hidden half of domestic violence
to have eternal life
several such stories are sent to me each week I am still personally sickened
and outraged by the actions taken in the name of controlling "domestic
Below is the story of a caring and loving father and mother whose lives and
children have been mercilessly destroyed in the name of a radical feminist
ideology that has embarked this nation, and much of the world, in an extremely
dangerous social experiment that originated in Marx and Engel's theory that
"class struggle" has its roots in the family and patriarchy.
In their attempts to recreate a matriarchal society, radical feminists have
corrupted the humanitarian mission largely begun by Erin Pizzey
into an abomination that
masquerades as caring for victims of domestic violence.
The masquerade is essential to gain public support but the intent and result
is the destruction of families.
I have seen and heard of many tragedies that have resulted from the present DV
laws but the horror that Neil and Heidi Howard and their children are
presently are enduring in Massachusetts is yet unparalleled.
The Howard's story was forwarded to me by Prof. Stephen Baskerville, whose
tireless efforts on behalf of families everywhere deserves our highest praise
I would hope you will join me in expressing your outrage to your legislators
at national, state, and local levels over the indignities and inhumanity of
the agencies, created and funded by such acts as VAWA, who carry out such
atrocities as documented below. And notice that these acts are carried out in
the cradle of liberty. But Colorado law has the same provisions and many of
the same actions are being carried out here as documented at http://www.dvmen.org/dv-78.htm
We need to fix the problem, not the blame. And in doing so we must
preserve families if our civilization is to endure.
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.
455 Bear Creek Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80906-5820
Home page: http://boulder.earthnet.net/~ccorry
Domestic Violence Against Men: http://www.dvmen.org
Comments by Prof.
imposed involuntary divorce on one parent, the divorce industry can now force
it on both parents. This case demonstrates that no family in America is
safe. As some have predicted, both spouses in intact families can now be
coerced into divorce. Send this to everyone you know, even intact
families, showing them that they could be the next victims of this predatory
Why Was Mother
Shackled for Not Giving Baby to Strangers?
By Ed Oliver
February 20, 2001
The Massachusetts News
©2001 Massachusetts News, Inc.
Reproduced under the Fair
Use provisions of 17 USC Sec. 107 for noncommercial, educational use
Where is Chief Justice
The Worst Department
of Social Services Story We've Heard Yet
This is probably the worst Department of Social Services (DSS) story we have
heard in a long list of outrageous stories.
Neil Howard and his wife were arrested and shackled in Lowell District Court
last month for not telling the DSS the location of their two-month-old
daughter which the social workers wished to seize.
What could have caused these people to treat a mother like a common criminal
for not giving her baby to strangers?
Massachusetts News had already met with the Howards last November after the
distraught couple contacted us about what the DSS was doing to their family.
DSS Feminists Forced
Mother to Get Divorce
Heidi Howard was told by
the DSS, as have countless women, that she must divorce her husband or lose
her children. She was not to worry about being "homeless."
They would take care of her. They would set her up in an apartment with her
children. Because she did not obey, she ended up shackled in a Massachusetts
jail without her two-month-old baby.
How do Feminists at
DSS Define "Violence?'
When Heidi Howard
protested to the feminists at DSS that her husband had never been violent to
her or her children, they replied that he kept the family checkbook in order
to gain "power" over her. This, they said, was violent
Mother to Get Restraining Order
In what is standard
procedure with the DSS, Heidi Howard was forced to lie to a judge and get a
Restraining Order against her husband even though he had never been violent to
her or her children. She was told this was necessary if she did not want her
children taken away from her.
"I don't care how
you do it, I don't care what you say, just get it," she was ordered.
The Howards have lived at their home on an acre of land in Tyngsboro since
they bought it in 1991. Neil works as a machinist and Heidi is a homemaker.
They've always been just an ordinary family trying to get ahead -- until they
had a baby with terminal neurological problems and the feminists at DSS
discovered that having a dying baby causes stress in a family.
After that sick baby died at one year, the DSS was so entwined with the
Howards that it demanded that a new baby born in December 2000 be given to
them to be cared for by strangers. As any mother would understand, this was
not something that appealed to Heidi Howard.
The tragic events in their lives began when the Howards learned in the fall of
1998 that the new baby who was expected in 1999 to join their sons, Ethan who
was close to 3-years and Christopher who was almost eight, would not be
normal. At 21-weeks gestation, doctors at Children's Hospital and Beth Israel
Deaconess broke the bad news that it would be born dead or would die soon
It was born by emergency C-section in August 1999 with a rare neurological
disorder and subsequently underwent three life-saving operations. They named
her Faith. She had seizures which had to be controlled with medication and
close monitoring. Doctors said she was doing better than they expected,
however, with a life expectancy of 1- to 3-years.
