Robin Kerr-a Kentucky mother of three-says she has been living a continuous nightmare for the last fifteen years when she lost custody, and later contact with her two younger children-Matthew and Laura-because a psychiatrist misread a report, and a judge declared her borderline retarded.
The children’s father-Edward Duckworth- of Rockwall Texas, was awarded sole custody of Matthew and Laura.
Karr said that a Rockwall Constable told her that he went to see Judge Pirtle about her case and the possible abuse of her children while in their father’s care.
He also told her that he had walked on a phone conversation between Duckworth, Judge Pirtle and the court-appointed social worker Melody East.
“He said they were discussing how they could take my children from me. I had this phone conversation transcribed.” Karr added.
Karr-an Oral Roberts University honors graduate- said that throughout this nightmare, she had to be strong for her oldest child, Chris, from a previous marriage, who was caught in the midst of this tragedy. She said she feels quilt because she missed on a lot of Chris’ important school and social activities, as litigations over the custody of Matthew and Laura, as well as having to travel over 1200 miles between Kentucky and Texas to see her babies, was taking up a lot of her time.
Her constitutional and human rights were violated when the judge failed to enter any evidence she had, and did not allow any of her witnesses to testify at the trial.
Her determination to prove her sanity and get her children back, as well as the love for her children, has never faded throughout all these years of heartache .
“When all this started, I made the choice to stay sane. With all that's been done to me, I could go off the deep end and nobody would blame me." Karr said.
When asked what her biggest wish was, regarding her situation, she said:
“My biggest wish/hope was always that one day, when my children were old enough to hear my side of the story, they would love me and want to know me - that they would finally know that I didn't abandon them and that I fought hard for them. I held on for so many years just documenting everything so I could share with them one day. Well, that day came and I shared the news stories with them.”
She said that her children-now 15 and 16-year-olds, want nothing to do with her, because they've been told lies and bad stories about her, all of their lives.
“How do I feel about that? Of course, my heart is broken in a million pieces. Every dream, every hope I carried inside my soul has been crushed beyond recognition...My hope now is for some kind of miracle. I remain completely and utterly devastated,” she added.
Below is one official letter out of a mountain of her evidence, from a non-profit organization-who’s members were sitting in the courtroom throughout the trial. As stated the letter was written to the judge summarizing all the injudicious irregularities about the case.
CHILDREN AND LOVING PARENTS .,
January 5, 2000
Judge Cynthia Kent
c/o Elaine Holmes
RE: Cause No. 1-98-435 (382nd District Court, Rockwall County, Texas)
IN THE MATTER OF THE MARRIAGE OF EDWARD NEIL DUCKWORTH AND
ROBIN LEE DUCKWORTH AND THE INTEREST OF MATTHEW NAKAI
DUCKWORTH AND LAURA DANIELLE DUCKWORTH MINOR CHILDREN
Dear Judge Kent,
I am the co-founder of Children And Loving Parents (CALP)-a chartered non-profit
organization located near Rockwall Texas. I am writing in an effort, to appeal to your
knowledge, your wisdom, your faith, and your conscious. I am writing on behalf of Robin
Duckworth, however, I am not writing at her request. This letter serves two purposes: 1) To serve as evidence in the Duckworth file that CALP is very concerned about the integrity of both the judicial system's actions and the actions of CASA and CPS in Robin's case, and; 2) to bring to surface a few facts that you may have never known at the time you rendered your verdict.
We believe that the Duckworth case has been filled with trickery, deceit, mockery, and cruelty -none of which are desirable attributes for our legal and judicial systems. I am sure that you agree. Unfortunately, the one's who have suffered are the innocent children and their grieving mother.
We attended many of the hearings regarding this case, including the last part of the final hearing that you presided over. I couldn't help but notice your references to family and the importance of parents in the lives of their children. Without a doubt, CALP agrees with you- if the parent is a safe and good influence upon the children. Yet, we are perplexed and saddened at the many successful attempts to thwart Robin Duckworth's good intentions. Even worse, we are upset that he court system has not recognized these 'tricks' used by Ed Duckworth and his attorney to intentionally make Robin's life miserable.
