Child Reports: “Dad Tackled Me” (Abuse Allegations After Abuser Wins Custody)

Background: I reported numerous times to the Guardian ad Litem Jamie Manning, the custody evaluator and included in my affidavits the long history of physical and emotional abuse Martin Hegland perpetrated on my son. No one listened… here is just one of many examples of how the abuse of my children continued AFTER Hennepin County family court awarded custody to an alleged abuser.

March 2010: I picked my children up for a visit, and my son DJ was tearful and very sensitive. DJ said his father, Martin H, was “crabby” the night before, and when he was doing homework, they got into a verbal argument with some shouting involved. At bedtime, the fighting escalated, and Martin threw DJ onto the bed. In the morning, Martin “was still crabby”. DJ was afraid and hid in the corner (of the bedroom), Martin got angry and pulled him by the legs off the bed. (Per report of the child). 

Later that night, DJ went to his children’s support group for kids dealing with divorce, and told his counselor about the incident. The counselor spoke to a supervisor, who then called CPS. The counselor and supervisor both specialize in child development, and are trained to identify signs of child abuse. Despite this report being made, and others made in the past, CPS decided not to take action.

When I put DJ to bed, he showed me his legs, which had several bruises up an down his legs. And told me “Dad tackled me”. I believed what DJ said because it is consistent with behavior I had seen previously. I was concerned so I took photographs of both legs, there were bruises up and down each leg.

Bruises on my child’s legs

I reported the incident to the school counselor, because my son feels comfortable talking with her, and I thought someone else needed to be made aware of the incident. The school counselor talked to my son, saw the bruises then called the police. I was called at work when the police called and asked to come into the station for an interview–which I did.

Excerpt police report – identifying information removed

The police also interviewed my daughter who said:

– Her brother and father got into an argument two nights ago

(At the time of the argument) Her brother was lying by her, and being nice to her, and her dad yelled at him

She did not know what her brother did wrong

They were supposed to go to bed and then her dad pushed her brother down

-He pushed her brother onto the bed, DJ did not seem hurt

-She went to bed and did not see anything else

-Reports feeling safe in mother’s home, as well as father’s

My son also was interviewed, he was reported as being “calm and collected and playing with Legos”. The officer probably was not aware of DJ’s  issues, which would affect the way he emotionally appears to others. Therapists also report that DJ has an ability to completely suppress his thoughts and feelings, he can mimic what he feels an adult expects of him, and hide his true thoughts and feelings. Since DJ was a toddler, Martin would not allow him to show his true feelings or emotions, he was yelled at, hit, called names, pinned to the floor, threatened and more…DJ learned to hide his emotions at a young age, holding things in until he explodes. That DJ appeared calm does not mean he really is calm or that he feels safe; if anything it is a sign of dissociation.

DJ said this, in a separate interview where his sister was not present:

He was lying on the bed petting his sister’s hair

They were getting along and playing nice

His dad came in and started yelling at him

He does not remember what was said (common when DJ dissociates, usually out of fear)

His dad “tackled” him onto the bed

-He was not hurt

He does not know why his dad tackled him

-In the morning he got out of bed and ate breakfast

-His dad yelled at him

-He did not remember what his dad said

-His dad grabbed him by the leg and pulled him out of bed

-He does not know why his dad did that

During the conversation, DJ did not show any emotion and continued to play with his Legos. The officer looked at the bruises, determined they are light in color and just assumed that DJ injured himself while playing. It is NOT up to a police officer to determine if abuse has occurred – if there is a report of child abuse, a police officer is a mandated reporter, and should call CPS, where an experienced professional can investigate and make a determination. 

Minn. Stat. 626.556, Subd. 7 (c) “Written reports received by a police department or the county sheriff shall be forwarded immediately to the local welfare agency or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report….” 626.556 REPORTING OF MALTREATMENT OF MINORS (MINN)

Martin H was also interviewed by police and reports the following:

-Martin had the children up later than usual

-Martin allowed the children some playtime before bed then sent them both to their beds

-Martin heard some giggling and saw that JJ was in DJ’s room

-He told the kids in a stern voice that it was bedtime

-DJ would not let JJ go (this directly contradicts what both children reported to two separate adults, at two different times. DJ repeated his story a total of 3 times, all with no variation)

-He had to put his hand on DJ’s chest and said,”Let JJ go now”. (Does that make sense? Allegedly, my son is holding onto his sister, and will not let go. How does my son position his body, while holding onto his sister, in such a way that Martin can put his hand on his chest? And why would you push on his chest and not try to separate the children in any other way–such as giving a warning or using a distraction method? Pushing on DJ’s chest or using force could also potentially hurt my daughter, especially if she were being held onto like Martin reports; doesn’t make sense. Kids play around, they get silly–what made Martin rise to the level of pushing on DJ’s chest?)