After a couple of months, the Howards were told in October they should
consider taking Faith home because she could die from viruses in the facility.
A staff member at Spaulding Rehab Center in Boston where Faith resided said a
trained nurse could come to their house to show them how to care for the dying
infant's needs. The Howards told the hospital that they had not yet made a
final decision about the baby coming home and they weren't ready for a nurse
to come to their home because they were in the midst of remodeling the house.
October 28, 1999
A nurse from the Visiting Nurses Association called Heidi from out-of-the-blue
telling her she was on the way and would be there in an hour. She was actually
a DSS agent, apparently sent by the Spaulding Center. Until this event, the
Howards had never had any contact with DSS or had anything unusual happen in
their lives except for their sick new baby.
The Howards were doing renovations to their kitchen and painting the rooms.
The night before, they had moved their appliances into the living room and
ripped up the kitchen linoleum in preparation for installing new cabinets and
Heidi thought the nurse was a safety-evaluation person from Spaulding. She
told the nurse she was busy with housework and she could come only to fill out
paperwork, because they were not ready for a safety evaluation. The nurse
agreed, but as soon as she arrived, she proceeded to walk through the house
looking at rooms and opening closets despite Heidi's objections. The visiting
nurse was working for DSS they later learned. No forms or releases were signed
as required by Visiting Nurse Association policy.
The nurse told Heidi she
was disturbed by the condition of their home and she would be filing a 51A
report with DSS. A "51A" is a report to DSS of suspected
child abuse or neglect. The nurse said she thought the house was the
"worst she's ever seen." Heidi pleaded with her not to do that
because they were already under a lot of stress. The nurse seized on Heidi's
comments and asked her what she meant about being under stress, could she give
Heidi told her they weren't sure whether they could care for the baby at home.
But Spaulding was telling the Howards there was nothing more they could do for
her and the baby would die from possible infection if they didn't bring her
Heidi confessed that she and Neil argued more than usual and they were
disagreeing on things like paint colors. She said her husband was not acting
like himself and he would snap at the children. She told her that Neil never
hurt them, however. They were just under a lot of pressure. She also said she
had concerns about what might happen to Faith at home and she didn't want her
to die in front of the children.
People with hard
experience dealing with DSS learn that even their most innocuous statements
will be misinterpreted and used against them. Home visitors are especially
trained to look for "risk factors" that they can report.
Heidi was verbally stepping on land mines as she sincerely discussed her
worries about caring for Faith and her minor gripes about her husband. She was
shocked when the nurse suggested to Heidi that she should leave her husband.
The nurse reported to DSS
about the disarray at the house. The Howards noticed later that the nurse's
report was exaggerated by DSS, and the social workers altered the report by
excising information about the remodeling, the condition of the baby and that
Heidi told her she was feeling overwhelmed. For instance, the nurse reported
that Heidi stated to her, "Mrs. Howard had said that she did not want
Faith to die at home. Babies with this condition can die very suddenly."
This was twisted
later by DSS to say "Mom says she's afraid dad will kill Faith
if she comes home."
Another statement she
made was that she and the boys would be leaving to go to her sister-in-law.
Heidi and the boys were only going for the weekend while the renovations were
was twisted by DSS into her saying, "Mrs. Howard wanted to leave her
When Neil returned home from work that Thursday, he drove Heidi and the boys
to stay with the sister-in-law because the remodeling work had to be completed
without interruption. Faith would be home in a week if they were ready for
her. Heidi told Spaulding Rehab personnel where she could be reached in case
there were any problems with Faith. DSS, already on the march, obtained
Heidi's number and address from Spaulding. The Howards later learned that
Spaulding had constant communications with DSS.
DSS called Heidi and told her not to go home until the 51A was investigated.
DSS also called Spaulding to warn them not to allow visitation by the father,
because there was a high risk of injury to the baby.
When Heidi called Neil, she told him for the first time what had happened when
the nurse came to the house. She said she couldn't come home until the
investigation was over and he couldn't come pick her up.
Neil and his 69-year-old mother went to visit Faith at Spaulding. His mother
was allowed to see Faith. Neil, however, was prevented from visiting her and
he was escorted out by security guards without explanation. Heidi called
Spaulding to find out what was going on and the nurse told Heidi that Neil
came there to kidnap the baby.
Neil's mother Irene tells
MassNews there was a young nurse there who was usually a delightful person,
but that day, "She looked at Neil like he was an ogre."
