The Holly Collins custody/parental abduction case is perhaps the most prominent custody case in the media at this moment. Holly Collins and her supporters among domestic violence and feminist advocates assert that the case demonstrates that family courts are biased against battered women and favor abusive men. Below I take a look at the evidence in the case.
Holly Collins and Mark Collins had two children, Zachary (born April, 1983) and Jennifer (born May, 1985), before getting divorced in 1990. After the divorce, there was a highly contentious custody battle, during which Holly Collins repeatedly alleged that Mark Collins had abused both her and the children. Holly Collins moved the children to Massachusetts in 1991 but the court found that she was denying Mark Collins’ contact with the children and ordered that they return to Minneapolis in June, 1992.
Mark Collins claimed that Holly was interfering and obstructing his relationship with his children, and attempting to alienate the children from him. Holly Collins drew support from the Minneapolis domestic violence community, and the case drew considerable media attention. During this period, the case’s custody evaluators noted “in response to routine questions about custodial plans, Holly stated ‘I’ll make the biggest media circus out of this if I have to. I’ll do whatever it takes if Mark gets custody.'”
Hennepin County Family Court services found that Holly Collins suffers from multiple mental disorders, including Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), where a parent invents, induces or exaggerates medical symptoms in a child. Hennepin County Family Court Services and the Guardian ad Litem in the case recommended that Mark Collins be granted legal and physical custody of the children and that Holly Collins have supervised visitation.
In December of 1992, Minnesota Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis found “the evidence is overwhelming that the children are at great physical and emotional risk if the children remained in Holly Collins’ care” and awarded custody of the then-9 and 7-year-old children to Mark Collins. To read the Court’s ruling, see document #12 here.
After the custody switch, Holly Collins claimed that Zachary and Jennifer were being severely abused by Mark Collins and his wife Rena, and that the children’s health was in danger because of Mark Collins’ alleged lack of concern over their alleged medical issues. In an April, 1993 report to the Court, Guardian ad Litem Michael J. London describes the children’s state as being exactly the opposite of what Holly Collins claimed. In the report, he wrote:
Since the change in custody on December 22, 1992, I visited with the children on three occasions; attended a doctor’s appointment with the children’s allergist, Dr. Blum; spoken with the children’s pediatrician; met with Dr. Cline and Dr. Davis; spoken with Dr. Cline on numerous occasions; met with the children’s schoolteachers; spoken with the mother of one of Zachary’s friends; spoken with Mr. Collins and Ms. Learmonth [Holly Collins’ attorney] several times; met with court services and child protection and reviewed substantial amounts of written material. My observations in discussions with those involved reveal two happy children who have adjusted very well to the change in custody.
To read London’s report, see document number #26 here.
The Minnesota Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s award of custody to Mark Collins in March of 1994. The Court of Appeal noted that “the children have adjusted well to the new custody arrangement” in Mark Collins’ care and that “the children’s health has improved.”
The court said that Holly Collins’ accusations that Mark Collins and his current wife were abusing the children were “found to be without substance,” and that the lower court’s finding that Holly Collins’ care “endangered [the children’s] physical and emotional health” was “supported by evidence in the record.”
According to Judge Davis, Michael London, Esq., the Guardian ad Litem in the case, said that Holly Collins appeared to be “therapist shopping” to find a therapist who would support her version of events in the case. The Court of Appeal noted that the record supports the lower court’s finding that Holly Collins “suffers from a personality disorder.” To read the Court of Appeal’s ruling, see document #13 here.
Judges ruling on the case at various levels repeatedly found that Holly Collins tried to interfere with Mark Collins’ relationship with his children and alienate them from him. For example, in February 1992, Judge Steven C. Lange and Referee Marybeth Dorn found that “the children’s emotional and psychological health may be harmed if they continue in the physical care of the respondent [Holly Collins], if she continues to alienate them from the petitioner [Mark Collins] and deny visitation.” In March, 1994 the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s ruling in December of 1992, explaining that the trial court’s findings “reflect mother’s chronic and unreasonable failure to comply with court ordered visitation.” The Court of Appeal also upheld a lower court’s finding that Holly Collins had “instilled fear of father in both children.”
After the Court of Appeal denied Holly Collins’ appeal for a custody switch from Mark Collins to Holly Collins in March of 1994, Holly Collins kidnapped Zachary and Jennifer (along with her baby Christopher, fathered by Jeff Imm), and took all three children to Holland. Holly, who was sought by the FBI for the kidnapping, claimed that her ex-husband Mark Collins was severely abusing the children and that she needed to flee to protect them.
According to the Minneapolis City Pages, which has published numerous articles sympathetic to Holly Collins, in 2008, the “felony kidnapping charges were dropped in exchange for Holly Collins pleading to a lesser charge…She was sentenced to unsupervised probation for one year, or until she completes 40 hours of community service, which she plans to serve in the Netherlands.”
Jennifer Collins, Holly’s now 25-year-old daughter who was kidnapped from her father’s custody while a young child and then alienated from him by Holly, supports her mother, and has presented her side of the story in the media. Holly Collins has also garnered widespread sympathy from domestic violence and feminist advocacy organizations, including: the Center for Judicial Excellence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Network Against Domestic Violence, the Battered Mothers Custody Conference; The Leadership Council; the California Protective Parents Association; the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma; Women’s eNews; and others.
Jennifer and Holly were interviewed by Inside Edition and Jennifer Collins appeared on a Fox News TV show last fall, explaining “My father was always abusive. He broke my brothers skull when he was 4. [He ended up getting custody] because he used Parental Alienation Syndrome.”
Jennifer, Holly, and their allies in the domestic violence and feminist advocacy community believe that Holly Collins lost her court case in part because Mark Collins made false accusations of parental alienation, and have cited Holly’s case as a prominent example of why parental alienation is “junk science.”
Since Collins resurfaced in 2008 I have not seen any newspaper, radio or TV reporter or commentator take a close look at the record in the Holly Collins case. I have done so, and there are many problems with Holly Collins’ version of the events in her case. Below I list and discuss some of them, and provide links to documentation.
Problem #1–For decades Holly Collins has made accusations of abuse against a wide variety of people.
Those whom Holly has accused of varying degrees of abuse include:
1) Holly’s mother Eleanor Gallagher, who she accused of beating her
2) Holly’s stepfather Tom Gallagher, who she accused of molesting her
3) Robert Connors, Holly’s former landlord in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1992. Holly had a dispute with Connors over rent, a dispute which Connors won, and Holly accused Connors of abuse.
4) Holly’s neighbors in Holland. Accusing Jaap Hogewoning and others, Collins claims that she and her children were “terrorized and physically assaulted by this neighbor, his family and his friends.”
5) Mark Collins, Holly’s ex-husband and father of Zachary and Jennifer
6) Rena Peters (aka “Rena Collins”), Mark Collins’ wife, who Holly accused of hitting her with her car
7) Jeff Imm, father of Holly’s third child, Christopher. Holly claims that Jeff emotionally abused their child.
8) Beth Imm, Jeff’s wife. Holly claims that Beth emotionally abused their child.
9) Her former brother-in law, her sister Michelle’s ex-husband.
According to Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis, in a private in camera meeting with Holly Collins, Holly “described a history of abuse which started when she was a child and continued throughout her marriage.”
Problem #2–Holly Collins has repeatedly made accusations of domestic violence or child abuse to a variety of courts, and courts have continually rejected her claims.
