Robert A. Hirschfeld #010003 4723 N. 44th St. Phoenix AZ 85018 (602) 840-0342 Attorney for

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Robert A. Hirschfeld #010003 4723 N. 44th St. Phoenix AZ 85018 (602) 840-0342 Attorney for Respondent BENJAMIN FLEMING IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF MARICOPA IMA STEPHENS LENTON, fka ) IMA JEAN FLEMING, ) No. DR 240615 SE ) Petitioner, ) FINDINGS OF FACT ) -v- ) CONCLUSIONS OF LAW ) BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING, ) ORDER AND JUDGMENT ) Respondent. ) ) (Hon. Linda Scott) _____________________________) The Court on October 17, 1986 heard oral evidence, received exhibits, and considered the pleadings before it in the above captioned matter. Because it is possible that enforcement of this Order and Judgment may assume interstate or international dimensions, the Court sets forth the following procedural overview, findings of fact and conclusions of law to assist and advise the courts and authorities of any jurisdiction in which the minor children may be found. PROCEDURAL OVERVIEW The parties were married on September 7, 1976. Of this marriage, SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING was born June 1, 1977, and JOSEPH ALEXANDER FLEMING was born September 25, 1979. A Separation Agreement was signed on January 24, 1983, in Henderson County, North Carolina, which provided, inter alia for the Mother to have sole custody of both children, for the Father to pay child support, and for the Father's specified visitation rights. A Judgment of Absolute Divorce was entered in the General Court of Justice, District Court Div., File. 82 CVD 1027, Henderson County, North Carolina, on January 27, 1983 which mentioned the Separation Agreement; it is unclear as to whether said Judgment gave force to said Agreement. The Mother is apparently educated as a schoolteacher; the Father is employed by the United States Navy Shipyard at Charleston, South Carolina as a machinist. The Father has alleged that his very first specified visitation was thwarted by the Mother's abrupt and unannounced removal of herself and the children from North Carolina, ultimately to Washington County, Arkansas. After a protracted visitation dispute lasting several years, the Father sought intercession of the Washington County, Arkansas, Chancery Court. On December 20, 1985, the Hon. John Lineberger, Washington County, Arkansas, Chancery Judge entered a Decree, No. E-85-1634, affirmatively awarding Sole Custody of both children to the Mother. The Arkansas Decree provided that the children visit the Father from December 20, 1985 through January 11, 1986, and further that they spend 8 weeks each summer with him, beginning the summer of 1986. The Arkansas Decree further provided for full disclosure of the children's residence and telephone number at all times, that the parties shall refer to the children by their legal names (FLEMING), and that the parties be permanently enjoined from removing the children from the United States, or from the jurisdiction of the Arkansas Court without that Court's permission. The Christmas, 1985 visitation took place as required; soon thereafter, the Mother appears to have without authorization removed the children to England, where she married Alan Lenton, a British national. On or about April 15, 1986, the Mother, the children and Mr. Lenton relocated to Mesa, Arizon. The children were enrolled by the Mother in the Mesa School District under the surname LENTON. This Court's assumption of jurisdiction was precipitated by Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON's (hereinafter "Mother") filing on May 30, 1986 her Petition for Order to Show Cause for Modification or Curtailment of Visitation Rights. The Mother Domesticated in this Court the Decree entered December 20, 1985 by the Chancery Court, Washington County, Arkansas, affirmatively alleging that this Court has jurisdiction to modify said Decree. The Mother's asserted basis for modifying or curtailing Respondent's (hereinafter "Father") visitation rights was alleged sexual molestation by the Father of the minor child SARAH AMARYLLIS LENTON. The allegation of molestation prompted substantial investigations by the Mesa Police, by Navy Intelligence Services and Navy Family Services. The respective Mesa Police and Navy Investigations have been closed. Based on their findings, said authorities have declined to initiate prosecution of the Father. The Father's response vigorously denied any molestation, affirmatively asserted that the Mother has chronically denied the Father access to the minor children and that she has through such denials and mental manipulation of the children sought to destroy their relationship with their Father. Consequently, the Father sought, and this Court now awards to the Father, sole custody of SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and JOSEPH ALEXANDER FLEMING. As part of his responsive pleadings, the Father sought, and this Court granted a ne exeat Temporary Restraining Order, prohibiting the Mother from removing the minor children from the jurisdiction of this Court. Counsel for the parties stipulated orally before the Court, and it was this Court's intent, that said Temporary Restraining Order be extended, pendente lite until at least the hearing on Order to Show Cause. The Mother was personally served with the responsive pleadings, including the said Temporary Restraining Order. As averred by the Mother's counsel, there is reason to believe that after such service, and prior to the October 17, 1986 hearing, the Mother fled with the children again to England. Voluminous exhibits were provided the Court by the Father in support of the threshold decision of September 29, 1986. Although not all of those exhibits were taken into evidence at the October 17, 1986 hearing, the Court notes that they included affidavits; copies of the Mesa Police Report (DR 86-48361) regarding the alleged molestation incidents; the Mesa Police Videotape and transcript of the Police interview of the child SARAH; a number of manuscript original letters alleged to be in the Mother's hand and containing vituperative statements about the Father and his present wife THORAYA FLEMING; and