September 2016, Lexington, KY: The Judicial Conduct Commission suspended Fayette County judge Kathy W. Stein for one week, after findings of misconduct during an ex parte hearing where a mother unfairly lost custody of a child.
The suspension resulted after an ethics complaint, “According to the commission, Judge Kathy W. Stein was approached by Charles Joseph Schindler on Dec. 4, 2015. Schindler asked for an order granting him immediate temporary custody of the child.
Stein granted the order without a hearing or giving the mother, Carlie Simone Schindler (now Ambrose), an opportunity to respond, according to the commission.”
Judge Stein accepted the suspension and waived her right to formal proceedings. She will be suspended without pay from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4.
What is not being reported is that mother Carlie Simone Schindler (Ambrose) is a victim of domestic violence, and her child has witnessed or been a victim to abuse as well. Carlie has filed numerous protective orders against Charles Schindler. Carlie complained that Charles physically abused her, made threats of harm, and threatened to kidnap their child.
After Judge Stein gave custody to Charles through the emergency order, a telephone conference was arranged between the judge, Charles and his counsel, and officials from the school the child attended. Carlie was not notified or allowed to attend any part of proceedings. Charles was allowed to take the child from school. Judge Stein and parties decided to lie to the child, telling him he was going to a therapy session, so that the child would leave school more easily. Charles took the child and went to Mississippi. The child was only returned after a Court of Appeals ruling a month later.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like to drop your child off at school only to discover that you have lost custody – the child is gone, and you do not know where but the person who now has custody has a history of violence, and has threatened to kidnap your child. The child also must have been terrified. This surely must have caused significant harm to the child – who was in therapy, and was vulnerable and likely suffering from the effects of abuse.
I applaud the Judicial Conduct Commission for taking action, and for holding Judge Stein accountable. However, a one week suspension is not enough for the egregious harm Judge Stein has caused. Any judge who would issue this kind of order is not fit to be on the bench – this ruling by Judge Stein shows a reckless disregard for the welfare of a child, a serious lack of judgment and a willingness to take the law into her own hands.
Judge Stein should recuse herself from this case. There also needs to be a formal investigation of this case and the actions of Judge Stein by an independent agency, who exists outside of Fayette County to determine if other violations have occurred, and if the current custody or visitation order poses any risk of harm to mother or child. If other victims will step forward, there should be a way for other parents to issue a formal complaint.
Judge Stein is excusing her actions as a simple mistake. There are serious implications to her handling of this case and others – and it is my opinion that she should remain off the bench indefinitely, pending a formal investigation. Lives are at stake, this child could have been seriously harmed, Fayette County can not allow this to happen to another family. They have a responsibility to protect the public, and to ensure that Judge Stein is fully cooperating with the law.
What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments below!
ANON COMMENT: “It was no mistake. Stein planned the whole thing. I have the letter that the child wrote to Stein right before the kidnapping. She begged Stein not to ever let Schindler (the dad) come near her. Stein gets a kick out of terrorizing people. There is also a video of Stein and Crystal Osborne laughing as they planned the call to the school…”
COMMENT FROM P: “I have a girl friend who is in the middle of a divorce battle and Stein is the judge proceeding over the case. I have been a witness to the abuse my friend endured in the marriage and the crazy actions her (hopefully) soon to be ex husband has done. He has lied, stolen, and cheated throughout the divorce. I’ve seen all this first hand and Stein does nothing. I’m blown away! Stein’ conduct on the bench is shocking and at times I have questioned if she is hung over or drunk!“