As a general rule, when requests for Protection/Restraining Orders based on accusations of domestic violence or abuse are made, courts have a pronounced tendency to “err on the side of caution” by granting the orders. Child protective services often have the same tendency. However, Holly Collins’ repeated requests for protection/restraining orders based on her allegations of abuse have been continually rejected by courts, and her allegations of child abuse against Mark Collins have been continually rejected by child protective services. These include:
a) October 1988–Holly Collins alleges that her mother, Eleanor Gallagher, assaulted her. The court rejected this, marking it “exceptionally cleared.”
b) December 1990–Holly Collins alleges her then-husband Mark Collins abused her and seeks restraining order. The Court dismissed this.
c) December, 1990 –Holly seeks a temporary restraining order against Rena Peters (aka Rena Collins), Mark Collins’ wife, alleging that Rena assaulted her. Dismissed
d) April, 1991–Holly reports Mark Collins to child protective services for alleged child abuse. Dismissed.
e) July, 1991–Holly reports Mark Collins to child protective services for alleged child abuse. Dismissed.
f) September, 1991 — Holly again files for restraining order against her mother, Eleanor Gallagher, alleging that her mother abused her. Dismissed.
g) December, 1991 — Holly again files for restraining order against her mother, Eleanor Gallagher, alleging that her mother abused her. Judge orders Gallagher to file her own abuse petition against Holly Collins, which is granted. Mutual restraining orders expire in May of 1992.
h) August, 1992 — Holly Collins alleges that Mark Collins was stalking her in Minnesota, including peeking in the windows and frightening Holly and the children. According to Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis, “there was no substantiation of claim.”
i) August, 1992–Holly files child abuse charges against Mark with child protection services. Dismissed.
j) October, 1993–Holly files child abuse charges against Mark with child protection services. Dismissed.
To view the court dispositions of a few of these rejected accusations, see document #14 here. Like any litigant, Holly was able to get temporary emergency restraining orders, but these orders were continually rejected and dismissed by the courts at the subsequent hearings.
Problem #3–Holly Collins has repeatedly accused Mark Collins of fracturing their son Zachary’s skull in a violent rage. At the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in January, 2011 she said that Zachary got the skull fracture while trying to protect her from Mark Collins’ attacks.
This is fictitious. The principal skull injury sustained by Zachary was when he fell forward on a ride in an amusement park. Holly Collins took legal action against the amusement park for the injury and obtained a $50,000 settlement from the park on Zachary’s behalf.
The following year Zachary re-injured his head when he fell out of a shopping cart, as documented by the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology.
The “skull fracture”claims against Mark are a relatively recent invention–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.
Holly Collins accused ex-husband Mark Collins of having fractured their son Zachary’s skull in 1987, both in her bid for refugee status in Holland in 1994 and numerous times since. Jennifer Collins made this accusation at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference, and makes it several times on her website, as well as in letters to me. In December 2008, Jennifer wrote:
“My father fractured the bones [in] my brother”s skull by slamming him into the wall one night when my brother tried to stop him from beating our mom. I have even posted the medical records of my 4-year-old brother’s fractured skull from 1987.”
Zachary sustained a head injury during an accident at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire in 1986. The legal settlement between the Park and Holly over Zachary”s injury 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.
“As the ride came to halt, the minor child fell forward hitting his head on the inside of the car in which he was riding. Plaintiff Zachary Collins suffered an acute head trauma resulting in severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blackouts.”
To see the legal settlement between the Park and Holly over Zachary’s injury, see document #1 here and document #2 here. According to the court document, “total payments to be made [to Zachary for the injury] equals $50,000.00.”
Holly and Jennifer have posted selected parts of an apparent 1987 medical report on Zachary’s injury on the Internet. There are several problems with Holly’s version of these events:
a) In a September 9, 1987 letter, Reno E. Backus, M.D. of the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology explains “the present complaints relate to the accident that occurred…at Canobe Lake Park, rather than the head injury that occurred in July, 1987, when he fell from a shopping cart, even though he apparently suffered a skull fracture with this secondary injury.” Backus’ letter is document # 32 here.
b) Holly Collins says Mark Collins fractured Zachary’s skull in 1987, but Holly Collins does not make this claim in her June, 1991 legal petition to move the children’s residence to from Minnesota to Massachusetts. Instead, she only alleges that Mark has ignored the children’s medical needs, a claim which was later discredited. To read this court order, see document #27 here (see finding #7).
c) There is no evidence that Holly made this claim during Mark Collins’ request for a custody change in early 1992. In her February 28, 1992 court order, the only reference Referee Marybeth Dorn makes to allegations of abuse regards alleged medical neglect–“The respondent [Holly Collins] continues to make allegations that the petitioner [Mark Collins] provides a dangerous environment for the children during periods of visitation. All of the respondent’s current representations have been repeatedly addressed by this Court on numerous occasions. It appears in the children experience significant medical difficulties when they are in the respondent’s care, not the petitioner’s.” To read this court order, see document #28 here.
d) During the five-day custody trial before Minnesota Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis there was no reference or record of Holly Collins alleging that Mark Collins fractured Zachary’s skull. To read the Court’s ruling, see document #12 here.
e) There is no record of any of the doctors who saw Zachary Collins for his 1987 skull injury reporting it to Child Protective Services, even though all physicians in this situation were mandated reporters.
Problem #4–Dr. David W. Cline, M.D. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who is Board Certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was Zachary and Jennifer Collins’ psychiatrist during the latter part of the Collins’ marriage. The children resumed their therapy with Dr. Cline in 1992 until they were kidnapped by Holly Collins in l994. Cline’s findings in the case contradict Holly Collins’ version of events on a wide range of issues. According to Dr. Cline:
“[U]pon repeated and thorough investigation, Hennepin County Family Court services found that there was no evidence for physical or sexual abuse, which was also confirmed by child protection who investigated numerous complaints [from Holly Collins] that abuse had occurred.”
“In December of 1992 Judge [Michael J.] Davis reversed custody to Mark Collins. His findings that Holly was overprotective and potentially dangerous to the children’s well-being was substantiated by multiple reports, testimony, and evidence gathered by the court during this extensive hearing.”
“After Judge Davis made the decision to put legal and physical custody with Mark Collins… the children were seen regularly [by me] with Mark and Rena Collins. They rapidly accepted this decision and engaged in building of a relationship that was harmonious, joyous, and health producing. The particulars of this relationship as it further developed in 1993 are documented in my progress notes. The children’s behavior in school continues to improve and they finished the school year missing very few days and with good marks in contrast to frequently missing school because of alleged illnesses [while living with Holly Collins] prior to the change of custody.”
“During the course of 1993 and 1994 Holly Collins made frequent accusations that the children were being maltreated. Investigation of these items by me and others found them to be false…”
“[Zachary and Jennifer Collins] remain happy and well-adjusted in the care of Mark and Rena Collins and especially enjoyed the relationship with their grandmother, Eleanor Gallagher, who they saw frequently.”
“Their abduction on June 30, 1994 by their mother, Holly Collins, is likely to produce disruption and emotional turmoil of a moderate to severe degree judging from the response that occurred when under Holly’s care previously.”
To read Dr. Cline’s findings, see document #3 here.
Problem #5–After the custody switch, Guardian ad Litem Michael J. London extensively investigated the children’s situation, interviewing a wide variety of concerned parties, including the children’s allergist, pediatrician, and other doctors, the children’s schoolteachers, the mother of one of Zachary’s friends, and court services and child protection. London’s investigation found “happy children who have adjusted very well to the change in custody.” While Holly Collins has repeatedly accused both Mark Collins and Rena Collins of being cruel and abusive to Zachary and Jennifer, London found a warm, loving relationship between the children and their father and stepmother.