My question is this. What would you do as a mother to protect your children if you thought they were living in an unstable and unsafe environment? Even a stubborn, proud, 'never ask for help' man would humble himself to ask every available person for help - again and again. You and I probably wouldn't do this for ourselves, but we would for our children. Isn't this exactly what Robin has done? Is this so wrong?
At what point did Robin act so inappropriate that she deserved to have her children kept from her. Did she break the law? No. (She was put in jail for crying and not leaving the courtroom when Judge Pirtle and Trish Verde refused to advise her as to when she could have her next visitation. Is this really 'irrational' when a mother hasn't seen or held her children in a very long time? By the way, why was she arrested for criminal trespass when there were still many other people in the courthouse? Why weren't the other people that were present arrested for trespassing?) Does Robin have a history of running away with the children? No. Does she have a history of hurting the children? No. Does she have a history of disobeying the courts? No. (Ed's attorney stated that Robin had told the Kentucky court that she would not abide by the visitation decree from her first marriage. She may or may not have said that .. but, what did she do? She abided by the visitation decree very well. She even notified, in writing, the Kentucky court within 2 weeks of when she moved to Houston. We are in possession of that letter. Unbelievably, Judge Pirtle did not allow that letter to be submitted into evidence.)
Now let's compare the history of Ed and Robin. Robin graduated high school and college with honors. Ed barely passed high school. After almost 6 years in college he dropped out with a GP A below 2.0. Who held a job and supported the family? Robin did. She worked at Dillard's and excelled as a departmental manager. Ed failed to hold a job, including one stint as a car salesman. When they moved to Kentucky, Robin continued working at another clothing store. Ed attempted a gig as a local police officer, however he quit when faced with being tired for shooting and killing a chained dog.
While living in Kentucky Ed filed for divorce. In his affidavit to the court Ed stated Robin should be named the fit and proper caretaker of the children! He never alleged Robin of being unfit in any way as a mother. However, wanting to salvage their marriage, Robin replied to the court that she did not believe their marriage to be beyond repair. (Wouldn't anyone that takes their vows before God in a serious manner do all they could to save the marriage? Robin did - Ed didn't.) Just think if Robin had given up as easily as Ed had, she would be the managing conservator of Matthew and Laura at this time. Instead, Ed, his attorney, and the Texas judicial system have raked Robin over the coals and treated her like a criminally insane parent. Robin has always been the reliable provider for the children, yet she has been punished and ridiculed for her faith. The reason: Supposedly she said something to Ed on a tape that was later played to Melody East, an unlicensed social worker with CASA. Melody East then recommended to Judge Pirtle that Robin have only supervised visitation because she expressed 'alarming' religious beliefs and had made 'alarming' remarks. One such remark was, "I hope God takes your lives if you continue to harm the children." How did this statement start ridiculous allegations that Robin might harm her children? Personally, I also wish that God would remove all child abusers from the earth. Does this make me a danger to children? No. It doesn't make Robin a danger to her children either.
Also, Melody East never completed the social study. She never interviewed Robin's mother or Robin's other references. Incredulously Melody never spoke to the number one witness Christopher Karr. Christopher is Robin's son from her first marriage. Christopher witnessed Earnest Duckworth's (Ed's father) verbal, mental and physical abuse first hand. In fact, Christopher had written several letters to friends about the abuse well before Robin moved out of the Duckworth house. Wouldn't these letters be undeniable evidence that abuse was taking place? Wouldn't Christopher's testimony have been the most important evidence in this case? Yet, Melody East never spoke to Christopher or Robin's other witnesses. In addition, Judge Pirtle would not allow Christopher's letters into evidence.
