As our government leaders bicker over meager handouts, shuttering businesses and who they deem worthy of vaccinations, a mom I know is sleeping in an isolation jail cell just miles away from my home, sick with COVID. She was issued one thin blanket to cover her as she shakes with the chills. The jail staff only check on her a couple times a day.
I’m not allowed to use her name, even if she is OK with it, as the judge put a gag order on her, and anyone trying to help her.
What’s her crime? She dared to post about her custody case, asking for help from her friends on Facebook. This case isn’t just a tussle over child support or parenting time, the battle is over her unwavering belief in what her children told her and many others, that they were sexually abused by their father. Our family court doesn’t believe the kids. Or her.
Children rarely fabricate allegations of sexual abuse; studies show about 2% are false. Thousands of abused children each year are ordered into unsupervised visitation or full custody with their alleged abuser because our courts don’t believe what the children say.
Her friends rallied around her and launched a petition. Mothers around the country shared, posted, commented to lift her up, to join her in righting the wrongs by our system. There are thousands of cases like this one across our country where gag orders and jail sentences prevail.
Regardless, this mom took the post down as the judge ordered, and she was still put in jail.
She will be in jail for SEVENTEEN months, with NO contact with her girls.
She is devastated.
We live in Colorado. A place known for its evolved approach to dealing with crime, some of it vile. There’s a lot that’s vile about this story, it’s hard to pick one area to focus on, so I won’t, I’ll just ask all the questions.
Why don’t we believe the girls when they tell us they were abused? Why is a mom thrown in jail for believing her children? How can judges put gag orders on parents, what happened to the First Amendment? Why are hardened criminals being released early from jail to avoid COVID, but a mom jailed for contempt over a social media post isn’t?
“A system shouldn’t be able to destroy someone’s life. Punished for protecting, for speaking truth, for loving my daughters so much – I would do anything for them.” She wrote this to her friend a few weeks ago.
This mom is being destroyed by our system. But really the system is us. We elect the governor who appoints these judges and the legislators we put into office enact the laws that let this happen. We cannot remain silent when the results of this system crush a family.
Let’s recap. A mom laid sick and cold in a jail cell Christmas night. She is in jail because she is fervently protecting her daughters from alleged abuse. She believes them with every fiber of her being. Research tells us a very small percent of sexual abuse allegations are false, so the girls were likely telling the truth. And yet, the courts have chosen not to believe the girls – or her — and put her in jail, terminate her role as a parent, and trample her first amendment rights with a gag order.
Across our country moms and dads are recognizing that the decisions made at all levels of our government have a direct impact on their families.
The government is broken, it breaks its promises, and the direct impact is most devastating in cases like this where our government systems can render a mom helpless. For defending her children.
Most parents have a primal, instinctual force to protect our kids. We carry an unbreakable commitment to stand by our children and go to the ends of the earth for them. Parents will go to jail to protect them.
And this mom did.
Does this story wake you to the impact of decisions made in city halls, judges’ chambers and state capitals across the country?
Let’s take back the responsibility for making our country a safe and secure place for our children. The government isn’t doing it. The politicians aren’t doing it. The courts aren’t doing it. The schools aren’t doing it. Society isn’t doing it.
Just ask my friend that slept in that cold, isolated jail cell on Christmas night.
Heidi Ganahl is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, author and at-large member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, to which she was elected as a Republican in 2016.