Note: We juxtapose injustices, within the context of jails and prisons, in the United States and on the continent of Africa; specifically South Africa. We seek to highlight similarities versus differences in an attempt to bridge the gap across the Transcontinental divide. It is our intent to increase awareness and promote solidarity in our quest for systemic reform of institutions of incarceration.
Fall/Winter Edition: Issue 4
Mikaela Haynes, fourteen year old at the time, committed suicide. Haynes refused to be under the care of her convicted rapist father. Image supplied.
Why fourteen year old Mikaela Haynes took her life
On the day of this episode, the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, our Show slogan hit hard.
I began to appreciate that the Justice Beat is “where we discuss what matters to you.” And what should matter to all.
The topic was minors’ rights and guardianship cases. And boy, were we all not ready for the forces!
Introduction to a powerful, justice feminine force.
Our guest on this topic, Evita Tolu, an immigrant and lawyer came to the United States at 25 with more justice determination than the 200 USD in her pocket.
In 2006, she started her immigration law practice.
As a former immigrant, she has walked the success path in the U.S., and she knows what it takes to comply with immigration laws.
She later expanded her legal practice to accommodate domestic and family violence victims. Her motivation was her lived experiences. She suffered personal trauma from domestic violence and family court corruption.
Tolu found the court unsupportive of family domestic violence victims and perpetuating them by proxy.
She cites the central issue as the involvement of legal professions.
Tolu is, therefore, actively involved with Missouri legislators to amend the laws.
Her goal is to redress the family court to guarantee accountability for family court professions. Tolu is vivid in her aims to protect children.
Louisiana education specialist does justice for education, impairment, and minors
Our second guest was Victor M. Jones, is a New Orleans, Louisiana, Education Specialist Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF).
He focuses on children’s rights and disability rights.
Jones engages in integrated advocacy, litigation public policy, and public education.
He has educated Louisiana educators, parents, and lawmakers about education equity issues. This includes immigrant children’s rights, special education, student discipline, and access to children’s mental health services.
Before practicing law, Jones was a public school kindergarten teacher.
He was a graduate student studying risk and resiliency in children and adolescents. Jones is a published author, guest lecturer, and frequent commentator in civil rights issues impacting children and young adults.
Husband arrested for molesting his stepdaughter
Tolu’s client, Cynthia “Cindy” Randolph, says that “Back on December 1, 2013, my husband was arrested for molesting his stepdaughter. [She] is my daughter from a previous marriage. She was twelve at the time, and he was arrested and then promptly just let out again.”
Randolph says that it has been eight years of trying to get a divorce from him. “Time has gone on; more information has come out from more who he has molested,” says Randolph.
“He is in prison right now. December 12 of 2018 [five years after the crime] he went to prison, finally. He is in Farmington Correctional Centre for seven years [now]”, says Randolph.
It has taken equally long to have justice done for what he did to her and Mikaela and her other daughter.
“Time has gone on; more information has come out from more who he has molested,” says Randolph.
Yet, despite the established caliber of the perpetrator; nothing has been done for what he has done to Mikaela.
“He is in prison right now, shares Randolph.” December 12 of 2018 [five years after the crime] he went to prison, finally. He is in Farmington Correctional Centre for seven years [now].”
Randolph holds that “[w]hile he was out, he was using the system against me worse even than he was molesting [Mikaela]. He has used the system to help him, and it has hurt us a lot just having to deal with false allegations.”
It is sick to imagine that children in the modern-day are not safe around their parent(s).
It makes me wonder, who do you call kin when the person you expect to be king takes advantage of you?
Sexual violence perpetrating GAL gets off abuse case
Randolph painfully accounts that her husband accused her of educational neglect on her two youngest children that they have together. Randolph’s daughters were taken away and put in foster care because of that.
“It has been horrific! They cannot take being taken away from their mother for nothing, especially on false allegations. They appointed a guardian, Jennifer Williams, on my case," Randolph said.
Williams was put on the case on January 6, 2016. She got off by being exposed by Evita’s work and some others like Megan Fox, a journalist, that helped get her to get off the case. She is atrocious.”
The mother to four daughters shared that Williams is trying to get her two daughters to not testify against Randolph’s husband in court.
“The court-appointed the guardian ad litem. Like a GAL,” says Randolph.
“This woman was named Jennifer Williams. She was threatening Mikaela and Melissa. And she didn’t want me to testify against him. She’s acting more as his attorney. Or his representative than the children that she is appointed to protect and to help.”
The devastated mother cited media exposure, and family and immigration lawyer’s, Tolu, help through writing paperwork.
