Paul Lodge made a submission to the Chisholm “Violence Review” and met with Chisholm. He seems to be quite influential within the Family Court system and is involved in training staff.
But who is the real Paul Lodge?
I write this while in St. Petersburg where I have been visiting Anastasia. She is one of Lodge’s (perhaps many) victims in his “abuse of power” – as he hides and reveals the truth as he sees fit.
Below is a section of my submission to Justice Steele of the Family Court on 20 April, 2005. It will give you an idea of the quality of Lodge – and possibly an idea of the quality of his submission to Chisholm, and maybe even the quality of the Chisholm report itself. But we will only know if Lodge’s submission is made public!
The background on this case, and on Lodge and Steele, can be read here:
Paul Lodge is actually representative of broader problems with the Family Court of Australia. Somewhat like a fervent Russian ideological believer of communism in the 1930’s, he believes that he knows what is best for other people – and is prepared to be dishonest to achieve “justice” (his own words) for them. This is also characteristic of the Family Court more generally, although I am not for one moment suggesting that all its members are like Lodge.
In fact, the Family Court of Australia is a fake court. It is not a real law court in that it interprets the law because it approaches the “best interests of the child” from a psychological perspective. The only real “law” in the Family Court is writing orders and protecting itself from public scrutiny. It is NOT a “court” and does not deserve to be afforded the traditional laudable independence of a “court”.
Thus we may have a Judge, who may not have any feeling for psychology (and appointed for who knows what reason), often being advised by a family report writer who may equally lack a feel for psychology. Yes, psychology can often be learned via study and experience, but any reading of history tells us that some people have a greater natural aptitude than others. In this, it is perhaps a little like economics, history, and even politics.
Two aspects of the operation of the Australian Family Court can interact with this lack of ability to actually make it intellectually corrupt – and, indeed – somewhat Stalinist.
Firstly, hiding behind a legal veil of secrecy (which is facilitated by an easily intimidated media), the Court communicates with the outside world only in generalities and media releases aimed at burnishing its image. As is often noted, and history continually tells us, lack of oversight is a guarantee of intellectual and moral corruption.
Secondly, the use of in-house family report writers will often result in judgements that are aimed at the the “best interests” of internal organisational relationships rather than the “best interests” of the “child”. In a sense, it is similar to a government bureaucracy that works for an unelected – eg Soviet – government.
But before further details on Lodge, I want to make a comment about the Darcey Freeman issue. This is mentioned in the Chisholm “terms of reference”, but is not pursued by Chisholm.
Rather than relating the Darcey Freeman issue to the Family Court, it might be better to look at the activities of the Child Support Agency. I will briefly note her that nearly 5 years after Anastasia was taken from Australia, the CSA is still trying to get money from me. What was happening in the Darcey Freeman case? Did her father crack under CSA pressure? I may have more to say on this latter!
If the Government is serious about ensuring “violence” is appropriately addressed in Family Court cases it should repeal that part of the law that forbids the publication of the names of people involved in cases. Organisations like the Family Court and the CSA thrive when working in the dark. As in dictatorships, the lack of public light is conducive to lies being told to them and lies being told by them. Just think of Stalin!
Now, we can proceed to some “life and times of Paul Lodge” and my Submission to Justice Steele on 20 April, 2005. This is a section of my submission (with some small deletions and a small amount of added explanatory material).
Submission, 20 April, 2005
Truthfulness of Ms. S (who is Anastasia’s mother)
Justice O’Ryan, in his judgment on 23 December, 2002 (when he gave me joint custody of Anastasia with equal time), explicitly states on 11 occasions that he “accepts” or “prefers” my evidence over that of the wife in regard to single incidents (he uses these words in para’s 44, 48, 73, 82, 83, 114, 145, 155 (twice), 156, 190) and on 4 occasions he explicitly states that he “rejects” or “do not accept” Ms. S’s evidence (para 82, 95, 102, 154). On no occasion did O’Ryan say that he rejected or did not accept my evidence.
Lodge’s Family Report – General Comments
It is clear that Ms. S presented herself to Mr. Lodge as a women-in-distress. And, it is clear that Lodge fell for this line. It is perhaps not difficult to see why.
