A custody battle in New York proves that men are often their own worst enemy. Here’s the back story: Casino mogul John Alysworth, 54, and his wife raise four kids to adulthood. He then has an affair with ex-playboy model Bridget Marks, who becomes pregnant and has twin girls.
Marks sues for child support in what should have been a routine case. It’s easy for a judge to say, “Well, John. You played, now you pay.”
But Marks wasn’t satisfied with sticking Alysworth for $4,200 a month in child support, reports Glenn Sacks in a column he penned last year. Instead, Marks decides to punish the guy by coaching her two girls to make false sexual molestation charges against him.
I can say false, because the courts, the press and even her own expert witnesses agree that the accusations were made up. Surprisingly, the divorce court gave custody of the twins to dad, reports Sacks. Their reasoning: Marks abused the girls by making them lie about their father.
Marks turned to the television media and performed the victim role to perfection. “Larry King Live,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” and “Dr. Phil” were only too happy to help. While she continued to shred Alysworth’s credibility, he mostly stayed quiet.
But a few days ago, a New York appellate court turned custody back over to Marks on the grounds that while she was not really a fit mother, she was essentially a “good enough” one.
“The judges agreed with Family Court Judge Arlene Goldberg that the girls were coached into falsely accusing their father of abusing them – a tactic they branded as “abuse,” writes The New York Daily News. “But they declared it was too harsh a punishment to take away the kids (from Marks).”
Not surprisingly, Glenn Sacks returned to the airwaves to decry the decision. Here’s an excerpt from his radio show:
This week we had one of the most stunning and unconscionable court rulings I’ve ever seen. … Marks won custody in part due to the widespread media sympathy she created through constant theatrics, playing victim, and her determination to place her little girls in the public spotlight.
The courts apparently ignore Marks coaching, both from a legal perspective and a parenting one. Says Sacks, who is reading from the court record:
“There is ample support in the record – that the mother coached the girls to make false accusations that their father sexually abused them. The Law Guardian and the neutral expert witnesses who testified in this case – the psychiatrist appointed by the court as the independent forensic evaluator, two certified social workers retained by the Law Guardian, and two social workers who supervised the father’s visitations – all take the view that the accusations are false, and that the children were coached to make them. Even the expert witnesses called by the mother seem to have recognized that the accusations were made in a manner consistent with coaching. … Such misconduct may or may not harm the child or interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent.”
The court then goes on to award custody to Marks.
While I don’t know enough about either of these people to make a judgment call about their fitness as a parent, one thing is clear: we have here a precedent saying that a mom who coaches her children to lie about dad will not be punished in any way for committing perjury or harming her children to win the case.
Which brings us to why I think men are their own worst enemy. Men who make mistakes such as cheating will continue to provide fodder for the media and courts that will be used against dads who behave in an utmost proper fashion. The decision rendered by this court now puts men around the nation on notice: If you get divorced and your ex-spouse decides to lie about you in court, tough luck.