What will Happen in Jane Gallina-Mecca’s Court?

Bandy X. Lee
7 min readAug 21, 2023

What is Largely Unknown about Family Courts is that They are an Abuse Industry

Because Family Courts use secrecy to cover up their human rights violations, there is almost no way for the public know about the violence, mayhem, and murder that actually happen in and through them. They provide a sanctuary for violent abusers, while victim protections are stripped, as they are placed under “gag order” and threatened with jail if they divulged about any of the crimes against them, especially judicial crimes. This is because Family “Courts” are not courts but an abuse industry: they cover up criminal abuse under the color of law in order to reverse tables on victims for a price. I have the unique vantagepoint as a family member and a witness of abuse, at the same time as being a specialist on violence — with twenty-five years of experience as an expert witness to know that Family Courts are nothing like other Courts. Public exposure is necessary for these extreme abuses to end, just as public scandals were the only way to curb a culture of violence that had been routine in prisons. On August 24, 2023, Judge Jane Gallina-Mecca will hold a trial on my sister’s case. Will her gag order finally be lifted? She is positioned to lose the house, the children she raised, receive no parenting time or alimony, but be responsible for her husband’s legal fees and six-digits-per-year child support. Here is what has happened so far:

When I watched the viral video of Allan Kassenoff [screaming abusively at his children], I thought to myself: “That is Alan (my brother-in-law)!” He is just slightly quieter but more dangerous. In the video, Allan’s daughter cries out: “I don’t want to go with that crazy guy!” My niece used to cry out, “Don’t leave me alone with that maniac!” referring to her father, Alan T. Chan, whom she refused to call “dad” before he violently abducted her and her little brother, under family court support.

[Read about the tragic life of Catherine Kassonoff, here: https://msmagazine.com/2023/06/05/catherine-kassenoff-death-child-custody-divorce-court/.]

The mother who raised these children, like Catherine Kassenoff, had the ear of the New York governor, as his “right-hand woman” and chief Ground Zero coordinator after the greatest attack on US soil, 9/11. She sacrificed a prominent career to raise her children. Now, she has not seen or heard from them for almost two years.

“The [United Nations] is on record as stating that the most dangerous place for a woman is her own home. I don’t think it would [be] far off to suggest that a courtroom is the second most dangerous place for a woman,” said a close lawyer colleague of Catherine.

The story of my sister, Patricia, is uncannily similar to Catherine’s. My sister, too, was labeled “mentally incompetent” in family court alone — in her case, contradicting the medical consensus of as many as nine psychiatric reports. Patricia, too, lost custody of the children she raised all their lives, ages 7 and 9 at the time, after their abusive father filed for divorce.

Patricia has not seen or heard from her children for even one minute in years. Patricia, too, was arrested, by secret “court order,” as were two medical professionals who tried to make legally mandated reports of abuse. Patricia, too, developed a life-threatening illness. In her case, a dangerous high blood pressure crisis from stress.

Patricia, like Catherine, was subject to years of abuse, including verbal, psychological, sexual, physical, and financial abuse.

When her husband, who was an absentee father before he filed for divorce, suddenly imposed himself on her children, cries and screams reverberated through the house. The 7-year-old instantly reverted back to diapers, and the 9-year-old became suicidal. He was soon placed on a temporary restraining order for causing his 7-year-old a head injury (he also previously almost killed the older child as an infant, when he flung her in the air to land head first on a concrete floor).

Their mother, by contrast, had no allegations against her.

She was known as “the best mom” in a neighborhood where families gathered to raise children. But family courts “follow the money,” and the children were transferred entirely to their rageful, vengeful father who terrified them, since he makes a million-dollar salary, and though he shared barely one-thirtieth with his family, he had no trouble paying the court.

The courts are not protecting children.

A UN special rapporteur released a report that stated: “family courts in different regions refer to ‘parental alienation’ or similar pseudo-concepts in custody cases, ignoring histories of domestic violence, which may lead to the double victimization of victims of such violence.”

Not only do family courts aggravate domestic violence, they are highly gendered: “judges fail in their duty to protect children from harm, giving abusive fathers unsupervised access to their children, including in cases where … physical and/or sexual violence has occurred.” Even though child abuse is vastly underreported, most reports are counted as false, and the more children reject a relationship with their fathers, the more it is seen as proof that the mother is “alienating” the father.

