Article, The Jewish Chronicle, 14.2.2013

JCarticle20130215

http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/102481/beth-alexander-judge-investigated

Twins judge investigated

The Austrian custody case over the three-year-old twins of Manchester-born Beth Alexander has been suspended while the judge in charge is investigated, Ms Alexander’s lawyer has confirmed.

Lawyer Dr Helmut Krenn said the case has been suspended while the court investigates whether the judge, Susanne Göttlicher, acted improperly by allowing another judge, Konstanze Thau, to intervene in the case. Dr Krenn said: “I applied to transfer the case to another court because of the intervention. I don’t know when we will know the answer.”

Judge Thau is believed to be a member of the Austrian Jewish community and a friend of the twins’ father, Dr Michael Schlesinger.

Ms Alexander said: “I hope they will look into the case and expose the irregularities and that I will then get a fair and transparent trial.”

 

 

Please sign this PETITION calling for a fair hearing and urge others to sign.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-british-and-austrian-governments-ensure-a-fair-court-hearing-for-beth-alexander-s-twin-sons-in-vienna-2

 

Petition to British and Austrian Governments

Every citizen in every country should be entitled to a fair and transparent legal process as proclaimed in:

  • Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
  • Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights

as well as numerous other constitutions and declarations throughout the world.

We therefore request the British and Austrian governments to uphold such a fundamental principle of Western democracy by investigating the custody case involving my twin sons, Samuel and Benjamin Schlesinger in Vienna.

I am not asking for special consideration, nor am I asking for anyone to apply undue influence. I am merely urging both countries’ governments to ensure that justice is not just ‘seen to be done’ but that justice is actually delivered.

Our only goal is fairness and objectivity.

Please sign this PETITION and urge others to sign.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-british-and-austrian-governments-ensure-a-fair-court-hearing-for-beth-alexander-s-twin-sons-in-vienna-2

Never Alone

A beautiful poem I came across… Constantly thinking of my poorly little boys, Sammy and Benji, whom I cannot yet hold in my arms but hold in my heart every second of every day.       

hope and love

At times like these it’s hard to find the right words to say, 
And I know that words alone won’t take the pain away.

But, I know a man who sits high, and looks low, 
And He is saying, “My child, you’re not alone.”

He is saying, “I love you and I am concerned about you, 
And all the pain and hurt that you are going through.”

He is saying, “Lean on me, I will be your comfort through this time. 
And although it’s dark now, the sun again will shine.”

Even though it’s hard to see through tears that you now cry, 
Just know that there will come a day when your tears, He will dry.

And though words alone won’t ease the pain that you now feel, 
Just know that in time, your heart, He will heal.

I pray that God will give you peace, and strength in your heart 
As He holds you in His arms, and from you, He won’t depart.

May you always be encouraged, may you ever hold on. 
And remember, “My child, you’re not alone.”

Johnnye Chandler

Cancelled visit 12.2.2013

Once again my visit was cancelled. I was informed this morning by the visiting centre that “Sammy developed a fever in the night and I could not see Benji alone because the father didn’t have anyone to stay with Sammy later when he would pick up Benji.” No substitute visit has been offered.

Custody Case Suspended

Friday 8th February 2013, The Jewish Telegraph

Custody Case Suspended

Friday 8th February 2013, The Jewish Telegraph

The Viennese custody case over three-year-old twins Samuel and Benjamin Schlesinger has been suspended after their mother, Manchester-born Beth Alexander, applied for a new court and judge.

She has demanded that the previous judge be investigated for bias.

The Viennese social services are also being investigated for their handling of the case and the boys’ father Dr Michael Schlesinger, who has been recommended final custody by the social services, is being reported to the Medical Council of Vienna for gross abuse of his professional position, as well as to the criminal court.

But, despite these legal advances, Beth is beginning to despair of her near-three-year custody battle.

She said this week: “I feel drained and I emotionally spent. I have long stopped crying for I myself. I only sob for the untold psychological damage that is being done to these two little lost souls.”

Her boys “have withdrawn into a silent parallel world”.

 

Terror Tactics

 

Sammy & Benji 14 months, happier times

Sammy & Benji 14 months, happier times


I have never been self-pitying and refuse to succumb to a sense of victimhood but it´s hard not to feel under attack when terrorized from so many directions.

When I saw how all my legal efforts were thwarted – every single application I made (over 10 in the past year, including repeated requests for improved visiting rights and urgent independent assessments of the children) was ignored by the judge, I was left with no choice but to publicize this gross injustice. I did so reluctantly and apprehensively, not wanting to ´air my dirty laundry´ in public, finding it humiliating and painful for myself and the children. After many months of (deliberate?) legal standstill, I finally dared to speak out.