In an April, 1993 report to the Court, London wrote:
The children appeared quite comfortable in both their conversations and physical touching with Mark and Rena. While children sought assistance from either adult without preference, it was interesting to note that although Rena Collins was uncomfortable due to a pregnancy, she allowed Jennifer to sit on her lap. The situation was handled with kindness and affection by Rena and Jennifer had no understanding of the discomfort she might be causing…
I had the opportunity to meet with the children’s school teachers on March 26, 1993. Zachary’s teacher, Mary Kelly, told me that Zachary appears much more relaxed than earlier in the school year [when he was in Holly’s care]. She finds he laughs and smiles more. She states he used to act out when angry but now acts much more appropriately. He is well-liked by his peers and is sought out by his classmates. He is improving academically and volunteers in class.
She notes that he is receiving help at home with his schoolwork. She specifically pointed out Catholic Theme week. Zachary came dressed each day for the “theme of the day.” She stated that this took some care, thought and preparation, and that he obviously got help from home.
Jennifer’s teacher, Linda Fonstad, relates that Jennifer is a friendly, outspoken and popular child. She is a kind person who is well-liked. She also does well academically and socially.
Both teachers stated that they did not observe any behavior, by either child, which would reveal they were unhappy or mistreated. They also said they have paid particular attention to the children since the article which appeared in the newspaper, and noticed nothing but happy, normal children.
To read London’s report, see document #26 here.
Problem #6–Holly Collins’ 1991 move to Massachusetts helped remove Mark Collins from his children’s lives and put Zachary and Jennifer in harm’s way.
As paraphrased by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the District Court found that the following changes occurred after Holly Collins was allowed to move to Massachusetts with Zachary and Jennifer in 1991:
“the children’s health and well-being have suffered; the older child began demonstrating suicidal behavior, and the younger child was hospitalized due to psychosocial problems; and mother became preoccupied with the children’s health, refused to comply with the visitation schedule, installed fear of the father in both children, revived allegations of fathers abuse against her and the children, and made unsubstantiated new allegations of abuse.”
The District Court found that Zachary Collins was only suicidal when in Holly Collins’ care, and the Court of Appeals agreed. The District Court found that Holly Collins was subjecting the children to unnecessary and potentially harmful medical treatments in Massachusetts, and the Court of Appeals agreed.
To read these court findings, see document #13 here.
Problem #7–Holly’s accusations of abuse against her mother and stepfather are repeatedly contradicted by her own statements and actions, as well as by the statements of her sister and her brother.
When Holly moved with the children from Minnesota to Massachusetts in 1991, she moved in with her mother, Eleanor Gallagher, and her stepfather Tom Gallagher. Holly’s behavior while in their house was erratic and problematic, and eventually Holly’s mother asked her to move out. Soon afterwards, Holly refused to allow her mother and her grandmother to visit the children. Holly then accused her mother of having abused her when she was a child.
Eleanor and Tom fought to have grandparent visitation with their young grandchildren Jennifer and Zachary, who loved them and with whom they had a good relationship. This positive relationship is documented in the record in numerous places. For example, Dr. David W. Cline, M.D. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who is Board Certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, regularly treated Zachary and Jennifer Collins in 1989-1990 prior to their move to Massachusetts and again in 1992-1994 after their return to Minnesota. In a July 14, 1994 Psychiatric Summary, Dr. Cline wrote:
“The children especially enjoyed their relationship with their grandmother, Eleanor Gallagher, who they saw frequently…”
To read Dr. Cline’s findings, see document #3 here.
In an April 22, 1993 letter to Guardian ad Litem Michael London, Esq., Dr Cline wrote:
It is clear that [grandmother Eleanor Gallagher] and her mother [great-grandmother Mary Therien] add significantly to the development and nurturance of the children. I recommend that this relationship be supported and continue unobstructed and unsupervised for the future.
To read Dr. Cline’s letter to London, see document #21 here.
In an April, 1993 report to the Court, Guardian ad Litem Michael J. London wrote:
I agree with Dr. Cline’s proposal [that the children have unobstructed and unsupervised visits with their grandmother, Eleanor Gallagher, and their great grandmother, Mary Therien]. I believe the children would like to have access to their grandparents and other extended family members.
To read London’s report, see document #26 here.
As Eleanor and Tom were about to be granted grandparent visitation, Holly accused her stepfather, Tom Gallagher, of sexually abusing her when she was a child. These accusations are contradicted by Holly’s own statements, as well as those of her sister Michelle Ek and her brother Michael Tveter:
a) On several occasions during Holly Collins’ adulthood she wrote letters to Tom Gallagher praising him and expressing her love for him. This includes a 1990 letter in which Holly writes:
“I am so proud of you…I am extremely grateful for all that you have done for me. I’m sure I’ve tried your patience many times. It would have been so easy to give up on me…you didn’t! Thank you!
The letter, document #6, can be seen here.
b) Holly praised Tom Gallagher’s loving bond with his grandchildren Zachary and Jennifer. In the 1990 letter, Holly writes:
“My children love you dearly you are the most wonderful grandfather! They and I have the utmost respect for you.”
The letter, document #6, can be seen here.
c) Michelle Ek, Holly Collins’ sister, in a sworn affidavit dated July 6, 1993, says:
“My stepfather [Tom Gallagher] has never abused Holly, me, Zachary or Jennifer or anyone else that I know of.”
To read Michelle Ek’s 7/6/93 affidavit, see document #7 here.
d) Michelle Ek, Holly Collins’ sister, in a sworn affidavit dated June 18, 1992, says:
“I have read Holly’s affidavit. Many things she said are just not true…. I have never seen my mother, Eleanor Gallagher yell at Zachary or Jennifer Collins. I have never seen her slap them. They love my mother and always wanted to go to her house.”
To read Michelle Ek’s 6/18/92 affidavit, see document #20 here. In it, Michelle Ek contradicts several of Holly Collins’ claims.
e) Michael Tveter, Holly’s brother, in a sworn affidavit taken during his time in the Marine Corps stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines, stated:
“I have not been physically or emotionally abused by my mother, Eleanor T. Gallagher, nor by my stepfather, Thomas J. Gallagher. In addition, I know of no cases where my sisters, Holly or Michelle, have been abused by any member of my family.”
To read Michael Tveter’s sworn affidavit, see document #17 here.
e) Michael Tveter, Holly’s brother, in a sworn deposition taken during his time in the Marine Corps stationed at the KMCS First Radio Battalion in Hawaii, denied that Tom Gallagher or Eleanor Gallagher had ever abused his sister Holly, his sister Michelle, himself, their grandson Zachary, their granddaughter Jennifer, or each other in any way. He said that he had never seen any abuse nor been told of any by his sisters.
To read Michael Tveter’s sworn deposition, see document #18 here.
f) When Holly was 16 years old she had a dispute with her mother, who wanted her to finish high school before getting married to Mark Collins. As a result of this dispute, Holly desired to live with her biological father, from whom Eleanor Gallagher was divorced.
The Guardian ad Litem conducted a custody evaluation. During this custody evaluation, Holly made no accusation of abuse against either her mother Eleanor Gallagher or her stepfather Tom Gallagher. Yet a decade later she accused both of them of having abused her while she was a child.
