Bergen County, NJ Prosecutor Goes to Bat Against Innocent Dad

January 19, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Only last Friday, I wrote these words: “It’s not unusual to find the criminal justice system utilized against one parent or another in family court.” That was the lead-in to a piece about the latest developments in the Vladek Filler case. I could say the same about this one (Bergen Dispatch, 1/15/15).

Indeed, this latest case bears strong resemblance to Filler’s. As in the Filler case, there are false allegations of sexual abuse made by the mother of a child against the father; they’re made for the purpose of removing the father from the child’s life; there’s no evidence to substantiate the charges, but the police and prosecutors act on behalf of the mother; but ultimately her claims are revealed to be false and the father is released.

The New Jersey case involves Damian Kazazian and Shirley Gonclaves, a Brazilian national, who have a five-year-old daughter. The two have had a tempestuous relationship over the years, highlighted by Gonclaves stabbing Kazazian in 2010. Apparently that incident was insufficient to land her in prison, meaning she was free to continue her assault on Kazazian. This time she wised up and, instead of becoming the target of police and prosecutors, used them against him.

Last April, she told Kazazian she wanted to take their daughter to Brazil. She presented him with legal documents for him to sign giving her permission to do so. Fearing he’d never see his child again, Kazazian refused to sign, at which point Gonclaves threatened to tell police he’d sexually abused their daughter. Kazazian still refused and Gonclaves was as good as her word.

He was arrested and charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was ordered to jail in lieu of $250,000 bond which he was apparently unable to raise, meaning he’s been behind bars ever since.

Meanwhile, the police and prosecutors were hard about the task of destroying his reputation with this press release:

On April 17, 2014, members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Victims Unit, and the Hackensack Police Department arrested Damian Kazazian after learning that he engaged in inappropriate sexual activity on several occasions with a five (5) year old female acquaintance. The child was brought by her mother to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, at which time a staff member learned of the situation and notified the Special Victims Unit. The child was later brought to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in Paramus, where she was forensically interviewed by a detective from the Special Victims Unit. During that interview, the child confirmed to the detective in greater detail what she had previously disclosed to her mother. The ensuing investigation resulted in the arrest of Mr. Kazazian.

Kazazian was charged with one (1) count of Aggravated Sexual Assault and one (1) count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Bail for Kazazian was set by Judge Mary Thurber, J.S.C., at $250,000.00 with no 10% option and no contact with the victim and/or mother. Mr. Kazazian was subsequently remanded to the Bergen County Jail in lieu of bail.

Notice that, according to the press release, Kazazian was already guilty as charged; “he engaged in inappropriate sexual activity…” To prosecutors, those weren’t allegations, they were facts. And note that the girl was an “acquaintance,” not his flesh-and-blood daughter. But notice especially that “the child confirmed to the detective in greater detail what she had previously disclosed to her mother.” Apparently, the little girl had been very clear and specific in confirming sexual abuse by Kazazian.

But the press release omitted one or two minor facts that, had they been included, would probably have left a very different impression with readers. To its great credit, the Bergen Dispatch details those omissions.

What the Prosecutor’s office does not say in the statement to the press is that the ‘five (5) year old female acquaintance’ was Kazazian daughter and that the Mother, Shirley Goncalves was arrested in 2010 and charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for agedly stabbing Kazazian…

The Prosecutor’s office also omitted that according the hospital report, “when asked the child did not allege any inappropriate touching” or that a representative of the Division of Youth and Family Services did not agree with the detective from the Special Victims Unit who claimed that “the child confirmed to the detective in greater detail what she had previously disclosed to her mother”.

In short, faced with a mother who claimed a father had sexually abused his daughter and a child who denied the whole thing, plus an entire absence of any physical evidence, the police and prosecutors arrested Kazazian anyway and a judge set bail high enough that he couldn’t free himself. Then, just to gild the lily, the police issued a press release substantially altering the facts of the case to make Kazazian appear guilty.

But even that wasn’t good enough for the police and prosecutors of Bergen County. You see, Kazazian didn’t go quietly. He told them all about Gonclaves’ attempt to extort his consent for her and the child to move to Brazil. But that too fell on deaf ears. No, naked allegations, with no corroboration and the denials of the child and the father, were enough for District Attorney John L. Molinelli to keep Kazazian behind bars.

Police and prosecutors were content to ignore the requirements of probable cause before charging Kazazian, but it turned out there was a hitch to their plan to send him to prison and deprive him of his child and she of him. It seems that, if a private citizen in New Jersey makes a complaint of criminal wrongdoing, law enforcement officials are required by law to bring charges, again if there’s probable cause to do so.

So Kazazian submitted his information to them about Gonclaves’ false allegations, attempt at extortion, etc. But, despite the requirements of the law, the police and the District Attorney ignored his claims.

Despite a lack of physical evidence, lack of a credible witness, a history of violent behavior between the accuser and the suspect and statements by Kazazian about extortion and threats made by Gonclaves, the Bergen County Prosecutor arrested Kazazian and released the misleading details to the press, including Kazazian’s mug shot.

If that’s not an anti-dad agenda, I don’t know what is.

But the whole thing fell apart, when Kazazian presented his information to a municipal judge last October.

On Wednesday, Judge Roy F. McGeady, the presiding municipal judge for Bergen County, found probable cause to charge Shirley Gonclaves, 44, of Bergenfield with seven criminal counts of Extortion and Coercion and one disorderly persons offense of Harassment.

The finding was made after Damian Kazazian filed a complaint claiming that Gonclaves threatened Mr. Kazazian. The complaint states Gonclaves told Kazazian that if he did not pay her $55,000.00 and sign papers allowing her to take their 5 year old daughter to Brazil, that she would file false criminal charges against him for sexually touching their child.

Judge McGeady, it seems, takes the law a bit more seriously than does the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

Even so, it was only last week, three months later, that the BCPO dropped charges against Kazazian. I guess they wanted him to suffer as long as possible.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has agreed to drop all charges against Damian Kazazian, a Hackensack man that was charged with for inappropriate sexual activity with 5 year old girl. The girl turned out to be Kazazian’s daughter and the complaint was made by the girl’s mother who is now charged with criminal coercion, extortion and harassment, according to Kazazian’s attorney.

After hearing the evidence presented by Douglas C. Anton, Esq, Kazazian’s attorney, the BCPO dismissed all charges against Kazazian before the case went to grand jury.

That’s amazing in and of itself. Kazazian’s been in jail since last April and the DA never presented the case to a grand jury? Again, the anti-dad animus couldn’t get much clearer.

That brings us up to date, but several important issues remain unresolved. First of course is what will happen to Gonclaves. She’s previously committed aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Kazazian, so you’d think she’d be in for some prison time. We’ll see.

Second, there’s the issue of child custody. Kazazian did nothing wrong and Gonclaves is obviously a violent person who’s willing to lie and violate numerous laws to remove the father from a child’s life. But we’ve seen before that that doesn’t necessarily mean he gets custody. Again, we’ll see.

Finally, will Kazazian do what Vladek Filler recently did? Will he sue the BCPO for its enthusiastic support for Gonclaves’ numerous legal violations in the service of destroying Kazazian’s reputation and relationship with his daughter? What about the libel and defamation contained in the press release? From where I sit, he should.


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#falseallegations, #childcustody, #non-custodialfather, #parentalalienation, #extortion

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