This has upset people in the Viennese Jewish community who, instead of being outraged at what is happening to Samuel and Benjamin are instead, illogically, directing their anger at me.

The recent channel 4 documentary:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2013/01/video-child-sex-abuse-in-britains-haredi-community-exposed-456.html

revealed some of the shocking attitudes people hold when it comes to dealing with child abuse in the Charedi community. Instead of calling for the police to intervene and bring the perpetrators to justice, abuse is all too often hushed up and strictly contained within the Orthodox community.  To expose the truth and disgrace the abuser is anathema to many people´s worldview. Paradoxically, the person who speaks out publicly is deemed the guilty party and targeted, not the perpetrator of the crime.

I have experienced the same perverse attitudes here in Vienna. There are people who clearly wish I would just shut up and disappear. They do not want the details of this ugly scandal exposed, unhappy about tarnishing the public image.

I faced opprobrium from one disgruntled local last week who told me in no uncertain terms, “The community had sympathy when it first appeared in the press because they saw that an injustice had clearly taken place but it´s enough now. You have to stop. You are bringing down the ´good name’ of our community.” The perceived communal ‘good name’ takes precedence over the lives of two suffering at-risk children.

A leading figure within the community advised me before I went public to “just give up. You will never win. Go back to England and start a new life.” To my horror, he thought it would console me to hear, “You will re-marry and have more children.” As if children are replaceable, like household items after a fire.

This week, I was strongly advised by another prominent figure to “direct my energies in the court, not in the press.” Many in the Vienna community maintain this is not a Rabbinical matter, they therefore do not wish as a community to get involved. “Everything must go through the courts,” they insist, even though it is apparent to all that the legal process has been far from fair.

The Chief Rabbi of Vienna has experienced the injustice first hand. When I was denied contact to the children for 7 weeks, he wrote and signed a letter to the judge offering to supervise the handovers personally.  The judge totally ignored his generous offer of assistance. She didn’t even acknowledge it.

This week my computer was hacked and infected with viruses. First I was sent an email by an impostor using a known Rabbi´s name under a fake email address. The Rabbi confirmed it was not sent by him. My email account was then hijacked and I was unable to access it.

My response to all these people is that I will not be silenced nor will I go away until justice is done. Neither will the 7,000 plus supporters around the world who are also enraged by the ongoing, needless suffering of two innocent children. Terrorism tactics will not win. On the contrary: the more they try to silence us, the louder we will protest.

Visit 3.2.2013

teddyI feel drained and emotionally spent.  I simply cannot absorb the fact that so many people can be complicit in the suffering of little helpless children. I have long stopped crying for myself and my own life which lies in tatters. That is irrelevant. I only sob for the 2 little lost souls with whom I spent today and the deep untold psychological damage that has been done to them, perhaps irreparably. Ever since they were taken from me I have consoled myself with the hope that as soon as they are back with me, we can gradually overcome our shared suffering and trauma together and they may begin to thrive again.

Seeing them today though, I saw the heavy toll that the past 18 months has exacted on them. My visit began at 9am. They ran to me as always, so happy and excited to see me but once they had greeted me with cries of ‘Mama!’ there was minimal further verbal communication. We sat on the bus together, followed by a tram ride, in total a journey of 45 minutes back to my flat but they only lay clinging in my arms.  Of course I sing with them, talk to them, point to things along the way and try to interest them in the people and places outside the window as they pass us by – anything to prompt some reaction – but it all seems to wash over them. They respond in their own adorable little way and our intense love and unbreakable bond still unites us deeply. They are not detached from me but from reality. They display little awareness of the world around them.

Samuel and Benjamin have withdrawn into a silent parallel world. It’s not as if they don’t understand what I say to them, they understand everything. They are simply unable to respond, to grasp anything or express themselves in any way. They have no concept of identity, time or space. They cannot answer a single one of my questions, cannot tell me where they have been or what they have done.

How should I as their mother feel and react seeing them now in this state, broken and destroyed? I was also, not so long ago, broken and destroyed – weakened and worn down over 3 years, suffering silently in a miserable marriage. But slowly I have had a chance to heal from my wounds, so lucky to have had such a bounty of love and support from my wonderful caring family.

But it was so much easier for me. I at least, am an adult with the ability to articulate the painful emotions I endured, able to come to terms with my experience once I gained some distance and understanding. The healing process has taken time and I will always remain scarred but I have overcome the worst of it. Sammy and Benji do not have the luxury of adult coping mechanisms. I am not a psychologist and do not profess to have medical knowledge but it is strikingly clear from a human point of view as the person that was closest to them for the first 2 years of their lives, what has happened. Their reaction to this tragedy and the horrors forced on them has simply been to switch off – emotionally and psychologically. And the results are so devastating and so heart-breaking, it’s too painful to fully describe.

