This article, written by Paul Elam, was originally posted on AVoiceforMen and is republished here with permission.
Dear men and women of the men’s movement,
We have arrived at a moment that will define this website and, I dare to say, this movement for years to come.
As you recently learned from Dr. Tara Palmatier, a family tragedy has unfolded in the state of West Virginia. It is a story so dark, so utterly unjust, that it is hard to describe without the use of metaphors that would seem hyperbolic. Those metaphors would, in reality, be inadequate. Lt. Col. Joel Kirk of the United States Air Force, a decorated combat pilot, and his two children have been trapped in a legal nightmare so twisted and so inhumane that it defies description. The facts in this case reveal a presiding family court judge bereft of not only sound judgment and reason, but of human decency.
Judge Lori B. Jackson, of the Eighteenth Family Court Circuit for Harrison County, West Virginia has used her gavel, her authority under the law, to sadistically bludgeon Lt. Col. Kirk, and has sentenced his two children to being placed in the custody of their mother, Tina Taylor Kirk, a proven and even more sadistic abuser.
As Dr. Palmatier pointed out in her article, Judge Jackson had a mountain of evidence before her, including reports from psychologists and the court appointed guardian ad litem, that concluded beyond any doubt that Tina Taylor Kirk is a severely emotionally disturbed woman, who, especially when abusing alcohol, was given to repeated episodes of extreme rage that frequently resulted in the severe psychological and physical abuse of her children.
The evidence, clearly at Judge Jackson’s disposal during the divorce, also demonstrated a mother who regularly endangered the lives of those children, driving while intoxicated with them in the car.
Despite the staggering amount of evidence that the children were unsafe with their mother, and being routinely abused by her, Judge Jackson reversed an earlier judge’s order awarding the father custody, and with full knowledge returned the children directly into the hands of their abuser, along with the bulk of Lt. Col Kirk’s assets.
It was a judgment from hell, and hell it has been, for those two innocent children and their father.
It is very important here to make the attempt to impart to you the real magnitude of what these children have had to live with. Dr. Palmatier brought you, directly from the mouth of Lt. Col Kirk, one particular incident involving a drunken, raging Tina Taylor Kirk, who after frightening her son into fleeing the home, threw herself onto the back of an SUV in which Lt. Col. Kirk and his daughter were also attempting to escape.
Now, I want you to hear that same story as told by Tina Kirk and her daughter. The incident was recorded on a video camera. While the video content of the recording was placed under a gag order by Judge Jackson, we are free to bring you the audio portion. For the sake of brevity it has been edited to remove distortions, unintelligible audio and prolonged periods of silence. For the sake of accuracy, we will also provide you the unedited recording.
Please be warned in advance. This audio is very disturbing. Listen at your own discretion.
Here is the edited version.
Here is the complete recording..
And why did all this start? Because Tina Taylor Kirk could not find her cell phone.
This incident, which was also a part of the guardian ad litem report to the court reveals a misquote from the article by Dr. Palmatier. When questioned about this incident, and asked to rate the severity of what happened on a scale of 1 to 10, the son, as reported by Dr. Palmatier, answered:
“The night mom got arrested on a scale of 1-10 was a 10, but we have 9s a lot.”
That is not an entirely accurate quote. What the boy actually said was:
“That night was probably an 11, but Mom gets to 10 a lot.”
In the interest of full disclosure, you can read that for yourself in the guardian ad litem report, which we provide for you here. The document has been redacted to conceal the names of the children for obvious reasons.
This report, page after page, documents the chronically abusive behavior of Tina Taylor Kirk toward not only her husband, but her children; of them being choked and hit and slapped and berated till they crawled under their beds for safety; of being abused to the point of living their lives in fear, listening for the sound of their fathers car pulling into the driveway, because that sound meant for a time they would be protected from the monster in their home.
The report documents Tina Taylor Kirk’s attempts to intimidate and threaten personnel charged with investigating the well-being of her children, her attempted coercion of her children into lying on her behalf, trying to force them to mold their reality to cover her lies and to fit her embittered and malicious agenda. It is all laid out in clear, heartbreakingly painful detail.
