FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2005
Stop Family Violence - Irene Weiser
607-539-6856 / 607-435-3010 (cell)
Barry Goldstein Esq.
914-968-0922 (w) / 914-643-3142 (cell)
Judge Sends Pregnant Mom To Jail For Mother's Day, Gives Custody To
On Friday, a seven months pregnant mother of two and former "mother of the year" was sentenced to a month in jail for protesting the judge's decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move thousands of miles away with her children. The judge currently serves on a commission appointed by the Chief Judge of New York State to improve the family court's handling of custody matters.
Judge Damian Amodeo, family court judge in Dutchess County, charged Genia Shockome, former Dutchess County Mother of the Year, with criminal contempt and sentenced her to thirty days in jail without bail when she objected to his decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move with the children to Texas.
"In the divorce proceeding, Shockome testified that her husband forced her to participate in group sex and that he refused to change the children's diapers because he became sexually aroused -- charges which he never denied" said Barry Goldstein, Shockome's attorney.
Reports by a court appointed investigator found that Shockome's husband had physically sexually and verbally abused her throughout the marriage and that Shockome suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.
Amodeo previously awarded custody to the children's father despite indications of his abusive behavior; that decision is currently under appeal.
"The actions by this court, which have placed two young children and a pregnant mother in great danger, represent an all too common minimization of the seriousness of domestic violence and an egregious misuse of judicial authority" said Irene Weiser, executive director of StopFamilyViolence.org, a national activist organization based in New
"It is frightening to think that the judge responsible for such reckless decisions has been appointed to New York State's Matrimonial Commission to help improve the way family courts address these serious family situations," Weiser continued.
Weiser has recently been asked by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to suggest revisions to their judge's guidebook that addresses investigation and decision-making in custody cases involving domestic violence.
"Research shows that half the men who abuse their wives or girlfriends abuse the children too, and there is no evidence to show that such abuse declines post separation. Children who grow up with abuse are more prone to behavior problems, depression, eating disorders, suicide, school failure and increased drop out rates, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, adult criminality, and are more prone to becoming involved in abusive relationships as adults," says Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Siena College, whose professional focus is on couples therapy and dynamics of abuse. Hannah is the organizer of the annual National Battered Mother's Custody Conference.
"The family court's first priority must be to protect the children's safety, not to punish the mother's who report the abuse." Hannah continued.
The Matrimonial Commission, created in June 2004 by New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye is charged with examining every facet of the divorce process in New York and recommending reforms to correct existing problems. The last public hearing of the commission will be held on Monday May 9th, from 11 am to 8 pm at New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street (between Broadway & Church Street), New York, NY. Press is welcome to
StopFamilyViolence.org is a national grassroots activist organization with over 30,000 members nationwide; 2500 members reside in New York state. StopFamilyViolence.org works to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives are affected by violent relationships.
The appellate brief on the Shockome case can be found at the following link
Stop Family Violence
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