We went to a family day at the town hall. It was packed with hundreds of different games and activities. There was also a puppet show, face painting, obstacle courses and ball pools. Sammy and Benji enjoyed themselves in their very limited capacity but they were so far from being like the other 3/ 4 year old children there. The difference was stark. The fact I still have to change their nappies is humiliating and degrading for them. I can see they are ready to be toilet trained but nobody has mentioned potty training to me and it has already been made clear, I have no rights and no say in my own children’s lives.

Benjamin is especially insecure, wanting me to carry him around, clinging desperately to me most of the time, crying if I leave his side even for a few seconds. They are not able to sit and play a game or concentrate long enough to paint or colour for more than a few seconds. It kills me to write this way about my gorgeous boys since they are such special children. Of course, as their mother I am bound to be biased but everyone that knows them loves them! They are so gentle, so sweet natured.

The tragedy is that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them before. The children’s doctor as well as the expert child psychologist who saw the boys regularly, together with social workers, health visitors and play group workers who spend all day long with children, all gave evidence that Sammy and Benji were normal healthy toddlers. They were developing perfectly normally and had they been allowed the peace and stability they so desperately needed with their mother, they would almost certainly have been speaking and behaving like any other 3/4 year old children by now.

Sammy and Benji are severely disturbed. But instead of recommending help and urgent treatment or more crucially – restoring normality with a mother raising them instead of 2 unknown Filipinos, the so-called ‘experts’ that are involved and have seen Samuel and Benjamin have ignored their manifest problems and claim they are ‘healthy’ and ‘developing well.’ It is astounding and frightening not only to see just how critical Sammy and Benji’s psychological state is right now but that people with the power and influence to save them can abrogate their responsibilities in this shameful way, allowing the children to continue to suffer and deteriorate.

This custody battle has dragged on for 3 years, starting when the boys were just 8 months old. That is most of Sammy and Benji’s lives!  How can anybody claim this is a normal environment for children to grow up in? Is it any wonder they are in this state?

The desperation and hopelessless I feel is overwhelming and at times simply too much to bear. Yes, I can make yet more court applications and further investigations can take place but all of this takes time. Time that these poor children simply do not have. The case has now been suspended. I have applied for a new judge and court. The judge is being investigated on charges of alleged bias. The Social Services are also being investigated for their handling of the case. The father has been reported to the Medical Council of Vienna for alleged gross abuse of his professional position as well to the criminal court on various other alleged charges.

The qualifications of all these so-called ‘professionals’ have been seriously brought into question and yet the children continue to suffer and no drastic action to rescue them is forthcoming. How much longer must the children needlessly suffer? I have been told to be patient, that justice will prevail, that everything takes time. It has already taken too long. And now my greatest fear for Sammy and Benji is that time is running out.

Injustice

Sammy & Benji

Sammy & Benji

Still reeling from the blow of yesterday. Going through documents and old pictures on my computer and came across this beautiful picture of Sammy and Benji taken when they were about 15 months old, the same time that the discredited psychologist saw them and concluded they were ‘retarded’ and ‘unhealthy.’ The Social Services also wrote in their report that I received yesterday that the children were ‘underweight’ and in a’terrible state’ in my care.

They can write whatever they like but a picture speaks a thousand words. Since they were taken from me, the twinkle in their eyes has disappeared (hopefully not forever) and all colour drained from their once shiny, glowing faces.

Wishing more than ever to see them looking as healthy as this once again. At the moment they are far from this.

 

 

Final Custody Recommendation by the Social Services

There is no longer any attempt by the institutions involved to operate under the guise of neutrality.

The one-sidedness and unfair play going on in Samuel and Benjamin’s case is so blatant that it makes a total mockery of the judicial process.

The last post described the exploitation by the visiting centre. I have also written here about the Social Services’ previous outrageous demands for exorbitant maintenance and their insistence that I work as a cleaning lady to meet these unrealistic costs.

Today, I received a new report by the Social Services. The judge, without informing myself or my lawyer commissioned them to assess the father’s parenting skills and write a final custody recommendation. They wrote that they have been in regular and intensive discussions with the father for weeks and yet not once have they made contact with me. Neither have they seen me with the children. Their report omits all mention of the mother’s role in the children’s lives. For them and their custody recommendation, that is apparently irrelevant.

Instead, the report focuses on the ‘loving, caring father’ and the huge developments of the children in his care! It is sickening to read.