O’Ryan said these words:
“Dr Quadrio said that the wife impressed as an intelligent and persuasive women. There appeared to be more corroboration of the husband’s history than of the wife’s and on that basis it would appear that the wife had been dishonest and perhaps manipulative of the situation.”
Dr. Quadrio thought Ms. S “persuasive” – but then, in contrast to Mr. Lodge, she looked past the tears to see what could be corroborated.
O’Ryan used these words:
“I had the opportunity to observe the wife being cross examined and she did not demonstrate to me any timidity.”
In these proceedings, this Court has seen Ms. S in action over many days. She is clearly not a women-in-distress. Nor is she timid, or afraid of me.
Mr. Lodge admitted to having a “brief” time with Anastasia. His Family Report dated 27 October, 2004 does not mention that he read or consulted any documents, or talked to anyone else apart from myself, Ms. S, … (her new husband) … and Anastasia.
I would submit to this Court that this limited approach by Mr. Lodge is quite apparent in his evidence.
When I asked Mr. Lodge if Ms. S could be “trying to maliciously take Anastasia (to Russia) or stop Anastasia having any contact with me”, he replied with these words:
“I said I didn’t get that impression on the weight of other things she said.”
So, Lodge believes what she (that is, Ms. S) said to him.
This is again apparent in Lodge’s answer to a question by His Honour concerning possible residency arrangements. Lodge uses these words in relation to the intensity of the conflict:
“If there continues to be phone calls …”
The implication is clearly that I am making unnecessary phone calls to S in the course of perpetuating the conflict. The reality is that there is no evidence of such phone calls, yet Lodge clearly believes that there has been phone calls of this type because S told him that this was the case.
In his Family Report, Lodge wrote:
“In the context of Anastasia’s identification with her mother, Anastasia’s response to her mother’s advice that she should “tell the Counsellor what she really wants”, seems to have been to assume an unambiguously negative position with respect to Mr Schubert. Her manner during observation with Mr Schubert had a somewhat theatrical quality.”
Once again, Lodge has accepted as true that what S said to him was true. How can he know that this is what S really told Anastasia? Indeed, how likely is it that she said this given that Anastasia was engaged in theatre?
In his evidence, Lodge admitted to not reading the Quadrio report (which like several faxes, mysteriously disappeared). However, despite not listing the O’Ryan judgement in the sources of information for his Family Report (which is where the Child Representative told me they should be), he said in evidence that he had read it. Later, as I go through some individual issues, I will demonstrate that it is unlikely that Lodge read the O’Ryan judgement with any care.
In general, Lodge seems to have seen accepted events as described by the mother, and then seen the interaction of Anastasia with myself, S … through this prism.
Lodge says Anastasia was trying to please her mother because she wants to live with her, and thus displayed a negative attitude towards me. A more likely and complete explanation for this negative attitude is that Anastasia is intimidated by her mother, and that Anastasia knew that she could later tell me that she was nervous and that she was sorry for what she said, and that I would understand.
It has happened before. Two particular instances are in paras 94 and 103 of my affidavit when Anastasia explicitly makes clear the dilemma that her mother has put her in and her way of coping with it.
(Para 94 refers to an incident in which Anastasia had refused to go with me one day when I went to collect her from her mother, saying: “I’m sick and I want to stay with Mummy.” The next time I had contact with Anastasia – when I picked her up from school – she was very happy to see me, and eventually said: “I’m sorry for what I said.” In reply I said: “It’s alright. Just remember that I love you very much.” Para 103 refers to another incident and the subsequent conversation. Anastasia said to me: “You are a good daddy. But it’s a secret.” Myself: “Why is it a secret?” Anastasia: “Don’t tell Mummy. She hates you. She will smack me.”)
I want to make one final general point about Mr. Lodge’s Family Report and evidence. During cross examination I asked Lodge whether a parent should encourage a child to be honest by example and work and Lodge replied with these words:
“And the answer would be in most circumstances probably yes.”
I then asked: “Why only probably?”
And Lodge replied:
“Well, this is getting very hypothetical but there are circumstances …..where you might expect the child to be a little strategic about the way they conduct things.”
Earlier in cross- examination, the Child Representative had asked Lodge about the implications of one parent being “little able to grapple with the truth”, and Lodge replied:
“Well …. not always in the interests of, in terms of honesty and dishonesty, justice is served.”
