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Michigan judge detains kids for refusing lunch with father

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan judge sent three children to juvenile detention for refusing to have lunch or talk to their father after chastising them and their mother during a recent hearing in a years-long custody fight. And two weeks later, the children — ages 15, 10 and 9 — remained in custody.

Court transcripts show that an exasperated Oakland County Judge Lisa Gorcyca ruled on June 24 that only the father could visit the children while they were at Children’s Village, a detention facility in Pontiac. She also said the children should “be kept away from each other as much as possible.”

Gorcyca went on to tell the family that the case, stemming from a contentious divorce that began in 2009, was tied for the worst “parental alienation” case she had ever seen. She blamed the mother for alienating the boys and their younger sister from their father.

“Your children — you need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has,” the judge told the mother, according to court transcripts provided and first reported by WJBK-TV.

The judge thanked the mother for encouraging the children during the hearing to visit their father, but said “it probably was way too late.” She said the children would be released only after talking to their father, and ordered another hearing on Sept. 8.

The Associated Press is withholding the names of the mother and father to protect the identities of their children.

The children remained in custody Thursday, according to the office of attorney Lisa Stern, who is representing the mother. She and the mother declined further comment “due to the sensitive nature of this matter” and were “looking forward to the safe return of the children,” said Stern’s spokeswoman, Sandra Kott.

The father’s lawyer, Keri Middleditch, said the situation was traumatic for everyone involved.

“It is unfortunate that the children are in shelter care due to the actions of their mother,” she said in a statement to the AP on Thursday. Middleditch said the mother “has continued to endorse the children’s behavior that she successfully instilled in them, effectively alienating them from their father. The court took severe action to attempt to remedy a heart-wrenching situation, solely created” by the mother.

During the hearing last month, the judge ordered the children detained after each appeared before her and refused to have contact with their father. The children were represented by separate lawyers.

The 15-year-old boy apologized for his earlier behavior in court. “But I do not apologize for not talking to him because I have a reason for that, and that’s because he’s violent and he — I saw him hit my mom,” he told the judge.

Gorcyca told the teen his father “has never been charged with anything” and was “a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you.”

After ordering the teen to juvenile detention, the judge added: “You may stay in there until you graduate from high school.”

On Thursday, a lawyer in the judge’s office, Amanda Murley, said Gorcyca was “unable to comment” because of the ongoing case.

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Follow David N. Goodman at http://twitter.com/davidngoodman

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