A DSS investigator went to the sister-in-law's house and questioned Heidi and
the children separately with no lawyer present. According to the Howard's
current attorney, Greg Hession, the social worker asked the boys if daddy ever
spanked them. He said the boys answered yes, but it was not a big deal to
them. For instance, when daddy was answering the phone and Ethan was
screeching, he gave him a nudge toward his mother with his foot. Another time,
in the boy's room he bopped Chris on the head with a manila folder in his hand
to get his attention when telling him to clean his room.
Neil tells MassNews,
"It got worse in later versions. It turned into beating him over the head
with a book and kicking Ethan in the chest and head. Of course, there is no
evidence of any of that."
Heidi told the social worker she had never witnessed Neil abuse the kids and
he had never hit her.
In the DSS report, Heidi
was quoted accurately. However, in an affidavit to the judge by DSS, they said
that Heidi was "confused" when she told them that Neil had
never hit her.
Heidi was told by the social worker to file a restraining order against her
husband to keep him away from her and the kids. The worker said the children
told her Neil was beating them. The social worker also told her that Neil
tried to kidnap the baby the other day.
Heidi protested. She said
this is crazy, wouldn't I know if my husband was beating the kids? Heidi
refused to get the order. The investigator responded, "Then I guess
we'll just have to take your kids away." Heidi was terrified at the
prospect. She said she wanted to go home. The investigator said now she was
really concerned because Heidi wanted to go home after what she had just told
her. She told her the restraining order would only be temporary until the
investigation was completed. She told Heidi not to worry about being homeless,
they'll take care of that.
Heidi said DSS pressured
her to get the restraining order as soon as possible. They could set her up in
an apartment, they said, and she could have all her children there with her
until this was cleared up. "I don't care how you do it, I don't care
what you say, just get it," said the social worker.
Heidi reluctantly agreed to get a restraining order so DSS wouldn't take her
At the Woburn District
Courthouse, Heidi didn't know what to do to get a restraining order. A female
"victim witness advocate" showed her how to fill out the form.
She advised Heidi that she had to write something about being in fear. She
could not just put down that DSS told her to get the restraining order. She
told Heidi, "You have to make it sound bad."
The advocate asked if
Neil ever abused her or the kids. She said no. "Think of something
bad." Heidi was mortified to tell MassNews what happened next.
"I lied on the affidavit. I wrote that I was afraid my husband was going
to kidnap the baby, as DSS had told me. I thought I was saving my children.
They were going to take them away from me. I would have done anything to keep
them. But I wasn't saving them, I was destroying them. Even though my husband
and I are together, we lost all our children to DSS."
"When the Judge
asked me why I wanted the restraining order, I told her because DSS wants me
to get it. She asked me if the affidavit was true. I said yes."
While Heidi waited for
the restraining order to be printed up, the court advocate gave her a card
from Greater Boston Legal Services and told her the next step after getting a
restraining order is to get a divorce. "Call one of these
lawyers," she said. Heidi said she did not want a divorce.
Heidi was under tremendous stress at the time because of Faith's medical
problems. She was worried about being able to care properly for Faith at home.
DSS tried to convince Heidi that her husband was the cause of her stress
"There was a lot
of pressure by DSS," she said. "They were trying to divide
us. They raised doubts in my mind about my husband. He was mad at me that I
got a restraining order. But I thought he might be mad if I didn't get it and
they took the kids away. It didn't take long for us to get over it and figure
out what they were doing to us though. We got back together pretty
Neil contacted DSS and insisted he be given the right to tell his side of the
story. They asked him why his wife took out a restraining order against him.
Neil was bewildered and told them someone must be telling her what to do. If
she said those things, he chalked her behavior up to depression related to the
birth of Faith. He said his wife wasn't her normal self since she learned that
her baby would die at birth due to a cranial abnormality. Neil said he loved
his family and they should understand that this has been a tough year for
them, especially his wife.
When asked about hitting the kids, he admitted he practices basic discipline.
Neil called DSS again. They told him not to worry about anything, they
considered the allegations to be exaggerated.
Heidi moved out of her sister-in-law's house to escape DSS. She stayed with
friends for a week. DSS called her sister-in-law looking for information. They
found out Heidi had nursed her kids until they were three. DSS wrote another
DSS called Heidi at the
new place after getting the number from the children's school. DSS demanded
she give the address. DSS went there to check the "sleeping
arrangements" without telling Heidi they were already investigating a
new 51A against her. Heidi was camped out in the living room with the
children. DSS wanted to know if her children slept in the same bed with her.
DSS called Heidi and told
her they had just filed a new 51A against her for breast feeding a
three-year-old and for allegedly sleeping naked with her children. They wanted
to come right over to investigate. In reality they had already filed the 51A a
week before. Heidi said, "What are you people doing to me? Don't come
here, I need to call my attorney." They replied, "You
don't need one." Heidi called her attorney who tried to schedule
something. DSS called Heidi again later that day and said they were in the
neighborhood and demanded permission to come over immediately. After another
refusal, she did not hear about it again and assumed it was dropped.