Lodge’s readily equivocal views on the principles of truth and honesty are somewhat disturbing, and I submit to this court that this attitude is reflected in parts of his evidence. Lodge has been prepared to be a “little strategic” with the truth because he believes that he knows what is right for, or is “justice” for, or is in the “interests” of Anastasia.
It was in anticipation of this attitude that I argued before Justice Le Poer Trench on 18 November, 2004 for a second Family Report. He rejected this request, saying: “I don’t believe anyone in this Court would lie.”
In cross examination I put it to Lodge that “there’s no evidence that there’s any sort of physical conflict since Dr. Quadrio did her report”.
In reply, Lodge said these words:
“Yes, indeed, I would accept that, I tried to find out really what’s happened at what dates, that was a bit of a task.”
The words “bit of a task” are a surprise. Dates involving physical conflict of any sort when Anastasia was present are thoroughly detailed in the O’Ryan judgement. There has been no evidence presented to these proceedings that there has been any physical conflict since the O’Ryan judgement. … This evidence was not challenged in these proceedings.
O’Ryan refers to an incident on 27 August 1999, and said these words:
“The husband gave extensive evidence asserting he was physically assaulted by the wife. The wife asserts that she was physically assaulted by the husband. …(He said) the child (Sa – from my first marriage) was present …when this happened. …. She also said that the child (Anastasia) was present.” The wife then called the police.
O’Ryan said these words in regard to this same incident:
“The child (Sa – from my first marriage) prepared a written statement, stating that she saw the wife hit the husband on the face …. She said she did not see the husband hit the wife. The wife said that she did slap the husband once. The wife was then shown a police statement and she admitted that she hit the husband twice.”
O’Ryan refers to an incident at changeover of the Anastasia on 5 February 2000. O’Ryan said these words:
“The wife admitted she hit the husband.”
O’Ryan said these words:
“Dr. Quadrio interviewd the child (Sa – from my first marriage) and she confirmed much of what the husband said to the extent that (Sa) has first hand information about certain aspects of his relationship with the wife. It is clear that this child is fearful of the wife … and this tends to confirm her account of experience with … (the wife) ... as violent. The child (Sa) was witness to what happened on 27 August 1999 and 28 December 1999.”
There is no finding in the O’Ryan judgement that I at any time initiated or threatened physical violence, and there has been no evidence presented in these proceedings that this is the case.
During cross-examination by Ms. Christie (the Barrister, with Jane Saltoon), Lodge expressed doubt that that I would “be able to relinquish the conflict, even in the mother’s absence as far as Anastasia is concerned”.
I submit to the Court that the over-whelming evidence is that it is Ms. S, not me, who has been unable to relinquish the conflict.
In her signed Statement to the police on 21 December 2003, S used these words:
“I am scared that Jeff will come to my apartment and try to hurt me. I am sacred of this because he has a long history of physical abuse. I have had 6 Apprehended Violence Orders against Jeff. The last AVO expired in August 2002. … I feel that I have no other choice but to get another AVO to protect myself and my daughter … I don’t feel that this situation can be resolved any other way.”
I gave evidence in these proceedings that the mother has successfully taken out one AVO against me. Indeed, I consented to it. O’Ryan uses these words:
“On 3 August 2000 … the husband consented, without admission, to a final Apprehended Violence Order being made in favour of the wife for a period of two years.”
In her signed Statement to the police on 21 December 2003, S refers several times to “telephone calls” and suggests that these were excessive. This claim of telephone calls seems to be the basis of Lodge’s comment that a change to the residency arrangements in Sydney would not reduce the visibility of the conflict “if there continues to be phone calls”.
S had ample time and opportunity to subpoena and submit to the Court any telephone records that might suggest that she and/or Lodge, had any factual grounds for referring to or implying anything about telephone calls. No such records were sought or presented.
Once again, it is clear that Lodge has accepted S at her word. And once again, I submit, this has been a factor in forming the prism through which Lodge has observed and evaluated this case.