reports by Psychiatrist Otto Bendheim, M.D. concerning Dr. Bendheim's examinations of the child SARAH and of the Mother. Based upon the presented documents the Court found on September 29, 1986 that adequate cause has been established to set a hearing on Respondent's Petition for Modification of Custody, and further found that there is reason to believe that the children's present environment may endanger their physical, mental or emotional health. The proceedings at the October 17, 1986 hearing were briefly as follows: Petitioner-Mother IMA STEPHENS LENTON was not present, but was represented by her counsel, Evans Farnsworth. Respondent-Father BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING was present, represented by his counsel, Robert Hirschfeld. By stipulation, sworn telephonic testimony via the Judge Advocate General's Office in Charleston, South Carolina was taken from Naval Intelligence Special Agent Clayton Jones and Navy Family Services Supervisor M. Elizabeth Ralston, regarding their participation in the Navy's investigation of the molestation charges. Both witnesses supported the findings in Navy Intelligence investigation 03-June-86-06WS- 0059-8BNA, to the effect that no molestation had taken place. The Petitioner-Mother's Petition to restrict the Respondent- Father's visitation was then withdrawn upon voluntary request of Petitioner's counsel. Upon stipulation of Counsel, evidence regarding Polygraph tests of both parties was presented by expert Polygrapher Manuel Valenzuela. Mr. Valenzuela stated that the Mother had shown "no deception" in her answers denying that she had overtly coached the child SARAH to make the molestation allegation; further that the Mother had also shown "no deception" in denying that she had overtly denied visitation to the Father. Mr. Valenzuela testified as to the possible effects of mental illness on Polygraph reliability. Regarding his testing of the Father, Mr. Valenzuela presented testimony which corroborated results of an independent Navy Polygraph examination, to the effect that the Father showed "no deception" in denying the allegations of vaginal penetration or of seeking oral-genital contact with the child SARAH. The Mother's present husband, Charles Alan Lenton, subpoenaed by the Father, testified as to his brief acquaintance with the Mother and the children; that the children were not "afraid of their Father"; and as to the behavior and demeanor of the Mother since January, 1986. Mr. Lenton stated his belief that the Mother was in England with the children, after having abruptly separated from Mr. Lenton and having led him to believe she and the children were going on a brief visit to the State of Washington. Mr. Lenton also testified about monies mysteriously missing from an Arizona checking account held jointly by himself and the Mother. Mr. Lenton identified the Mother's handwriting on the Father's letter- envelopes to the children, submitted as exhibits, said handwriting directing return by the post office as undeliverable. Mr. Lenton further testified that the children did reside at the Mesa, Arizona address on said envelopes at the time of return. Private Investigator Dayna Linton testified as an expert witness on false allegations of child molestation, as to her analysis of the Mesa Police videotaped interview of the child SARAH, and as to the frequency of tactical molestation allegations in Domestic Relations Custody disputes. Testimony was taken from THORAYA FLEMING, present wife of Respondent BENJAMIN FLEMING, as to her direct experience with the children, and as to a campaign of harassment and vilification against her by the Mother, IMA LENTON. Finally, extensive testimony was presented by the Father as to his relationship with the children, his direct experiences with erratic, destructive or vindictive behavior of the Mother, her persistent denial to the children of their access to their Father, the history and future likelihood of the Mother's disobeying Court Orders, and as to the trauma suffered by him as a result of the molestation allegation. Mr. Fleming identified the Mother's handwriting on several letters to him, which letters were admitted into evidence. Among the statements alleged to have been written by the Mother in said letters were that the father would never or should never see the children again, a threat that the children would be told untruthfully that their Father had died, vituperations concerning the Father's attempts to communicate with and give gifts to the children, and various vilifications directed against BENJAMIN FLEMING and THORAYA FLEMING. FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW 1. The Petitioner-Mother IMA STEPHENS LENTON submitted herself to the jurisdiction of this Court by appearing, seeking relief, and domesticating the prior Decree E 85- 1634 Chancery Court, Washington County, Arkansas dated 12/20/85; 2. IMA STEPHENS LENTON was personally, regularly served with Respondent's initial responsive pleadings, his Petition for Modification of Custody, and the Temporary Restraining Order of this Court prohibiting her from removing the children from this jurisdiction. Petitioner is represented by Counsel, and has had full Notice and Opportunity to Appear herein; 2. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), ARS 8-401 et.seq. regarding the custody of the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING on at least one of the following grounds: 2a. None of the Parties reside in Arkansas; 2b. This State is the domicile of the minor children notwithstanding their apparent recent unauthorized removal; 2c. It is in the best interests of the minor children that a Court of this State assume jurisdiction because the children and Petitioner-Mother have a significant connection with this State and there is substantial evidence in this State concerning the children's present or future care, protection, training and personal relationships; 2d. The children were physically present in the state at the time of initial filing , and emergency jurisdiction would be proper in consideration of the apparent mental mistreatment or emotional abuse inflicted upon them by the Petitioner- Mother. By herself alleging emergency in her