“I couldn’t find an attorney that was in the area that would do anything to help out. It wasn’t until she got on the case and started exposing what was going on that things started turning around.”
Evita Tolu brings context to the case
“Cindy was married before, with husband number one, and she had two daughters. And then, with husband number two, she also had two daughters. Husband number two molested Cindy’s daughter from the first marriage from age twelve to fourteen. At one point, her daughter, Melissa, came forward to say, ‘I can’t do it anymore. I have to tell my mom.’”
The family lawyer recounts the atrocities in this case.
“The moment news broke, he was arrested and charged with multiple counts. One which was deviant, forceful sodomy with a minor. He [w]as released and while being released, he started molesting his biological daughter, Mikaela.”
Tolu recounts that “The guardian ad litem appointed in the case, made sure that the abuser had access to his minor children and he had multiple opportunities to molest Mikaela.”
When asked by our host, Elaine Sutton, how Mikaela underwent more sexual abuses under an appointed guardian, Tolu was fearless to account.
“[Williams] went to the court and said that Cindy fabricated allegations of sexual abuse. That the accused is used, and he must have access to his children. His children were given access to him based on the false allegation of educational neglect”.
It is the logic applied judicially in this case that makes me wonder: e is anything sicker than systematization? I find that it justifies more than it resolves.
“The children were given to the molester’s mother who was 90 years old at that time. She was blind, deaf, and medicated with painkillers and insomnia pills. They made her the sole custodian of the two girls. While in her custody, the accused-child-sodomizer came to the house and molested Mikaela.”
Haynes's cry for help: bloody red and loud
Tolu recounts that “Then, Mikaela started cutting herself and telling everyone, ‘Please, stop. I am afraid. He’s in my bedroom in the middle of the night’. Cindy had to take her to the hospital where they treated her for self-mutilation. She disclosed to the hospital and everyone what was going on at grandmother’s house”.
It is after this incident that evil roamed around like a predator on the game.
“Then, the guardian ad litem seized the children from Cindy and placed them in foster care. The guardian ad litem continues her agenda of reunifying the rape victim with the rapist. That was going on for two years while she was on the case,” says Tolu.
The immigration lawyer says that “the final drop in the bucket was when guardian ad litem, Jennifer Williams, testified saying that the already convicted child sodomizer should be placed on probation and not into incarceration.”
Following Williams’s testimony, Haynes took her life
“If her father, her abuser, is on probation, that means he also has access to her. She was threatened that if she testified against her father, she will be taken and placed in foster care away from her mother. So this girl had no choice of survival. And everything was done by the guardian ad litem.”
Sutton questioned Tolu, on whether the second daughter testified and disclosed any information.
“She disclosed to the police that she was continuously threatened. That if she ever testifies against her stepfather, Mikaela, who took her life, and [the daughter] who is still alive, they will be either taken into foster care or they will be given back to sodomizer because he will be on probation. The guardian ad litem, threatened the entire family, all the victims in this case. Either foster case; or sodomizer’s probation so he could have access to all of them.”
Mugshot of convicted child rapist, Charles Michael Hynes. Sourced from PJ Media.
Girl children’s life and sanity turned into securable bags for ad litem guardian
When we explore the reasons for Williams’s inhumanity, we are pointed to the root of all evil. Greed.
Our executive producer, Sutton, subsequently asked Tolu, whether we get to the root of why Williams appeared to support the accused more than the victims.
“[The accused] was paying her money.” Tolu also stated that this was established to be true.
“Yes, at one point she received compensation from the sodomizer and the sodomizer’s [90-year-old] mother”.
Our host asked whether the previously discussed actions were legal, and the answer blew me away.
“Nothing that took place, in this case, is legal. Nothing”, replied Tolu
Victor Jones further unpacked the gravity of a guardian ad litem’s role.
“In this instance, [Williams, a lawyer] took away from the children’s right to have a voice. I have seen 'in some instances where guardian ad litems have been for the children and have had relationships with judges. And it ultimately benefitted the children. But I think because of instances like this, it does bring back the question, whether or not guardian ad litems should be lawyers.”
Perpetual legal profession crimes all connect to the judicial system
I remember Shawn "JAY Z" Carter'S, Roc Boys, verse, “[thanks] to boys in blue who put greed before their badge… cheers! Toast to crime”.
This particular verse is a signifier that injustices in the justice system are often controlled by the very people who are appointed by the system: law enforcers and hence legal professions.
The issue of legal professions and corruption is currently manifesting in endless commissions of inquiry that are constitutionally provisioned in South Africa. Unfortunately, corruption never hits a singular; it destroys a collective. That is something very evident in this case.
