update: my grandson’s custody

lawrence county custody

It is so telling that this young man would rather be held in detention than be placed with his mother.


by Dave Thomas

Since my original post, Good Ol’ Boys, much has happened.
A stay of Judge Motto’s order to return my grandson (“C”) to the mom was requested from Motto until the appeals were heard.  Motto agreed to a 10-day stay, but shortened it to less, and then denied the stay altogether. He adjusted the date mandated for C’s to return to the mom accordingly. A filing for a stay of the order to PA Superior Court was made and granted for a few days, then vacated, with the result that C had to be returned to the mom’s custody by his dad on April 3rd.
At the appointed hour, several cars were stopped along the road in front of mom’s residence. She ran out into the roadway screaming at the people in the cars that she was going to sue them because they had no business being there, and she was apparently recording tag numbers. Her father ran to his car and appeared to race after one of the vehicles leaving.
At the court-ordered time, C got out of his dad’s car and walked around the mom’s house. His dad had reminded C he was not permitted to return to their former home nearby (which they still had access to) because Motto forbade it. C said, “I know Dad.” and kept walking. The mom by now was standing in her front door and shut the door as the child walked by.
It was 50* with a soaking rain.
C walked 2 miles to the New Castle State Police Barracks, where a trooper gave him some dry clothes and then called the local police to come to the barracks to get him. The Neshannock Township officer decided not to return C to the mom as Motto’s order decreed because, after talking to the mom, he was concerned that he would be putting C in peril. So the officer opted to take C to the Krause juvenile detention center, where he spent Easter. On April 3, Judge Hodge (the original Lawrence County judge, who finally recused himself because he was a longtime friend of the maternal grandfather) signed the order placing C in detention.
By doing so, as I understand, Lawrence County PA Children’s and Youth Services has now become custodian for my grandson and is mandated to have a hearing to determine what they are going to do with him—keep him as a ward of the State, give custody to the dad and remand C to his dad’s custody etc.—the list goes on.
His dad was permitted to see C for only 1 hour. So he took fresh clothes and had lunch with him on Easter.
To my knowledge, the mom hasn’t attempted to see C even after all the bluster that she wants custody and wants to prevent the dad from having any type of custody or relationship with C.
What’s wrong with this picture?
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.


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25 Responses to “update: my grandson’s custody”

  1. 1 Ronnie Savill
    April 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Dan I read all of your posts. There is stuff about this story that doesn’t make sense. I know I look at everything through the filter of having been brought up in the UK. Here the press would be involved. The tabloids would love a story like that. Here the boys dad and grandad would have gone to their member of Parliament or member of the European Parliament a lot of questions would have been asked of everyone involved. Here social workers would be involved. Here the fact that the boy’s mother doesn’t want him but doesn’t want any one else to have him either that would really be questioned. Here the fact that the judges are connected to the boys maternal family would definitely be questioned. Here the boy himself would be given a say in what happened to him. Here the fact that the boy spent Easter in jail? Basically well the Prime Minister Prince Charles and maybe the Queen herself would all be asking questions.

    Surely the UK and the USA aren’t that different. Why can’t that boys family go to the press. Go their senator go to the state Governor. Surely people in positions of power should be able and willing to get involved to get it sorted out. And if there is any corruption going on well surely the powers that be should be able to say to those old farts the judges enough is enough get this situation sorted. The mother sounds like a right bitch shouldn’t she be called out on her rotten attitude.

    So why can’t somebody in America help that boy out the way I think it would happen here in the UK.

    Our two countries can’t be that different. Can they?

    I’m not saying the UK is perfect but every time I read your articles I worry about America. A lot of stuff you report on it sounds just insane.

    Hope your keeping well and looking after yourself. Ronnie.

    • April 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      This case has not been covered by the media because Judge Motto is actively working to suppress any news of it. He has ordered that no pictures of “C” are to be released to the media, and he has provided a list of news outlets which are NOT to be informed of this case.

      That’s why the Wandervogel Diary is the only place where you can read about it. Despite our early role in questioning the actions of the Lawrence County judiciary in the Jordan Brown case (and arguably helping turn around that miscarriage of justice), we’re apparently not yet on Motto’s radar—and even if we were, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.

      I hope that the wider media will pick up on this case… but experience has shown that the media are remarkably reluctant to do or say anything which may piss off that judge, even though he has repeatedly shown himself to be unworthy of respect or deference.

    • 3 Dave
      April 8, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Ronnie–If you have a means to get this story picked up by BBC or the tabloids, we will certainly be in your debt. Should that happen, there is no way it can be censored or blocked in the USA. Please forward at will and Godspeed.

