New twist in odd custody fight, kids now sent to camp
OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. - Three children, who were ordered to live in a Michigan shelter care facility after they refused to make an effort to have a relationship with their father, were released from that facility on Friday by the same judge who sent them there, reports the Detroit Free Press.
The children - ages 9, 10, 15 - were released into a two-week sleep-away summer camp. Where they go after that remains unclear.
The decision comes after the case garnered national attention when several news outlets reported Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca late last month declared the children in civil contempt of court after they refused to talk to their father.
"I ordered you to talk to your father. You chose not to talk to your father. You defied a direct court order. It's direct contempt so I'm finding you guilty of civil contempt," Gorcyca told the children during a June 24 hearing, according to the Oakland (Mich.) Press. It was during that hearing that Gorcyca told the children's mother she was brainwashing them.
"Your children -- you need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has. Your behavior in the hall with me months ago, your behavior in this courtroom... is unlike anything I've ever seen in 46,000 cases," said Gorcyca, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The judge then remanded the children to Mandy's Place, a short-term housing facility for children who have been removed from their homes by the court due to neglect, abuse and status offenses.
The Free Press reports that at least one of the children told the judge the reason he didn't want to talk to his father was because he says his father is violent and that he saw his father hit his mother.
The children's parents, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and Omer Tsimhoni, have been entangled in a bitter divorce for six years, according to CBS Detroit. The Bloomfield Hills couple, who married in 1995, have reportedly made dozens of court appearances regarding parenting time, therapy, schooling and other issues -- but have never reached common ground.
According to the newspaper, Omer Tsimhoni is an internationally prominent traffic safety researcher and General Motors engineer who now lives in Israel. Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni lives in Michigan and is reportedly a pediatric eye doctor and widely known glaucoma researcher.
During a hearing Friday to determine the children's next move, Gorcyca said parental alienation is one of the most devastating issues dealt with by family court.
"While this court's action might seem extreme, so is the notion that these children are being taught that the only way to love the mother is to vilify the father," the judge said, adding that in the past five years, the court has received no evidence that the father has done anything to negatively impact the children.
"In fact, he has moved mountains to become a part of this family," Gorcyca said.
She went on to say that the decision to send the children away was not meant as a punishment, but rather to "help the children develop a relationship with their father" by providing them with counseling outside of their home.
A court appointed advocate for the children said in court Friday that he met with the children on Thursday and they indicated they wanted to return home to their mother, but still insisted they did not want to speak with their father.
"It doesn't take a PhD to see that there is something going on with these children as it relates to their father. The way they speak to authorities is unbelievable. The mother does nothing, is not bothered by it," the advocate said, adding that the children should not be kept in a facility but at the same time should not go back to their mother.
The advocate, along with an attorney for the children's father, asked instead that the judge send the children to an overnight camp for a few weeks and then enroll them in intensive therapy or a parental alienation program.
Gorcyca ultimately agreed with the recommendation to send the children to a two-week sleep-away camp. What happens next, however, remains unclear.
"That's up to the judge," Lisa Stern, an attorney for the children's mother, said after the hearing, reports the Detroit Free Press.
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