“I TOLD HER THAT MY SON WAS ENDANGERED, BUT SHE JUST DISMISSED IT”
by Sharon Rondeau
The California Superior Court encompasses Family Court matters consisting of divorce and child-custody arrangements.
One of the women who recently spoke with us, “Irene,” detailed Veasey’s statements in court which appear to her to be arbitrary, not in the best interest of her child, and favor her ex-husband for no apparent reason. Irene’s claims as to Veasey’s statements are supported by court transcripts she provided.
A second mother who we will call “Melissa” recently spoke with us and detailed a long and unpleasant history with Veasey which included her children being allowed to be in the presence of a domestic abuser and, more recently, her son to be given drugs by his father.
Melissa’s divorce was initiated in early 2010, with Veasey presiding over all of her divorce and custody hearings. “The tone was always immature and unprofessional,” Melissa said. “It seemed she wanted drama in the court and threw her weight around because she was in power. She is the only commissioner we saw the whole time. I attempted to get a different commissioner, but it’s very difficult to do because the other party has to agree to the change. Since my ex disagreed with everything, it never happened.”
Melissa said that when she divorced, her children were 11 and 10 years old. “I didn’t want him to have any overnights,” she said of her ex, “because he is a tattooer. At the time we first got divorced, he was living in a very small studio apartment, with everything in one room. Then I found out that he was tattooing in the apartment with the kids there and on the actual bed that the kids were sleeping on. I went there, and the laundry was everywhere; it was very dirty, and I said, ‘I don’t want the kids there.'”
Melissa said her ex-husband was a licensed tattoo artist. However, she took action after making the discovery. “When I found out, I called CPS anonymously. They went out and determined that it was ‘safe’ as long as their father agreed not to tattoo while the kids were there,” she said. However, there was no way to enforce the requirement that he not perform tattooing in the presence of the children.
When Melissa as a result tried to have her children’s custody arrangement changed, she said that Veasey said in court, “No, we’re still going to give him overnights and 20% custody.”
“The next situation that came up was the kids’ dad’s girlfriend at the time physically attacked me in front of the kids,” Melissa continued. She said that the unfortunate incident came about after she found her children unattended in a restaurant with a bar on her ex-husband’s visitation day, which happened to be a holiday.
“We have a lot of mutual friends,” Melissa explained. “It was July 4th weekend, and he has them for the weekends and holidays. He was supposed to go to a family friend’s house for a barbecue with them, but he ended up taking them to a bar where our friend’s dad was playing (music). It’s a bar that serves food, so kids are allowed there, but it’s still not a great place for kids to be.
“I happened to be at the same place with some friends. My ex and his girlfriend had left the kids alone, and I went over to where they were sitting to see if they wanted food. They didn’t have anything. I asked if they wanted anything to drink or eat, and they said, ‘Yes.’ So I ordered the food, paid for it, and brought it over. That had to have taken at least a half-hour. Then my ex and his girlfriend came in. I don’t know what they were doing or where they were.
“I was there sitting with the kids and when they came in, I said to him, ‘I thought you were taking them to a barbecue. Why are they in this bar? Where were you guys? It’s been a half-hour and they were just sitting here by themselves.’ I wasn’t giving him a hard time, but they shouldn’t have been there.
“If it had been me, I would have taken them to a fun, family-style barbecue at their grandfather’s or somewhere,” Melissa told The Post & Email. “When I was explaining this to their dad, his girlfriend came up behind me and punched me and I fell onto the floor.”
When we asked Melissa if she pressed charges against the woman, she said, “Yes. The day of the incident I was in shock; I was in tears, and we all were thrown out of the place. I didn’t know what to do; it was the Fourth of July. Did I go to the police station and ruin the kids’ Fourth of July? I ended up going the next day and filed a complaint and ended up getting a restraining order against her. I wanted it to include the kids, but since she only hit me, they didn’t put them on it.
“I was hoping that if I explained to Veasey what happened, she would see that this was a very unsafe environment that their dad was creating again,” Melissa said. “But there was no judgment made to protect them; they were still allowed to stay there overnight, 80-20.