Heidi called Neil at work and told him she loved and missed him and wanted to
come home. Neil told her she had to vacate the restraining order or he could
get arrested. The family reunited that evening at a motel near the courthouse.
Heidi attempted to vacate
the restraining order. The judge wouldn't immediately vacate it, however,
saying DSS needed to be informed. Heidi would have to wait a week or two.
Heidi told the judge she needed a place to live in the meantime. A witness
advocate suggested she go to a shelter. Heidi refused. The Judge gave Heidi a
partially vacated restraining order that was confusing because it had both
"allowed" and "denied" marked. The judge told
her she could go home with the kids. She assumed the restraining order was
vacated. All parties had to come back to finalize it on December 8th.
The whole family enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday together.
Heidi came downstairs from the shower to find two social workers from DSS
inside her house, standing in the living room. Heidi told them their family
was working to put their lives back together and didn't need their services.
They told Heidi they were there to investigate the 51A filed on November 12.
Heidi argued with them
about breast feeding, telling them to mind their own business. The social
workers took the boys into the next room for questioning. Heidi could hear
them talking. Chris told them about the time he locked all the doors to the
house when he was five. He did it because he was mad at his father for taking
down his fort. His father spanked him. He said he is not really afraid of his
father. This was reported by DSS as "Christopher expressed extreme
fear of his father." Chris told them about another time he and his
brother put sticks into a burning grill and got caught. They were punished
with a spanking for playing with fire. DSS later said that the boys displayed
early signs of being potential arsonists. Arsonists are usually abused when
they are young, they said.
DSS told Heidi there were concerns because she went back home even though she
had taken out a restraining order. They told her they wanted her to get a
psychological evaluation and she should call for a referral from her health
insurance. After they left, Heidi left to do some errands. Later that
afternoon, DSS arrived back at the house with police and paramedics. DSS told
the police to arrest Neil for violating a restraining order when he arrived
home. They called an ambulance to take Heidi to Lowell General for a
psychological evaluation. Neil was arrested when he arrived home, saw the
commotion, and attempted to call a lawyer from a neighbor's house. DSS took
away their children.
Lowell General transferred Heidi to Emerson Hospital. They told her she was
there voluntarily, but Heidi says that once you go through those doors, you
can't leave without a doctor's order.
"I was trapped in
there," she said. "They told me I couldn't leave without
going to a battered women's shelter far away from the perpetrator."
Heidi was an emotional wreck when she arrived. Her life was disintegrating
before her eyes. Her husband was in jail, DSS took her children, her baby girl
was dying, and she was being locked up in a psychiatric ward. They gave her a
tranquilizer, which knocked her out.
Heidi woke up groggily at two in the morning. A social worker immediately
began questioning her. The social worker told Heidi that she was a battered
woman and that is why she was upset and stressed. Heidi said her husband never
hit her. The social worker told her ,"You don't need to be beaten to be
The Howards later found a
notation written by a social worker in the records at Emerson Hospital,
"Collaborate w/DSS, file 51As as needed." DSS had already
informed Emerson that Neil violated a restraining order and Heidi was a
"battered woman." Heidi woke up again two hours later at four in
the morning and they questioned her again.
Whatever Heidi said about
her relationship with her husband, the social worker told her it was typical
of a batterer. For instance, she told them that Neil handled the finances.
They responded that he was controlling her and manipulative. Heidi said,
"We don't go around beating the children, we would never go too far in
our discipline." The social worker twisted her words writing,
"They have to stop each other if they go too far."
Heidi was awoken again at 8 a.m., exhausted and still drugged, and was
interviewed at nine. She told them she was the problem, not her husband. They
told her she was in denial. Exasperated, she told them she was hurt by what
was happening and they had destroyed her life. She wanted to run away and
start over, she didn't care about anything or anyone anymore.
She thought her
communications were confidential, but Emerson filed a 51A against the Howards.
Heidi said those statements kept popping up everywhere in court reports and
other places. "The fabricated 51A keeps coming back to haunt me,"
she said. "It won't stop. The longer you have contact with these
people, they keep generating 51A's against you." She said there were
seven of them investigated and four screened out.
Heidi wanted to go home.
They would not let her leave unless she had an "Aftercare
Program." She had to have the restraining order dropped, which they
discouraged, or she had to go to a shelter.
Heidi asked if she still had parental rights. She was told she could have her
kids back as soon as she was discharged from Emerson. They would arrange for
them to visit her in the meantime.
Neil asked the judge for
permission to visit Heidi and Faith. Neil told Heidi to fight for the children
because DSS does not intend to give them back. He said DSS now had a
"supported" 51A against each of them.
