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Fathers and Families

F & F Pens Column on False Accusations Case, Helps Introduce AZ, Hawaii Reform Bills
February 15, 2011
Top Story
F & F Writes Column for New Hampshire Union Leader on Ruggiero False Accusations Case

New Hampshire Union Leader“[Kristin Ruggiero's folly came because claims in criminal court had to be backed up -- unlike in family court where she made repeated claims about ex-husband's behavior]…Unfortunately for her, we’re not in family court anymore.”–Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard

In Jeff Ruggiero Deserves Custody of His Daughter (New Hampshire Union Leader, 2/11/11), Fathers and Families Board Member Robert Franklin, Esq. criticizes the way family courts have mishandled the Ruggiero false accusations case. We suggest you write a Letter to the Editor of the Union Leader at [email protected].

Franklin writes:
It’s time for Jeffrey Ruggiero’s daughter to come home…

Almost three years ago, in the middle of their divorce, she accused Jeff of domestic violence and violation of a restraining order. It didn’t take the police long to figure out that her accusations were completely fabricated. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Jeff and instead indicted Kristin on 12 felony counts of lying to police and the district attorney’s office.

But Kristin’s allegations kept Jeff under a legal cloud long enough for him to lose his job as a Coast Guard petty officer, almost lose his house, and have his parental rights to his daughter terminated.

As Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard described it, that was her point. He told the jury: “She mocked him. She laughed at him. (She said) ‘I took all your money, I took your daughter, and now I am going to take your career.’ ” Since then, Kristin has been convicted of all 12 felonies and sentenced to 7 to 14 years in prison.

All of that has been well publicized. It’s Jeff’s effort to regain custody of his daughter that the public has seen little of. Despite his having done no wrong and despite being a responsible and loving father, Jeff still has not regained custody. He only lost her in the first place because of allegations by Kristin that have now been proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have been false.

Despite being indicted, Kristin retained custody of their daughter while awaiting trial. Now that she’s in prison, her mother, Elizabeth McDonald, has the girl. As a practical matter that means that Kristin is still making parenting decisions from her prison cell.

But last week Elizabeth McDonald was herself indicted and new charges were brought against Kristin.

The family court now has a choice about who should care for the little girl—Kristin, Elizabeth McDonald or Jeff.

Kristin will spend the next several years in prison, and McDonald is under indictment.

Then there’s Jeffrey Ruggiero, who is the girl’s father.

He’s remarried and continues to serve in our nation’s armed services. Jeffrey Ruggiero has done nothing to warrant being kept out of his daughter’s life. He has done no wrong. On the contrary, he’s had grave wrongs done to him.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that states may not deny rights to parents unless they have been proven to be unfit. Nothing of the sort has been proved against Jeffrey Ruggiero. The only “evidence” against him was the perjured testimony of his ex-wife.

It’s time his little girl came home to live with the only decent figure in this whole sorry affair—her father.
Read the full piece here. For more background on the case, see Franklin’s blog posts here.

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