Butler County CSEA Director Cynthia Brown Accuses Fathers of Being Purposely Absent

I found the following link on Glenn Sacks blog. http://www.middletownjournal.com/hp/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/04/15/mj041608csea.html
For those not familiar with Butler County Ohio, their domestic and juvenile relations courts are considered by many to be the most anti-father, biased and unjust courts in the state of Ohio. Their reputation is so questionable that Butler County was mentioned in Dr. Stephen Baskerville’s, much acclaimed book, “Taken Into Custody.”

I can’t comment on every article where another Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) employee demonizes Fathers in the press, however given Butler County’s juvenile and domestic relations court’s nefarious reputations, I felt compelled to respond to Ms. Brown’s disparaging remark whereby she wrongly maligns all Fathers who have been charged with felony criminal non-support.

In the article she states, “Criminal non-support charges are serious,” said CSEA Executive Director Cynthia Brown. “Parents who are charged with criminal non-support are purposely absent from their children’s lives and neglecting their financial responsibilities.”

I take issue with Ms. Brown’s false claim for numerous reasons. First and foremost, there are Fathers like David Rose. He was wrongly convicted of felony criminal non-support and was “prevented” from being involved in his son’s life as a direct result of the punitive actions taken against him by the Darke County CSEA.

After the Darke County CSEA suspended Mr. Rose’s drivers license, he was prohibited by law from driving and therefore couldn’t see his children. How was Mr. Rose to see his son when he couldn’t afford to pay a cab to take him where the bus didn’t go after he lost his job through no fault of his own? Even worse, Mr. Rose is now incarcerated as an innocent man. Yet according to Ms. Brown, he was purposely absent from his children’s lives?

Next, Ms. Brown fails to mention that many Fathers are “re-indicted” while they are incarcerated. She states that a Father must miss 26 weeks of payments over a 104 week period but doesn’t elaborate because it would cast the Father in a more favorable light if she did so.

The 26 weeks of missed payments do not have to be consecutive in nature. In other words, the CSEA can take any obligor’s payment history and select any 104 week (2-year) window where the Father “missed” 26 payments and indict him on criminal felony non-support charges. Furthermore, if there were any weeks where the Father didn’t make the full payment, but made a partial payment, that week is treated as a “missed week” under Ohio’s statutes. So if a Father whose payment was $500/wk made a partial payment of only $400 one week, that is counted as a “missed payment” by the CSEA for the purpose of indicting him.

The reason a Father missed his payment is irrelevant to the CSEA. In other words, there are no acceptable excuses to justify missing payments. Involuntary loss of job, heart attack, cancer treatment, hospitalization, dialysis treatment, coma, war, stroke are not valid excuses for missing a child support payment in Ohio. Please understand that I’m not being facetious, I’m explaining how Ohio criminalizes Fathers who have fallen upon hard times or are unable to make payments through no fault of their own.

Ms. Brown also failed to mention that while a Father is incarcerated on felony criminal non-support, he can be “re-indicted” while in jail. According to Ohio statutes, incarceration is not an acceptable excuse for missing one’s child support payment. So while a Father sits in his jail cell for failure to support, Ms. Brown could be working with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office to secure another indictment for his “refusal” to pay support during his incarceration. Before he is released from prison for his prior charge, he can be charged again. The fact is, any Father caught in this nightmare faces perpetual incarceration.

The following statistic is an indictment of the system itself. Out of 88 counties in Ohio, 22 of them are led by county prosecutors who refuse to indict Fathers on felony criminal non-support charges. Why? They don’t agree with it. I suspect they have morals and desire to sleep at night. Somehow the idea of separating innocent children from the Fathers they love doesn’t bode well with those prosecutors. Twenty five percent of Ohio’s County Prosecutors do not believe it’s in the best interest of the children to incarcerate their Fathers. That speaks volumes.

Lastly, Ms. Brown doesn’t mention the financial profits the CSEA’s make off of each and every child support payment through Title-IV and federal incentive matches. The truth is that especially in this poor economy Ohio needs revenue. When Ohio profits $223 million dollars off of child support collections in one year alone, the following question must be answered.

Whose best interest is being served when Ms. Brown seeks to incarcerate Fathers and separate them from their children? Is it in our children’s best interest, or in Ohio’s best financial interest?

Tony Fantetti
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights

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