South Carolina family court Judge Rochelle Conits displays why SC needs judicial reform
This is the story of a combat veteran, a father falsely accused of sexual assault, a convicted felon and a family court judge.
Suppose for a second we have a court case that is well documented and well outlined. Suppose we have a court case involving a family court judge where the litigant involved appealed the case and got part of the case completely vacated as a result. Now, suppose there was a judge who, some in South Carolina have said, has a clear issue with understanding parental rights and the law.
You don’t have to suppose anymore. We have such a judge and that judge is Rochelle Conits.
This woman punished a combat veteran returning home from Iraq and made him pay $4000 monthly for child support. In the case of Scott Roesler v. Sara Roesler it was Judge Conits who decided that Sara Roesler physically assaulted Scott Roesler and admitted to such in court yet Judge Conits saw fit to make this man pay $4000 a month for child support.
Yes, that’s right. A judge essentially agreed the wife involved here was the abuser but punished the abused as if they were the perpetrator. “The best interest of the child” is surely better served with the person who isn’t being divorced and granted that divorce based on physical cruelty.
The reason why his child support is so high is because Mr. Roesler is a combat veteran who served in Iraq. He made a lot of money while deployed but that doesn’t mean the money transferred over once he no longer held that position. This is what happens to a lot of combat veterans, especially men, in this state and we’ve covered this already on the Daily Caller. This story is, sadly, not that uncommon or unusual. Many veterans in the state of South Carolina end up homeless thanks to the family courts.
If anyone would like to know why then review the following quote from the legal documents to show how reasonable Mrs. Roesler could be.
In October 2007, the family returned to Texas to pack up their household goods. According to Husband, Wife was upset about leaving “anything behind in the house.” Wife insisted the pool slide, pool heater, light fixtures, door handles, two French doors, and built-in cabinets be packed. Husband explained the house was in or about to enter foreclosure and “the expectation was . . . we were not going to be able to afford to stay in that house anyhow.” As part of a corporate relocation program, Fluor paid a moving company to move the family’s household goods from Texas to South Carolina and store the goods in South Carolina.
What the above demonstrates is the kind of woman Mrs. Roesler was. She was upset that the family didn’t have as much cash as usual and didn’t care that her husband at the time might be suffering through a range of issues and it wasn’t his fault that money couldn’t grow on trees.
Mrs. Roesler somehow got physical custody of the children despite her apparent physical cruelty and our combat veteran only gets to see his kids for two weeks out of the year. One would think that if Judge Conits granted a divorce based on physical cruelty that she wouldn’t allow custody to go towards a woman, Mrs. Roesler in this case, who initiated that physical cruelty.
Shortly thereafter, a dispute arose between Husband and Wife over money and whether they were able to afford the Greer house. Wife began hitting and slapping Husband. Husband left the hotel and Wife followed. As Husband attempted to leave the parking lot in his car, Wife used her car to push Husband’s car approximately six feet onto the curb to prevent him from leaving. Wife exited her vehicle and began tossing items from Husband’s trunk.
The wife actually admitted to a lot of this. She was so bold that she didn’t hide what she did because she appeared to be under the impression that South Carolina courts aren’t exactly known for coming down hard on women even when the woman in question absolutely deserves it.
Husband and Wife attempted to reconcile, and the family went bowling on New Year’s Eve 2007. Upon returning home, Husband and Wife became involved in an argument in front of Child. Wife attempted to hit Husband’s head against the wall. Husband explained Wife did not attempt to “physically damage” his head, but was “very, very physical demonstrative of making a point.” The argument dissipated, and although Husband considered leaving Wife, he remained in the home because of Child. However, shortly thereafter another argument occurred and Husband left the home.
Imagine how this would be explained by Judge Conits had it been Mr. Roesler and not Mrs. Roesler who was performing the assaults. This is why men don’t bother reporting. What’s the point in reporting the assault, getting the judge to grant a divorce based on physical cruelty and yet somehow the abuser gets the kids and the abused has to pay $4000 a month as a combat veteran? Judge Conits demonstrates why men have been silent about their abuse. After all, one could say those men have 4000 reasons a month to not come forward.
