“David asked his father to dream about him at night, and Russell often weeps when thinking about his son at night and has had difficulty sleeping,” wrote Stephen Ouillette, PhD, of Belfast, to Claudia Kjer, the DHHS caseworker on the Handler case, back in August of 2007.
Losing a son and being treated like a criminal at the same time took a toll on David’s father, and it deepened his mother’s mental collapse. The Handlers were caught in a maze of legal obstacles and DHHS innuendo, unable to change their situation when the court terminated their parental rights. The case of the Handlers should never have escalated to the point where they lost their son into DHHS custody.
Much of the problem can be traced back to the Preliminary Protection Order (PPO) of October 2005, which took place two months after DHHS child and Family services were called in to deal with the Handler case. This document sets the stage for a Jeopardy Order.
In the PPO there are huge inconsistencies, and statements that are not backed up by any evidence. The PPO laid out a map of the case with false statements that would lead the court to where DHHS wanted the case to go — with the termination of parental rights. And in the end it did. Was that coincidence or was that the objective of the agency?
First the PPO reads that, “David Handler is in circumstance of jeopardy posed by Eleanor Handler due to deprivation of adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision or care, including health care when that deprivation causes threat of serious harm.”
The Handlers lived in a wealthy home in Northport. They were building a second home during the time DHHS was called in. David always had more than sufficient “food, clothing, shelter, supervision and care.” Plenty of coworkers of Ellie’s — she is a doctor — could have been interviewed about the Handler’s living conditions, but they weren’t.
Russell survived life-threatening cancer, and all during that tumultuous time Ellie took care of her family’s every need. There was a long article in the Village Soup about Russell’s remarkable recovery, including how his coworkers gave him a huge welcome-back party and how Ellie stood by his side every step of the way.
David had a regular doctor, was always clothed and fed properly. He attended a preschool, Great Expectations, where he had friends. Teachers there could have been interviewed to show David’s well being was sound.
Documents from the PPO alleged that a “caseworker also obtained information about physical abuse to David by his father Russell.” There is no evidence to back up this claim.
“Information was obtained regarding Eleanor Handler’s mental and physical health,” stated the PPO. This was true, but Ellie’s state of mind and physical well being was ignored, when it came time to place David in her care, and when DHHS wanted to use against Russell her allegations of abuse.
The PPO further states that, “This emotional maltreatment (caused by Russell) poses the threat of serious harm, due to series mental emotional injury or impairment, which now or in the future is likely to be evidenced by serious mental, behavior, seriously delayed development or similar serious dysfunctional behavior.”
The power of DHHS caseworkers should never be abused to fulfill their own hidden agenda. But this power allowed them to lie to the court, where they were believed, apparently without hesitation, and the Handler’s parental rights were terminated.
Russell still dreams all the time of David and weeps.