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Sending your innocent child to jail is, by definition, abusive.

Tonight, a single mom sits in jail because she won’t let her parents have unsupervised visits with her 7-year-old daughter. She refuses grandparent visitation due to alleged sexual abuse by someone in her parents’ home. But because no charges were filed—an alleged victim stopped cooperating with authorities—there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case and bring the alleged abuser to justice.

Alleged. In a just society (and to avoid getting sued), it’s a handy word. We’re all innocent until proven guilty. But what about a parent’s gut feeling about who might endanger her kids? And what if that gut feeling is backed by personal knowledge that a relative (or in my case, ex-relative) has been abusive? I realize that family court can’t base its decisions on a parent’s gut feelings or allegations. That’s not their job. It’s the parent’s job to decide who can nurture a relationship with his or her child.

Katina Tengesdal’s case reminds me so much of what I went through when my ex-husband’s father sued me for grandparent visitation. I never had to go to jail, but I was sentenced, and that was bad enough. I have vivid memories of a very dark winter when my kids were in grade school and I had to explain I might not come home from a court hearing. I'll never forget the looks on their little faces after that conversation.

Katina can’t afford a lawyer, and so she sits in jail, unwilling to put her daughter in harm’s way even though it may cost her a job and her home. I couldn’t afford a lawyer either, and ended up representing myself. I successfully filed ethics charges against Ann McNattin, a court-appointed “visitation expeditor” who had violated ethics in numerous other cases, but who continued to be appointed by Ramsey County Family Court, a bastion of disregard for children’s well-being. After getting some local press, I was finally able to get my ex-flaw to back off on his demands.
I did this with the help of a parents’ rights group, the Coalition for the Restoration of Parents Rights, moms and dads who have traveled and are still traveling the path Katina is on.

If someone knows her, please contact me through this site. If you support her cause, leave a comment. Let’s help this woman. When I was in her situation, I felt so alone, even with the support of my friends and family. Her own parents sued her and put her in jail. Isn’t that evidence enough of their abusive tendencies? She needs more than friends and family. She needs loving strangers to stand up and say, “Let this mother choose what’s best for her daughter.”

Here's a link to the story about Katina's case.
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