The Criminal Cottage Industry Operating in Family Courts

family-courtBy Tilahun Yilma

I made the greatest blunder of my life when I followed the advice of my dear friend, Professor Martha West of the UC Davis Law School, and reported to the District Attorney’s Office of Yolo County that my son was going to be abducted by his mother (who suffers from bipolar syndrome) and be taken to her brother, a convicted thief and a pedophile on Megan’s list on Tuesday, December 26, 2006.

When we were asked to appear in court the following day by Ms. Angela Smith of the Child Abduction Unit and an assistant DA, I presumed that the whole problem would be resolved in no more than 30 minutes. Instead the case has dragged on for more than 8 years. As a result, my son has suffered his entire life and much of my productive life was wasted. The laboratory that I established and directed at UC Davis has closed.

More than 20 highly productive scientists, postdocs, graduate students, and staff lost their employment and research projects were left unfinished in which millions of dollars had been invested. This laboratory brought highly prestigious local, national, and international awards and resulted in my election to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the first and only such election of a faculty member of UCD School of Veterinary Medicine since its establishment in 1948.

What I did not realize at first, is that the court is run by a criminal cottage industry consisting of judges, lawyers, psychologists, and mediators for the sole purpose of using children as hostages in order to extract every last penny from their vulnerable parents. In the process, parents often lose their entire life savings, retirement funds, and homes while their children are abused, molested, and even killed. Some parents incur huge debts in the false hopes of saving their child. Another glaring example of a horrible abuse of judicial power was when Judge Samuel T. McAdam facilitated the death of a five year old girl in the Talamantes case by giving sole custody to the mother that the psychiatrist diagnosed with serious mental illness. Even the father pleaded, to no avail, and warned the Judge that his daughter could be harmed seriously with his decision.

After the first few court dates I realized that the whole agenda of the court appeared to boil down to one and only one issue: Money! The threats given to me were very clear and unambiguous: You either pay up or we will hurt your child and prevent you from having time with him. I refused to cooperate and pay $50-100,000 and to sign off my home.

As a consequence, my son was prevented from living with me and from getting appropriate nutrition and medical care. In addition to the mental anguish and frustration caused by being allowed to have only minimal time with his father, he ended up developing 10 cavities before the age of five. When I brought two independent dental reports that the child has suffered from lack of dental hygiene and neglect, Judge McAdam further reduced my time with my son and ridiculed me by claiming that my son was suffering from defective genes.

Never have I experienced this level of racism, degradation, extortion, legalized robbery, in addition to the endangerment of the health and welfare of my child. I am a Distinguished Professor of UC Davis, a NAS member, and I have received the highest awards for outstanding teaching, Distinguished Public Service, and the Faculty Research Award. Yet, Judge McAdam found me unqualified to participate in making decision what elementary school my son should be attending in Davis.

Even though I was Chair of the Board of International Science of the National Academies and a member of the Board for Science for Peace of Italy, Judge McAdam did not deem me fit to take my son with me to Venice and Rome, Italy. Similarly, Judge Kathleen White prevented my son from traveling with me to New Zealand when I was asked by the President of the NAS to lead the US delegation to the International Council of Science meeting last September.

Further, Judge McAdam totally disregarded recommendations from our son’s physician and the preschool teachers who gave me the “Best Dad Award” at Russell Park Preschool. Instead, a mother who suffers from bipolar syndrome, has been unable to maintain a job since arriving in Davis 9 years ago, and who was dragged to court by the DA for attempting to take our son to a convicted thief and a pedophile was given more than 70% custody and sole decision making power regarding the health and education of our son.

Judge McAdam also squashed my subpoena to obtain the mother’s medical records, further subjecting our son to her cycles of depression. Her mental illness was protected as an asset to be used for the extortion process.

In addition to the abuses by the court, my son’s mother and her attorney attempted to get me arrested by claiming that I physically abused my son during a bike ride. My son’s mother picked him up at the end of his school day, told him that his testicles hurt, and took him to the hospital. Although he protested that he was fine, he was subjected to a battery of unnecessary and potentially damaging tests on his testicles to determine if he had injuries. I had to hire a criminal defense attorney at great expense to save me from going to prison based on these false charges.

The doctors could not find any injury on our son; however, they found that it was only the mother who complained about the pain and not the child. Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Davis City Police investigated this claim by interviewing our son at school without the knowledge of either parent. This was deemed appropriate in order to avoid parental influence on the testimony of the child. Both CPS and the detective testified in court that the mother had fabricated the whole story and that the child had begged them to help him live with his father.

Judge Kathleen White agreed with the testimony of the CPS and the police that the accusation was false; however, I was told that I should pay $40,000 of the mother’s legal expenses in addition to more than $100,000 that I had already paid. Her attorney was instructed to give the $10,000 to the mother. Literally, the Judge was rewarding both for falsely accusing me with felony and bringing me to court. I am not privy to the type of arrangements made between Judge White and the mother’s attorney for the execution of this sweetheart deal.

