Ignored by the Cop; Shut Down by the Judge
On June 13, 2019, I took my children to the Stafford County police station to report their abuse. Criminal Investigations Detective J.G. Wright and CPS worker Jennifer Dudley sat across the table from me in the interview room; the children were each interviewed briefly in a separate room. Dudley concluded my interview with a patronizing statement about how impressionable and imaginative children are. She did not believe them.
Wright sat quietly as she spoke, not disagreeing with her. However, he said he was required to investigate the alleged abusers. His face showed genuine concern, so we left with a sense that he at least believed us; we carried a small hope that Justice would be served.
I knew that as soon as we reported to the police, we would be in grave danger from the abusers.
We left town on June 14: the first day of summer vacation. We spent five days in a mountaintop cabin in West Virginia. When we drove down off the mountain and back into cell service, I called Detective Wright to check on the case. We spoke briefly once, when he told me that he had interviewed my husband and would soon interview my father-in-law. After that, he stopped answering my phone calls.
Clearly it was not safe to return home since none of the abusers were behind bars and the police had ceased communication with me. We stayed with several dear friends during this time, receiving comfort and encouragement, waiting to see how things would unfold.
My husband William Joseph Bannister removed nearly all the money from our joint bank accounts, cancelled my credit cards, and demanded that I return the children to him at once. He informed me that the police were closing the case.
Unbeknownst to me, he hired a lawyer and drew up papers claiming that Janelle, Vivienne (the first two to disclose abuse), and I were mentally unstable, in spite of having no mental health expert examine or diagnose any of us.
Stafford County, Virginia Judge Julian W. Johnson granted full custody of the children to my husband on July 8, 2019, allowing me no visitation whatsoever.
How was this possible, since William Joseph Bannister and I are still legally married, with no history of separation or custody disputes?
They held a Family Court hearing in my absence on August 19, 2019, and ruled in favor of my husband.
They never served me a court summons to that hearing.
That case number is JJ053144-01-99. Because it involves minors, the court documents are confidential.
On July 17, 2019, the children and I moved to Alabama, retained an attorney, and filed for a Protection From Abuse order. This was granted by Judge Pamela Wilson Cousins and a Family Court hearing was set for August 20th, 2019, to determine the future of the children.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman interviewed Genevieve, Janelle, Vivienne, Peter, and me; forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone interviewed me. They prepared their reports to submit to the court, and found all of us to be of sound mind and our stories to be credible.
When our attorney, Samuel McLure, stepped forward to present our case on August 20, 2019, he was promptly shut down by Judge Pamela Wilson Cousins –the same judge who had granted our Protection From Abuse order. She angrily refused to even glance at a single document he held in his hand, or to let him speak for us.
Judge Cousins was not willing to hear any forensic expert opinion, even though Dr. Carole Lieberman had flown all the way from California to testify on our behalf.
Judge Cousins deferred to the Stafford, Virginia Court ruling from the day before, and threatened to hold our attorney in contempt of court if he uttered another word about it.
It made no sense.
Why would Judge Cousins, who has a history of advocating for the protection of children, suddenly reverse her stance and revoke the protective order she had signed into place? What was the source of her anger that day? Is it possible she was threatened by someone behind the scenes?
Charles Simpson lives just a few hours south of Birmingham -in Mobile, Alabama. How far does his influence reach?
Our request for a stay of the Alabama judge’s August 20 ruling was refused on November 20, 2019.
We now await the chance to appeal our case: number DR-2019-500538.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, our case file sits on the desk of the Richmond FBI office. Have they even looked at it?
Based on tonight’s local Virginia news report, it appears that the FBI needs to investigate the Stafford County Police force.
Will Justice triumph over lawlessness this Christmas?
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If you would like to help these children, you can contact the following to let your voice be heard.
- Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring: 804-786-2071; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam: 804-786-2211
- Alabama Governor Kay Ivey: 334-242-7100
- Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall: 334-242-7300
- Richmond, Virginia FBI: 804-261-1044
- Stafford, Virginia Detective J.G. Wright: 540-658-5210; email@example.com
- William Joseph Bannister: 202-834-9442; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please sign the Change.org petition here. This petition includes wording you can use when contacting any of the above.
Our Alabama Family Court case number is DR-2019-500538.
Virginia Family Court case number is JJ053144-01-99.