Family Court Hides Kids from “Dangerous” Battered Woman - Connecticut

Sep 4, 2015

A battered mother recently featured in Crime Magazine is no longer allowed to know where her kids reside, let alone have any contact with them, after a Connecticut family court judge deemed her the dangerous parent. 

For refusing 'Reunification Therapy' with her abusive ex husband, Angela Hickman has already gone more than 250 days without seeing her children. But now a court has barred her from even knowing where they live.

“Let this letter serve as notice to your client that [children’s names redacted] will be moving,” an August 17, 2015 letter from Hickman’s ex-husband’s lawyer, Mary Brigham started. “Their new address will not be disclosed to your client out of concern for their safety and well-being.”

Hickman’s case drew international attention in May when Crime Magazine exclusively broke that she had lost all custodial rights to her petitioner ex-husband, Angelo Gizzi, though Gizzi had been convicted of numerous domestic violence-related charges against her.

The judge, Maureen Murphy, argued that because Ms. Hickman refused to participate in Reunification Therapy sessions with Gizzi, her abuser, sole custody would be awarded to him.

Shortly after the article was published, Hickman was arrested and criminally charged for passing a note to one of her sons informing him of a phone she’d set up for clandestine communications; and it's this arrest that Attorney Brigham is using to claim the children are in danger from their mother.

Brigham is the same attorney who demanded that Hickman not only attend therapy sessions with her ex if she wished to see her kids, but to do so with a "parental alienation" therapist of his choosing:

“Mr. Gizzi has been provided the name of the psychologist Mrs. Hickman has suggested. He has rejected that suggestion. The individual has no apparent training or experience in high conflict custody matters or alienation and, as important, his office is out of his home.”

When Hickman and Gizzi first divorced in 2007, Gizzi was initially limited to only supervised visitations with their children because of his history of domestic violence. However, as the custody battle dragged out, the court began focusing less and less on domestic abuse issues, and instead on so called parental alienation.

That shift was largely due to the assessments of Dr. Stephanie Stein Leite, a therapist assigned to the custody case who declared during a 2011 hearing, “this case sticks out in my mind, in the last 10 years, as the clearest case of alienation that I have seen.”

But Angela Hickman is not the first to encounter such judicial injustice in family court proceedings, and probably won’t be the last either.

Sunny Kelley was also involved in a controversial divorce to which Judge Maureen Murphy was assigned. As a result, she’s of the opinion now that forcing women like Hickman to work with a psychologist who specializes in “parental alienation” is an illicit scheme.

“No mental health professional organization recognizes parental alienation as a mental health issue, so calling it a specialty is antithetical,” Kelley says, noting that “the only mental health practitioners claiming to have the nonexistent specialty are AFCC members. AFCC-member legal professionals forcing a litigant to use only PAS specialists -- which is only AFCC - brings up some serious antitrust issues.”

Moreover, Kelley adds, “demanding that a mother only be allowed to see her children by patronizing business associates sounds like extortion.”

Dr. Leite didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment for this article, and emails to Judge Murphy and Attorney Brigham were also left unreturned.

Michael Volpe



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