put him on hold long enough.) As of September 25, there is still no reply from Kalp naming the phantom attorneys.
Could CYS’ denying visitation for dad and us, again denying C education, shifting visits to Sunday with non-CYS personnel, and denying an opportunity for sending correspondence to C, be retribution for questioning CYS?
Dan’s Comment: Forgive me for asking a dumb-but-obvious question. If C lives in Allegheny County, his dad lives in Westmoreland County, and his mom lives in Butler County, why are Motto, the Lawrence County Court, and Lawrence County CYS even involved in this case anymore? It seems to me that the proceedings could be moved to a county where the court is unbiased by its relationship with the maternal grandfather and therefore capable of making a decision that is truly in the “best interests” of the minor. Surely one honest judge ought to be able to be found in Pennsylvania. It may feel like you’re starting the whole process over, but most of your lost time over the years is attributable to being stuck with a corrupt court system. Maybe getting out of Lawrence County would speed things up.
Dave Thomas is a retired electric utility operations manager, has been married for over 50 years to a woman who has served as a church secretary for over two decades. They presently live in Florida after living in same Pennsylvania community for 33 years. He is a former member of the Rotary International, Chamber of Commerce, and various state and national professional organizations.
Although it is not a part of the story of C, this is another story about the corrupt courts of Lawrence County. And then, of course, there is the thoroughly outrageous story of Jordan Brown, consisting of many posts, but summarized here.
Groove of the Day
83° and Clear