The Feminist Family Law Movement Fires Back over Holly Collins Case

In my recent blog post Feminist Opponents of Shared Parenting Get It Right in Parental Alienation/Abuse Accusation Case, I wrote:

The Feminist Family Law Movement claims that abusive fathers often employ Parental Alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court. They push for reforms which will make it easier to deny fathers shared custody or visitation rights based on unsubstantiated abuse claims. They also push for laws to exclude evidence of Parental Alienation in family law proceedings.

The FFLM has promoted several cause celebre cases in recent years as a way to garner public sympathy and political support for their agenda. I’ve investigated many of these cases and have found the FFLM’s claims about them to be very inaccurate. I detailed several of these, including the high-profile Genia Shockome and Sadia Loeliger cases, in a co-authored column here.

The most recent of the FFLM’s cause celebres cases is the Holly Collins case. Collins fled to Holland with her two children in 1993, claiming that her husband had abused the children and that she needed to flee to protect them. Last year I appeared on a Fox national TV show with Geraldo Rivera and Jennifer Collins, Holly’s 24-year-old daughter who supports her mother’s version of events. Jennifer Collins claims she’s a victim of her father’s false claims of Parental Alienation.

At the time of the TV show, which can be seen here, I thought it might be another fake case, but I also thought it might well be true. As I’ve said and written numerous times, I’ve never doubted that such cases are possible, though they’re not very common. For example, in my co-authored column Protect Children from Alienation (Providence Journal, 7/8/06), I wrote:

[T]here are fathers who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who attempt to shift the blame to their children”s mothers by falsely claiming PAS. Yet parental alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon. For example, a longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 “high conflict” divorce cases over a 12 year period and found that elements of PAS were present in the vast majority of the cases studied.

…In January I wrote a detailed, 10,000 word analysis of the case which cited all of the case’s key court records, documents, etc. This analysis can be found here.

Upon investigation it became very apparent that what we were told by Holly, Jennifer, and their allies about the Holly Collins case was very inaccurate.

In the post I then discussed the new Joyce Murphy case, wherein a sexually deviant father used false claims of Parental Alienation to wrest custody from a protective parent–exactly as her feminist defenders said.

After the post I have again (sigh) been vilified by radicals in the Feminist Family Law Movement. Below are some of the claims made against me, along with my response to them:

You whore our tax dollars by the way of grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the organization you are with, Fathers & Families, that collects millions to spew your propaganda and fund fathers in custody battles. There is a financial incentive for you and Ned Holstein to whine about “false allegations’ and your need to fight them.

Actually, Fathers & Families does not and has not ever collected one dime of tax dollars–we are supported entirely by contributions from our members and supporters. As a national 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization founded in 1998, all of our financial information is publicly available on the Internet. The fact that our opponents would publicly and repeatedly issue such a completely false statement with such certainty speaks volumes about their credibility.

In speaking of the TV show where Jennifer Collins and I appeared, our opponents write:

Yes, and it wasn”t one of your prouder moments, was it?…You actually admitted to Dr. Silberg and Geraldo Rivera that some fathers probably do use so-called “parental alienation’ as an excuse. Then Jennifer spoke up, and the audience and moderators gasped when she told of her brother”s skull being broken by their custodial dad (who would violently beat their mother Holly).

“Actually admitted” is an interesting way of putting it–for years I have stated clearly and unequivocally that there are fathers who employ false allegations of Parental Alienation in custody battles, just as mothers (and sometimes fathers) employ false abuse allegations. My opponents in the TV debate denied that Parental Alienation exists, which is an intellectually indefensible position. It absolutely does exist and is a major problem–that doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes misused.

Regarding Jennifer telling the audience that her father broke her brother’s skull, this claim has been debunked–the injury was sustained by Zachary when he fell forward on a ride in an amusement park. Holly Collins sued the amusement park for the injury and obtained a $50,000 financial award from the park on Zachary’s behalf. Moreover, Holly did not make this accusation of abuse in her court filings during the custody dispute in 1991 & 1992, several years after the alleged incident. To learn more, click here and go to “Problem #3” with Holly Collins’ version of events.

