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September 13, 2006
Contact: Michael Geanoulis, <>

Children the Victim of False Allegations, Report Finds

Rockville, MD – Tawny Kitaen had a short-lived acting career that was marked by provocative poses, drug abuse, and run-ins with the police. On April 1, 2002 she was arrested for attacking husband Chuck Finley, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

Finley then filed for divorce and was awarded custody of their two children. But hoping to reverse the custody decision, Kitaen accused Finley of domestic violence, even though he had no history of violence or abuse.

When parents make false allegations of domestic abuse, children are harmed the most. And in many cases, a variety of perverse incentives are at work behind those allegations that harm children, according to a report issued today.

“Perverse Incentives, False Allegations, and Forgotten Children” analyzes state domestic violence laws and the incentives they provide to make false claims. Each year, over 2-3 million restraining orders are issued – in half those, there is not even an allegation of violence.

In most cases, the woman is a mutual participant or even instigator of the abuse. Despite that, domestic violence laws in 22 states are often used to deprive children of access to the father.

As a result of being separated from the father, children are placed at higher risk of child abuse, academic difficulties, conduct problems, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

“The rewards are so great and the penalties so minor, is it any wonder false abuse allegations have become a favored tactic in custody disputes?” asks Michael McCormick, director of the Washington DC-based American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

In addition, judges in most states can award a broad range of financial and property benefits to persons who merely claim to be abused. These serve as further incentives to file false or trivial claims. Critically, these allegations also make it harder for true victims of domestic violence to get needed services.

“Perverse Incentives, False Allegations, and Forgotten Children” can be viewed at http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Perverse-Incentives.pdf.

The report was issued by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – a non-profit organization devoted to assuring fairness and accuracy in domestic abuse.

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.

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