DSS was furious that Neil had the legal right to visit Heidi at the hospital.
The social worker from Emerson discussed the case with DSS. She then told
Heidi that DSS was basically saying that Heidi could not have her husband and
children too. She would have to choose one over the other. She said DSS made
it clear if she didn't keep the restraining order, she would never see her
children again. Heidi argued how unfair that was and how she thought they
could work it out and stay together as a family. She asked her lawyer if DSS
could give her such an ultimatum. Her lawyer told her, "Yes, they've done
Back in court, on the day the vacated restraining order was supposed to be
finalized, Heidi renewed the restraining order under heavy pressure from DSS.
Neil sat there shocked and devastated. He had warned Heidi not to fall for
their tricks. Neil told the judge that DSS was frightening his wife into
keeping the restraining order. The judge asked Heidi if that were true. She
said yes. Weighing heavily on her mind was the fact that DSS did not allow her
children to visit her at Emerson and she wanted to be able to visit Faith who
was dying. Heidi's poverty lawyer from Greater Boston Legal Services asked the
judge to give Heidi a restraining order for a year. Heidi only wanted it for a
couple weeks to sort things out.
Heidi told Mass News,
"I thought I could outsmart DSS. My plan was to get the restraining
order, arrange to go to the battered women's shelter, get an apartment to
re-establish myself and get the kids back. Then I would call my husband and
drop the restraining order. Then we could get away, sell the house or
something and escape DSS."
Heidi explained her
frustration from dealing with DSS. "If you don't do what they say, you
are 'non-compliant.'" If you do what they say to try to get out of
the mess, they use those actions against you later. They don't take
responsibility for what they told you to do. They say it was all your idea.
"We didn't tell her to choose between her husband and children. We didn't
tell her to go to a shelter. We didn't tell her to get a restraining order. It
was her choice, her doing, not ours."
"Unfortunately, I signed releases for DSS to talk to all the kid's
doctors, teachers and hospital where Faith was staying, to prove we were good
people. But it backfired. DSS called all those people and told them not to
talk to the parents because DSS had custody. We couldn't get medical and
school records any more to help prove our innocence."
DSS filed a motion to obtain psychiatric records from Emerson without Heidi's
knowledge. She was informed she had a court appointed lawyer who she was
unable to reach by phone.
The 72-hour hearing took place at Lowell District Court to determine if DSS
had reason to keep the boys. If properly represented, the Howards could have
put on their case at this time. Instead, Heidi was unable to speak to Neil
because of the restraining order she was pressured into filing. Her poverty
lawyer identified herself to her. She was standing with a group of Emerson and
DSS social workers who then hovered around Heidi. Her lawyer told her to do
whatever DSS says, they are there to help you. Neil was there with his
DSS presented two affidavits to the court saying why they needed to take the
kids. Both Heidi and Neil were approached separately and asked to sign a
waiver of their rights to the children. The two parents could not communicate.
Heidi was told by DSS to sign it because Neil was signing it. They also said
it was to protect Faith from being kidnapped by Neil or anybody else because
Faith was being transferred to an extended care facility in Groton that
doesn't have any security. DSS put in the affidavit to the judge that Faith
was going to be transferred that day, as though it was urgent. The couple
later learned that it was a bald-faced lie. Both facilities had no plans for a
Heidi was told,
"Make sure you tell the judge you understand what you are signing and
make sure to ask that Faith be put on the petition. If you do this, you'll get
your kids back as soon as you are discharged from Emerson."
Neil was told by his
female attorney, "Listen, sign the waiver. Heidi is signing it too.
This will all get straightened out. A court investigator will look into this.
If you testify today, you'll have Heidi's DSS attorney and the children's
attorney against you. Once the court investigator does their job, you won't
have to testify." Neil thought that made sense at the time. He was
positive an investigation by the court would clear him.
The hearing was recessed for several hours because there was no contest. Heidi
went to her court- appointed attorney's office next to the courthouse. The
attorney kept avoiding Heidi and would not answer her questions about what she
was signing or about her case. She spent several hours in a room by herself.
At 2 p.m., the lawyer escorted her to a room where the judge asked her if she
understood what she was signing. She did what she was told. She said yes and
asked that Faith be added to the petition.
Heidi tried to arrange
her "aftercare program" so she could leave Emerson. She could
only get shelter in Springfield because it was far away from the
Heidi settled in at the shelter in Springfield. She called Neil. They both
talked and cried.
Heidi called her social worker at DSS to ask about seeing her children as they
had promised. They told her that was impossible because Springfield was too
Heidi called Neil to see how he was holding up and to tell her plan to go to
the shelter in order to get the kids back was not working. Neil pleaded for
her safe return and told her DSS was building a case against her. They decided
to vacate the restraining order.