Also, Holly at 16 recommended to the Guardian ad Litem that her two siblings, Michelle and Michael, continue to live with Eleanor and Tom. The court upheld Eleanor’s sole custody of her children.
g) Holly claimed that her mother abused her throughout her childhood. However, later, when Holly was pregnant with Zachary, Holly asked Eleanor to be her birthing coach which she did. While Holly lived with Mark Collins at Mark’s parents’ house, Holly would drop off Zachary at her mother’s house who then cared for the child while Holly attended school. In a sworn affidavit, Ann H. Collins, Mark Collins’ mother, states:
During the last stages of Holly’s pregnancy she took birthing classes and because Mark was in Texas [in the military] she asked her mother, Eleanor, to be her birthing coach. Eleanor agreed and did so attend the classes, except for one. She was out of town on one of the nights I substituted for. This is the only time that I attended these classes.
After the birth of Zachary in Texas Holly returned to New Hampshire to finish high school at the urging of her mother and grandmother. She stayed at my home and was driven by my husband, Gerald, to her mother’s home each morning. She would then leave the baby with her mother [Eleanor Gallagher] and have full use of her mother’s car to attend classes.
To read Ann H. Collins’ sworn affidavit, see document #22 here.
Problem #8–Two of Holly’s immediate female family members have gotten domestic violence restraining orders against Holly. These include:
a) Michelle Ek, Holly’s younger sister who suffers from cerebral palsy, got a domestic violence restraining order against Holly on August 14, 1992 in New Hampshire. The restraining order states “a court finds that the defendant [Holly Collins] has abused the plaintiff [Michelle Ek] within the meaning of RSA 173-B.”
To view Michelle’s domestic violence restraining order against Holly Collins, see document #8 here.
b) Eleanor Gallagher, Holly Collins mother, obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Holly Collins in December, 1991.
To view Eleanor’s domestic violence restraining order against Holly Collins, see document #15 here.
Problem #9 — Dr. Philip Reimherr stated that Zachary had reported memories of Mark Collins breaking Holly Collins’ nose. According to Holly Collins’ court filings, she was seen for this nose injury on December 30, 1982. Zachary’s “memory” of this injury is impossible–he had not even been born at that time.
Problem #10–Holly Collins recently told the Minneapolis City Pages (7/30/08) that even after she and Mark separated “It got to the point where every time he dropped off the kids [from visitation], he’d do something to me…Punch me in the face, push me into the wall.”
This is an accusation that Holly has recently repeated on the Internet. However, there has never been substantiation of these claims. It is unlikely that, in the middle of a contentious custody battle, amid constant accusations of abuse, Mark Collins would be beating Holly “every time he dropped off the kids.” Moreover, Holly never had someone there to make sure that Mark would not beat her? She never arranged for there to be a witness? Or to tape the incidents? Or to arrange to have the visitation drop off in a different manner?
Problem #11–Holly invented mythical food allergies for the children which were contradicted by many medical professionals. Once custody of Zachary and Jennifer was switched from Holly Collins to Mark Collins, the allergies soon dissipated.
On October 17, 1991 Jennifer suffered a cyanotic attack and was brought to the North Shore Children’s Emergency Room. Psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Burr wrote in her report that “recent visits to the North Shore Children’s Emergency Room culminated in admission there though child was virtually asymptomatic. She was referred to [Boston Children’s Hospital] for further assessment.”
Dr. Burr was concerned because Holly was “applying pressure to physicians to prescribe meds, assign diagnoses, and label the children chronically ill.” To view Dr. Burr’s report, see document #23 here (see paragraph 2).
On December 9, 1991 Jennifer was brought to Boston Children’s Hospital by Holly Collins for an alleged cyanotic attack. Doctors suspected that there was something wrong with Holly, and ordered a psychological assessment of both Holly and Jennifer. Additional immunological testing was ordered for the children to determine the validity of Holly’s allegations that the children were allergic to 20 different foods, and that Zachary was deathly allergic to bee stings.
Holly didn’t follow through with the psychological treatment the concerned medical professionals wanted her to have. The children were tested by Dr. Stephen Polmer (CHMC) and found to have insignificant food allergies. Moreover, Zachary was not allergic to bee stings.
Later, Dr. Paul Hannaway also doubted the severity of the kids’ allergies. Dr. William Yee also did allergy testing on the children, and found that they were within normal range.
Nevertheless, Holly filed reports with Minnesota child protective services accusing Mark of feeding the children foods which they were allergic to. Child protective services found the accusation to be groundless.
Jennifer Rojer of Hennepin County Family Court Services says that she and her colleagues “saw a lot of evidence that it was Holly’s anxiety that was creating symptoms in the children, both the suicidal behaviors and some of the asthmatic allergic reactions that they may be having.”
Elizabeth Sullivan, MA, of the North Shore Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, also expressed concerns over Holly’s parenting style.
After the change of custody to Mark Collins, the children’s health improved. According to a February 22, 1993 Minneapolis Metro/Star News article written during the custody case, court-appointed child psychologist Susan Devries found that “the children’s illnesses abate when they’re with their father. ‘The children are rarely observed to suffer from asthmatic or allergic reactions while in Mark’s presence and have not required any kind of emergency room care or medical treatment,’ DeVries reports.” To read this article, see document #19 here.
In her February 28, 1992 court order, Referee Marybeth Dorn writes:
The respondent [Holly Collins] continues to make allegations that the petitioner [Mark Collins] provides a dangerous environment for the children during periods of visitation. All of the respondent’s current representations have been repeatedly addressed by this Court on numerous occasions. It appears the children experience significant medical difficulties when they are in the respondent’s care, not the petitioner’s…
There also exists concern that the respondent overemphasizes and dwells on the children’s medical status, to their detriment…medical reports…indicate concern on the part of physicians in Massachusetts that the respondent is preoccupied with the children’s medical condition.
To read this court order, see document #28 here.
The Minnesota Court of Appeal, in affirming the lower court’s award of custody to the father in March of 1994, noted that since the custody switch “the children’s health has improved.” To read the Court of Appeal’s ruling, see document #13 here.
In an April, 1993 report to the Court, Guardian ad Litem Michael J. London describes the children as being healthy and happy, and that Mark Collins was attentive to the children’s medical needs, which were normal. To read London’s report, see document number #26 here.
The children’s healthy, normal life under Mark Collins’ care can be contrasted with the way Holly herself described the children’s medical condition under her care in a 1991 request to the court for an ex-parte order. Holly wrote:
Both children are on home nebulazation therapy and extensive preventative as well as symptom-alleviating medicines. They also have injection syringes which must be kept on hand at all times. They also have been prescribed a home oxygen unit for the severity of the disease.
To view Holly’s request, see document #31 here.
Holly did initially succeed in misleading a few doctors into believing that Zachary and Jennifer had significant allergies. What these doctors did not realize at first was that at the time the children were living in a household in which, according to Dr. Paul M. Blum, M.D., there were “numerous animals having the run of the house.” To view Dr. Blum’s letter, see document #24 here.
In an April, 1991 letter from Dr. Paul M. Blum, M.D. to physician David Estrin, M.D., he wrote:
Environmental review reveals a menagerie living at the house. There is a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, all with constant access to this child.
To view Dr. Blum’s letter, see document #25 here.
In a different April, 1991 letter from Dr. Blum to Dr. Estrin, M.D., he said the Collins family needed “environmental control issues includ[ing] removal of all pets from the home with the exception of a dog.” To view Dr. Blum’s letter, see document #24 here.
The doctors at first also did not realize that the children’s health problems were partly caused by Holly Collins overmedicating them.