Although the mother is the one brought to court by the DA for violating the law, many reasons were given in court why I should pay all expenses: my salary was too large, I had retirement funds with UC Davis, and thus I can afford to pay it. According to the law, the mother should have been penalized or sent to prison for false accusation (Cal Fam. Code § 3027.1) and for attempting to take a child to a convicted thief and a pedophile (Cal Penal Code 288). This is another glaring example of how these corrupt judges reward those that break the law to ensure a lengthy litigation process to maximize court and legal fees. In the process the welfare of the child is ignored, frequently at great risk to the child, and the innocent parent is often reduced to bankruptcy.

I used to be dismayed and wonder why our society would tolerate the fact that about 33% of black males serve time in prison at a much higher rate than their counterparts in South Africa during the heights of Apartheid. After what my son and I experienced in Yolo County Family Court, now I ask the question how the remaining 67% of people of color manage to escape prison. Even a gifted black child like my son who asked what brings down the plum from the tree to the ground at the age of three, performed fifth grade level math in first grade, asked a cosmologist if there is an end to space and time or does space and time die just like his horse Woody when he was six, and an excellent athlete (biker, skier, swimmer, etc.) since the age of three, could not escape the wrath of the injustice system of the Yolo County Family Court. Is there any wonder that judges send 33% African American boys to prison and police shoot unarmed black boys?

I was featured as a role model in Visions (career guidance/life management workbook for African American males) by the California Department of Education in May 1996. I was also a recipient of “Mentor Award” from the Teachers Association of the State of California during their annual meeting in San Diego for volunteering and successfully mentoring disadvantaged youngsters, especially African Americans and women. I provided jobs in my lab to these youngsters and helped them get accepted into medical, veterinary, law, graduate schools, etc.

Today, many of these youngsters are successful professionals including one who was an associate dean of a medical school. Yet, the Yolo County Family Court made sure that my son does not benefit from his father’s success and resources as other youngsters have done. Every penny that I saved for his education was stripped from me using the judicial power of the court. It is ironic that while my civil rights and that of my son are being violated by Yolo County Family Court, I was serving as a board member on the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies. Thus, I came to the conclusion that there is nothing the courts will not do to destroy the lives of black boys and black men.

As a result of my experiences with Yolo County Family Court, I have made numerous attempts to bring our plight to a number of local officials and print media including assembly members Marico Yamada and Bill Monning, Senator Lois Wolk, Superintendent Don Saylor, and former Presiding Judge David Rosenberg to no avail. I joined the Human Relations Commission of the City of Davis and made numerous attempts to shed light on the sufferings of children and their parents in Yolo County Family Court. I was one of many who testified at the State Capital in support of AB 2475 on May 4, 2010.

The goal of this bill was to modify the current law that gives blanket immunity to members of the cottage industry in family courts who inflict crimes on children and their parents for financial gain. The lobby of the criminal cottage industry succeeded in defeating the bill. However, I learned at the hearing that even the Mafia does not like to involve children in its criminal activities under normal circumstances. I never thought that anything in this world would make me see the Mafia in a better light let alone the family courts that are supposedly established and funded by the State to protect the welfare of children and their parents.

During her interview by Mike Krasny of KQED (Fri, Jul 22, 2011 — 9:00 AM), Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye claimed that justice is going to be denied or delayed as a result of budget cuts to the courts by the State of California. In light of this background, I seriously question the accuracy of her claim before she should first account for the hundreds of millions of tax dollars that are wasted on inflicting injustice and crimes against children in family courts. I made an effort and succeeded in testifying at the meeting of the Judicial Council of the State of California chaired by the Chief Justice in Sacramento on Thursday, January 22, 2015. The audio cast of the testimony is given below.

I am still waiting to hear if the Chief Justice’s Office will make any attempt to contact parents who are victims of crimes committed in family courts let alone receive justice from the “Criminal Cottage Industry” masquerading as a place of justice. In conclusion, I am dismayed by the heights of hypocrisy shown by the leaders of our country when they lecture the rest of the world on human rights while children (our future) and minorities are routinely abused by courts supposedly established to defend and protect them. It is essential that citizens should rally and campaign to demand that legislators should address this perversion of family courts into a criminal joint for holding children as hostages in order to rob their parents, especially people of color. I will continue to fight for our children to attain, especially African American boys, the same level of rights enjoyed by dogs through the animal rights laws. I know because I am both a parent and a veterinarian.

Tilahun Yilma, DVM, PhD is a Distinguished Professor of Virology at UC Davis and a member, US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow at the American Academy of Microbiology

PROFESSOR YILMA will be a panelist at the Vanguard Court Watch Event on Saturday at 6 pm at the Davis Community Church – to purchase tickets, please go to:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Napoleon Pig IV

    I admire your ability to remain peaceful through this protracted miscarriage of “justice.”

