“I felt like I was watching them be executed,” Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni said of the moment that she heard a judge sentence her three children to juvenile detention until age 18 for refusing to have a relationship with their father. (Photo: Getty Images).
In a ruling that one attorney tells Yahoo Parenting is flat-out “bizarre,” a judge sent three kids to a juvenile detention facility for being in contempt of court and refusing to go to lunch with their father.
“I felt like I was watching them be executed,” Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, the mother of the children, ages 15, 10, and 9, told Fox 2 about the mandate from Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca during a hearing about supervised parenting time with her ex-husband, Omer Tsimhoni, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on June 24. “No matter how bad the divorce gets, I think the court should not punish the kids for that.”
But the kids were punished for not submitting to the judge’s demand that they foster a “healthy relationship” with their dad, according to Fox 2. “There is no reason why you do not have a relationship with your father,” another outlet reports the judge told the eldest child in court, during the latest episode in a bitter family feud that has included allegations of abuse and fear of parental kidnapping. “Your father has never been charged with anything. Your father’s never been convicted of anything. Your father doesn’t have a personal protection order against him. … You, young man, have got it wrong. I think your father is a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you.”
When all the kids remained resistant, Gorcyca ruled them in contempt and sent them to Children’s Village’s juvenile detention center until age 18. The trio have reportedly since been separated from each other, as well as both of their parents, who aren’t even allowed to visit.
“After more than five years in court and dozens of court appearances, Dr. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni is continuing to demonstrate her disregard for the well-being of the children and disrespect for the law and due process,” Omer Tsimhoni’s lawyer, Keri Middleditch, wrote in a statement to Yahoo Parenting. “This situation is traumatic for everyone involved, and it is unfortunate that the children are in shelter care due to the actions of their mother. [She] 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.”
Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s attorney, Lisa Stern, didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment, but she told Fox 2 the mother is upset. “I think the judge was very concerned about reunification of this family but went about it the wrong way,” Stern told Fox 2. “I know laws were violated, and I know that the children were punished for crimes they did not commit.”
Attorney Henry Gornbein — who has represented Eibschitz-Tsimhoni in the past during her bitter five-year divorce saga and custody battle with her ex husband — tells Yahoo Parenting that in his 45 years in practice he has never heard of such a contempt-of-court ruling for children during a family hearing. “This has been a high-conflict divorce,” he says, “a very nasty conflict from the get-go that has obviously spun out of control.” It’s “highly unusual” he adds. “I’ve seen cases where you might threaten or sentence a parent for refusing to comply with a judge’s order, but I’ve never heard of a case where children themselves were incarcerated. This is bizarre.”
Juvenile hall, he confirms, is “akin to incarceration. They’ll probably be in a low-threshold area and hopefully not exposed to anything that would put them at risk,” but the kids will be housed among other kids under 18 who have been sent there for committing crimes.
“I cannot eat, I cannot sleep,” Eibschitz-Tsimhoni said, lamenting the plight of her kids — who have been held in detention for two weeks now and don’t have a review hearing until September 8. (Omer Tsimhoni’s attorney reveals that the judge appointed each child an individual attorney prior to their placement in Children’s Village). “I cannot understand how something like that can even happen in this country.”