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Blue Ribbon Speech. 15 May 2002

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I would like to believe that my presence at this Blue Ribbon session will result in change, but knowing that previous committees and political promises failed miserably to mandate reform for Florida’s children, I remain cautiously optimistic that a true make over will come about. Why justice for Florida’s children remains elusive, mired in muck, I cannot say.

Coincidentally, May 15 marks the two-year anniversary of my web site,, a site devoted to Ashleigh Danielle Abbott and other children too young to speak for themselves. In addition to the horrific Ashleigh saga, snippets from three other DCF atrocities are included — the Gaffney, Bev and Katie cases. The first media advisory for Ashleigh posted May 15, 2000 is also on-line. Please read and then print out all the pages from the Free Ashleigh site for your records. The index to that site is appropriately titled Ash [Ashleigh] Danger Abuse <>. It is easily accessible from ExtraLove’s home page.

During the past two years, dozens of troubled parents contacted me pleading for help. But since I am manning the site myself, only a handful of those who could best express themselves were posted. Despite a non-mastery of writing skills, all correspondence revealed a calamitous anguish. All had the common threads of betrayal, despair, abuse and rights squashed by DCF. Several people actually thought DCF would help them with an infusion of services only to realize their worst fears — that their children were slated for removal.

Recently, Dana Fuertes, a professional woman and mother of three, confided that a revengeful telephone call made to DCF by her soon to be ex-husband who wanted custody of the children resulted in her 3 sleeping sons being dragged out of bed at 2: 00 am. Fortunately that mother had an attorney on hand and the children were promptly returned. But a five days later, due to incorrect record keeping, the scenario repeated itself. This time the children were not at home, and the mother refused to tell Metro-Dade police were they were. The children were in fact at school. Scars remain. The eldest now stutters, all live in constant fear, and suffer from post traumatic syndrome. Two weeks ago, when the youngest fell off a new bike he was learning to ride and bruised his cheek, the mother kept him home from school until the bruise healed, so petrified was she of false accusations and a repeat DCF performance.

You may wonder why I have devoted countless hours to Paul and his daughter. The answer is this: if not now, when?

It is impossible to forget the memories of Ashleigh sitting at my kitchen counter, eating a peanut butter sandwich and drinking milk from a big girl glass. It was horrifying to learn that in the following weeks she would be whisked away by the state and imprisoned for nearly four years. I watched Paul’s sojourn through a hell laced with false accusations and mine fields in his attempt to rescue his child from DCF’s clutches. I cannot image what his daughter was feeling, whether she could possibly know that her short life was so deprived that the surroundings of her captivity and the result of a stolen childhood would haunt her for the rest of her years.

There is no way to rectify what she lived through, those years cannot be replaced, nor can her future be predicted. It is known that women who were sexually abused while children, as Ashleigh was while under state care, often grow up to be prostitutes and have a higher incidence of drug abuse.
* We hope and pray such will not be the case with Ashleigh but statistics show otherwise.

While the future cannot be foreseen, the past can be examined and I urge this panel to thoroughly investigate Ashleigh's case specifically examining the role of Judge Kearney in it, and other wrongful seizures. Last week, Channel 4 (WFOR) aired an investigative report questioning Kearney’s own management ability, citing credit card abuse and debts for clothing totalling $10,000 that has her former husband taking legal action against her. [Also see Kearney busted from Miami Herald.] Apparently she signed divorce agreements vowing not to use the credit cards in question, but has reneged on her word.

As relates to the Ashleigh case, In July 2000, Kearney conceded that she failed to enter a disposition order in the Ashleigh and the Attorney General's Office attempted to backdate files to cover up her mistake. <>. Also refer to Miami Herald article stating “Nearly two years after leaving his job as chief of the Department of Children and Families' Broward outpost, Robert Pappas is blasting his former boss, calling Kathleen Kearney's administration “destructive and potentially a political time bomb.'' <>

Since Kearney cannot handle her personal financial affairs, one wonders about her truthfulness and supervisory skills in other areas as well.

Recently FRONTLINE aired a special on reported abuse at child care centers. It focused on how a child psychologist in South Florida coerced the children into giving dubious answers, how she prompted the children to say what they thought the interviewers wanted to hear. The similarities between Country Walk and the Ashleigh case are quite obvious. There is a link to that program from the Jeb Bush page on ExtraLove.

For those of you who may not know about the infamous Ashleigh case, here it is in a nutshell. In Florida an innocent 3-year-old child was incarcerated for nearly four years as authorities falsely accused her father of sexually abusing the toddler, then awarded custody to her mother, a known felon and child abuser. In March of 1998, Paul Scott Abbott called the local police when his daughter returned with a bruised lip after a visitation with her mom, whose history of child abuse is documented. Paul Scott Abbott has never been charged with a crime.

Five weeks later, in April of 1998, Ashleigh was hauled away by Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) and was a prisoner in an emergency shelter where she was sexually abused. On 12 October 2000, following Ashleigh's 21/2 years of captivity, Judge Daniel True Andrews signed the adjudication order submitted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, ruling against Ashleigh's father and formally making the young girl a ward of the state. Then, on February 3, 2001 she was doomed to a mental facility. More than a year later, she went to live with her child-abuser mother, despite testimony from the mother's own therapist that she was not well enough to raise the child who the father had singlehandedly brought up since infancy. The father continues his legal battle for the return of his daughter in a case considered one of the most horrendous cases of "child abuse by government" in U.S. history.

All this and more is documented on the relaunched site. For those wondering why the homepage of ExtraLove's Free Ashleigh site now depicts a cocky sex and glitter index, the answer is simple. As the sole creator of the site, I am fed up with Florida's Department of Children and Families harassments, their strong-armed attempts to close down the site and block the flow of information without regard to First Amendments Rights, or the situation depicted. Over and over again court documents filed by Florida's DCF, and sanctioned by Jeb Bush, Florida's Republican governor, claim the child's father is responsible for the web site contents and have repeatedly tried to gag In order to quell any such doubts, I gave the site a new look, one that would put to rest any lingering doubts. It also appears that what DCF hoped to legally accomplish — closing down the site — was superficially accomplished by illegal means. The site was hacked, and the mother’s felony gif image was removed from the site pages. Who the culprit was I cannot say. All has been restored.

Thank you for your time.

Web Mistress,

Note: "Experts have long recognized that children who are physically or sexually abused are at risk of becoming abusers themselves. So Kay Jackson, a psychologist who is director of the Metropolitan Center, a private center for sex offenders in New York, said she had been waiting to see when a priest charged with child sexual abuse would come forward to say he had been abused as a boy." From New York Times article, A Priest's 2 Faces: Protector and Predator.