Afterwards, Husband and Wife talked for approximately thirty minutes before Wife began hitting Husband. Husband attempted to leave a second time; however, Wife jumped onto the hood of his car and forcibly removed a windshield wiper blade which she used to strike Husband several times. Thereafter, Husband requested the hotel’s front desk staff call the police. Wife was arrested, and Husband bailed Wife out of jail the next morning.
In fact, this case provides a perfect example of what happens when it is the mother who is physically cruel and when Judges like Judge Conits are involved who, some have said, clearly demonstrates a bias towards mothers.
The family court’s final order granted Husband a divorce on the grounds of physical cruelty, awarded Wife custody of Child, allowed Husband two weeks visitation per year, ordered Husband to pay $4,000 per month in child support, and equitably divided the parties’ marital property. No alimony was awarded. This appeal followed.
Yes, our wounded warriors, once again as our reporting as revealed are being punished via these family court judges who see our bravest as nothing more than cash wells. Judge Conits essentially admitted to what Mrs. Roesler did via the granting of a divorce citing physical cruelty and yet, some could say, the lack of response from this judge shows why such admissions are a joke in the state of South Carolina. Some have said that if judges such as Rochelle Conits want people to believe she isn’t just another judge with deep seated issues of a superiority complex to men or a disdain for fathers who question her then she could make sure that her rulings reflect that.
Take the case of the South Carolina Department of Social Services versus Mary Clark that was an appeal from a decision made by Judge Conits.
Some in South Carolina show the case of Mary Clark and how Judge Conits appeared to give her preference despite the facts involved in the case as a shining example of gender bias in the South Carolina family courts.
For example, the father involved in the Mary Clark case, Daniel Clark, was being accused of sexually abusing his own daughter. Now, if a person accuses another of sexual assault and if that assault has not been proven to be true then it is either the truth or a lie. In this case, even a complete fool would have to agree that a lot of lies were being told here and there is more than enough reason to question the accuser in this case. Judge Conits? Well, she had less questions than we did at the Daily Counter.
These accusations came despite testimony from other children that were biological to Mr. Clark testifying that they were never abused by their father.
“Father’s two daughters, Jacqueline and Victoria, testified at trial. Both strongly denied that Father had ever acted inappropriately, either towards them or towards Anna G. Jacqueline, who was twenty on the date of trial, stated both she and her sister had a close relationship with Anna G. Jacqueline stated she had slept in the same bed with Father and had also slept in the same bed with Anna G. and her sister, Victoria, but nothing inappropriate happened during those times, and at no point had he ever sexually abused her. Jacqueline also testified she had never seen Anna G. act out as she had in the presence of Mother or her therapist. Father’s older daughter, Victoria, who was twenty-two at the time of the hearing, stated Father was loving and caring and taught his daughters how to be responsible. Victoria testified that because she works with young children as an early childhood major, she knows the differences between “what’s curious . . . [and] what’s weird. [Anna G.] act[s] just as normal with me as everybody else.” Victoria stated while she considered herself “friends” with Mother before the sexual abuse allegations arose, she considered Mother to be overbearing and overprotective, particularly with her instructions to Father on how to parent and care for Anna G. while in Father’s custody.
Father’s ex-wife, Gwendolyn C., also testified at the intervention hearing. She stated that despite being divorced, she and Father raised Jacqueline and Victoria together, and she never had any reason to believe he inappropriately touched one of their children. While Gwendolyn stated she had to seek court action to require Father to pay child support, she said he was a good father to her daughters and to Anna G. and that based on her observations, Anna G. was extremely affectionate towards and attached to Father.”
The pediatrician involved said nothing happened that would lead them to believe sexual abuse was happening.
“Dr. Tracy Butcher, Anna G.’s pediatrician, also testified at the intervention hearing. She stated Mother had brought Anna G. to her office for numerous health and allergy issues since Anna G. was born. Mother reported Anna G. suffered from nightmares and sleeping disturbances as early as May 2006, but Dr. Butcher stated Mother’s concerns over these issues escalated after overnight visitation commenced. Dr. Butcher testified she was concerned that Anna G. was still breastfeeding at twenty-four months because the child was using this to manipulate Mother. When questioned on cross-examination, Dr. Butcher testified she never observed any indicators that Anna G. was being sexually abused.”