-DJ fell back on the bed and was screaming and crying in a usual tantrum way (If Martin did not threaten or hurt DJ why is he screaming and crying, and showing distress?)

-He did not strike DJ in the chest or tackle him (this after admitting he, in fact, DID put his hands on DJ’s chest!)

-He was trying to hold DJ back to get him to let go of his sister (Again, contradicts what the children report and does not make sense. If Martin pushed DJ on the chest, and DJ did not let go, his sister would also be pushed onto the bed. It does not make sense.)

-He did not have any problems getting DJ ready that morning

-There were some issues the previous morning

-He did not remember an incident where he grabbed DJ by the legs and dragged him out of bed

-He generally punishes the children with time out or loss of privileges (Martin recently admitted he thinks it’s okay to use force on DJ, even to cause physical injury, in order to gain control of him.)

-He is working on getting further help and treatment for DJ (this is a LIE… in fact Martin has REFUSED to obtain needed treatment and testing for DJ, has stopped his medication and ended all appointments with a psychiatrist. DJ is now suffering from sensory issues, and is need of treatment and Martin will not allow him to be evaluated. The sensory issues are so bad that DJ gags when eating certain foods, and cannot eat many types of foods. He also has trouble with textures and is limited in what clothing he can wear, and limited in other activities.) 

-Martin thinks DJ has Aspberger’s (Martin- why did you terminate his treatment? Why do you refuse to allow the therapist conducting the assessment to have full access to all of DJ’s medical records? Why do you lie about DJ’s behaviors? Why do you lie to therapists and make false allegations about me? Why do you refuse to allow me to talk to the therapists or participate in the assessment process? How is this “helping”?

Incredibly, Martin denied DJ has Aspberger’s when questioned in family court AND told the judge that I must be mentally ill for raising concerns about the possibility.)

Martin’s story is NOT credible, the Eden Prairie police should have 1) made a report to CPS and 2) investigated further. Once again, an abused child falls through the cracks in the system, and disappears into darkness. 

I can not help but to remember how bed time was such a special time for my children and I. We loved to cuddle up on the bed in a pile of blankets to read stories or play “The Thousand Things I Love About You”. We said prayers every night… always ending when I touched my children’s heads and said, “I love you from the top of your head, to the tips of your toes, to inside your heart and the light of your soul.” And then I would tickle their toes. In my home my children were loved… and went to sleep every night feeling safe. My children would have remained safe, and been able to enjoy their childhood, if the family court system had protected them from abuse. 

My children have been court ordered to live in a home of abuse, incest dysfunction by the Hennepin County family court judges: Stephen Aldrich, Ivy Bernhardson, Jeannice Redding and Patrick Robben. Guardian ad Litem Jamie L Manning also worked to award sole custody to an abuser, and has been aided by the Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board who has been made aware of complaints against Ms. Manning and refuses to investigate.

The Hennepin County family court system has not only failed to protect my children… but sent the message to children that if you report abuse you will not be believed. 

— Emily Court, August © 2014

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About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. "Emily Court" is a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. Emily is fighting to keep her kids safe, and bring them home. Through writing and blogging, Emily is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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One Response to Child Reports: “Dad Tackled Me” (Abuse Allegations After Abuser Wins Custody)

  1. Amanda says:

    I feel your pain! I am going through the same thing!!! So many mothers and children are. I have police reports the judge claims are irrelevant and sees my ex as credible but has labled ME a perpetrator of domestic violence, demeaning and manipulative.

    My children are two and i have a ton of photos of bruises all on the head and face and in court my ex even addmitted to head slapping the children multiple times!

    He currently had custody and I have them every other weekend and during the day on Wednesdays. It’s a nightmare and no one can fathom how this judge sleeps at night.

    My thoughts are with you, never stop fighting for your children.

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