Children are being isolated with their abusers.

I myself am a forensic psychiatrist with 25 years of experience testifying in criminal and civil courts, and never had I imagined the dangerous practices of family courts. Having studied violence my entire career, including coauthoring the UN Secretary-General’s chapter on “Violence against Children,” that family courts are isolating children with their abusers, and labeling perfectly fit mothers “mentally incompetent,” for raising concerns, is horrifying to me as a medical professional.

The bias of family courts, naturally, has made them congregating places for violent offenders.

“Parental alienation” is the buzz phrase they use to deny abuse, attack, and reverse victim and offender (abbreviated as DARVO, this is a typical reaction on the part of perpetrators of violence when they are confronted).

Alan T. Chan, being a lawyer and a student of Alan Dershowitz, knew to use this phrase from the very beginning. Offenders of domestic violence thus not only avoid prosecution and loss of parental rights, but can weaponize the courts to further their abuse — in Alan T. Chan’s case, by warehousing the children and demanding from the mother the house, legal fees, and six-figure child support, if not arresting her.

I saw the entire disturbing process first-hand.

I watched the whole process, as Family Court Judge Jane Gallina-Mecca interjected with Child Protection Services after this violent father was placed on temporary restraining order. First, the judge prohibited CPS from interviewing me, even though I was a first-hand, daily witness of the abuse for 15 months.

When a CPS-outsourced evaluator scheduled an interview with me, the judge intervened to cancel the interview. Two caseworkers confessed: “The court has tied our hands,” and “We have to do as the judge says.” The local police, which had been responsive in the past, said it could no longer act on reports of abuse because: “The Superior Court is above the municipal police.” Later, even the Child Abuse Hotline was obstructed, as attested to by several medical professionals who tried to make a report.

My sister’s children suffered physical symptoms from the emotional stress.

From the first day, Judge Gallina-Mecca mandated visits with their father, overriding the restraining order in July 2021. The children developed panic attacks, stress-induced canker sores, and many other physical symptoms, but the judge ruled that they be taken involuntarily by police if they resisted, and they were.

By August 2021, the children attempted to set the house on fire in a protest not to go, calling visits with their father “torture” and “worse than death.” When the mother took them to the emergency room, the judge’s appointed guardian ad litem, Evelyn Nissirios, intercepted all follow-up appointments to stop them from seeing a psychiatrist.

Even the children’s pediatrician had recommended a psychiatrist since July 2021. Instead, they were sent to a court-mandated “therapist,” who was later forced to recuse herself by her licensing board for locking the children in her office when they refused “therapy.”

The problem of giving dangerous individuals power is that they do not remain the same, but grow more brazen and more dangerous.

Alan T. Chan’s solution to the children’s continued escalation was to kidnap them, falsely claiming that the mother was “absconding” with the children when it was her weekend with them, as he himself agreed to and guardian ad litem Nissirios assigned. Both lied to the police to effectuate a police raid. The charges against the mother were dropped when the lies were exposed, but Judge Gallina-Mecca awarded the father full custody anyway.

While blocking all contact, guardian ad litem Nissirios has been telling the children their mother “abandoned” them and no longer loves them. They have been in unknown “therapy” for over a year, apparently to “deprogram” them into denying the abuse, which has always been their mentally imbalanced father’s goal.

The children are still suffering thanks to the biased family court system.

The last time my sister Patricia had access to her children’s school and pediatric records, which was a year ago, her daughter had missed almost one-half of days of school and suffered a shoulder injury that an orthopedist recorded was neglected for months. Both children were average height and weight before the abduction; now they are the smallest in their classes.

If this can happen to Patricia, and to Catherine, it can happen to anyone. Family courts need to be exposed and be held accountable for their profit-driven abuses of judicial authority and their betrayal of public trust — as it is costing lives.

(Originally published in: https://cafemom.com/parenting/catherine-kassenoff-domestic-abuse-mothers.)



Bandy X. Lee

Forensic psychiatrist, violence expert, president of the World Mental Health Coalition (worldmhc.org), and New York Times bestselling author.