(Las Vegas, Nevada: June 15, 2016) – An investigative news report by The 8 News NOW I-Team reveals abusive behavior towards a vulnerable 12 year old girl by Judge Rena Hughes, a judge for the Clark County Family Court Division.
Shocking footage of the hearing has also been publicized on the YouTube channel of Veterans in Politics in which Judge Hughes can be clearly seen, and heard, berating the child, who is helpless and crying, and without any legal representation or support, as she is forced into the care and custody of her abusive father against her will. Allegations of emotional abuse raised by the child, and mother, were ignored when Judge Hughes made issued her ruling. Judge Hughes tells the child if she does not immediately go with her father that she will be put into a facility that is like jail.
In the video, a 12 year old girl, Annie, is called to court to answer to Judge Hughes in the midst of a custody dispute between her parents. The father requested a change of custody because he disagreed with the decision of mother, Welthy Silva, to home school the child. Silva has been described as being a primary caregiver since birth, Annie was doing well and thriving under her care.
The Father, defendant, is represented by attorney Lesley Cohen. Silva appeared in court pro se, without counsel.
Silva comments on a fundraiser page about Annie’s reluctance to visit her father that,”We were not even divorced until April 2013 and then Annie did go every weekend with her Father for two years, having a complete meltdown almost every Monday when I got her back because of his emotional abuse. She decided she could not go for visits anymore May 2015. The court has refused to listen and blames me for not making her go into a toxic situation. Abusers are getting away with this left and right! I hope people will start paying attention to the lies and listening to children ~ it would fix the problem.” Fund Raiser: Get Annie Back
Silva says she was given a letter by the court in which she was instructed to bring the child to the June 15th hearing. If Silva refused, she was threatened with jail for up to 25 days. During the hearing, Silva was ordered to leave the court during the brutal inquisition of the child, while the father and his attorney were allowed to remain in court.
Judge Rena Hughes
Annie (Crying, Pleading): “Please no, I want to be with my mama. Please. I don’t want to be with him.”
Judge Hughes: “I’ve made my decision. I’ve already told you that.”
Annie: “I beg of you.”
Judge: “You don’t need to beg. I’ve made the decision for your best interest.”
Annie: “How do you know my best interest? You don’t know me.”
Judge: “Because I told you, I’m a grown-up, and you’re a child.”
Annie: “Please, please, please, please, please.”
Annie objects to visits with her father due to the abuse she has suffered. In cases involving child abuse allegations, a Guardian ad Litem is usually appointed to advocate for the child, and to investigate the allegations and the potential risk of harm. A GAL was not appointed in this case. In fact, Annie can be seen in court – sitting at a large table all alone – without any legal representation or support of any kind.
Judge Hughes tells the clearly traumatized child that if she refuses to go with her father that she will be sent to Child Haven (video 3-3) and says,”It’s not fun, in fact they put you in a holding cell. Just like it would be in jail.”
The child says in a small, brave voice, “Can I please see my Mama?”
Judge Hughes responds, “I’m sorry.” And, “You you already saw her, she just left.” (Reports say Silva was escorted off the courtroom property).
The child responds, “You don’t understand, I love her. And I’m gonna miss her so much. Please don’t do this to me.”
Judge Hughes coldly says,”I’m done, let’s submit the order.” A bailiff can be seen on camera approaching the child. Annie can be heard crying and pleading, ” I don’t want to go…” as the bailiff escorts her to her father.
At another point in the video Annie is heard begging,”I just want to see my Mom.”
Silva says about the video footage of the hearing that it is too painful for her to watch. She also says,”I wasn’t thrilled about having my daughter exposed like this, but if it can get some justice, if it can save future children from this kind of abuse of power, then so be it.” Judge Hughes sealed the case soon after the court video surfaced on You Tube.
In response to Annie’s claims of abuse, and refusal to visit her father (the alleged perpetrator), Judge Hughes immediately orders that Annie be placed into the care of her father, who is given sole physical and legal custody. A date was then set in October for a trial to determine permanent custody.
A no contact order was issued against mother, Silva. The father was also instructed by the court to immediately enroll Annie in public school.
Keisha Weiford was later appointed as “reunification” therapist. According to Silva, she failed to investigate abuse allegations or listen to concerns raised by Annie.