Heidi took a bus to Boston and visited Faith. She met with Neil. They made
arrangements to meet after court the next day.
Heidi attempted to get an immediate hearing in Woburn District Court to vacate
the restraining order. She was told to wait a few days so all parties involved
could be present. Heidi tried to arrange a visit with her children. DSS
refused. They demanded to know where she was and said leaving the shelter was
highly irresponsible and would not help her get her children back.
The motion to vacate the restraining order was allowed. The Howards were
relieved that DSS didn't show up. They speculated that DSS didn't care about
the restraining order anymore because they had the kids and the waivers. Neil
and Heidi went home together.
The couple visited the children at the DSS office and gave them Christmas
presents. The visit went very well and both children had a great time. When it
was time to leave, both children had a difficult time accepting the idea of
not returning home with their parents. They heard Ethan's cries as DSS carried
The court investigator came out to the house and interviewed both parents.
They showed the investigator around the remodeled house and explained their
whole story. It seemed everything was going to be fine.
January 20, 2000
Back in court, the Howards learned the report by the investigator was awful.
It contained only one paragraph about the interview at the house, which didn't
even mention that it had been remodeled. The rest of the report consisted of
unsubstantiated allegations copied verbatim from DSS. Heidi and Neil denied
everything in the report.
The report recommended the Howards get psychological evaluations, take
parenting classes and follow any other DSS recommendations. The report did not
recommend returning the children. The Howards attempted to follow the plan in
hopes of getting their children back.
The Howards, with attorney Greg Hession who took their case, tried to get
their 72-hour hearing invalidated on the grounds that Heidi was living in a
psychiatric ward at the time she signed the waiver. Judge Trainor at Lowell
District Court denied the motion.
DSS records show that it
told Ethan's foster mother to file a 51A against the Howards. The foster
mother related bizarre sexual allegations she allegedly heard from Ethan, who
had just turned four. The most serious allegation was that the Howards
"cut off his pee pee." Ethan also was supposed to have said his
mother breast-fed him, which Heidi never denied. Neil Howard said his son
Ethan has a form of autism called PDD, which made him difficult to understand
and he often repeated whatever you told him, something he called
The Lowell District Attorney interviewed both children. They said Ethan was
not a credible witness. Chris said nothing damaging about his parents. DSS
watched the interview from behind a two-way-mirror and took notes. The DA
closed the investigation.
The Howards later learned there were tapes of the DA's interview. The DA did
not allow them to have copies of the tapes however. Their lawyer subpoenaed
the copies. They compared the tapes to what DSS wrote and found that DSS added
an entire paragraph of negative allegations that was not on the tape. DSS also
deleted positive comments about the parents and altered a word to give a
statement a negative connotation.
The Howards and their attorney told Mass News that the tape of Chris contained
only praise for his parents and normal answers to questions - powerful
evidence they can use in court.
During this time period, Neil's restraining order violation was dismissed for
lack of evidence.
Ethan and Chris were living in foster homes. Ethan's foster mother was a
female Lowell police officer.
The Howards believed Ethan was being abused in the foster home, but DSS did
nothing about it.
They began noticing bruises on Ethan, missing teeth, chipped teeth, crushed
fingernails on both hands, a broken arm.
The Howards later discovered in DSS files that daycare workers also noticed
that there were marks on Ethan's buttocks and back covered with make-up. A 51A
was not filed, but the call from the daycare center was logged into DSS
records. Fresh marks were again discovered later. Neil says this is around the
time Ethan was telling people "Charlie" was hurting him.
Faith was transferred to a foster home. Visits of the parents with Ethan and
Faith were cut back to one hour per month and twice a month with Chris. The
Howards were devastated that they were restricted from visiting their dying
Ethan was taken to South Bay Mental Health, which is right next door to DSS.
It has an unlicensed female therapist without any credentials. It filed a 51A
report against the Howards saying that 4-year-old Ethan accused his parents of
abusing him, holding his head under water, "Charlie" beats him, his
mother sits on him, they touch him sexually. Neil Howard says nobody knows any
"Charlie" and the other charges are ridiculous.
When told that Ethan has
PDD, South Bay's therapist said Ethan's neurologist who diagnosed him is
"full of it."
South Bay refused to show the Howards their notes. Later, the Howard's
attorney requested that the court compel South Bay to produce the therapy
notes. The court did compel but South Bay hasn't produced anything in months.
Later, the same South Bay
therapist gave her "expert" opinion that all visitations of
the Howard children should be terminated. Attorney Hession successfully
challenged the "expert" witness by proving she had a complete
and utter lack of credentials.
