Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Tape reveals details of custody hearing




Beacon Journal staff writers
May. 03, 2003

When Mary Rowles wanted more time with her daughter two years ago, she called on a county social worker and an Akron police detective to testify that her home was safe.

The hearing in Summit County Domestic Relations Court took place March 14, 2001, to address Mary Rowles' claim that the father was denying her visits with her only daughter. The testimony reveals that despite many complaints, authorities were satisfied with her parenting.

Brady Postlethwaite had custody of his daughter at the time and had asked the court that the girl's visits with Rowles be supervised.

Postlethwaite had grown increasingly worried about stories his daughter was telling when she returned from visits with Rowles.

The girl would describe how Rowles, with partner Alice Jenkins, punished her five young boys.

Rowles represented herself in the initial hearing, which usually is a short affair without testimony.

However, Rowles told Magistrate Deborah Matz that she had two witnesses waiting outside that she planned to question regarding her fitness as a mother.

In the official court audiotape of the hearing, which Judge John P. Quinn played Friday for the Akron Beacon Journal, Rowles calls to the stand the caseworker who investigated abuse allegations at her home the previous year:

``When you came out to the home, did you find anything of disruption or anything that would cause you to feel that the children in the home were not safe because of me or because of my partner, Alice Jenkins?'' Rowles asked caseworker Amy Vierheller of the Summit County Children Services Board.

Vierheller: ``No, I did not.''

During cross-examination by Postlethwaite's attorney, Gary Rosen, Vierheller testified she was told to investigate an abuse allegation that CSB received April 13, 2000. She visited the Rowles home on April 25 and spoke on the phone several times with the Postlethwaites.

Then she visited the Postlethwaites' home and interviewed the girl on Aug. 19.

``I remember her telling me about being yelled at by Ms. Jenkins,'' said Vierheller, who also testified the girl told her about abuse involving her brothers, then ages 4 to 12.

``With the allegations that... two of the boys being tied to the bed, I remember her talking about that. But at this time I don't recall any conversation we had about the physical abuse,'' said Vierheller, who testified that she followed up by consulting with Akron police detectives.

Rosen asked her to read a letter he received a few days earlier from a clinical psychologist, Robin Tener, who examined the girl at the Postlethwaites' request.

The psychologist said the girl described ``significant physical abuse occurring to two of the children who lived in that home, including her younger half brothers being tied to their beds at night.''

Tener said the girl described how two of the boys were ``deprived of the opportunity to use the bathroom, and were made to sleep in a urine-soaked bed.''

He asked if the case was ever transferred out of Vierheller's department for ongoing services.

Vierheller: ``No.''

Rosen: ``So what role have you been playing on this since August?''

Vierheller: ``I have followed up in regards to the Rowles children, following up with their schooling and with their child guidance counselor to make sure that things are still going OK... .''

Rosen asked her again about the psychologist's observations.

``Does Dr. Tener's letter give you some pause about what contact (the girl) should have with Ms. Rowles?''

``Yes, it does,'' she said.

Then Rowles called her other witness, Akron Police Detective Michael Brown, who testified that he also investigated abuse allegations involving Rowles.

She asked him about the Postlethwaites' complaints.

Brown: ``They have made a lot of police reports. So far, they have all been unfounded. There's like 10 reports here. We haven't been able to substantiate anything.''

Rowles: ``Is it fair to say that you stated that you had to contact them and let them know that another false allegation or police report that they would have charges pressed against them for interference?''

Brown: ``Yup. Spoke with the prosecutor.... ''

The visitation issue was resolved within a few months, ending the Domestic Relations Court's involvement on that case.

Matz signed an order saying that Brady Postlethwaite and his wife had ``previously established a pattern of false reporting'' and that ``such reports are subject to criminal prosecution.''

Court spokeswoman Sue Tucker said the order merely reflected the testimony presented during the hearing and was not the magistrate's opinion.

A CSB spokesperson could not be reached to inquire about Vierheller, or to comment about her testimony.

Akron police also weren't commenting on the earlier case. Akron Police Lt. Sylvia Trundle told reporters Friday at a news conference announcing Rowles' and Jenkins' arrest that police ``stand by previous investigations.''


John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or 1-800-777-7232 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com


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