Although they state they received numerous danger reports from myself, my father-in-law, the NSPCC equivalent and from the Social Services in my district, they dismissed these strong warnings out of hand and concluded that the children were not in any danger and were ‘well-cared for.’

The ‘document’ includes PRIVATE ‘psychological reports’ which claim the children are perfectly developed for their age. Although they can barely speak and still wear nappies at nearly 4 years old! The lack of professionalism and credibility of one of these privately paid psychologists is illustrated by a report she wrote (2 years ago)  about my competence as a mother without ever having seen or spoken to me – solely based on what the father had told her! 

This latest psychologist report alleges that Sammy speaks ’50 words’ including 3 word sentences (which I have yet to hear). Benjamin is further behind, she wrote, but this is no cause for alarm as he is ‘bound to catch up soon.’ And yet one of the grounds the judge gave for removing the children from my care was that at 2 years old they did not have a vocabulary of 200 words!!

They are cared for by a ‘nanny,’ the report states, who ‘collects the children from kindergarten and is very competent.’ In actual fact, they are ‘in the care of” 2 Fillipino women whom the court knows nothing about. No information has been given about their visa status / right to live in Austria, their earnings, their qualifications to work with children or even the language they speak to the children. This vital information is apparently also irrelevant to the Social Services. Although the Fillipinos (deciphered from poor German and very bad English) told me personally that they are with the children all weekend, from 8am to 8pm.

The report goes on to claim that the father is very caring because he personally picks the twins up from Kindergarten once a week. The rest of the time, the report states, the ‘nanny’ takes them and collects them. Only one of the Filipinos is mentioned.

People have questioned my disappointment in Chabad. After knowing their complicity in this evil, it is easy to understand the way I feel. The report includes the assessment by the Chabad Kindergarten. The Jewish director says how well the children have developed under the father’s care.’ The assistants were ‘shocked’ the report claims, at how disturbed the children were when they first started kindergarten, how insecure and clingy they were to everyone. They had just been ripped from their mother. I had been their constant caregiver day and night for the first 2 years of their lives. They were forcibly removed from me by the police, put in an unfamiliar apartment, surrounded by unfamiliar people, spoken to in another language, dumped off in kindergarten for the very first time, denied contact with their mother for 8 weeks and the kindergarten was surprised they were disturbed, behaving abnormally and refusing to eat or play???!

The Social Services then have the audacity to repeat in the report that the children need ‘calm and stability!’

‘As a priority, Mr Schlesinger wishes an end to the outside pressure brought to bear on his family, so that he may concentrate on the further development of his children in peace.’

They also commend him on his resilience in the face of my campaign for justice.

‘Mr Schlesinger cooperates well and does not allow his frustrations and annoyance with the mother’s actions, e.g her media exposure to get in the way of his child raising.’

No mention is made of the visits continually cancelled by the father. Samuel and Benjamin were even denied all access to their mother for 7-8 weeks at a time!

The report, without the need for any further investigation, concludes,

‘The continuation of the children in their father’s custody as well as the transfer of final custody to the father is recommended in the best interests of the children.’

This one-sided nonsense must be thrown out immediately. Samuel and Benjamin cannot be treated in this way. It is an insult to the legacies of the founders of freedom and democracy.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Cancelled visit

The visiting centre cancelled my visit on Tuesday 1st January because of the New Year’s Day holiday (even though there was a visit Christmas Day the week earlier). The father agreed to a substitute visit on Thursday 3rd January. I was then informed that the father had changed his mind and I could not have that visit after all. However, the visiting centre acknowledged that a visit was still owed to me and the father would make it up at a later date. I asked for last Sunday, the 13th January, but was told the father had ‘already made alternative arrangements.’

At the end of today’s visit I asked when I could have this substitute visit. I was told that the father no longer agreed to give it me and it’s now been cancelled! I asked why but no reason was given. I asked the woman from the visiting centre to confirm this in writing. She told me this ‘privilege’ would cost me 50 Euros! (in addition to the 42 Euros I must pay each visit- raised to 44 Euros next month).

The father is quoted in the court documents (2010) promising that should he be awarded custody, he would grant me a 50-50 split, that he would allow me to see the children whenever I liked and could even take them on extended holidays to England. Now I am lucky if I even get my once a week visit. Sammy and Benji are constantly deprived of contact with their mother.

A journalist from The Times wrote this week about a certain type of father:

“These fathers become curiously disengaged from their children as individuals to love and nurture. Instead, they treat them as possessions, ammunition in domestic deadlock.”

How tragic that so many innocent children are being used in this perverse way.