PONTIAC (WWJ) - An Oakland County judge has sent three children to a juvenile detention facility for failing to have a relationship with their father, saying it's one of the worst cases of parental alienation she's ever seen -- even comparing the children to the Charles Manson cult.
Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca declared the children -- ages 9, 10 and 15 -- in civil contempt of court during a hearing on June 24. The children were taken into custody and hauled off to Children's Village after declining to have lunch with their father.
"It's a very troubling case, no doubt," said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton. "But you have to go way back to get the whole story. This is not just a lunch with dad. This goes back well more than that."
The children's parents, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and Omer Tsimhoni, have been involved in a bitter divorce battle for six years. The Bloomfield Hills couple, who married in 1995, have made dozens of court appearances concerning parenting time, therapy, schooling and other issues -- but have never reached a common ground.
"It's called parental alienation," said Langton. "Parents get divorced and they use the kids as pawns to get back at the now ex-spouse. Did it happen here? It looks like, from the record, it did happen here."
At the June hearing, Gorcyca told the children that their father has "gone through hoops" to maintain a relationship with them despite his issues with their mother. The judge insisted the children make an effort to talk to their father and Omer Tsimhoni suggested they have lunch together -- but the children refused.
"I ordered you to talk to your father. You chose not to talk to your father. You defied a direct court order. It's direct contempt so I'm finding you guilty of civil contempt," Gorcyca told the oldest child, according to the Oakland Press.
"You're very defiant. You have no manners," she went on. "You need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has...You are so mentally messed up right now and it's not because of your father. And one day you are going to realize what's going on in this case and you're going to apologize to your dad."
Gorcyca then spoke directly to Omer Tsimhoni.
"Dad, if you ever think that he has changed and he's no longer like Charlie Manson's cult, then you let us know," she said.
Gorcyca was clearly frustrated, asking the younger children if they wanted to "live in jail" like their older brother.
"You want to have your birthdays in Children's Village? Do you like going to the bathroom in front of people? Is your bed soft and comfortable at home," she asked.
The children, a 9-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl, were not persuaded and instead chose to go to the detention center over sharing a meal with their father.
"I've never seen anything like this," Gorcyca said. "One day you can watch this video and realize that you two have been brainwashed… This is not normal behavior. No adult in this courtroom, except one, thinks this is normal. Every single adult in this courtroom thinks you have been brainwashed."
Omer Tsimhoni's attorney, Keri Middleditch, said the situation is traumatic for everyone involved.
"It is unfortunate that the children are in shelter care due to the actions of their mother," Middleditch said in a statement. "Dr. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has continued to endorse the children's behavior that she successfully instilled in them, effectively alienating them from their father. The court took severe action to attempt to remedy a heart-wrenching situation."
Gorcyca appointed each child with an individual attorney, none of whom objected to the children's placement in a detention facility.
"Here's the issue," said Langton, "the judge felt that the kids should be taken away from mom. And what do you do when you've got a parent, a so-called bad mom in general terms, and a father who is in Israel right now, where do you go with these children? You put them in Children's Village because that's ordered counseling. It's not the bad side where there's criminals in Children's Village. It's a place where they go when you have two parents who are not able to parent."
Officials have been instructed by the court to keep contact between the siblings as minimal as possible while they're in custody. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and her relatives have also been prohibited from visiting the children.
In an exclusive interview with New York Observer, Omer Tsimhoni said his ex-wife is "poisoning" their children's minds, "and the judge saw that."
"I'm in shock by what's happening," he said. "I understand everybody's pain – the children's pain, my pain, that the children are where they are. But she saw it coming and never tried to prevent it."
Attorneys for Eibschitz-Tsimhoni could not be reached for comment, and the court declined comment.
An emergency hearing concerning the children's near future has been set for July 15. The judge is being asked to lift the contempt ruling or show why the children are being "deprived of their liberty," according to court documents.
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