    Although I may be a mere porcine subject to baser instincts than yours, it seems clear to me that some members of the human species deserve no higher status on the sanctity of life scale than rabid dogs. I love dogs, and don’t blame them when they contract a disease, and I also see no less value in their lives than in those of corrupt, power-mongering, evil humans. They shoot dogs, don’t they?

    To anyone from the Porcine Pinnacle who may be monitoring this bit of applied journalism and free speech, allow me to make it clear that I would never publicly advocate violence against any human, deserving or not. Oink!

  2. Davis Progressive

    more people need to bare witness like professor yilma.  this is a compelling story and i look forward to seeing him speak on saturday.

  3. sisterhood

    What level on Megan’s List and precisely what were the charges? Urinating in public? Molesting? Plea bargain?

    Not enough info to form an opinion whether your brother in law was a danger to your child.

  4. sisterhood

    “Even a gifted black child like my son…”

    Every single child is born with gifts to develop.

    It’s nice to read you are so proud of him.

    Not sure a bipolar person cannot be a good parent. I know many who are.

    1. baffledone

      Ya I am sure some bipolar parents are good parents. But if they are so ill that suicide is for them like flu season is to everyone else- they are probably not one of them.

  5. Frankly

    This was a good read.  A few points/observations.

    1. There are usually more sides to a one-sided story.

    2. Government is not a loving institution.

    3. Government is just another money-seeking institution.

    4. Lawyers run government.  Lawyers dominate law-making.  Law-making benefits lawyers.  Don’t like the outcome of the laws… lawyers will be happy to add more laws until we get to a point of complete equality… where everyone does not like the outcomes.   Hence a decorated and well-educated and well-behaving professor is treated the same as would be the uneducated, unemployed, abusive father of a son.

    Isn’t “equality” grand?

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      Such words of wisdom it’s difficult to quote from only a single sentence.

      Can we view lawyers and other minions of a “money-seeking institution,” at least in the context you describe, as the moral equivalent of disease pathogens or parasites? If so, antibiotics or anti-parasitics are probably in order, and if they fail to reverse disease course, amputation may be in order.

      It’s when that “. . . but some animals are more equal than others” part applies only to lawyers and government minions that the words “pitch forks” and “torches” start being used in the same sentence. Oink!

      1. Frankly

        Lawyers, I think, infest a rather unique high-order of pathogens and parasites in our nation of the “book of laws” as did the men of cloth of the Catholic church in old Europe during the dark ages… a time where nations were primarily of the “book of God”.

        And the abuse of power is similar in that only those certified with knowledge and credentials of “the book” are given the power to judge.  In our system, this “book power” is on a much steeper slippery slope of abuse than is abuse of money power… ironically because those with book power have done a pretty good job keeping those with money power in check.  We can argue that, but then I would point you to the turn of the 19th century when true Oligarchs existed.  Today all industries are a competitive slug-fest where the money power constantly shifts from market competition.   The money book is too dynamic and volatile to consider its power seekers high-order pathogens and parasites.  Mostly they are just low order work-class bugs that worked harder or smarter or got luckier.

        Like the book of God, the book of laws has a static basis.  But unlike the book of God, the book of laws is perpetually expansive.  And those able to wield it for judgment have absolute power over everyone else.  What will you do if you are persecuted in the name of the law?  Unless you are also one of the high-order parasites, you will rarely prevail.  And if you somehow are able to prevail, that hole will be plugged to ensure future sheep are kept in their pens.

        And my other point is that those holding the distinction of our high order pathogens as certified to pass judgment from the book of laws, are also mostly our politicians.  Our representative design didn’t allow for this.  The judicial, legislative and executive branches were made separate for a reason.  But now with such a big book of laws, it takes “experts” to function in politics.  And so we elect more and more of those high-order pathogens to office.   And then they have even more abusive power vested with authority and knowledge to wield the book of laws at the same time they are vested with authority to add new laws to the book.

        The political narrative is that those bad old white men CEOs are destroying the country.   The truth is that lawyers are destroying the country.

        1. sisterhood

          “The truth is that lawyers are destroying the country.”

          I disagree but I happen to really like lawyers (except prosecutors).

          Greed and narcissism are bigger problems.

  6. Miwok

    I have been hovering over this all day, reading the comments, which have deteriorated to politics, and elected lawyers.

    While I have no knowledge of this Professor, I know that in a room full of lawyers you do not approach them with YOUR degrees and awards, rather as a parent concerned for their child. This article has many accolades listed for Prof Yilma, and I empathize for his child more than he could know.