Randolph says that “[Willams] eventually went and testified at my husband’s sentencing. She said she was saving herself for that testimony. She didn’t even want to talk to my other daughter, who is in prison for now. She didn’t want to talk to her", said the mother of four.
“One could argue”, said Jones, “that a disciplinary complaint must have been filed against Williams. I can tell you”, said Jones, “that in the legal system, lawyers protect each other a lot. Do you know how you hear about the blue code among policemen? That exists in the legal profession. The chances of a lawyer being sanctioned for misconduct are very slim. Especially when it comes to children’s rights cases and child welfare cases. You could have that recourse. But attorneys are down for each other.”
A handful of injustices
First, stepfather molests stepdaughter. Secondly, the stepdaughter, Melissa, cries for help. Thirdly, child-sodomizing-molesting father molests biological daughter, Melissa. Fourthly, the appointed guardian makes the girls (that she should be protecting;) vulnerable to their sexually abusive (step)father. Lastly, by the time Williams is removed from the case; Micaela’s life is unaccountably lost.
Legal profession hosts perpetrators
Sadly, it is people who have studied and practiced law who are found to be involved in perpetuating injustices.
I revisit Immortal Technique’s (an underground hip-hop rapper) lyricism; before unpacking the toxicity in the legal profession.
The rapper raps in Poverty of Philosophy that, “they don’t realize that [the] America[n] [the legal system] can’t exist without separating them from their [legal] identity. Because if we had some sense of who we are [as legal professions], there’s no way in hell we’d allow this country to push [systematically] its genocidal consensus on us”.
“There is a lot of debate whether or not guardian ad litems should be attorneys for this very reason. GALs do not have to be an attorney. But they can be. Oftentimes, though, if you have a guardian ad litem who is an attorney, they tend to have relationships with attorneys and judges in the case. That can spew the entire process”, said Jones.
The root of the matter is quite deep following what Tolu shared during the show about the role of Missouri judges.
“There were therapists involved. The court-appointed psychologists wrote multiple letters to the judge saying, ‘Please protect these children! Please tell me, what is going on. Why is the guardian ad litem scampering the witnesses? Why is the guardian ad litem threatening the witnesses?’ There was no reaction from the court.”
Williams, the ad litem guardian, is no longer on the case
Tolu says that “this case is set for trial in February . This is the pattern of what convicted child deviant child molester is doing. Each time the case comes for trial, he fires his lawyer. Then the new lawyer gets appointed and asks for a continuance. This case has been going on for eight years.”
After this long, one presumes that substantive probes are made towards justice.
Sutton proceeded to ask, whether there was no one questioning these things. And whether the court system was not wondering why this case was not coming to trial.
“I am the only one who is questioning. I wanted the trial yesterday [on 3 October 2021]. The judge did not give it to me. The soonest we could do it is in February. It has been eight years of hell where children are dying is enough.”
In terms of resolving the twelve-year-old daughter’s, who has not been sodomized yet, custody; Tolu says that the court is considering giving the accused child abuser prison visitation rights.
“They want the child victim to do jail visits so the parent can masturbate in there. That is what the judge is thinking about as of this moment. The child’s father is asking for jail visits. And we cannot resolve this issue. No case in Missouri says it has to be done. That the convicted child sodomizer has access through jail visits to a minor”.
What about Micaela’s suicide?
“No one cares about Micaela’s death. Micaela died because she wanted to save her little sister. She wanted to draw her under the rug”, said Tolu boldly.
It is gruesome that such carelessness has been applied in this case despite a life lost.
The media’s involvement in this case
The passionate immigration lawyer, Tolu, says that the media attention came strenuously. Tolu has been talking through a New York journalist. The journalist started covering the story.
“There is no one in the state of Missouri who is covering it. Trust me, I contacted every outlet in Missouri. No one is talking about it. No one is talking about courts that do not protect minors. The [outlets] say it is impossible. [I] am a conspiracy writer. The [court] record is clear, what is going on in this case for eight years. We have a dead child.”
Missouri journalism channels question deceased child’s lawyer legitimacy
Sutton asked Tolu whether Missouri journalists did not ask for supporting documentation to prove from their end, that she was a conspirator.
“I write a story. I send it. I get a response, ‘We are not interested. This is a conspiracy theory. This is not even possible. People say, ‘how is this even possible?’, shares the family lawyer.
Tolu concurred with why, to some, this was a shock beyond words.