In other words, a man who appears to have been falsely accused of sexually assaulting his own daughter was forced to pay for attorney fees to his attorney. That is insane because this man only got such an expensive attorney because he was being accused of sexually assaulting his own daughter and would’ve gotten a less expensive attorney had that factor not been present. In other words, you can’t accuse someone of Russian spying with expert after expert searching into you and get a lawyer that earned their law degree from the back of a Cracker Jacks box. No, you’re going to hire someone who knows what they’re doing and the fact you had to hire that person despite being falsely accused should be considered in terms of granting attorney fees.
“Father did not appeal the family court’s decision to require him to contribute towards the attorney’s fees or the GAL fees. Thus, the family court’s ruling is law of the case as it pertains to Father. See In re Morrison, 321 S.C. 370, 372 n.2, 468 S.E.2d 651, 652 n.2 (1996) (noting an unappealed ruling becomes law of the case and precludes further consideration of the issue on appeal).”
Yes, you read that correctly.
A man who was falsely accused of things he clearly didn’t do, was never arrested for and is a very serious offense has to pay for his own attorney just to see his own child. Once Mr. Clark was accused of sexually assaulting his own child then he wasn’t allowed to be around the child for more than a year while the messy legal proceedings carried through in the South Carolina family court system. While the South Carolina Department of Social Services conducted an investigation Mr. Clark’s parental rights were suspended. His rights were suspended, not based on an arrest or conviction, but because he was merely accused.
In fact, there is something else that the South Carolina Court of Appeals noted.
“While Mother clearly cares greatly for her child, we agree with the family court’s finding that the conflict in the parties’ parenting skills and Mother’s desire to micromanage Father’s visitation with Anna G. has partially contributed to the circumstances surrounding these allegations. Moreover, we find it troubling, as did the family court, that Anna G. continued to “display the level of sexualized behavior and distress after having absolutely no contact or visitation with [Father] in over one full year.””
This child was just three years old at the time. That means that her father not even being around during the time that she exhibited “sexualized behavior” would only further demonstrate that Mr. Clark couldn’t have possibly molested her with the lack of physical evidence, observable evidence and testimony from professional witnesses. Not only was this man’s parental rights suspended based on mere accusations but the attorney fees he was seeking for having to take his accuser to court weren’t even granted to him. He did everything right and yet Judge Conits decided that his plea just wasn’t good enough.
Perhaps if Mr. Clark had a vagina he would’ve received a little more from the likes of Judge Conits. After all, it didn’t take much to have his parental rights terminated like he is in some judicial form of time-out for offenses he wasn’t even charged with. Protecting children is one thing but this cannot be the response every time a man is accused of something horrible. If this is allowed to stand then that means anyone, for any reason, could just accuse you over and over again of sexually assaulting your children.
Take the case of Andrew Jack Myers and minor daughter. Incarceration doesn’t automatically mean the termination of parental rights in any state or territory and isn’t usually the sole reasoning provided for termination of rights. However, Judge Conits decided to terminate this man’s rights even though he had expressed a desire to be involved in the life of his daughter.
We are not going to defend some of the things that Andrew Jack Myers has done, been convicted of and certainly not the example that he could potentially set for a young child. However, as the saying goes, the “law is the law” and Judge Conits demonstrated that she didn’t understand the law and thus when Andrew Jack Myers appealed the decision to terminate his parental rights as he was incarcerated during the time of the family court hearing and couldn’t be present we find out that the South Carolina court of appeals mostly agreed with Mr. Myers.
In fact, according to Fox News the South Carolina Court of Appeals even gave a written decision with an entire court document we will provide here.
Quoted from the Fox News article:
“Following his release in November, Myers appealed the adoption order and an appellate court judge agreed, citing a previous ruling that said incarceration was not enough reason to terminate a parent’s rights.