DSS took another try for the brass ring and asked the DA to investigate
Ethan's latest alleged utterances. The DA said Ethan is not a credible witness
and would not interview him. In the last interview, when the DA asked Ethan if
he had a brother, he answered that he did not. After Ethan answered a similar
easy question incorrectly, the DA terminated the interview.
Not to be deterred by a
witness who is not credible, DSS decided they would interview the small boy
themselves. A DSS social worker and the foster mother
"interviewed" Ethan in the foster mother's waiting room without
following accepted protocols. Soon DSS had fresh allegations of the Howards
putting "pine combs" up Ethan's rectum and more talk about
"Charlie." DSS asked Ethan, "Who is Charlie?"
he said nothing. "Is Charlie a friend of mommy and daddy?" He
allegedly said yes. The interview was not taped but notes were taken.
The 51A was
"supported" by DSS against the Howards. The Howards said they
appealed every single 51A that was lodged against them.
Later in October, DSS
brought Chris to the DA for another interview which was taped. An obviously
coached Chris appeared according to those who viewed the tapes. There was
marked contrast from the first interview months earlier. Chris charged that
the Howards put writing implements "up his butt." The DA
apparently was not convinced and did not support the complaint. DSS did
however. It was made clear to DSS that it would be the final interview that
the DA's office would conduct.
A new tactic used by DSS against the Howards was to complain that there was a
conflict of interest for the Howards to have the same lawyer. They say there
should be separate attorneys because the couple were legally at odds at
one time. As Heidi reiterated for Mass News, DSS uses something they
previously told her to do against them now. The Howards, who say they are
totally together on everything, feel the latest divide-and-conquer tactic is
intended to get Greg Hession off their case. It has delayed their trial so,
reluctantly, Heidi has recently obtained her own court-appointed lawyer.
Faith died on her first birthday. DSS called Heidi and told her Faith was in
the hospital having seizures and she should go there. Neil rushed home from
work. DSS called again to tell them that Faith was dead. The social worker
told the grieving parents that now that she is dead, custody reverts to them.
Despite the fact that the
Howards had custody of their dead little girl, DSS social workers met them at
the hospital when they arrived. The Howards wanted to see their baby girl and
mourn in privacy, but DSS felt this was a great time for them to meet the new
social worker. The Howards were astonished at the insensitivity and told the
social workers, "Leave us alone, now!" The social workers
still stood there but without saying anything. Neil Howard got the hospital to
tell the social workers they were not needed. The couple spent time alone with
The funeral arrangements involved DSS because the Howards wanted their boys to
attend. DSS denied the request. The Howards wanted their sons to see their
little sister for the first time in almost a year. The Howards threatened to
take legal action. DSS called back and said they could go.
Ten minutes before the
funeral, DSS called the Howards and told them a therapist told them it would
be inappropriate for Ethan to go to the funeral. Ethan was not allowed to go.
Chris attended the funeral with two social workers who followed him around the
entire day. Chris was allowed to visit with friends and family and was happy
to see them. DSS wrote page after page about the visit and wrote that Chris
"put on an act hugging people."
On a supervised visit
with their boys, the Howards noticed Ethan had a broken arm and more teeth
were missing. There was also a deep red handprint on his forearm and his hand
was swollen. DSS went into great detail about how he had broken his arm on a
slide. They said a girl stomped on his hand the same day also. DSS blamed the
missing teeth on Heidi's breast-feeding. The Howards say Ethan had perfect
teeth until three months after DSS took him. DSS would explain away every
missing tooth by saying he "fell." But the Howards don't
remember Ethan being that clumsy.
DSS dictation records reveal that a social worker told Chris that his parents
couldn't protect him anymore, so he'll never be going home. Soon afterward,
Chris developed a problem with his bowels and with lying.
Neil's sister had tried all year to get custody of the boy. She drove down
from Vermont and visited the boys two or three times a month. DSS did not work
with the sister to get custody even though Vermont's DSS approved her.
Just before a court date, DSS filed another 51A based on the last taped
interview with Chris. They said Neil's sister and her husband took the boys on
an unsupervised visit to a park in Lowell in September. Neil Howard says that
is true, and what is weird is that a social worker usually goes along, but
that particular time they didn't.
Christopher told the social workers that the Howards went to the unsupervised
visit and threatened to throw him off a cliff. He also said they sexually
abused him in the past by putting pens and pencils up his rectum. According to
the Howards and their attorney, on the tape Chris leaped up almost proud of
himself and said, "Oh yeah, Ethan is making disclosures too, and he's not
proved this to be false, yet they supported it," said Neil. Neil
brought time cards and affidavits from his work. Heidi, who has no car,
obtained phone records to show she was home that day. The sister and her
husband also say Neil and Heidi weren't there and they had a wonderful visit.
