April 10th, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
It's beginning to look like the news media just can't wrap their little minds around the idea that a mother, particularly a pretty blond one, can be an awful parent. We've been following the saga of marginal TV actress Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband, German businessman Daniel Giersch. Their divorce and custody case was as public and spiteful as those of most celebrities, so we pretty much couldn't avoid reading about it over the years. So it's interesting to notice that, despite knowing the facts of their custody battle, the media reporting on it just can't seem to get it right. Truth to tell, it's hard now not to conclude that they don't want to get it right. Here's the latest (Daily Mail, 4/9/13).
To refresh your memory that's wisely consigned Kelly Rutherford to a remote and dark corner of your gray matter, she and Daniel Giersch were married at one point and had a son, Hermes, who's now five. They then decided to divorce and separated while Rutherford was pregnant with their second child, Helena, now three.
During their divorce and custody case, Rutherford embarked on a single-minded campaign of parental alienation against Giersch including her repeated refusal to put his name on Helena's birth certificate. She was so persistent in trying to cut Giersch out of his children's lives that it even got the attention of the judge in their custody case, something countless fathers will tell you is not easy to do. Generally speaking, courts grant mothers broad leeway in permitting or denying access by the father to his children.
So, although the reporters covering the case were notably coy about giving us the facts of Rutherford's alienation, they couldn't cover it up entirely. As TMZ reported last year,
In his (sic) decision, obtained by TMZ, the judge chose to make Kelly's ex Daniel Giersch the "residential parent" because "Daniel (who lives in France) has facilitated the relationship of the children with Kelly ... and Kelly simply has not done so."
One glaring example -- the judge says Kelly continually failed to put Daniel's name on their daughter's birth certificate ... despite being asked several times by the court.
The judge writes, "Even while under the scrutiny of an extended trial, Kelly still has declined to demonstrate the level of commitment to facilitating the relationship that would be required of a residential parent in a relocation situation."
(For the record, the judge in the case, Teresa Beaudet, is female despite TMZ's use of the masculine pronoun.) In addition, someone reported to U.S. authorities that Giersch is involved in selling illegal arms in South Africa. If proven (and it never has been), that allegation would, under U.S. law, brand Giersch a terrorist. And, as a potential terrorist, the Victory Act mandates that, as a citizen of a foreign country, he not remain in the United Sates. So Giersch's visa was revoked. Now, what no one but me seems to have noticed is that whoever made that allegation to the FBI did so during the Giersch/Rutherford custody battle.
The cynical among us might conclude that it was Rutherford herself or someone acting on her behalf who made the allegations against Giersch. After all, what better way to cut a father out of his children's lives than to ensure that by law he couldn't set foot in the country in which they live? I'm sure it looked like a slam-dunk winner to whomever leveled the charge against Giersch.
But the best laid plans often go awry and this is a good example. Because Rutherford was so blind to the obvious consequences of her actions, Judge Beaudet was pretty much forced to give physical custody to Giersch. Now, as I mentioned in my previous posts on the matter, the two have 50/50 parenting time. Into the bargain, Giersch has to buy plane tickets for Rutherford to fly to Monaco where he and the children live. He has to pay for her lodging and other amenities. He has to do all that six times a year.
So it's not as if the court did Giersch any favors, but you couldn't tell it from the media coverage of the judge's decision last fall. No, that was all about how Rutherford had "lost" custody and the agony she suffered because of it. As I stated at the time, the only way a 50/50 split can constitute "losing" custody is for there to be an assumption that Rutherford should have gotten sole custody. And of course, that's exactly what the media did assume.
Nor did any reporter show the slightest awareness of the harm done to children when a parent behaves the way Rutherford did. Parental alienation is profoundly destructive to children's emotional/psychological well-being, but, since that was being done by a pretty blond TV "personality," no one bothered to notice. Of course Rutherford wasted no time in playing the anguished mother card, rushing before every camera she could find to weep about the unfairness of it all.
Meanwhile, not a single reporter bothered to pick up a telephone and talk to Daniel Giersch about any of this. Nor did anyone talk to his lawyers. He's the children's father, their primary parent, but to reporters "covering" the case, he's a non-person better kept silent.
All of which is to say that, seven months later, nothing has changed. The press has had seven months to talk to Giersch, seven months to figure out how abusive Rutherford's behavior was, seven months to read the law that requires each parent to facilitate the parent-child relationship of the other, a mandate that Rutherford repeatedly and openly ignored. They've done none of that. So the linked-to article uncritically repeats her false claims of last year.
I'm being punished for being a good mother and taking care of my children, and he's being rewarded for having his visa revoked.
That's utterly untrue of course, but why would the reporter report the facts? Hey, Rutherford's pretty and blond and just look! She and her kids are wearing matching outfits! How cute.