Our opponents write:

After the show, you put out an All Points Bulletin to your cult to have people investigate Jennifer and Holly Collins

Actually, what I wrote was this:

I don’t know the details of the case and have no position as to whether Holly Collins is telling the truth or not…would anybody (or group of two or three people) like to investigate the Collins case for me? To be clear, I do NOT want people who will go in with the intent of proving Holly Collins to be a liar and Jennifer deluded–I want the truth, whichever way it falls. If you find that what Holly and Jennifer claim happened is true, I will make it clear that this is your finding. I will publish your results here on my blog with full credit to you if you wish.

That certainly seems more than fair to me. I ended up investigating the case myself and presenting my findings here.

Many times during the public debate of this issue, Holly Collins, Jennifer Collins, and their supporters have implied that I have somehow invaded the Collins’ privacy by investigating their case. However, they were the ones who repeatedly went on national TV with the details of their case–it’s beyond ludicrous to then claim “privacy” when someone subsequently decides to question their version of events.

Our opponents write:

What the hell makes you an investigative expert? What are your qualifications and methodology?

Thanks, but I’m (among other things) an investigative journalist whose columns have been published several hundred times in top 100 newspapers. I’m more than qualified to investigate the court records of a family law case.

Our opponents write:

You are effectively calling people liars publicly, I hope you are insured against defamation.

I’ve been writing about these issues and types of cases for almost a decade and have never been sued once, for defamation or anything else–remember, truth is a defense. If Holly or her supporters would like to sue me, you can serve us with papers at our public offices in Boston.

Our opponents write that on the Joyce Murphy case I was “caught with my pants down,” implying that I had written about the case before or had some stake in it. Not at all–I had never heard of the Joyce Murphy case until a week ago.

When I saw it, I recognized that this was a case where an abusive father used false claims of Parental Alienation to cover for his abuse, and I said so. In all my media work I follow a simple rule–when your opponents are correct, say so, and when they’re incorrect, say so. In this case they were correct.

Jennifer Collins has now entered the fray with her new post Glenn Sacks & his followers conceal child abuse (pictured). Jennifer writes:

They just don”t stop! Do they? I just received this message a few minutes ago:

“How do you explain that the fractured skull happened at an amusement park in 1987, and that Holly Collins sued the amusement park for the injury and obtained a $50,000 financial award from the park?”


1996 – The amusement park accident was in 1996. The medical records clearly state “NO BROKEN BONES!” My mother and father didn”t have to sue the amusement park because they offered a settlement to the accident victims. There was a court appointed trustee who had to approve the settlement because it was an injury to a minor child caused by negligence on public property. You can be sure that if a child”s skull was fractured because of a defected amusement park ride, the settlement would have been extremely higher. The money was put into a trust fund for my brother. The money was his not my parents!

1997 – My father beat up my brother and my mother in July 1997. That is when he broke the bone in my brother”s skull! Because of this abuse Child Protection became involved and told my mother that if she didn”t take us and leave our father she could be charged with “failure to protect.’

This is a clear example of how my father, Glenn Sacks and other father”s rights groups are distorting the facts and trying to conceal the truth!

There are a few obvious problems with what Jennifer wrote:

1) By all accounts, including Jennifer’s and Holly’s, Holly kidnapped Jennifer and her brother Zachary in March of 1994, and neither of them (nor Holly) has seen their father since. Jennifer’s claim that “My father beat up my brother and my mother in July 1997” is not possible. It’s not a typo, since the 1997 date jibes with the rest of the post–in fact, it’s one of the main points of the post.

2) Jennifer writes “Get your facts straight–the amusement park accident was in 1996.” Well, the legal settlement between the Park and Holly over Zachary’s injury dated 10/15/90 states:

“[O]n or about May 10, 1986, the plaintiff Holly Collins and her minor child Zachary were at the Canobie Lake amusement park…Zachary Collins was injured while riding on a ‘kiddie ride’ identified as the ‘junior turnpikes sports car’ ride.

To see the legal settlement between the Park and Holly over Zachary’s injury, see page 4 of the document here.

The FFLM wants to eliminate evidence of Parental Alienation from family law cases and terminate all presumptions of joint custody/shared parenting. They use these cases to drum up public and legislative support for this agenda. From the moment I wrote up my analysis of each of these three cases–Loeliger (here), Shockome (here), and Collins (here)–not one of these previously prominent cases has received even a small bit of mainstream media attention. Loeliger was originally featured in a documentary on PBS, and the film’s producers were forced to publicly apologize to father Scott Loeliger for misrepresenting the case.

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