Problem #12– Holly Collins has suffered from psychiatric and emotional problems from a young age and also as an adult. Doctors involved in the case assert that these problems also include delusional characteristics.
In her early teens Holly Collins attempted suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, and told court services personnel that she tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists. According to a 1983 report concerning her parents’ custody case as a teenager, the Guardian ad Litem wrote “her attempts [at suicide] were little more than attention getting devices, and that there was no intention of actually taking her life…Holly candidly admitted to being jealous of the preferential treatment that was received by her sister Michelle as a result of Michelle’s handicap.”
According to a report by Ronald L. Jorgenson, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Psychologist of Psychological Services of Hennepin County Department of Court and Field Services, Holly says she has attempted suicide three times. Dr. Jorgenson found:
[Holly Collins] may experience delusional beliefs from time to time… Holly was unable to directly answer questions related to the allegations Mark made about her. She often reacted with tears and recrimination against Mark, but would not address her own behavior…. she frequently contacted his office with a series of crises. When investigated, most had little or no real substance…. Holly’s exaggerated, hysterical quality can also be seen in her interactions with Dr. Paul Blum, the children’s allergist.
In a notarized letter, Holly Collins’ mother and grandmother assert that Holly suffers from an untreated mental illness. They state:
“Holly suffered bouts of depression and was in psychiatric counseling since the age of 15…probably needs help as the trial court recognized in its order. She will not benefit from help until she stops fantasizing about the causes of her problems and addresses herself.” (See document #4 here.)
Dr. Paul Rhudnick, a clinical psychologist in Salem, Massachusetts, conducted a psychological evaluation of Holly and found:
[Holly Collins has] pronounced obsessional trends characterized by introspection, deliberation and heavy reliance on fantasy. In addition, there are examples of…a tendency to use some hysterical features…[Holly Collins] often retreats into her own world of fantasy which is exceedingly complex.
See finding #42 in document #30 here.
Problem #13– Holly has made a exceedingly large number of accusations of abuse against a wide variety of people. Holly claims she was:
Punched in the face by her mother
Deprived of food as a child
Hit by her mother with a riding crop
Hit by her mother for wasting food
Sexually abused by her stepfather
Kidnapped by her mother in an attempt to force her to have an abortion
Raped by Mark five times
Beat up by Mark
Punched in the nose
Made to have objects, including a knife and a carrot peeler, inserted into her, causing a miscarriage
Punched by Mark to make doctors think that she had a disease which caused bruises
Induced into labor by Mark, who used a black pen on her. In Holly Collins’ appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals she stated that she was only “7 1/2 months pregnant” when labor was induced by sexual relations with Mark. (According to Holly Collins’ mother and grandmother, at the time Holly was actually nine months pregnant and Zachary was born a full term, healthy, baby boy who weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz.)
Given a fractured wrist while blocking a punch from Mark
Forced to perform oral sex on Mark
Cut with a knife on her genitals after Mark had broken in and raped her after they had separated
Hit by her mother, causing her to call the police
Hit on purpose with a car by Rena Collins, Mark’s subsequent wife
Hit by her mother after moving in with her mother as an adult
Threatened over the phone by Mark repeatedly
Had her nose broken by Mark at least three times
Punched or pushed into a wall by Mark “every time he dropped off the kids [from visitation]”
Beaten so severely by Mark during their first month of marriage that she was sent to the hospital three times
Beaten by Mark Collins while pregnant.
Abused by her landlord in Massachusetts who, we’re told, was “a violent man who was charged with murdering his own father. Holly was terrified of him.”
Abused by her neighbor in Holland.
According to Holly and Jennifer, records show that at age 7 Jennifer told her therapist that both Mark Collins and his wife Rena Collins “hit,” “strangled,” and “kicked [Jennifer] so hard [she] couldn’t walk and [she] had to crawl to my room.” Rena also allegedly “squeezed [Jennifer’s] head,” kicked her and said “You’ll never get to see your mom again!'”
According to Holly and Jennifer, records show that at age 9 Zachary told his therapist “[my father] punched me in the privates… strangled us… kicked me in the head… threatened to kill us and [he”s] just pretending it didn”t happen…my father would suffocate us until we passed out. We repeatedly told authorities that our father held his hand or a pillow over our faces until ‘it all turned black’…”[Mark Collins would] cover our face and nose… pin us down… hold us under blankets…[put his] hand over our face and nose we couldn”t breathe.’
Mark Collins wrote in a statement to the court:
“One reason the list of abuse allegations in so long is that it seems that Holly feels the bigger the list, the more horrific the accusation, the more likely that at least some of her story would be believed.”
Problem #14–Holly Collins made repeated unfounded accusations that Mark Collins had a problem with substance abuse.
According to the court record, Mark submitted to testing for substance-abuse three times — twice by Mr. Johnson of Hennepin court services, and once by a private counselor — and all three evaluations concluded that Mark Collins does not have a substance abuse problem.
Problem #15–Holly Collins has made numerous accusations of abuse against ex-husband Mark Collins, and these accusations have been continually rejected by courts, child protective agencies, custody evaluators, and the mental health professionals involved in the case. However, the trial court did find domestic violence due to a legal error by Mark Collins, who was litigating pro se.
The Court of Appeal concluded that “it cannot be said that the District Court clearly erred finding that domestic abuse occurred between the parties.” This was a result of a critical legal mistake made by Mark Collins when he was litigating pro se. The incident in question occurred at Mark Collins’ parents’ home. Holly and Mark were play wrestling as they often did because Mark, even though small in stature, had been a successful wrestler.
Holly did suffer a nose injury from play wrestling with Mark in 1982. Because Mark made a pro se legal mistake and did not refute Holly’s allegations many years later that it was a deliberate act, the District Court had to find domestic abuse, and for technical reasons the Appellate Court could not reverse the lower court’s decision.
This version of events is supported by Holly’s mother Eleanor Gallagher and Holly’s grandmother Mary Therien, as well as Gerald and Nancy Ann Collins, Mark Collins’ parents, in a notarized affidavit submitted to the Fourth Judicial Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They wrote:
Holly received a contusion of the nose in 1982 while in family play with Mark, which was not intentional but solely an accident. Gerald and Nancy Collins and Mark’s sister were present in the home when the incident occurred.
To read this notarized affidavit, see document #4 here.
During the custody trial, Holly Collins accused Mark Collins of dislocating her shoulder. However, family members assert that while growing up, Holly had a shoulder that would periodically pop out of joint.
Problem #16–Holly Collins claimed that Mark Collins raped her, but her own testimony and assertions contradict this claim.
According to Judge Davis, during the custody trial in 1992, Holly Collins “stated that the Petitioner [Mark Collins] raped her and as a result she became pregnant. In a separate proceeding in Massachusetts re: grandparent visitation, however, respondent [Holly Collins] submitted an affidavit stating she intentionally got pregnant to escape her mother’s home. In speaking with therapists and other professionals, respondent also reported she wanted to get pregnant to get out of the home.”
To read the court’s finding, see document #30 here.
Problem #17–There have been seven different judges who have ruled on Holly Collins’ custody battles–and all seven of them have ruled against her.
Below they are listed in order of their appearance:
Minnesota Family Court Judge Steven Z. Lange, 1991-1992 (Document #28 here.)
Minnesota Family Court Referee Marybeth Dorn, 1991-1992 (Document #28 here.)
Minnesota Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis, 1992 (Document #12 here.)
