Judge Charles Barry Tatum is one of the worst things to ever happen to the families of Wilson County, TN. He is a willing and active participant in the legal abuse and court corruption that is used against protective mothers who make the mistake of reporting fathers for any sort of abuse they commit against the children. My case has followed the pattern almost to the letter of thousands of other cases in which mothers had their children taken away and handed over to abusers after physical or sexual abuse against the children was reported to the proper agencies.
I found myself in Barry Tatums courtroom because another Wilson County judge who is unfit to make decisions about children and families, Clara Byrd, violated TN law when she made a finding of dependency neglect and placed in DCS custody. Her reasoning was that she felt "too many" reports of sexual abuse by the boys father had been filed with DCS, she didn't know what was going on, and so it made sense to her to remove the boys from my custody and care and hand them over to DCS to be placed in foster care. First of all, as a TN family court judge, Clara Byrd does not have the authority to make a finding of dependency neglect -- that is outside her specific area of law that she is granted jurisdiction over and her ruling is void. Secondly, at no point did she have any evidence against me to give cause for a finding of dependency neglect even if she was legally able to make such a ruling. Thirdly, I cannot find anything to support a legal definition of what constitutes "too many" reports filed with DCS pertaining to abuse against a child. From what I can tell, the law says that however many incidents of abuse are known about are the number that must be reported and there is no limit of reports that would call for a mother to lose custody of the children she is reporting the abuse on behalf of. Clara Byrds ruling to remove my children from my custody appears to be a violation of the TN Protective Parent Reform Act (Tenn. Code Ann. 36-6-112).
DCS's attorneys determined Clara Byrd had acted outside the law and within days they filed a motion asking her to reconsider her decision and return the boys to my custody. Clara Byrd refused and sent all parties to Judge John Gwin in juvenile court even though both the DCS attorney and the guardian ad litem appointed for my oldest son both protested that Clara Byrd had no legal basis for sending the matter to juvenile court. Despite this, everyone walked down the hall to Judge Gwin's courtroom. Judge Gwin took about 2 minutes to hear things and then ruled to maintain the status quo of the boys being in foster care rather than return them to me because he knew nothing about the case and did not want to make any changes. From here the case was handed over to Barry Tatum and the real legal abuse and court corruption began -- he is such a reprehensible nightmare that its difficult to even know where to begin.
Ill start with his blatant ignorance about issues that affect families such as domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual abuse of children. Barry Tatum is proof that you can lead a judge to training and workshops, but you CANNOT make him think because he operates his courtroom and rules on cases according to the host of myths that he believes are absolute truth about domestic violence and all forms of child abuse.
1. In my first court appearance before Barry Tatum, he heavily suggested that I suffered from
Munchausen by Proxy with no reports by any mental health professionals to support such a statement. [Protective mothers are always given labels of mental/psychological disorders even without any licensed professional opinions to support such labels. Its the first step to discredit the
allegations the protective mother has brought against the abusive parent.]
2. During hearings in subsequent months, I testified about the domestic violence that I suffered during the marriage to the ex and Barry Tatum made the comment to me Yet you continued to lay with this man and have children with him and he completely ignored evidence that supported my testimony of domestic violence in his later rulings. [Protective mothers testimony about domestic violence they suffered is either completed discounted, minimized, or they are subjected to the blame the victim attitude from judges and attorneys representing the abuser and also the GALs. The domestic violence is not recognized as a significant indicator that the children are very likely being abused because judges and attorneys have elected to ignore the research that has clearly established a link between a spousal domestic abuse and child abuse.]
3. In another hearing Barry Tatum made the statement that the forensic interviews my children had gone through and the counseling I had sought for them could be more harmful to my sons than any sexual abuse that might be going on. [I dont believe I even need to explain why this attitude has no place in the decision-making process regarding the safety and well-being of children.]
There have been other statements Barry Tatum has made on court record that show his overwhelming ignorance about domestic violence and sexual abuse research findings, as well as his bias against survivors of domestic abuse. Those are just the most outrageous statements he made on record.
In additional to his anti-domestic violence survivor bias and his total lack of knowledge about domestic violence and child abuse research, Barry Tatum makes whatever rulings he wants in order to bring about his desired outcome and whether or not the law allows him to do so is of no importance to him.
1. I went through three days of hearings and testimony that was unable to support any of the fabricated allegations the ex brought against me in a petition for dependency neglect that was ultimately dismissed. Under state law, the juvenile court's jurisdiction ended and we were to return to family court and custody of the boys should have been restored to me. Barry Tatum refused to restore custody of the boys to me, refused to acknowledge that the juvenile court no longer had jurisdiction over the matter, and continued to make rulings against me that are void.
2. After dismissing the dependency neglect petition, Barry Tatum allowed the ex to bring my two youngest sons into court to give coached statements against me (not allowed under TN state law).
3. Barry Tatum then made rulings against me based on the statements (also not allowed under TN state law) to limit me to paid supervised visitation, despite my argument that the cost is so prohibitively high it amounts to denying me visitation with my children at all. [Cutting off the protective mother's contact with her children is always a goal in these types of cases.]
Barry Tatum has consistently ruled against me in all hearings, with the exception of dismissing the dependency neglect petition as the other side clearly failed to meet the standard of proof. He delayed the dismissal of the petition for more than a month and only gave his ruling when my attorney went to Wilson County to meet with the judge in person after weeks of phone calls had gone unanswered. He also slow-walked the start of my appeal process when he delayed signing his ruling to deny the motion requesting him to set aside his void orders -- the signed order was needed to proceed with an appeal and the judge finally signed it after my attorney went to Wilson County in person to ask for the order to be signed after two weeks of delay.
Things that should concern any parent who may end up in Barry Tatums courtroom:
1. Barry Tatum placed the boys with the ex while an investigation of sexual abuse was still open against him.
2. He also disregardedall testimony from one of the boy's counselors that indicated the ex was engaging in some sort of harmful behavior against the boys and that the boys have been exposed to domestic violence committed by the ex.
3. He ignored the exs own testimony about his homosexual behavior that the ex has gone to extreme lengths to hide from public court record.
4. He refused to allow photos of the exs homosexual photo sessions discovered in a forensic investigation to be submitted as exhibits.
5. He disregarded the exs own testimony about his behavior of viewing pornography during the marriage.
6. He overlooked the exs perjury on the witness stand about his domestic violence behavior against me and illegal substance abuse that my ex had adamantly denied (my ex made the mistake of writing an email that described in detail abuse he committed against me as well as his illegal substance abuse and the email was presented in court). The ex also tried to deny domestic violence described in an email written by a former fiancee submitted in court by insisting that the woman was crazy and had just been trying to get out of paying for a car loan.
Even with all this testimony/evidence of the exs parental and moral character unfitness Barry Tatum ruled that the boys should remain with the ex rather than be returned to my custody and care to be raised in a safe, loving, and healthy Christian home. The judge even criticized me after I gave testimony that I had shared the details of my case with people in my church I felt especially close to. He was very condescending in his remarks to me when I said that by letting people walk with me in this it helped them know how to pray for me and the boys.
I think Ive said all that needs to be said about why Barry Tatums time as a Wilson County juvenile court judge must come to an end. Sexual abuse against children is only going to get worse with things like the recent decision in New York state to legalize child pornography and groups like B4U Act attempting to have the psychological definition of pedophilia tweaked so that adults having sex with children is no longer classified as a disorder, but is simply another sexual preference that could then be decriminalized and even normalized.
While there are many steps that parents and residents of TN will have to take in order to ensure that children continue to be protected from sexual predators, removing Barry Tatum from the bench is one step that must happen in 2014.