During cross-examination, Lodge said these words in relation to S:
“It emerged almost volcanically in terms of distress, when we were talking about the impact on her of this ongoing conflict that had gone on for years and years. She inferred that this was an attempt to destroy her, and that it was basically – emotionally, at least, succeeded in that. But she had had enough. She really just felt that she could not take any more. That is probably the best way of summarising it.”
In response to my question on this statement during cross-examination on this, Lodge said these words:
“Her experience of this is exactly that. That is how it came across to me.”
Lodge then said these words:
“It was in the context of her view about – her views about the number of apprehended violence orders, the number of breaches, the number of Court cases, that she felt that that was destructive as far as she was concerned.”
He then said these words:
“Ms. S is involved in repeated litigation and indicated that she feels that it is destroying her.”
This is another example of Lodge believing what S told him, rather than objectively trying to get on top of the facts and evidence. Unlike Lodge, this Court needs to look at the evidence as to the “number of apprehended violence orders”, and the causes and source of the “breaches and the Court cases”.
Sexual abuse allegations
O’Ryan said these words:
“On Friday 20 July 2001 the wife’s solicitors sent a facsimile to the husbands’s solicitors alleging that the child had made a number of disclosures following the previous weekend contact. A number of serious allegations were made. It was alleged, among other things, that the child had said that the husband touches her genitals. The information was quite explicit and went on to state that …a representative of the Department of Community Services (DOCS) interviewed the child …..”
O’Ryan said these words:
“It was apparent, when giving his evidence in the witness box, that he was upset about what had been alleged. The wife has given no evidence supporting the allegations …or any evidence suggesting similar behaviour by the husband at any time with the child.”
O’Ryan said these words:
“On 22 July 2001 the husband collected the child and the child said “Mummy say no kisses and no hugs” and further, “take you away to jail” and “Policeman say they will take you to jail”. I do not propose to repeat all of what the child said. I accept the evidence of the husband. The child probably said these things because of the interviews relating to the allegations of abuse of the child by the husband”.
I submit to this Court that these allegations against me were an early example of the continuing inability of Ms. S to “relinquish the conflict” and of her continual attempts to restrict and eventually eliminate my contact with Anastasia.
In his Family Report, Lodge wrote that Anastasia said that:
“It is not safe to go to Mr. Schubert’s house because there are ‘lots of spiders’.”
During cross-examination, I asked Lodge why he included this comment. He replied with these words:
“Is her attempt to convey to me in a child like and childish manner, probably an incorrect manner, information that would support what she was wanting to say to me. To put it simply, okay, I doubt in all honesty that she was afraid to go to your home because there were spiders there.”
In fact, if Lodge … had taken the trouble to ask either my first ex-wife or my other daughter, Sa, about this, they would have realised that Lodge should, indeed, take seriously her allegation that spiders are the only reason she feels unsafe in my house. As I wrote in my affidavit:
“The fact is that between the garage and the house is a 40 metre winding pathway through a lovely garden with many plants and trees – and at almost anytime it is possible to see spider-webs and spiders, and Anastasia is scared of them.”
S’s psychological state
During cross-examination by the Child Representative, Lodge said these words:
“The other factor that would be needed to be taken into account would be the impact on the mother and therefore the mother/child relationship, if she was unable to go (to Russia), what would be the impact on her vacationally, emotionally, etc.”
S says that she is going to Russia regardless of whether or not the Court permits her to take Anastasia. If claim were to turn out to be untrue (like so many others she has made) and she did not go to Russia, I submit to this Court that there would be no impact on the mother/child relationship. Or, if there was, it would only be a reflection of the fact that S had failed in her long standing efforts to prevent Anastasia from having any contact with me.
His Honour said these words to Lodge:
“I suppose it is possible that her mother sees for herself even the same need. That is, to take herself out of the situation where she is having persistent and constant conflict with Mr. Schubert?”
Lodge replied with the word: “Yes”
This question seems to ignore the issue of who is causing and initiating the conflict.
Anastasia’s attachment to me
In Family Report, Lodge wrote these words:
“It is also common for children who have learned to accommodate and appease the contradictory emotional demands of conflicted parent figures to begin to align with one or other parent at about the age of six or seven.”
During cross-examination, Lodge said:
“The intense and chronic conflict between the parents has begun to erode whatever attachment there was between Mr Schubert and Anastasia, as is entirely predictable given her age and intensity of this conflict.”