    IF he went into court and tried to compare degrees with the lawyers, the judge, and the ex-wife, bi-polar or not, he may have engendered some of the result by himself. Having dealt with professors most of my professional life, and lawyers, I hope he was not like that. Anger? Frustration? Sure.

    I would like to hear this man speak, and the rest, but I cannot. Reliving some things is too painful. Sir Be Positive to your son, never use the ex as a tool, and just never reminisce about the old days.

  7. sisterhood

    One of my friends was a family lawyer who specialized in helping dads with custody issues. I am white. I can’t really understand all the subtle ways that people of color are mistreated. But maybe, in your case, it is more about being a man, than being black? I have several friends and ex-co-workers who were given the raw end of the deal. They are men, of all colors. Family court is one arena where women continue to be at an advantage, and men are discriminated against. Women are not, by default, the better parent.

    I’m sorry you missed so many years with your son. However, my kids are both in their early twenties and I can tell you, they still need their parents. You still have time to be close to your son, and share extraordinary memories and happiness. Don’t be bitter, don’t look back. Look to your future with your son. Don’t worry about money, either. It flows in and out of your life and it does not make you happy. Love is the only thing that matters. Love your son.

  8. baffledone

    Ugh, I am experiencing close the the exact same thing.

    Filed for official legal custody and supervised visits just to have it in writing.

    Severely bi-polar+ permanently debilitated unemployed and absentee father showed up to court (to my surprise).

    I explained his mile long history of domestic violence; including attempted murder and stalking. Multitude of stunts in rehab and mental institutions. The fact that my young child with him was the product of rape long after we ceased involvement with each other. Several alarming reports by my children suggesting his potential for abuse needed to be further investigated.

    Judge White said I needed something concrete and less than three months old (despite my having not seen the crazy in four months nor having a working number for him). She humored me with a 30 day trial of supervised visits. I was to identify the source and he was to do the follow up. I did my part; gave him two sources. He took off on one of his concert tours (that he pays for with his social security) to masquerade as a middle aged Hispanic rapper in remote Alaskan villages.

    Three weeks (21 days) before our follow up hearing; I get a call to start the paperwork for our THIRTY day trial.

    I already had other plans to travel and was granted a hearing in January.

    I maintained contact with the “father” only to have him fraudulently file for an emergency hearing upon being informed that I no longer had my cell phone (it was pick-pocketed in my travels). He used a text message sent to that phone to show Judge White that I had been duly notified.

    She accepted that as proof of service and granted him partial legal custody and lifted the need for his visits to be supervised! This guy travels to Mexico regularly to have sex with child prostitutes and is addicted to child pornography. My eldest and I both witnessed him suffocating his toddler by another woman to force her to sleep. And this is the least of my worries. but none of this matters because all the incidents I can cite are more than three months old. I am blown away right now.

    I thought it was in my head that race was related to this. Reading this helped me see I was spot on.

    I know a WHITE couple who went through this SAME court with their WHITE kids. The same judge denied overnight visitation to the ivy league educated mild mannered spouse as the WHITE kids needed to transition slowly into shared parenting.

    My ex and I are both mixed. I guess brown kids can be shuffled and juggled into the hands of the craziest parent just to make sure they are as screwed up as possible when all is said and done. I hope this is not the case but it is sure how I am feeling right now.

  9. baffledone

    The sweetest part so far is that I have to fly back to Yolo on short notice (during the holidays) to argue his manipulations or else risk being criminalized for abducting my kids. The children that I alone have supported. The children who had NO father present at either of their births. And the children who collectively (between the two of them) have received a whopping total of ONE box of diapers between the two of them from this really concerned dad – and that was a birthday gift. I feel like I am on Punked.

  10. Tbone65

    Reviewed all the comments above. Sorry to say I was a victim of Judge McAdam’s poor judgement, politics, incompetency and above all his ego. All the above is true about most attorneys however I never characterized one until my divorce in Yolo county. I would first have to say this is not always about race or color. Certainly about gender and money. The first thing the Yolo attorney will tell you …”the only thing for certain in divorce is that attorneys get paid”. Secondly, if you have money you will pay. A high degree, money and stability means the courts will go to no end to drag their feet because once you are happy and problem solved they no longer have your money.  Your degrees, awards, achievements, heroism, parenting skills etc means nothing to McAdams except you can pay. He plaid favorites in my case with the local attorney (A.F.) who recently moved to Alaska with her millions she took from suffering families. I went through 5 attorneys and had to go outside of Yolo county to get a fair trial. We filed and tried to throw McAdams off the case, complained to the executive board and he refused. Even after he went to criminal/traffic court he redirected my family case to his court room. To this date 7-8 years later my x-wife still has no employment/job or income even having a degree. Im sure the local attorneys would like to see me back charge me another $5000 with no resolution. It is never ending. Take my advice, just move on and put it all behind you. Socialism works until you run out of everyone else’s money and personal politics in the court room in family law will never cease.

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