Even mare appalling- Robin's witnesses were never allowed to testify. All of her witnesses came to trial on Feb. 26, 1999. Robin had at least 4 witnesses including her mother, one cousin, Christopher, and a close friend from Houston who had known Robin and Ed when they lived there. Robin's witnesses traveled a combined distance of almost 3000 miles. Unbelievably, Judge Pirtle made no offer to let Robin's witnesses testify since they had come such a great distance. Instead, Judge Pirtle allowed Ed's attorney, Charles Schuerenburg, to ask questions (stall for time) to Melody East, Tish Verde, and others. Judge Pirtle knew that Robin could not afford to fly her witnesses down a second time. We believe that Judge Pirtle knowingly and purposefully hindered Robin's right to a fair trial by not giving her witnesses the opportunity to testify. Judge Pirtle even scheduled the second half of the trial nearly two weeks away, instead of the following Monday, insuring that Robin's witnesses would not testify.
In addition, sanctions were imposed against Robin and her attorney for filing a supposedly 'frivolous' report to CPS and requesting a Protective Order concerning abuse that Robin felt had occurred at the hands of Ed's father. (Perhaps, Judge Kent, you were not knowledgeable of all the facts when you sanctioned Robin. That is what we hope.) Doesn't state law require that a person must report confirmed or suspected abuse to a child? Mr. Duckworth's attorney tried to make Robin look like a liar, because she didn't report the abuse at the time it happened. Instead, he stated that she was now conveniently making it up since there was a battle for the children. How absurd! The facts show that Robin and Ed were living in the home of Mr. Duckworth at that believe they can protect their children until they can develop an escape plan away from the abuse. Once again, the facts show that Robin moved back to Kentucky shortly after the abuse.
Doesn't the fact that every time Robin saw her children with substantial bruises (I have pictures.) and reoccurring sickness during each visitation also give cause for concern, suspicion and reporting? Doesn't the fact that the two children have been to the doctor and/or hospital 31 times in 10 months give rise to concern and suspicion? Doesn't the fact that she witnessed abuse while living with Ed's parents cause concern? Doesn't the fact that Christopher, Robin's oldest son, wrote letters concerning the abuse to friends before the court case started (I have copies) give cause for concern and suspicion? Doesn't the fact that Christopher also signed an affidavit confirming the abuse give cause for concern and suspicion? Betty Hable, director of the Ombudsman's office, has even confirmed that CPS has concerns that the paternal grandfather was physically abusive toward Matthew. We are very troubled that you fined and penalized Robin for reporting suspected abuse when she was faced with disobeying the law if she didn't report her suspicions! We are even more upset with the fact that Robin is reprimanded from making any other allegations of suspected or confirmed abuse. I ask, is this justice?
How could this happen? How did Robin get fined for doing what is right? I know we all make mistakes. I'm willing to admit that I do. I hope that you too are willing to admit that you made a mistake in your judgements against Robin. I hope even more that you will do all you can in your judicial authority to correct this wrong and make it right. Robin is not an insane mother making improper allegations. She is a protective, caring, loving mother that wants to see her children in a safe, nurturing environment. Once again I ask. what would you do .. not as a judge - but as a Christian and a mother?
Now Robin faces yet another obstacle - meeting the demands of a visitation decree that is both confusing and extremely burdensome. In your judgement you stated that you believed Robin had a medical problem that required medication. Then, being sure of your evaluation, you based the decree upon Robin seeing a psychiatrist and taking the medicine that they would prescribe her. But what was to happen when Robin's nationally acclaimed psychiatrist did not find Robin to be in need of medication- but only finds her to be severely depressed due to missing her children (a natural response for a concerned, loving mother)?
In addition, you required Robin to line up a psychiatrist within a month. Finding a psychologist is relatively easy but a psychiatrist can take months! (My wife and I have been searching for a psychiatrist to evaluate our daughter's ADHD. The shortest waiting list we found was 5 months!) It took Robin a month to line up her psychiatrist. 'This automatically made her miss the first date (July 1) you had based her visitation rights upon.
However, since acquiring a psychiatrist she has tried to do everything stated concerning her psychiatric evaluations. However, Ed's attorney has written a letter stating that they will seek to have her thrown in jail for not following the order. In addition. Robin has not been able to afford trips to Texas to see her children.