Minnesota Family Court Judge Charles A. Porter, Jr., 1993-present (According to the Minneapolis City pages, in “August 1993, Porter issued an order reaffirming Mark’s custody of Zachary and Jennifer and denying Holly’s request for unsupervised visitation.” In a new ruling regarding custody of Holly Collins’ third child, Christopher, Porter held Holly Collins in contempt of court for “willful failure to comply with the Custody Order.” To view the January 7, 2009 decision, see document #29 here)
Appeal Court Judge Thomas J. Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, 1994 (Document #13 here.)
Appeal Court Judge Randolph W. Peterson, 1994 (Document #13 here.)
Appeal Court Judge James C. Harten, 1994 (Document #13 here.)
Problem #18–According to Holly Collins’ mother, the children fared vastly better in Mark’s care than in Holly’s, where they were unsafe.
In a letter written to the court on March 22, 1994, Eleanor Gallagher, Holly Collins mother, details the vast improvements in the children’s physical and mental well-being since they were taken from Holly Collins custody in December of 1992 and placed in father Mark Collins’ custody. Ms. Gallagher writes:
[In my opinion and that of] other family members, the children’s general attitude about their own well-being has changed markedly over the past year. They are both more “alive.” Jennifer is happy and it is reflected in her attitude, posture and smile. She has also informed [me] that she has “outgrown her food allergies” and has assured me that she can eat anything…
It is obvious that Jennifer is finally becoming her own person and more secure within herself. For example, one year ago, Jennifer would stop a neighborhood kickball game by uncontrollable outburst of emotion, pretending an injury or actually coming to tears when she did not successfully get the base. She solicited sympathy by portraying yourself as injured and helpless, often accusing other participants of playing unfairly if she was “thrown out.” Since that time Jennifer has come a long way and relies less on manipulation to get her way. She is stronger both physically and mentally…[Jennifer] belongs to Girl Scouts… is a good student… is happy and…a very busy girl.
Both children are physically fit. For example, Zachary reported that he was the fastest runner in the mile in his school and that when timed, he was capable of executing 78 sit-ups in one minute. Zachary is sports minded [and] aspires to attend college…
It is obvious that family relationships and the Collins home have improved dramatically between the children and their father Mark and Rena…. affection in the home is displayed openly and appropriately. For example, the children initiate hugs and kisses when saying goodbye to their father, Rena…and again upon greeting them after being away on our overnight visits or it
The children call their father “dad” instead of “Mark” as they did a year ago…there is no doubt that the children are healthier and happier than they were a year ago.
To read Eleanor Gallagher’s letter to the Court, see document #16 here.
Problem #19–Holly Collins has made contradictory statements about the threats she claimed came from Mark Collins during phone calls.
Holly Collins claimed that Mark Collins threatened her during phone conversations over a period of several months, an accusation she maintains today. In a letter Holly wrote to Mark dated December 13, 1992, she stated that she taped all their phone conversations. However, she later admitted that she did not have any of these alleged threats on tape.
Holly Collins admitted to taping phone conversations with her sister (who was later granted a domestic violence restraining order against Holly) and several conversations with the Guardian ad Litem. However, even though she was involved in a contentious custody battle with Mark, and claimed that he had repeatedly threatened her, she never had Mark’s alleged threats on tape.
Problem #20–Several of the mental health professionals involved in the case described incidents consistent with Mark Collins’ assertion that Holly Collins sought to alienate or brainwash the children against him.
According to Judge Davis:
In April 1992 [while Holly Collins had custody of the children], Ms. Susan Devries, MA, LW, Child Psychologist, Hennepin County Family Court Services conducted psychological testing of the children. Ms. Devries found Zachary to be a depressed, anxious and fragile boy, who internalized is a great deal of anger regarding the environment in general; associated with both male and female figures. Zachary described incidents of abuse by petitioner [Mark Collins] with a flat affect; he didn’t appear upset or angry when describing the abuse…. Jennifer also described an incident of abuse by petitioner [Mark Collins] and his current wife [Rena Collins], but did so with little effect…
During the period of July through December 1992, Dr. Cline [who had treated the children as far back as 1989] met with Zachary 17 times and Jennifer 15 times… the court recognizes that Dr. Cline is the only clinician involved in this case was had extensive contact with both the children, the parents and stepparent… Dr. Cline noted that when Zachary resumed treatment in July, 1992, he found Zachary “more bitter, resentful, angry and hostile in general, specifically towards his father.” Dr. Cline noted that “[d]uring the summer of 1992, [Zachary] had several episodes of suicidal threats as reported to me by Holly, usually by phone. When I would ask Zachary about this he would tacitly acknowledge this”…
Dr. Cline noted that since resuming treatment, Jennifer was also more adamant, accusatory, and vehement and confrontational to petitioner [Mark Collins] about his alleged misdeeds. “Nevertheless, both children are able to turn off these hostile stances and play genuinely and happily with their father in a play situation, a circumstance which I noted on many occasions.” Dr. Cline further stated:
“[I]n my professional opinion, the children have been influenced a great deal by their mother in regards to the alleged abuse that occurred. The children are skilled accusers. They confronted their father directly and unremittingly about his wrongdoing in my presence. Children do not do this unless they have been coached and skilled in this technique…
“The children say that they have been physically abused by their father but the story frequently changes…”
The Guardian ad Litem had numerous opportunities to observe the children alone and with respondent, petitioner, and Rena Collins. His observations are as follows:
“While with their mother, the children expressed fear and anxiety over seeing their father however, upon observation the children quickly become relaxed with Mr. Collins and appeared to enjoy the time they spend with him…. their behavior did not appear to be consistent with the years of safety or abuse. The children sought out physical contact with Mark, i.e., holding hands, sitting on his lap, leaning on him, et cetera.
“Even though initially each visit began with the children’s statement that they did not want to see their father, they soon warmed up with him. Their apprehensions seem to disappear quite soon and they appeared to enjoy spending time with Mark…
“[m]y feeling is that the children want a relationship with their father, but are fearful to let their mother know their desire… based upon my review of documents, consultation with the professionals and my observations of Ms. Collins with the children, the children appear to be exposed to a significant amount of fear and anxiety created by Holly. The children stated their mother helps them remember things their father did to them…my impression is that Ms. Collins is significantly contributing to the children’s fears and anxiety.”
Jennifer Livingston Rojer and Michelle Millenacker of Family Court services conducted the custody evaluation and, according to Judge Davis, “had numerous opportunities to observe the children with petitioner [Mark Collins].” Ms. Rojer and Ms. Millenacker found:
Jennifer and Zachary’s behaviors during parent/child observations with Mark seem to contradict many of their verbal statements. Both children relax quickly, initiate affection and seemed to enjoy a spirited, sometimes competitive relationship with their father. Their behaviors, especially the rough-and-tumble nature of the play they initiate, is not typical of that of physically abused children who are interacting with their abusers.
Zachary and Jennifer would often present a litany of complaints and reasons as to why they did not want to be at their father’s in interviews, but they did not change expressions or protest when told that the visitation would go ahead. In fact, they engaged in choosing what activities they would do with their father and Rena, often expressing great excitement and anticipation.
Problem #21–Fred Emilianowicz, a social worker from Massachusetts, told the court that he believed Holly’s allegations of abuse. However, he did this without ever having spoken or contacted Mark Collins, and he refused to do so, thus his opinion was not taken seriously by the court.
This is noted by Judge Davis in his amended opinion–see finding number 30 in document #30 here. To learn more, read Holly’s mother Eleanor Gallagher’s 1994 letter on the subject–document #9 here.