DSS now officially considers Neil's sister unfit to take custody.
No trial because DSS delayed it again with the conflict of interest
issue. The Howards and their attorney met with MassNews to tell the story.
Heidi is obviously pregnant.
DSS stopped the monthly
visit after only a few minutes because the Howards hugged their children. No
hugging or sitting on laps allowed anymore.
Heidi had contractions and gave birth to Jessica on December 14. Baby Jessica
was born in secret to keep the DSS away from her.
A court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and doctor are assigned to check
Heidi's competence over the conflict of interest issue. The GAL saw baby
Jessica twice and reported no concerns to the court doctor. The Howards had a
pediatrician who raved about baby's progress.
No Christmas with the boys.
January 23, 2001
Scheduled visit with boys. Neil and Heidi and grandparents brought
"tons" of presents. DSS quietly noticed that Heidi was no longer
DSS called the Howards.
"Call us, it is very important."
DSS left three messages
saying to call them. On the last message, they said it was apparent on the
last visit that Heidi was no longer pregnant. "The department has
concerns. You need to bring the baby to the office by 9 a.m. to be viewed. If
you do not, the department will take appropriate measures." The
Howards did not trust DSS. The department had lost all credibility with them
and they suspected DSS wanted to steal their baby or manufacture new claims
against them. They left their home and moved to a friend's house.
Neil Howard called DSS and told them that any further communications would
have to be through their attorney.
DSS said the Howard's attorney was not willing to make arrangements for them
to meet the parents and view the baby. DSS went to the Howard home and found
nobody there. Neil received several unidentified hang-up calls at work. Police
and DSS went to search the grandparent's house. There was a warrant for the
DSS claims they went to
Lowell District Court and obtained custody of the baby. DSS did not have the
name, date of birth or the correct sex of the child, but they still claim they
obtained custody from Judge Neil Walker. A letter from DSS informed the
Howards that they went to court and obtained custody. "Please bring
your newborn son to the DSS office."
Hearing in Framingham
regarding court appointed doctor for Heidi. The couple feared they might be
arrested, yet they attended. They were served with a subpoena to appear on
February 5 in Lowell District Court. A court report in Framingham says that
Heidi is on medication. DSS uses that later to tell a judge she is "on
Neil's parents get an attorney and apply for guardianship of baby Jessica.
Grandparents receive guardianship of baby Jessica in Middlesex Probate Court.
Neil and Howard are supposed to appear for their 72-hour hearing in Lowell.
The Howards did not appear because their attorney was attempting to get the
arrest warrant stopped now that the grandparents had guardianship.
DSS went to court and challenged the grandparent's guardianship. They pointed
to an honest statement by the grandparents that they will not take the child
away from its nursing mother. The grandparents gave their guarantee of the
child's safety. The judge reversed himself and gave DSS custody of the baby.
The Howards left baby Jessica with their pastor and appeared in court. They
were arrested and shackled until the baby was found by DSS at their pastor's
home. Mass News reported the baby snatching by DSS. The pastor reported
Jessica is a beautiful baby in perfect health and Heidi is a caring mother.
In a hearing the day after the baby was seized, DSS tried to say that Heidi
was "on drugs" and poisoning the baby. The "drugs" however
are a prescribed medication for post partum depression. A psychiatrist
prescribed the medication and different doctors have approved the use and
dosage while she was pregnant and later breast-feeding. They gave Heidi a book
that shows different medicines that are safe to take while pregnant. The
Howards were confident that they have solid evidence to defeat the charges.
DSS charged that baby Jessica's eyes were swollen shut with conjunctivitis
when they seized her. Jessica's pediatrician has agreed to testify that baby
Jessica was in perfect health. The doctor had noted some crusting of the eyes
in the morning and told the Howards that it was normal for a newborn baby to
have this and it could be a blocked tear duct or it could not be developed all
the way. She told Heidi to keep it clean and keep an eye on it. Heidi said
when the baby wakes up, you just wipe it away and she's fine the rest of the
DSS charged that Heidi has an undiagnosed mental illness. Heidi however, has
been diagnosed with a mild form of depression that many mothers have after
giving birth and she has been treated for it.
There was a hearing on
March 2 at Lowell District Court over these latest issues that have been
raised by DSS in an attempt to keep the baby. On March 14, the 72-hour hearing
to remove the child was scheduled to take place. Since DSS claimed they took
baby Jessica based on alleged "past abuse" of the Howard
boys, the parents hope they can use the hearing to prove they have not abused
their sons and fight for all three of their children at once.
To the best of my
knowledge the Howard's nightmare continues today.
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is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month