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Cafcass, s7 and half sibling sexual abuse(7 Posts)
Any advice or experience would be greatly appreciated.
As a background....
I left my husband and divorced 2 years ago due to his anger, aggression and obsessive controlling behaviour. I was concerned about the children spending time with him after we split but felt that it was also important for him to have a relationship with the children as long as it was healthy and safe.
However, after many disturbing accounts by the children of his behaviour whilst they were in his care, and after umpteen attempts to resolve the situation with my ex, I finally decided to go to a solicitor and take legal action - even though it is financially crippling me (I don't get Legal Aid because I part own the house that the children and I live in but I am a Teaching Assistant so on a low salary).
After the first hearing, a S7 was ordered and I have just had my meeting with the CAFCASS officer that has left me extremely upset. We talked about my ex for a while but then the discussion changed to talk about my ex's son.
My ex's son sexually abused my daughter over a month long period when she was 5 and he was almost 12 (she's now 11, he's 18). My son was also part of the abuse - encouraged to touch my daughter's genitalia etc (he was 3 and is now 9). We contacted SS and they investigated and asked if we wanted to prosecute - we didn't but asked for therapeutic support for my ex's son. We also attended CAF meetings where my ex was v vocal about quickly re-introducing his son back into our family. He was v forceful, contacting external agencies prior to the meetings to persuade them etc. Ultimately I was made to feel like I 'wasn't moving on' by being reluctant to re-establish contact.
I eventually agreed to limited contact and SS said it had to be supervised, which I completely agreed with. My ex then bullied me into allowing contact to take place at our house (he would shout, swear, rant every day at me - saying I had mental health issues and that there was no way it'd happen again and that I was sick to even think it could etc etc). I didn't want contact at our house because life is busy at home and it's harder to supervise but, heigh ho, after applying pressure on the external agencies, again they then encouraged me to allow contact at home.
On the second period of contact in our home, his son (then aged 13) abused my daughter again (she was 7). He sat next to her on the sofa and used a cushion to hide the fact that he was abusing her. There were 2 adults present in the room at the time.
This time, I prosecuted. He got a 12 month referral order and was forced to sign the sexual offenders register. He was also diagnosed with Aspergers. Throughout, my ex has still tried on and off to discuss re-introducing his son into my son's life, and when my daughter was 9, even suggested that she was old enough to make her own mind up about whether she wanted to see him or not!
I found this very, very upsetting because his son is clearly very disturbed and poses a huge risk to our children. So, at the first hearing my solicitor asked my ex to sign an undertaking that he wouldn't introduce his son to our children during any contact with him. He did, and I was hugely relieved and finally I thought that the whole nightmare could finally be put behind us. But then I had my meeting with CAfCASS...
The officer had met with my ex a few hours earlier - and like so many others, my ex is charming, manipulative and extremely believable. The officer then said that as part of his S7 report, he would have to discuss the future and as part of that he asked how I would feel if my son, in a few years time, asked to have a relationship with his older half brother. I told the officer some of my concerns, but I was floored that he would even suggest it after all we have been through.
I told the officer that prior to the 2nd lot of abuse, my ex's son had asked my daughter if she'd seen me naked and asked her to describe what I looked like naked. I told the officer that I did not trust my ex's son with my own son and that he could have inappropriate discussions with him about me and my daughter. I'd trusted him once, and then after a lot of soul searching, I'd trusted him a second time - both times resulting in harm to my children. Clearly his behaviour is also compulsive - because he hadn't learnt any lessons after the first lot of abuse and attempted it again at the first chance he had.
Im also devastated because, I know, that as soon as there is any mention of contact between my ex's son and my son in the S7 report, my ex will badger and hound for contact to happen. I'm floored because I only took legal action in the first place to prevent my ex from emotionally damaging them and now I find that I'm having to fight a whole new battle. I feel like my husband has done it again - manipulated an external agency. Groundhog day.
I'm so sorry to take up so much of your time - but I suppose my questions are - what do you think about the questions raised by CAFCASS - is it reasonable for my son and his son to have contact? am i being over-emotional in my response (my son does miss his half brother)? Or, as my gut tells me, is this completely wrong?
Should I try to speak to the cafcass officer again before he files his report to impress upon him how this all might affect me and my children - Im not convinced he has fully grasped the situation and fear he's been influenced by my ex saying he'd just like to take his 2 sons to a football game now and again......I did say to the officer that if the boys re-established contact, my daughter might feel like the 'outsider' and it might bring up uncomfortable thoughts and feelings for her, especially when she's doing so well at the moment....but the officer said that they are 2 separate people and that we shouldn't stop contact for him just because 'it might hurt her feelings'. Am I right in finding this hard to swallow? What course of action do you think I ought to take next?
Huge, huge apologies for the length of my message xx
Huge sympathy for how appallingly hard this is for you, and your DC.
Not much knowledge, but I would certainly try to make your points to carcass. Maybe they are not too concerned about your Dd feeling left out, so maybe emphasize the likelihood of inappropriate conversation between his son and yours.
Sorry I don't have anything more constructive to offer.
What a horrible situation. Your ex seems to prioritise his dream of himself as super-dad over the interests of any of the children.
I think it would be a good move to contact CAFCASS again and emphasise your concerns, before the report is finalised.
When SS were involved, did they say anything about sibling contact in the future? Anything you could point to now in their reports at the time that says contact between ex's son and DS is a risk both to your DS and to your DD?
When it goes back to court, if the CAFCASS report does not address your points in the way that you want, the important thing will be to get an order that the CAFCASS officer must attend the final hearing to be challenged about the report.
Is his son still on the SOR? If so, insist on a risk assessment.
It seems odd to me that an 18 year old wants to spend time with a 9 year old. Especially as they seem not to have spent much time together in the past.
I could understand 2 DCs more similar ages with lots of play time together but I can't believe 18 year old is that keen tbh.
Sorry I know nothing about the legal side.
Good idea re: SS. They said that the children should be apart. I've sent the CAFCASS officer a detailed email that outlines all my concerns regarding proposed contact. Never thought Id have to fight this again...
I take your point; I don't even think my ex's son, at 18, is that bothered - its my ex that wants to play happy families...regardless of potential risk. I just don't understand it. Thank you so much for all your comments x
Your son was a victim of this sexual offender. He absolutely categorically should not be spending time with the boy. If you do not have a current social worker then I would make a mash referral yourself about this. Google how to do it. You could also call the nspcc and discuss it with them. You have an absolute duty to your son to protect him even if he thinks he wants to see the other lad. The only appropriate outcome is zero contact for both of your children regardless of what your ex wants or does. Safeguarding is absolutely paramount and will trump any other parental wish. This young man is a serious risk to all children. Could you renew your right to prosecute for the first offence?
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