initial moving papers herein, the Mother is estopped from denying same; 2e. Proper communication has been made pursuant to ARS 8-401 et.seq., between this Court and the Hon. John Lineberger, Chancery Judge, Washington County Arkansas. The Arkansas Court has affirmatively relinquished jurisdiction to this Court; 3. Based upon the Court's evaluation of all the evidence presented, the Court finds that the allegations of sexual molestation upon which Petitioner sought herein to modify, suspend or terminate Respondent's visitation rights are false; 4. It is extremely detrimental emotionally to have a child believing that she has to take sides to the point where she would relate to authorities a false sexual abuse charge. The Court has not determined the extent, if any, to which the Mother may have actively caused SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING to make up the story. It is possible that MRS. LENTON indirectly caused the false allegation through her attitude and the pressure she placed upon SARAH. It is clear, however, that the children are subjected, in their Mother's custody, to an emotionally unhealthy situation which, if custody were unaltered, would persist. 5. The Court finds that Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON's continued physical possession and custody of the children may endanger their physical, mental or emotional health; 6. IMA STEPHENS LENTON has denied visitation to the Father, BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING, knowingly, intentionally and purposefully. An important factor in determining Custody under ARS 25-332(A)(6) is "Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent." The Court finds that IMA STEPHENS LENTON is intent on denying BENJAMIN FLEMING visitation, and will violate Court Orders, if permitted to retain Custody, in furtherance of her apparent intent that the Father's visitation not occur. BENJAMIN FLEMING, as sole custodian, is more likely to allow the Mother visitation and significant contact than was allowed by the Mother in the past, or would be by her in the future. 7. It is in the best interests of the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING that their sole custody be transferred forthwith from Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON to Respondent BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING; 8. The attorney fees and costs incurred by Respondent BENJAMIN FLEMING herein arise from the misconduct of Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON. Petitioner's claim for modification or curtailment of Respondent's visitation constitutes harassment, is groundless and not made in good faith. Petitioner allowed said claim to continue in litigation although she knew or should have known that the claim was without substantial justification. The Petitioner is educated as a schoolteacher and has the ability to pay Respondent's attorney fees and costs. 9. The children appear to be bonded to both parents; and both parents should have frequent and continuing contact with the children. However, the Court finds that the Mother has a history of absconding from Court jurisdictions with the children, and is likely to use unsupervised visitation as an opportunity to repeat such flight. ORDER AND JUDGMENT THEREFORE, Good Cause Appearing, it is hereby ORDERED and ADJUDGED: A. Respondent BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING is awarded sole custody and physical possession of the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING nunc pro tunc as of 4:30 PM, Mountain Standard Time, October 17, 1986; B. Respondent BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING's obligation to pay child support for the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING is hereby terminated; C. Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON shall be permitted visitation with the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING only under supervised conditions as may be mutually stipulated in writing by the Parties or their Arizona counsel; if no stipulation can be reached, further Order of this Court may be sought; D. Petitioner IMA STEPHENS LENTON shall pay to Respondent BENJAMIN NATHAN FLEMING the entirety of his Attorney Fees and Costs arising in this action, including those of his Arizona Counsel Robert Hirschfeld and his Arkansas Counsel Mima Wallace. Said Counsel shall prepare and submit to this Court within thirty days of the date hereof, an accounting and form of Judgment for Attorney Fees and Costs. E. The Superior Court, Maricopa County Arizona, affirmatively asserts exclusive continuing jurisdiction over the minor children SARAH AMARYLLIS FLEMING and ALEXANDER JOSEPH FLEMING until their respective majority or until otherwise Ordered by this Court, and requests all governmental agencies and officers in any jurisdiction, within or outside the United States, wherein said minor children may be found, to assist in the implementation and enforcement of this Order; DATED: October 28, 1986 /s/ __________________________ The. Hon. Linda Scott Judge, Superior Court Maricopa County, Arizona Southeast Judicial Dist. 1837 S. Mesa Dr. Mesa AZ 85202 Tel:(602) 926-3602 ---------------------------------------------------------- NOTE: Mrs. Lenton remained in hiding with the children despite the above order, until she was traced through her driver's license and apprehended in February 1988, at Bay City Michigan. She was arrested on several counts there of passing bad checks. While she was being held, Benjamin Fleming flew to Michigan to retrieve the children who were now in his legal custody. Upon arrival, he found that Mrs. Lenton had again falsely accused him of sexual molestation. After a Michigan court hearing, in which the above explicit Order and findings of Judge Scott were considered, the children were freely released to Ben Fleming. They have resided with him ever since. The above case illustrates how a false accusation of child abuse can backfire against the accuser. Attorney Hirschfeld and private investigator Dayna Linton, both mentioned in the above order, are members of the Board of Directors of the National Congress for Men.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank