The Short of It
Michigan's Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca sent a 9-year-old girl and her 10- and 15-year-old brothers to a juvenile center two weeks ago because the children didn't want to spend time with their dad. They're still in the detention center, and county residents are protesting for their release.
The children's parents, Omer Tsimhoni and Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, have been in a divorce, custody, and visitation battle since 2009. The dad has a job in Israel but often comes to the Detroit area, where the children live with their mother. The mother says she feels threatened by her ex-husband and fears for the children's safety, while the father denies any violence, claims the mom is brainwashing the kids against him, and that she violates court orders for the children to see him.
In the June 24 court hearing, the children told the judge they didn't want to spend time with their dad. According to a hearing transcript posted by Fox 2 Detroit, rather than listening to the children's reasons for avoiding their father, Judge Gorcyca belittled and threatened them. She commanded them to apologize to their father and have a pleasant lunch with him or she would send them to live in a juvenile center.
The eldest son apologized to the court, but not to his father, saying, "He's violent and he—I saw him hit my mom, and I'm not gonna talk to him."
As a result, the judge ordered him sent to the youth shelter that holds three dozen people. Although the two younger siblings did apologize, they said they would rather be sent to juvenile detention with their older sibling than go to a lunch with their father.
Judge Gorcyca banned the mother from visiting her children and ordered that the siblings be "kept away from each other as much as possible," because she said they had been brainwashed like Charles Manson cult members. She set a review of the punishment for Sept. 8, but said the father may request an earlier hearing if the children start getting along with him.
"When you can follow the court's direct order and have a normal, healthy relationship with your father, I would review this," Gorcyca said. "It might be three years. It might [not] be till you're 18."
Many are outraged by the judge's punishment and are protesting in front of the courthouse. They're also drafting petitions that call for the judge's firing and for the release of the children, using the hashtag #FreeTsimhoniKids. While we don't know all the facts of the case, the judge's decision seems extreme and inappropriate. If the children do fear the father, they shouldn't be forced to spend time with him. If they've been brainwashed against him by their mother, that's not their fault. Either way, it sounds like they need counseling and support, not to be incarcerated.
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