In his evidence, Lodge said these words in regards to Anastasia:
“By Ms. S’s account … she is incredibly distressed on a Wednesday in anticipation of – and I would suggest the contact exchange not necessarily moving to one parent or the other, but the actual apprehension about what is going to happen when exchange occurs, because she has witnessed some difficult events between the parents.”
Once again, Lodge has accepted that what S … say is true.
The facts are that on Wednesdays there in never any exchange of Anastasia from one parent to the other. I always pick up Anastasia from school – and Anastasia is totally aware of this.
While SF (from After School Care) did not give evidence in the Court (interestingly, Ms. S indicated in Court that she had a conversation with SF about giving evidence, and related that she was unwilling to do so, and SF confirmed this when I later spoke with her) her affidavit of 2 November, 2004 indicates that Anastasia looks forward to seeing me on Wednesdays.
In her affidavit, SF used these words:
“In the afternoon when Jeffrey comes to collect Anastasia she always runs up to him when she sees him and she will not let go of him to let him talk to staff members or even sign her out. She often says during the course of afternoons when Jeffrey is picking her up, in an exited tone: ‘Daddy’s picking me up this afternoon, Daddy’s picking me up this afternoon’.”
My first ex-wife presented herself for cross-examination but when she took the stand she was not asked about Anastasia’s attachment to me. However, in her affidavit signed 22 November, 2004, she uses these words:
“Finally, I understand that there is some question as to … her general attitude towards him. I have observed that when she is here, Anastasia likes to walk the dogs with me, likes to be with Sa, likes to play with J and J, and likes to play with the two girls next door, but most of all she likes to be with ‘Daddy’.”
KH (the mother of J and J) also presented herself to the Court, but was not called to the stand. In her affidavit, signed, 29 October, 2004 she uses these words:
“Anastasia is always happy when she is around Jeff. She has occasional sleepovers at our house but is always keen to find out ‘when is Dad coming to get me’. Every time they are reunited in my presence she is overly happy and usually jumps into his arms saying: ‘Hello Daddy, I missed you!’. She has no problem is showing affection and that affection is constantly reciprocated.”
I would submit to this Court that there is much evidence that there has been no erosion of the attachment of Anastasia to me.
Because Lodge believes that this erosion of attachment “should” be occurring – because, in his words, it is “entirely predictable”—he has then interpreted Anastasia’s actions as evidence of this actually occurring rather than seeing those actions for what they really are – which is, Anastasia bowing to her mother’s wishes / intimidation while knowing that I will understand and that she can later indicate to me that she was sorry for what happened and that she still loved me. (As noted in the examples above.)
Moreover, because Anastasia’s behaviour fits in with what he believes is “common or entirely predictable”, Lodge has refused to talk to other people (eg my daughter Sa, SF – whose mobile telephone number I faxed to him— my first ex-wife, KH) who might muddy the waters of his neat story.
During cross-examination Lodge said that he had not read the previous Family Report by Dr. Quadrio because it wasn’t in the file. In response to my question about his style of approach to the job, Lodge replied:
“Did I contact as many people as Dr. Quadrio? No, I doubt it very much.”
I would submit to this Court that there must be significant question marks over the thoroughness of the Lodge report, and questions as to why it was not thoroughly done.
Lodge said in his evidence that I had reacted to Anastasia’s apparent attitude toward me with “counter rejection”.
When I asked Lodge to elaborate on this, he offered these explanations:
“You seemed reluctant when she was reading to participate fully. You didn’t seem to be trying to take her out of the state she was in, which I have accepted, and I hope you do understand this, probably had a level of theatricality about it. ... I noted that you didn’t seem to take pleasure in her reading and observed that in that context you demonstrated in terms of your interactions with her a lack of spontaneity.”
I later asked Lodge:
“Could it be that given the history of these things, and the fact that I was shocked by Anastasia’s reaction to me – what you observed in me wasn’t counter-rejection. It was just not wanting to put more pressure on her when she was obviously under a lot of pressure?”
In reply, Lodge just continued to talk about “counter rejection”.
During cross-examination by the Child Representative , I said that I was surprised that Lodge let the situation go on as long as he did.