Problem #22–Dr. Eli Newberger, a pediatrician formerly of Boston Children’s Hospital, is one of the few professionals who believed that Holly Collins’ claims had some validity. However, Dr. Newberger has been widely criticized for uncritically validating abuse charges.
To learn more about Newberger’s actions in the Collins case, read Eleanor Gallagher’s letters to the Office of General Counsel of Boston Children’s Hospital requesting an internal review of Newberger’s involvement in the Collins case–document #10 here and #11 here.
Dr. Eli Newberger is controversial and has often been criticized for seeing child abuse and family violence where it doesn’t exist. The child abuse team he led at Boston Children’s Hospital was investigated, criticized and overhauled. From the Boston Globe‘s “Children’s Hospital to Overhaul handling of Abuse Cases” (3/8/99):
Children’s Hospital, responding to a recent spate of complaints about its diagnostic judgment in some child abuse cases, is planning a major retooling of its child protection unit.
The overhaul follows an outside assessment of the child abuse team, written in October by University of Colorado Medical School dean Dr. Richard Krugman, and was prompted by a Globe article examining the unit’s role in a handful of controversial abuse cases.
Krugman’s report identifies several areas of concern for the child protection team, which was established in 1971 and until now was under the medical supervision of its founder, Dr. Eli Newberger…
Critics of the team have said it has pushed an abuse scenario without fully considering the latest research into possible underlying disease causes for children’s symptoms or injuries. Other critics have complained that the team’s aggressive approach is colored more by the perspective of social workers and lawyers than by doctors sticking to the medical evidence.
In an interview, hospital executive vice president Eileen Sporing acknowledged that the perception of bias “has arisen over time, probably because social workers and lawyers are full-time members of the team while physicians rotate through”…
A Globe article last August cited four unpublicized cases where a court ultimately overturned the medical judgment of Children’s doctors that abuse had taken place…
A December article chronicled the case of Hana Cheng, a 16-year-old Belmont girl, and what happened to her family in the aftermath of a brain hemorrhage Cheng suffered in May 1997. Children’s subsequently filed a neglect complaint against her parents with the DSS. Outraged, the Chengs accused Children’s doctors of “abusing their powers” by turning a family tragedy into a legal ordeal…
Newberger is no longer with Children’s Hospital.
Problem #23–Holly Collins asserts that the mental health problems suffered by then-eight-year-old Zachary Collins resulted from him being agitated after phone calls with his father. However, the record strongly suggests that these problems were brought on by Holly, not Mark Collins.
According to Minnesota family court judge Michael J. Davis, Dr. David W. Cline reported that he observed Holly Collins “whispering into Zachary’s ear and Zachary immediately went to Dr. Cline’s office and reported that he was afraid his father would hurt him and that he would hurt himself.”
According to one therapist, during a family therapy session on May 27, 1992 “Zachary was in an agitated state and was banging his head on the floor.” At the same time, Zachary was having problems in school, missed 17 days of school during one semester, suffered from what Holly described as severe health issues, and was continually being taken to doctors for medical testing.
However, just six months after custody of Zachary and Jennifer was transferred from Holly Collins to Mark Collins, the situation had improved dramatically. According to Guardian ad Litem Michael London’s 4/19/93 report to the court in Minnesota:
[My observations in discussions with those involved revealed to happy children (Zachary and Jennifer Collins) who have adjusted very well to the changing custody…
Zachary’s teacher describes him as more relaxed than earlier in the school year. She finds he laughs and smiles more. She states he used to act out when angry [while in Holly’s care] but now acts more appropriately.
Jennifer Rojer of Family Court Services says that Zachary’s suicidal behavior only occurred while in Holly’s care, and said that Holly’s relationship with the children is unhealthy. Rojer reported that during her observations of Mark with the children, the children were comfortable with Mark and affectionate towards him.
In a March 22, 1994 letter to the court, Holly Collins’ mother Eleanor Gallagher said that even after custody of the children had been transferred from Holly to Mark in December of 1992, Holly Collins continued to try to turn the children against their father. Gallagher wrote:
Holly is on a crusade. In her relentless quest to regain custody of her children, she continues in subtle ways to undermine the relationship that the children are developing with Mark. Zachary is most affected, and his actions at times mirror his inability to handle the guilt and sympathy feels for his mother. Holly needs to free this boy so that he can be just a kid and not have to carry the weight of Holly’s unhappiness.
To read Eleanor Gallagher’s letter to the Court, see document #16 here.
Problem #24–Numerous members of Holly Collins immediate family say she has made “a continuing series of false statements” concerning abuse and domestic violence and the children’s health during her case in order to deny Mark Collins parenting time with his children.
In a notarized letter to the Minnesota Court of Appeal, Holly Collins mother (Eleanor Gallagher), late grandmother (Mary Therien), stepfather (Tom J. Gallagher), former father-in-law (Gerald W. Collins), and former mother-in-law (Nancy Collins) state:
[I]n Holly’s efforts to deny Mark Collins’ court-ordered visitation with his children, Holly has attempted to create health problems for our grandchildren by taking them from doctor to doctor until one or more would agree with Holly’s thesis that the children’s health problems would not permit them to see their father. Holly has attempted to create purported abuse for the same purpose of denying visitation.
Fortunately, court ordered health professionals and the trial judge had seen through this veil of falsehoods and ordered custody to be transferred to their father Mark. The results today are that the grandchildren are healthy, well-balanced, bright and energetic.
To read this affidavit, see document #4 here.
Problem #25–A former mental health professional who observed the Collins family during the case says Holly Collins “manipulate[d] situations and individuals to make herself appear to be victimized and traumatized.” She wrote to the Minneapolis City Pages:
I did numerous visitations for Holly and her children and legally documented many of their interactions…What I witnessed was a woman who tried at every occasion to manipulate and break the visitation rules, who felt “above” such stipulations, and I also witnessed and documented a full blown Munchausen’s incident with Jennifer that Holly created…
What I do know is that with my advanced degree/education and years of experience working with children, parents and families is that Holly is a highly narcissistic individual who has the education and background to manipulate situations and individuals to make herself appear to be victimized and traumatized…when in fact, the truth of what has and is going on is a bit more complex than she presents…
Holly and Jennifer Collins do acknowledge this woman’s role in the case but are critical of it.
Problem #26–Inside Edition filmed a report on the Holly Collins case which was scheduled to air on November 12, 2008. Holly’s allies publicized this TV show and Inside Edition put a promo for it on their website. However, Inside Edition decided not to air the show, apparently due to their doubts about the credibility of Holly Collins.
Problem #27–Hennepin County Family Court Services found that Holly Collins suffers from multiple disorders, including Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy
The Minnesota Court of Appeal supported Minnesota Family Court Judge Michael J. Davis’ finding that Holly Collins “suffers from a personality disorder, which may include a disorder in which a parent invents, induces or exaggerates medical symptoms in a child.” The personality disorder referred to be Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP).
According to a February 22, 1993 Minneapolis Metro/Star News article written during the custody case:
In a custody evaluation, Hennepin County Family Court Services found that Holly Collins suffers from multiple disorders, including Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy…as a result, she was deemed a threat to the children and given limited visitation rights…
Court-appointed child psychologist Susan Devries reported several examples of how the Collins family fits the pattern of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy…The children saw four allergists in one year for tests. “[Holly] Collins accepts only the most severe test results is valid,” writes Devries. Holly claims Mark has forced [the children] to eat foods to which they are allergic. Mark contends that she has overmedicated the children for allergies and asthma.