      One other point. PA is a Commonwealth (one of 4 in the USA) and as such, many English law traditions are still carried on the books here. Most familiar to me is the “King’s Bench Petition” which has been used in this case to fast-track an emergency appeal bypassing the PA Superior Court and the hoopla of the PA Supreme Court to be heard, as there is a time restriction on their response.

      The reason media here won’t get into this, as I am told, by media, is they need to be able to access and vet anything they print, from a source THEY can access directly AND which is in the “public domain.” In other words something they can “Google.” Having said that, ALL custody cases are protected from “public domain”–at least in PA. The Jordan Brown situation is a murder case, not custody.

      My grandson took the only action available to him to stop the abuse. That was for him to remove himself from the abusers against Judges Motto and Piccione’s orders that returned him for more abuse. Doing so has now landed him in a detention center where he must first raise his hand to rise from a chair. This is a Boy Scout, church-goer, fun-loving, honors student with a host of friends since he has lived with his father. Before, while with the mother, he was miserably failing in school, had very few friends as the other kids’ parents didn’t want to deal with his mother and so he was left to video games, being sworn at, belittled, slapped and punched when she felt like it for his existence. All of which Judge Piccione agreed was within the PA child welfare guides and therefore was not abuse. In Piccione’s words, it was “aggressive parenting.”

      His father has been found “in contempt” of the Court by Motto for enrolling C in school after the mother abandoned him. What was the father to do–leave the child out of school? Father is on probation for 6 months as a result. If he is found to interfere in any way with Motto’s order, he is to be jailed for 6 months and fined. C had been living with the father for 17 months in another county.

      I have reached out to current Gov Wolf of PA and the former Gov as well as ATTY Gen Kane of PA with no success. (“The atty gen’s first priority is children” shouts Ms. Kane’s website https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/SplashPage.aspx . ) She even appointed her sister as a special advocate from the AG office for children. I did have one agent of the ATTY Gen office advise me to go to the State Police with the story, and then he might have an angle to look at. As you can see, my grandson took himself to the PA State Police. Oddly, I haven’t been able to make contact with the agent again after numerous messages left both on his direct number and leaving messages with whomever answers the phone at his office…..hmmmm,… suppose he got the word to get out???

      PA Senator Kim Ward’s staff has provided other bureaucratic phone numbers as their brand of help. No one has said, I will call…. Sen Ward ran on a platform for helping PA’s children. Maybe good for speeches but not when the rubber hits the road, from what I have seen. I have also contacted PA Senators Robbins and Fontana, Robbins office at least returned the call.

      When now PA Sec.of Welfare Beverly Mackereth, was Asst Sec., I spoke with her several times to no avail. Her “hands were tied.” I spoke to their W PA regional office, and was advised they knew they had a problem in Lawrence Co, PA. But when they tried to address it with Motto and Hodge were told the judges were handling Lawrence Co. Children, Youth issues and didn’t need any outsiders interfering.

      Plenty of us are worried about America too, Ronnie.

      • 4 kldhfoajs@aol.com
        April 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm

        When was the last time you went to the Lawrence County Courthouse and sat in on any of the hearings that have taken place for your grandson? Have you witnessed for yourself the supposed behaviors of the child’s mother? What has been said in the courtroom? Have you heard any of it with your own ears????

      • 5 Dave
        April 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

        Welcome to the blog, kldhfoajs@aol.com

        For the rest of our readers, it appears my grandson, C’s, biological mother is joining us under the pen name kldhfoajs@aol.com

        As Superior Court lifted its stay of Judge Motto’s order during Holy Week, requiring C to return to you, C knew only too well by Maundy Thursday, what his only two options were. On Good Friday, he would have to decide between returning to your custody or being placed in CYS custody by the police, if he turned to them for help.

        He chose the latter, rather than return to you.

        Even after he was torn away from his father, his friends, his church, his school, his pets, his Scout troop and placed in a facility alongside juvenile criminal offenders, C still reached out to you. Once again he asked if you would agree to go to joint-counseling with him, in an attempt to form a relationship with you.

        Again you refused.

        Judge Piccione, (member of your family) opined, there is a very narrow window left for you to repair or to have a relationship with C.

        He is in CYS custody only because Motto’s order states that C may not be in the presence of his father during your custody time, without your express consent.

        Recognize that C fully understood the consequences of his refusal to be with you. Realize your relationship with C has deteriorated so completely, that to avoid being with you, he has knowingly given up everything that matters to him, including his freedom.

        One of the trial psychologists pointed to your actions that have destroyed your relationship with C, were your attempt to punish C for choosing his father over you.

        One shudders to think how you may attempt to punish him now that he has again rejected you, this time favoring CYS custody over you.


