Second, she identifies 38 cases “in which mothers alleged abuse and sought to limit fathers’ access to children…” Since approximately one million children per year are subjects of custody decisions, if 38 cases spread out over 10 years represent “many of the United States cases,” then the problem Meier writes about, and which “Breaking the Silence” reports on, is a miniscule problem. Moreover, all of these 38 cases are appellate cases; appellate cases are a small fraction of all cases, and quite unrepresentative because only those cases in which the evidence of error by the trial court is particularly strong are appealed. Finally, footnote 19 on page 662 again demonstrates Meier’s propensity to equate fathers against whom there is an allegation of abuse with “batterers.”
On page 683, Meier asserts that estimates of the prevalence of domestic violence among couples in conflict over visitation or custody go as high as 75 percent, a claim also made in “Breaking the Silence.” The only reference for this assertion is Bancroft and Silverman, whose studies are manifestly inadequate to support such a claim.
Also on page 683, Prof. Meier asserts that fabricated allegations of child sexual abuse are “quite rare.” She then quotes the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, who found that only 50% of such allegations could be validated. Perhaps Prof. Meier is correct that “fabricated” allegations are quite rare, but untrue allegations are obviously quite common. She then cites “a more recent exhaustive study” by Kathleen Faller. Unfortunately, she relies on Lombardi’s newspaper article account of the Faller study, an unacceptable source for such an important matter.
On page 686, Prof. Meier states that “…it is highly unusual for a battered woman in private litigation to be recognized by a court to be sincerely advocating for her children’s safety.” Her citations are Lombardi, the Wellesley Battered Mothers Testimony Project (reviewed in this document), and the appellate cases discussed above. Again, the citations fail to establish the assertion.
On page 689, Prof. Meier states, “…women who allege fathers are abusing children are increasingly being subjected to draconian punishments, including complete loss of contact with the children.” Here Meier cites “preliminary research” from a California NOW study, as reported by Pamela Burke on a website in 2002. A second-hand report of unpublished “preliminary research” by an advocacy organization is inadequate. She also cites Amy Neustein’s report of over 1,000 cases, reviewed in this document. Finally, she again quotes Lombardi’s libelous alternative newspaper article. Once again, the citations do not establish the assertion.
On page 697, Prof. Meier refers to “…custody courts which appear to penalize a mother who is suffering from the effects of domestic violence…by awarding custody to the abuser.” Here she cites a long publication by Elizabeth Schneider. If Schneider has data to support Meier’s assertions, they are not presented in Meier’s article.
Finally, on page 725, Prof. Meier refers to “…the entrenched attitudes of courts that prevent them from taking seriously battered mothers’ claims, and that lead them repeatedly and