“About six months after that, their dad was homeless, so he couldn’t take the kids overnight. So I thought, ‘Good, I’ll keep them safe.’ But then he got a place after about six months and brought it back to court to get the custody again.
“I gave the kids cell phones, but I was just hoping and praying every time they went there that they didn’t get hurt,” Melissa continued. “But about a year after that, he and his girlfriend got into a domestic dispute when the kids were there. The police were called, and my ex and his girlfriend went to jail. The police called us, and my new husband and I went to go pick up the kids. They were traumatized, and it was really bad.
“They got out of jail, and the judgment remained that he was able to have the kids overnight. At that point, they were almost teenagers and he had broken up with the girlfriend. He doesn’t make the best choices, but the girlfriend was clearly crazy. So when she was out of the picture, I thought, ‘He’s going to be drunk, but at least the kids are not going to be in the middle of a domestic violence incident.’ I had to let it go and let them spend the night over there,” she said.
“When they were 14 and 15, they decided they had had enough of my rules,” Melissa recalled. “Their dad had spoken negatively about me and said I was trying to keep them from him. So they became physical with me, mostly my son. Once I was home alone and he got very mad because I had grounded him, so he started taking my things out of my room and throwing them into the street. I ended up calling the police because I was there by myself. My daughter at that time was kind-of siding with my son.
“By that time my husband had come home. There was no report filed, but I said to the kids, ‘If you guys really want to go live with your dad, go for it.’ I wasn’t going to stand in their way.
In California, children of divorced parents can decide with which parent they wish to live once they reach the age of 14.
Melissa then related a positive turn of events with one of her children. “About three months later, my daughter came back home,” she said. “I would say she came to her senses because her dad’s house is a free-for-all. But my son wanted to stay there. He and his father would get into physical fights, and then my son would run home to me and then go back there.”
The worse, however, was yet to come, Melissa said. “Between those times, about a year later, my son was using my phone, and that’s when I found all the photos of his dad giving him drugs. I told Veasey that my son was endangered, but she just dismissed it. She didn’t even address it.”
Melissa believes that her son is likely a habitual drug-user now. Still 16, he has two more years of high school before graduation.
“There’s a lawyer I know who said that she’s seen Veasey’s work and doesn’t know how she’s still there,” Melissa remarked. “She’s like a sickness in the system. I don’t know where her logic comes from. It seems that if the father wants any involvement at all, even if he is a sick individual, he gets it. I was going for visitations during the day or having someone else supervise, but Veasey just ignored it.”
Melissa recalled that there was one order Veasey gave which she considered positive: “reunification therapy,” which consisted of “mandatory counseling” for mother and son. Melissa said that she saw the order as Veasey’s having “thrown her a bone” in the midst of consistently unfavorable and unwise decisions regarding her children’s safety.
Melissa’s children are now 16 and 17, and her daughter continues to reside with her. She said that no additional hearings are scheduled. “At this point, I’m going with the ruling,” she told us. “I told my son I’m not going to go again in front of the court unless there’s some crazy evidence that shows he is endangered. I prayed about it, and I want safety for my son, but he’s going to be 17, and maybe he has to make his mistakes. I’m trying to salvage that little bit of relationship I have with him so that when he turns 18, we’re still talking. I know if I do anything else, he will just write me off.”
Melissa said that because her son disliked the first counseling session, she invited him to attend church with her, which he often does. She has also networked with other divorced women who have voiced similar complaints about Veasey.
In looking back, however, Melissa said that when she and her ex were married, she was too compliant with an “angry” and “emotionally abusive” man. “I didn’t provide the most normal, healthy environment,” she said. “I didn’t know how sick it was until I was out of it.”
Melissa said that although it is unlikely that another hearing will take place on her children’s behalf, she is speaking out to bring awareness to judicial misconduct in Torrance. “I don’t want any more families to go through what I’ve gone through,” she said. “I really want to prevent more corruption with more families.”