Ironically, Weiford comments on her blog:” During this past week, I had two new teenage clients come in. This is nothing new, I work with teenagers all of the time. I really love working with teens because they can be so open and raw. What truly troubles me are when the parents come in that want help for their children but are unwilling to take a look at themselves or their relationships. They just want me to fix their kid and blame everybody else for their problems…” http://inlovewithkeisha.com/does-your-marriage-affect-your-parenting
In this case, Weiford was unwilling to look at how the actions, and behaviors, of an abusive father have severely impacted the child. Instead, a protective, loving, mother, Welthy Silva was wrongfully branded with “parental alienation” with no evidence to support those claims, and the father has never been held accountable for the abuse of the child.
Keisha Weiford – Marriage & Family Therapist, MS, LMFT
Since the airing of this video, more mothers have come forward to complain about the behavior of Judge Hughes on their cases, who has been described as a “bully on the bench”. According to Action News 13,”More mothers are coming forward to Contact 13 saying a Family Court judge is a bully on the bench, accusing her of ripping families apart, failing to enforce child support orders and leaving children as collateral damage..“ CONTACT 13: More moms come forward to say Family Court judge is bully on bench (Darcy Spears)
Another complaint against Hughes, “Well she did get elected and I ended up with her for my judge. She just took my son, who is less than 2 years old, gave him to his father- who has been convicted of domestic violence, is an ex convict, and who has also failed multiple drug tests, prior to her 3 other courts had left me with primary custody.
We go in front of her and her decision is a 180 from all other courts, using all the same arguments and evidence. As it turns out, she was partners in a law firm with my ex’s attorney.
It was never disclosed.She is as crooked as they come, god help my son.” Clark County Courts – Rena Hughes is a crooked Judge
Another commenter says,”I’ve seen this judge make terrible, unethical decisions and therefore I is my opinion she should should no longer maintain her position.”
Efforts are underway to impeach Judge Rena Hughes: Impeach Family Court Judge Rena Hughes
UPDATE FROM WELTHY SILVA: JUL 16, 2017 — “Rena Hughes was recused from my case. I now have Judge Pomrenze who has reinstated my legal custody and some of my physical custody. The new judge has said Annie has no “teenage discretion”. She is 13 and a half and every report shows how mature and intelligent Annie is. It is a small step in the right direction regarding custody however Annie nor I will be satisfied until Annie is completely free of this nonsense and LISTENED to as a human being.” Petition: Restore Primary Custody to Annie’s Mother
(Personal Note on Reunification Therapy) I do not understand how reunification therapy is considered “therapy” and not torture. If a child raises allegations of abuse, they should be thoroughly investigated and every measure should be taken to ensure the child’s safety. Reunification therapy operates under a dangerous presumption that children who talk about abuse are liars, are brainwashed, and should not be believed. This runs contrary to laws that require mandated reporting for suspected child abuse or neglect.
In reunification therapy, the child is forced into a relationship, leading to unsupervised contact and often joint or sole custody, with an identified perpetrator of abuse. The abusive behavior is never acknowledged, so the child is forced to carry a horrible secret, and is threatened with punishment if they speak out. The child is sent the message that if you talk about abuse, no one will believe you – or protect you. Children are made to believe they are somehow at fault for the horrible wrong done to them, this is traumatic and is abusive – and should not be considered “therapy”.
Reunification therapy is designed to “deprogram” a child to recant abuse allegations. As part of deprogramming the protective parent, who raises concerns about abuse or safety, is totally removed from the child’s life. The child is then isolated and made dependent on the abuser; which creates trauma bonding.
Reunification therapy relies on abuse or trauma to occur to a child in order to “work”. Ripping a child abruptly, and without explanation from a primary caregiver and then denying all contact is standard protocol in reunification therapy. Creating trauma is necessary because if the brain experiences a high level of trauma or stress, it will induce amnesia or dissociation in an effort to protect itself, which can then be used to program the child or create a new set of pathways or commands to modify behavior and thought.
The targeted parent is then issued a set of demands in order to see their child, which is needed to reinforce programming. Often the requirements are so challenging or financially expensive that the parent can never comply and remains alienated from their child. Parents who continue to raise concerns of abuse are often punished by the courts, with visitation or custody taken away. The high cost of reunification therapy, and other interventions ordered by the court, also generate profits and further the careers of professionals working in the family court cottage industry.
“Reunification” then programs, under a variety of methods – many questionable – the child to accept a relationship with their abuser, and pretend to be a happy family. Programming itself creates a form of traumatic amnesia or brainwashing in the child, signs of success are often telling of deep scars, and wounding, on the psyche of a vulnerable child who has been forced to accept “reunification” as a matter of survival. In truth this creates additional trauma and harm to the child, and reinforced the power and control an abuser has over a victim. There is no therapeutic value in “reunification therapy” conducted this way.