      • April 21, 2015 at 3:58 am

        Dear kldhfoajs@aol.com,

        When your comment first came in, I was tempted to reply but thought it better to restrain myself… and now that Dave has revealed who you are, I am glad I did.

        But now that your identity is revealed, I feel compelled to now reply–not in an effort to “pile on,” but to encourage you to please make the most of this situation.

        It seems to me, you have only a couple of choices. One is to use this forum as a substitute for “The Jerry Springer Show” and make it worse by slinging mud. The second is to begin repairing your relationship with your son in front of all these witnesses from all over the world.

        The choice is yours. The challenge is yours.

        We typically don’t get involved in custody battles between spouses. This is one of the first times. The purpose of this blogsite is to raise awareness and support for young people whose situations have deteriorated far beyond yours to where the only solution the young person can see is to kill one or both parents. I am not saying that this is necessarily a danger in your situation (C appears to be much too creative and respectful than that), but I am saying that some parents are capable of forcing some kids beyond the breaking point to where they see that the System does not exist for their welfare and that the only thing they can do is to take matters into their own hands.

        It seems to me that you and your father have done everything you can to have made the System not to work for the benefit of your son. What you have done can be undone. You can begin listening to C, and in the space of doing what he wants and needs, you can begin earning back his respect and maybe even his love.

        It won’t happen quickly, and it won’t happen easily. It will involve swallowing your pride and appearing to take a “loss” for the benefit of your son’s welfare and happiness, which is of course the most important thing for any good parent.

        By placing himself under the control of Child Protective Services, C has shown everyone that a just resolution of his situation cannot be achieved in the Lawrence County Courts. It must be achieved within the family without outside interference or coercion.

        Please resolve this situation now before earning C’s justifiable lifelong contempt and loss of respect. Please demonstrate that you are capable of growth and change, and possess the kind of strength that is worthy of his respect and love.


    • 7 Frank Manning
      April 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Ronnie, I’ve been thinking the last few days about your question “Surely the UK and the USA aren’t that different. … Our two countries can’t be that different. Can they?” And I’ve got to answer in all truth, Yes, they are. What I’m not too sure about is why.

      I’m 65 yrs old, lived most of my life in New York City or its Long Island suburbs, then moved to the suburbs of Seatlle, Washington, almost 20 years ago. I’ve traveled to many different parts of this country, and have long marveled at how similar and yet different we Americans are on a regional basis. Given all my observations and ruminations, I think there are two main reasons for the differences between the USA and the UK in respect to Dave’s and C’s situation.

      First, our politicians are concerned with only two things: serving the special interests that funded their election campaign and getting reelected. If they decide to take up some cause, say Dave’s case, it’s done with the careful calculation of what’s in it for me. If they don’t see some political gain in a situation, or feel their potential opponents could use that to attack them, they won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. That’s a dark and cynical view, I know, but it is what it is.

      Second, we are a big country, bigger than most Europeans can imagine. The UK and the state of Oregon are the same size in area, but the UK has 64 million people while Oregon has 4 million. We are more spread out and often oblivious to events elsewhere. Despite our mass culture, our society is fragmented into 50 states and thousands of local jurisdictions. A terrorist attack in Boston will get everyone’s attention and briefly unify us, a police killing in Missouri or South Carolina will get everyone’s attention and briefly amplify our racial and social divides, but the nonsensational story of one kid in a small town in western PA is of no concern to most Americans. Most of our news media are local in nature and focus on local issues when it comes to stories that are not glamorous, sensational, or electrifying in some way.

      Dave really needs to take his case to the US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, or to the Attorney General in Washington, D.C.

  2. April 8, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I have come to ask myself the following question: one of the greatest wounds of the American judicial system would it not come from the fact that most of the judges are elected? I understand easily that you’re attached to the symbol that represents an elected judge: chosen from among the citizens, he/she is supposed to be a simple citizen who embodies the image of a Justice near of the People and its expectations. Nevertheless, as elected representatives, they are necessarily politicians, often strongly involved in local affairs, and one can reasonably doubt on their impartiality or neutrality in regard to the cases they have to know. This local involvement and the preservation of their own interests can easily get them to put themselves at the service of interests that are not those of the Society as a whole, let alone those of whom they have to judge the case. Even without going to outright corruption.

    • 9 Dave
      April 8, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Add to that, you give “perfect immunity” to a lawyer turned politician! What could go wrong?

      Chief Justice Joy Flowers Conti of the Federal 4th District Court stated in Thomas v. Piccione. ” Nor does it matter that he is alleged to have participated in a conspiracy.” Judge Piccione has perfect immunity.