She has another son that she must take care of. His father has not been paying child support, which makes things even more difficult for Robin. With the psychiatrist and expenses she has been forced to rely only upon phone calls to stay in her children's lives. But this has been made even more difficult due to the fact that Ed will not answer the phone and has turned off his answering machine - all in an effort to distance Robin's children from her.
However, through all of this, Robin saved enough money to buy birthday and Christmas gifts and a plane ticket to Dallas during November. Once again, Robin did everything she thought she was supposed to do according to the visitation decree. She sent letters to Ed and the District Clerk. by Nov. 1, 1999, concerning her psychiatric evaluation(s) so that she could see her children on Nov. 13·14. She sent all letters certified mail. She took 4 days off work to come to Rockwall to see her children, even though Ed's attorney, Charles Schuerenberg, threatened to get a bench warrant for her arrest if she came to Rockwall.
Despite all this, she still came to see her babies. If that's not true love I don't know what is. Upon arriving in Rockwall, Robin gave my wife and I a notarized statement to act as the competent adults to pick up the children -just as stated in the decree. We felt this would
definitely be better for the children since it would avoid any possible conflicts between Ed and Robin. Upon arriving at Ed's house, Ed absolutely refused to hand over the children. Ed then ran back into his house and called the police. When the police arrived Ed fabricated a lie and told the officers that he had spoken to Robin's psychiatrist the day before and that her psychiatrist was sending a second letter forbidding Robin to see the children! We then asked the officers to ask Ed if he would allow Robin to see the children for a supervised visitation the next day. The officers told my wife and I that Ed made it clear to them that he would never let Robin see the children again no matter what! The officers then advised us that we needed to keep a good paper trail of what had occurred. We were then told that Robin needed to go to the police station and file "Interference with Child Custody", which is what she did.
Robin was never allowed to see her babies. Can you believe she has never been allowed to celebrate either of Laura's birthdays? She has never celebrated Christmas with her either. How discouraged would this make you feel as a mother? Yet, Robin somehow finds the courage and desire to hang in there. Robin loves and misses her children deeply.
Now Robin's good intentions are once again being turned against her. Charles Schuerenberg has written Robin to threaten her again. He is using the visitation decree that he wrote, against her. He stated that he intends to have her thrown in jail. I believe this is revenge for Robin filing "Interference with Child Custody" against Ed. What Ed did was wrong and downright mean!
Robin came 1200 miles to see her children, hold them, love them, and give them gifts.
Your honor, please listen to your heart on this matter. Robin is really doing her best. If she
moves here from Kentucky, her older son can't see his dad. Either way, she gets slammed. So she does her best. You even stated in your final words of the hearing that the order periods of possession would "be subject to very definitely financial ability." This tells me that you were trying to recognize Robin's peril in paying for psychiatric sessions, making expensive trips to Texas, taking off from work, and juggling all the issues.
We are asking that you reconsider your order. We don't believe that you ever meant to say Robin could not see her children in November if she didn't get every psychiatric report completed in July. It seems to us that you were saying Robin's visitations were to be based upon her complying with her psychiatrist's orders then submitting that compliancy letter from the psychiatrist before she attempted visitation. If your order were interpreted in any other way then Robin's inability to see a psychiatrist by July 1, 1999 would prohibit her from ever seeing her children again. I do not believe that you is what you intended. However, Ed's attorney is trying to have Robin thrown in jail based upon his manipulation of the visitation decree.
Robin had no choice but to file "Interference with Child Custody" against Ed. His actions as dictated by Texas state law are a criminal act, not a civil act. Therefore, Robin had a
responsibility to file a report even though she did not obtain leave of court to do so. Robin's report to the Rockwall police was not merely a 'complaint' but was a witness' statement to a felony crime. The police made the choice to ask the D.A. 's office to bring charges against Ed.
We hope and pray that you will see things the same and not allow your instinct as a mother, a Christian, and a parent, to be clouded by your judicial experience in today's corrupt society.
Co-Founder and V.P.