The children have made allegations of physical abuse by the father, including descriptive drawings by the boy of abuse by his father. “However there is no medical documentation of this abuse and the abuse has not been observed by other neutral parties,” Devries states.
The children have had “a remarkable number of doctor visits.” The children and Collins herself repeatedly have changed positions and mental health workers in Minnesota and Massachusetts.
The children’s illnesses abate when they’re with their father. “The children are rarely observed to suffer from asthmatic or allergic reactions while in Mark’s presence and have not required any kind of emergency room care or medical treatment,” DeVries reports
To read this article, see document #19 here.
Problem #28–During her custody battle, Holly Collins put forth three individuals to support her claim that Mark Collins abused her. However, none of the individuals were in a position to know whether there was abuse.
During the custody trial, Ronald Tveter, Holly Collins’ father, testified that in December 1982 he “ran into the respondent [Holly Collins] at a store and observed [Holly Collins] had a bruised nose and a blackened eye. Father Eugene Corica provided counseling to [Holly and Mark] around the time of their divorce, and says that Holly Collins “confided in him she was abused by [Mark Collins].” While there is nothing wrong with Holly Collins including Tveter’s and Corica’s testimony, neither of them were in a position to know whether domestic violence had actually occurred.
As I noted in problem #15, Holly did suffer a nose injury from wrestling with Mark in 1982, but several family members, including Holly’s mother Eleanor Gallagher and Holly’s grandmother Mary Therien, as well as Gerald and Nancy Ann Collins, Mark Collins’ parents, signed a notarized affidavit submitted to the Fourth Judicial Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota in which they stated “Holly received a contusion of the nose in 1982 while in family play with Mark, which was not intentional but solely an accident. Gerald and Nancy Collins and Mark’s sister were present in the home when the incident occurred.”
To read this notarized affidavit, see document #4 here.
During the custody trial, Karen Skrip also testified on a Holly’s behalf as an expert in the field of battered woman syndrome. According to Judge Davis:
Ms. Skrip testified the facts of this case are consistent with a finding of battered woman syndrome. While the court finds Ms. Skrip has extensive experience with battered woman syndrome, her opinion was based on a brief review of documents relative to this case and a recitation of the facts by respondent’s [Holly Collins] attorney while she was on the witness stand. Ms. Skrip never spoke with either party, the children or any professional involved in this case.
Problem #29–The mental health professionals involved in the case found Mark Collins to be a good, loving father and do not believe that he fits the profile of an abusive husband or father.
Judge Davis, in his January 26, 1993 amended order in the custody case, reviewed the opinions of the various professionals involved in the case as to Mark Collins’ fitness as a parent. According to Davis:
In contrast to [Holly Collins’] allegations, Dr. Cline found [Mark Collins] was “kind, mannerly, patient, and appropriately set limits with the children.” He stated [Mark Collins] showed responsible parenting skills during sessions and responded appropriately, cheerfully and patiently with the children…
the Guardian found [Mark Collins] to be calm, cooperative and reasonable to all requests made to him. The petitioner was conscientious in performing tasks, arranging for visitation and transportation. The Guardian found “[Mark Collins’] current behavior does not suggest a violent nature…”…
The Hennepin County Family Court services also conducted a comprehensive custody evaluation in this matter, that included 33 collateral contacts and review of numerous records and documentation. Jennifer Livingston Rojer and Michelle Millenacker of Family Court services conducted the custody evaluation. The evaluators found [Mark Collins] “always appropriately modulated his emotions. He exhibited no behaviors one would expect to find in an abuser.”…
The Hennepin County Bureau of Community Corrections, Psychological Services conducted psychological evaluations of [Mark Collins] and Rena Collins…. Ronald Jorgenson, Ph.D. found no evidence of major mental illness or major adjustment problem. [Mark Collins’] response pattern to the MMPI-2 suggested he is “basically happy with his overall life situation and has a positive outlook about the future.” He appeared trusting, honest, and responsive to the needs of other people.”
Problem #30: Holly Collins claims to be the first American woman to be “granted political asylum on grounds of domestic violence.” This is false.
Collins was not granted political asylum–she lost her asylum case, but won a subsidiary suit asking she be allowed to remain in Holland anyway on humanitarian grounds. In other words, her asylum attempt failed, but the Dutch government was unable to deport her for medical reasons, among others. Collins soon had four children in four years with a Dutch man who worked at the camp for illegal immigrants where she was being held–once Dutch children were involved, there was little chance of Collins being deported.
While Collins was in Holland, anti-immigration sentiment led to many changes in the law, starting in 2001. One of these changes was that they erased some of the distinctions between the different classes of immigrants, so Collins’ residency card does read “Asiel” (Asylum).
Holly Collins promotes the view that American authorities tried to extradite Collins to the US based on pressure from Mark Collins but that Dutch authorities found that Holly had been a battered wife and, in Holly’s words, “Netherlands, a tiny little country–stood up to the United States of America” to prevent her extradition.
In reality, American officials did not try to have Collins extradited: few if any officials were even aware that she was in Holland. No Dutch investigator ever contacted Mark Collins, and his interests or side of the story were not represented in the Dutch proceedings in any way.
Problem #31–Following her established pattern, Holly made a wide variety of abuse claims against her neighbors in Holland, who she claimed “terrorized and physically assaulted” her and her children.
Accusing Jaap Hogewoning, Collins claims that she and her children were “terrorized and physically assaulted by this neighbor, his family and his friends” and that Hogewoning “threatened to drown the children in their own blood” and “forced his way into Collins home and attacked her and her children.” According to the Minneapolis City Pages, Holly accused Hogewoning of “beating” her.
Holly writes that she is disappointed that the numerous Dutch authorities didn’t believe her and refused to take action based on her claims. Holly’s accusations can be seen on her 12/1/09 blog entry on her blog here.
Problem #32–Holly says that her ex-husband Mark Collins and his allies “had money, power and fancy lawyers. All I had was the truth on my side.” In reality, during both the custody trial and the subsequent appeal it was Mark who was litigating pro se, while Holly had an attorney each time.
To view both court documents, click here and here.
Problem #33–Holly Collins and her supporters rarely mention it, but Collins also kidnapped a third child fathered by a different man, and there is a warrant out for her arrest for that kidnapping.
When Holly Collins kidnapped Zachary and Jennifer, she also kidnapped her baby Christopher, fathered by Jeff Imm. At the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in January of 2011, Collins bragged to the Conference that “there’s a warrant for my arrest at this very moment.” What Collins doesn’t tell the audience is that the arrest warrant has nothing to do with her abuse claims against Mark Collins. It is instead for kidnapping Christopher, a baby she had with Jeff Imm. To see the warrant for Holy Collins’ arrest, click here.
Not surprisingly, Collins has now alienated Christopher from Jeff, and Christopher has made numerous hostile web postings about Jeff, the father Holly prevented him from ever knowing.
Despite the fact that Holly Collins’ claims are disputed by her own mother, grandmother, sister, brother, former in-laws, her ex-husband, his wife, her former boyfriend/father of her 3rd child, his wife, numerous doctors, Guardians ad Litem, social workers, mental health professionals and all seven judges who have heard this case, over the past year Holly Collins has been able to disseminate her side of the case to the media unfettered. There has been little or no effort to look into the other side of the case.
I have done so. The closer one looks at Holly Collins’ version of events, the more problems one finds.–Glenn Sacks, 1/27/09