      • April 9, 2015 at 2:33 am

        I agree on the fact that this kind of situation gives judges a broad immunity but this is not specific to the American system. Here in my country, except in ” minor instance courts », in which judges may be local volunteers, they are all State appointed persons and also have a great immunity. But they do not usually sit in areas in which they have close family ties, in contrast to your locally elected judges. They are therefore less sensitives to familial pressure and better armed to resist local political pressures. This doesn’t mean that such things doesn’t happens here too, but they are less frequent.

        Is there any possibility to see your grandson’s situation quickly improve? Even by placing him in a Home in which he could have more relations with his father rather than in a Detention Center in which he has manifestly not his place, not being an offender? This seems to me a much better option, until a just and balanced solution taking into account the interests of C is found.

  3. 11 Daryl Watton
    April 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    It seems here that the corruption is based on personal interests and not political interests. Elected or appointed judges will make no difference if people of power wish to deal with problems by “keeping it in the family”.

    • April 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      By issuing this opinion, I didn’t think to this case in particular but in a more global situation I absolutely agree with you that in the case of ‘C’, the interests at stake are of a personal nature. And this is extremely regrettable for this kid and his father who obviously doesn’t deserve to be treated this way

  4. 13 Carol
    April 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    This situation has given me a whole new outlook on the justice system, there is none!!!! I have lost all faith in the courts. Does this mother and her family really care about C or is this retaliation that they have lost someone wonderful, which I feel they didn’t have in the first place, or try to love as a parent should. Why should C have to suffer their hatred when he has a loving Father that only has his sons best interest in mind. When is this atrocity going to STOP???????

  5. 14 Frank Manning
    April 9, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Dave’s story here really touches a raw nerve for me. In my custody battle a quarter century ago I had only to contend with the family court’s inherent bias towad the woman and its presumption that the man is always in the wrong. It was only after my ex failed three court-mandated drug tests that I won custody of my daughter. To have a corrupt group of hick-town judges in cahoots with the family of the woman you are doing battle with for your child is inconceivable. One benefit of big-city living, I guess.

    As in the Jordan Brown case in this same corrupt little jurisdiction there are some very serious civil rights violations happening here. I’ve commented on past blogs about Jordan, asking why no one is going to the feds with this case. The US Attorney’s office and the federal courts are far more professional and not swayed by local politics. Pennsylvania’s notorious Kids for Cash judges were finally brought down by federal prosecutors. Judges do have broad immunity in carrying out their duties, but corruption is not protected. And any state rule protecting corrupt judges cannot withstand a federal prosecution. Let’s see some local scumbag judge stop the US marshals from storming into his courtroom and dragging him out in chains!

  6. 15 Daryl Watton
    April 10, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Despite the drama and sadness of how this story is unfolding, it’s actually a better news story in some respects. Those under pressure, here, are behaving morally and sanely in an insane situation. I know another young man who has told me his story of being neglected and abused at home and who asked for help from teachers and authorities, awkwardly given his young age and low level of self-esteem. The result was a murder — matricide. David Childress was let down by those who were meant to protect him and he still suffers feelings of abandonment. David is very much grateful for Dan’s support through the Redemption Project as well as my own friendship. He tells me it has literally saved his life. David made a poor choice in dealing with HIS problem but deserves a second chance to finally live a life denied him at an early age. I encourage the readership here not to forget about David Childress and to help him build a network of friends he can rely on to get through his incarceration and land on his feet when the time comes.

  7. May 26, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Reblogged this on Dad$ 4 Ca$h and commented:
    A sick system, taking advantage of a sick woman to make money. It’s disgusting.

  8. 17 Ronnie Savill
    July 10, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Dan I’ve just come across another very similar case as the one you have reported on below. I watching a YouTube show called THE YOUNG TURKS. the show covers a lot of issues and loves nothing more than calling out those in authority for abuse of power. Yesterday 9th of July. They reported on three kids aged 15 10 and 9 into a juvenile detention centre for contempt of court. Basically their parents are divorcing the judge told the kids to spend time with their father the kids are refusing they wouldn’t have lunch with their dad. So we’re held to be in contempt and hence sent to detention centre.

    You have to watch this show. You need to be involved and you need to publicise the story of that other wee lad by using this show. I think people do listen to them.

    It’s like I said before America sounds insane.

    I’ve discovered my great grandmother is buried in America so I could nearly claim to be American. I was brought up to love America. I’m gonna have to stop listening to these sorts of reports. It’s really giving me a very bad impression of if not the land of my birth certainly the land that has played a huge part in my families story.

    Hope you and the poor dog are keeping well. How is the dog.


    Sent from my iPhone


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