“Honestly, until I got involved in this case, I thought the same thing. How would it be even possible that the court is considering sending a twelve-year-old to jail? The parent can masturbate in there. But it is possible. That is what is going on in this case.”
What is the guardian ad litem’s role?
New Orleans-based Education Specialist Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense, and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF), Victor Jones, said that when guardian ad litem is appointed, they are to serve as neutral parties, independent of any decision-making or swaying from the parents.
“Their sole role is to be there for a child. The sole role of a guardian ad litem is to be the voice of a child. It sounds like in this case, the children were not given that,” Jones said.
The education specialist sent his deepest condolences to Micaela. Jones added that this was a grave injustice by the justice system. Successively, Jones visited the roots of the problem.
“It sounds like a grave injustice by the legal system. It often does happen for families that are people of color. And it often happens for families who are of low income means”.
Jones pointed out that children are not supposed to have a voice in court. There is a standard, said Jones, called the best interest of the child. In that standard, children are allowed to vocalize through the guardian ad litem, what it is they prefer.
“What is in their best interest? It sounds in this case, the guardian ad litem failed them repeatedly. And not only did she fail them repeatedly; it sounds like she has the best interest against one of the parents. Which goes against the standards of a guardian ad litem, said Jones.”
“We do not view children as whole beings,” said Jones
Jones pointed out that, “we do not view children as whole beings. And I see that a lot in court”, said Jones.
The Louisiana-based education specialist and lawyer said that:
“I have had to tell judges, the decision-makers that, ‘You do understand that the child is allowed to say things. There’s a viewpoint in American society that children are lesser beings. That adults know more. That they are smarter and [are] more competent. Oftentimes, especially because minors are not allowed to do certain things in court; you have to make sure that there is someone there who is a voice for children. That is what the guardian ad litem is. They are supposed to be that voice”.
One can deduct from Jones’ statement that the problem is within. Hence, the diagnosis and the healing should be targeted at the justice system and how it perceives and defines children.
Jones further asserts that there is a perception with the legal profession that children are not capable of advocating for their best interests. “I think that is why their rights are so limited”.
What recourse is there for a child whose rights have been violated?
The NAACP LDF education specialist shared more legal knowledge gems. Jones held that a child cannot file a complaint when their rights are violated.
“Technically, they are supposed to have a guardian ad litem that speaks for them. A child can petition to the court to have a new guardian ad litem”, said Jones.
It became evident that the legal system and its flaws oftentimes fail children more than it protects them. It is equally clear that the injustices are propelled by sovereign authorities.
“When they do [petition], there is a perception by judges that they must have been swayed by parents. It is the mindset of a judge, ‘What do you know? You are a child. You do not know anything. You do not know who is advocating for you. Normally, a child can petition to have a new guardian ad litem if the one that they have is not advocating for them”, said Jones.
At this point, it is clear that systemic forces play a huge role.
“Judges are immune in the state of Missouri. No matter what they do. They are immune. They have absolute judicial immunity. There is no accountability. That is why as a society we need to remove this immunity; so people start being accountable and we can sue them.”
This is how Micaela petitioned multiple times for a new guardian ad litem
Micaela’s lawyer cited that the deceased Micaela and her mother petitioned multiple times to remove Williams from her case. However, Williams refused to recuse herself.
“The other atrocious thing that she has done”, said Tolu, “[is that] every piece of evidence that she was supposed to present to the court, on behalf of the child, she concealed. And every time Cindy tried to expose her, she threatened to Cindy to take away her custody rights.”
The law in Missouri requires a guardian ad litem to be a lawyer
“In Missouri, it is the law. The only person who can be a guardian ad litem is a lawyer” said Tolu.
This came as a shock to Jones and Sutton, our host and executive producer.
Tolu said that in 1993, a case in Missouri decided that only the judge can reprimand the guardian ad litem. So, when you do file a complaint with the disciplinary board, you are told that you do not have jurisdiction.
“I have dozens of complaints sitting, in a similar language, go back to the judge ‘we don’t have jurisdiction to review your complaint’. And when you go to the judge, the guardian ad litem does vindicate against you. This is a complete circle. There is no justice for children. And injustice does take place regularly,” said the immigration lawyer, Tolu.
What can society do to bring justice in children and minor rights cases?
Tolu advised that as a society, it is pivotal that we remove immunity and hence the lack of accountability in law enforcers.
“It is the same thing with police brutality. Policemen are immune. Judges are immune. Guardians are immune. There’s nothing we can do, said Tolu”.
Sutton noted the three suggested points during the episode that can be enforced to bring change.
Watch full episode: https://web.facebook.com/justicebeat2day/videos/296746928550296/