"A MOTHER who “extensively coached’’ her children to falsely accuse their father of sexually abusing them has lost custody of her three children.
A Family Court judge has ordered the children live with the father, in a different state, taking them away from the “toxic environment’’ of the mother and grandmother.
The mother and maternal grandmother “promoted and encouraged the children to make disclosures of inappropriate behaviour by the father’’, Justice Sharon Johns said in her decision.
The judge said the three children under the age of 11, two of whom have cerebral palsy, had to be protected from such emotional abuse.
“I have no confidence that the children would ever have the opportunity of a meaningful relationship with the father were they to remain in the mother’s care,’’ the judge said.
Justice Johns said the father appeared to be a concerned loving dad who wanted to protect the children from the impact of their mother’s behaviour. The father strongly denied any abuse and described the mother’s allegations as “heinous’’.
The judge was satisfied that the children had not been sexually abused by their father, as there was no physical evidence, there were inconsistent allegations and the children were coached.
Justice Johns said she had significant concerns for the psychological wellbeing of the children when in the care of a mother.
“The children are mightily burdened by their responsibility to support their mother’s view of events,’’ she said.
The judge also accepted evidence from the father that on one occasion last year the mother had left a son, eight, who has cerebral palsy, on the side of a road and driven off.
The judge said the mother seemed dismissive of the event and did not appreciate the potential danger to an eight-year-old child.
The court heard how the grandmother once punished the same boy, who had a fear of the dark, by putting him in a wheelie bin at night, causing him to panic. Justice Johns said it was “a cruel and unusual’’ punishment.
In her December 2 decision the judge said the father had a well-founded concern for the children’s risk of harm in the mother’s household.
Justice Johns gave sole parental responsibility to the father and ordered the mother to have only supervised time with her children and communicate with them via Skype and mail."