It is a horrifying document, but it did at least hold the promise of a way out for those battered children. In its pages it contains the justification, indeed the moral imperative to ensure that those children are not abused in this way again.
But the real value of that document hinged entirely on the competence and moral capacity of whatever authority was entrusted to take action on it. In this case, that responsibility was unfortunately placed in the hands of Judge Lori B. Jackson, who reviewed the same evidence you just did, and then, for whatever reason suited her at the time, dropped both of those children directly in the grease.
Then she ordered that the video, which because it is visual proof and, therefore, particularly damning, be forever withheld from the public. Make of that decision what you will.
The facts in this case are evident. The worst of them is that an abusive, mentally unstable parent has found a friend and enabler in a state functionary who has reversed her sacrosanct obligation to act in those two children’s best interest, and instead condemned them, wantonly, to continued violation at the hands of their abuser. It is unconscionable. The only question that remains takes us back to what I said at the start of this letter.
What are we going to do about it?
We sure as hell have to do something. Knowing what we know and doing nothing would demonstrate near as much depraved indifference as the family court in Harrison County, West Virginia.
To be clear, I know this is an uphill battle. The hubris that leads to these kinds of decisions is born of a sense of impunity that is neither irrational, nor unwarranted. As we have seen in case after case, officials in family courts across this country and beyond are accustomed to absolute control and complete immunity from public scrutiny and forced accountability for their misdeeds. They operate in a system that sustains its corruption and egregious conduct by its own unfettered authority, leaving them all but impervious to the desire for justice and the mandates of the Constitution.
But we also know another reality. Whenever enough people speak truth to power, and are unyielding, even the mighty can feel the impact.
In the case of Vladek Filler, a man falsely accused of rape during a bitter custody dispute, and prosecuted by viciously unjust prosecutor Mary Kellett, we made a difference. After AVfM secured over a thousand signatures on a petition demanding Kellett’s disbarment; after we inundated politicians and news media with letters, emails and phone calls; even after Mary Kellett sought to have a gag order put on this website because of our activism, she now prepares herself to face a disciplinary hearing at the bar for her misconduct. Her license to practice law is now rightly on the line.
The other case we took up was that of Gordon Smith, a Delaware man arrested 8 times on 13 false allegations from his former wife, Tiffany Marie Smith. At the time we met Gordon he was still being thrown in jail regularly on bogus charges and was still facing time in prison for crimes he did not commit. We went to work for Mr. Smith in much the same way we did for Mr. Filler. As of today, Gordon Smith has been cleared of all charges. Tiffany Marie Smith has been arrested and is facing felony prosecution for her misdeeds.
I do not claim that AVfM was the only reason that these cases improved for these two men. But anyone following the cases knows that we played a very significant role in the outcome. We made a difference, maybe the difference, and we can do it again.
So, on behalf of the entire editorial staff of AVfM, I am calling on our supporters again. It is time to put the A in MRA again, and to do it now. After all, what advocate for men could possibly remain silent in the face of this opportunity to right a wrong and to strike a blow directly at the heart of the most pervasive source of discrimination against men…the family courts?
And, I ask you with no reservation at all, who deserves this more than Lt. Col. Kirk and his children?
Here is who you contact, and remember, courteous but firm:
(note: please be sure when linking to send to Dr. T’s article, not this one)
Judge Lori B. Jackson
Harrison County Courthouse
306 Washington Avenue
Clarksburg, WV 26301
List of media contacts
Charleston Daily Mail
1001 Virginia St. E.
Charleston, WV 25301
News Editor: Philip Maramba
P.O. Box 11848
Charleston, WV 25339-1848
Elisabeth F. Shaffer
1301 Piedmont Rd.
Charleston, WV 25301
Eyewitness Newsroom: 304-345-4115
Stars and Stripes, Electronic Edition
529 14th Street NW, Suite 350,
Washington, D.C. 20045-1301
Terry Leonard, Editorial Director
(202) 761-0535, DSN 312-763-0535
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.