Saturday, August 17, 2019

Connecticut And The Catholic Thing

The headline in the Hartford Courant is, or perhaps should be, a blow to the solar plexus: “Catholic couple say (sic) daughter’s removal was due to religious bias.”

The couple, it would appear from the story itself, does have a case. Whether the case can be settled justly in the state of Connecticut is, as the logicians say, a separate issue.

The parents are referred to in the story as John and Jane Doe, not at all unusual in cases of this kind. The Attorney General’s office, obligated by statute to defend state agencies in court cases, is insisting that the names of John and Jane Doe should be made known because “the couple asserts no harm and requests no action on behalf of their daughter, but are suing in their individual capacities and claiming emotional distress.”

John Doe, the father of the daughter removed from his home and placed temporarily in foster care by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), claims in an affidavit, “After learning that my daughter is homosexual and that our family is Catholic, E.O. Smith High School staff members launched a campaign to undermine our parental rights, to keep my wife and I away from our daughter and to destroy our relationship with our daughter.”

The plaintiffs’ claim is not unsupported by detailed representations drawn from DCF files and court proceedings. The father and mother assert in their affidavit that “DCF failed to investigate their daughter’s substance abuse and instead documented that plaintiffs are ‘extremely religious, unwavering in their beliefs, and rigid and controlling,‘ the lawsuit says, apparently quoting from DCF case reports.”

Representations made by the parents’ lawyer, Ashling Soares of Westport, are telling. Soares writes that DCF social worker Jennifer Davis “repeatedly harassed plaintiffs about their religious beliefs. For instance, Davis asked plaintiffs if they would attend their daughter’s gay wedding several times and told them that they need to ‘evolve their religion’ and ‘go with the times.’ ”

The series of events that led to a suit began, ironically, with a poem written by the daughter that “revealed suicidal thoughts… A mandated report of a suspicion of emotional abuse or neglect was made to DCF, and the agency went to a judge and ultimately won permission to temporarily place the teenager in foster care with E.O. Smith track coach Cassandra Rowett.”

So far, so good: mandated reporters are obliged to refer such incidents to DCF. But the preliminary finding of emotional abuse or neglect, we are told, “was later overturned by a DCF hearing officer. The allegation of maltreatment went down in the record as unsubstantiated,” not an unimportant datum.

The parental affidavit reveals that the daughter temporarily removed from her family by DCF had told a counselor “her parents yelled at her and father pushed her because they do not agree with her identifying as a lesbian.” The parents maintain they were “only angry with their daughter for months of extreme misbehavior, including drug and alcohol use.” In addition, “My daughter’s history of suicidal ideation stems in part from personal battles with her sexuality.”

Yet another assertion made by Soares calls into question the internal biases of the Attorney General’s office. Soares has alleged that Assistant Attorney General Susan Castonguay improperly contacted the teenager. Castonguay “instructed her as to what she should report to DCF regarding her parents,” according to the parent’s lawsuit.

It is doubtful that a shark’s fin will rise above the surface in any Connecticut court. The state in general has not been vigilant in defending Catholics against attacks on their constitutional First Amendment rights.

Some years ago, the Democrat co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee attempted to pass through the legislature a bill that, if enacted, would have altered the apostolic structure of the Catholic Church. Both co-chairs, it had been reported in newspapers at the time, were gay; one co-chair was later appointed by then Governor Dannel Malloy as Connecticut’s prison Czar, and the other now sits on Connecticut’s Supreme Court.

Most recently, the Judiciary Committee voted out a bill that would abolish necessary statute of limitation provisions in cases brought by plaintiffs alleging sexual assault on minor victims, a harpoon that will be launched principally, some critics believe, against priests unable to defend themselves because they are, in some cases, deceased. Live school teachers will seek shelter from the pending suit storm under union umbrellas, and Attorney General William Tong will always be on hand to defend state agencies against any assault on the sovereign immunity doctrine that  protects both live and dead state agency molesters. The pigs, as George Orwell pointed out in Animal Farm, are “more equal" than the other animals

Dead men tell no tales, and neither does Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong. Asked by a reporter to comment on the charge that one of his Assistant Attorneys General was coaching an accuser in a case that alleges anti-Catholic bias on the part of DCF, a state agency his office is by statute obligated to defend, Tong said, according to the news report cited above, his office does not comment on active cases, although he himself has with wearisome regularity commented on an active suit he has joined, along with other attorneys general, against President Donald Trump.

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