“We vacate the family court’s finding that father’s consent was not required for the adoption and the family court’s order granting foster parents adoption of child,” reads the appellate court opinion. “We find the record does not contain clear and convincing evidence showing father willfully failed to visit child.””
The simple fact is that, because of this judge’s reckless and careless decision-making from the bench, a little girl had to get dragged into a controversial legal case that took a small town case and thrust that case into the national spotlight. Had Judge Conits not terminated Mr. Myers rights and allowed him to at least visit his child with standard visitation upon release then perhaps this whole situation wouldn’t be occurring. It doesn’t matter if the man is a convicted felon or not. Being a felon doesn’t magically make him a person who doesn’t deserve to see his kid after he has paid his debt to society.
If the person reading this believes we are showing too much deference to a man who is a convicted felon there is something else that Fox News revealed that Judge Conits said. This statement displays the highest levels of cruelty and callous disregard for basic human empathy.
Quote from the Fox News article:
“Mr. Myers has willfully failed to support the child,” she wrote in the final order. “He never paid any support for the child, despite having the ability and discretion to do so from funds in his commissary account.”
Judge Rochelle Conits quoted by Fox News. https://www.foxnews.com/us/south-carolina-parents-in-fight-to-keep-adopted-child-take-case-to-state-supreme-court
It doesn’t matter if this man is a convicted felon or not. Expecting someone to pay child support with commissary funds is a bit ridiculous. Many prisoners use those funds to eat food when the prison food is less than edible. Those commissary funds are also the only real flow of currency. An inmate without commissary funds to pay off prison yard bullies, gangs, and other prison entities can find their very lives being in danger. That’s the context behind why some prisoners elect to keep a healthy commissary balance. For prisoners who aren’t the best fighters, most connected or protected by a gang survival can depend on that commissary fund.
If someone is incarcerated they’re paying their debt to society and it is more than reasonable for that person to not have parental rights while incarcerated. However, shouldn’t rights be restored once the debt to society has been paid in full? Is there never a point where even someone like Mr. Myers can face forgiveness? Should he walk around with a Scarlet Letter for the rest of his life and never get a chance to be involved in his daughter’s life? Excluding him from the life of his kid and not allowing him the same rights as any other parent certainly wouldn’t assist him in having a reason to not re-offend.
It doesn’t matter what Mr. Myers did in the past. The fact that the South Carolina Court of Appeals vacated her decision demonstrates why some believe she has a fundamental lack of understanding when it comes to law, decency in judgement from the bench and the lacks the mental temperament for such a position. Others have said that when it comes to her judicial results if someone were just looking into the results that her work speaks for itself. The speaking that work would do, many South Carolinians fear, is flawed.
We have witnessed the results of multiple cases that spans multiple sensibilities. Even if you cannot identify with a convicted felon you couldn’t just dismiss a combat veteran and another man who was clearly falsely accused of something he hasn’t done.
What these cases show is that Judge Rochelle Conits shouldn’t have been the judge in any of these cases. In fact, she shouldn’t be a judge at all. She treated the bravest of us (a combat veteran), the most underappreciated of us (the hard-working father falsely accused) and even, what some would call, the worst of us (a convicted felon) all like they’re less than human. The difference isn’t the social status in life these men have but the difference is that these people are men.
You’ll notice there aren’t many complaints from female litigants directed towards Judge Conits. After all, if one were to ask Mark Roesler, he would probably say that Judge Conits will allow a female litigant to beat the hell out of you, she grant a divorce based on physical cruelty but it is somehow you the abused who sees their children the least and pays the most for their upkeep.
Judges that shouldn’t be on the bench don’t make bad decisions back to back. No, these people have a tendency to stagger their decisions. Act right for a few and expel judicial diarrhea on the rest. That appears to be the pattern of Judge Rochelle Conits. Unfortunately for this judge, as we promised, there is a new sheriff in town and this person doesn’t mind doing the one thing most journalists don’t like doing and that’s reading through every court document.
Dion McNeil is a 29 year old expecting father to a newborn. He’s married and will be a stay at home dad. He’s a blogger, writer and general enthusiast for video games, comic books, fantasy and social issues.
Original Story on AVFM
Author: Dion McNeil
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