In my previous post at the beginning of October, I alerted my readers to the developing situation with the Wolferts girls (Brittany, 19, Sydney, 15, and Danielle, 14), who have accused their father of abuse and have been trying to get their day in court in an effort to secure their personal safety. Their father Brian Wolferts, with the help of people he has apparently been able to deceive into thinking he is innocent, has worked tirelessly to prevent them from receiving the protection they need and deserve. A timeline outlining just some of the history of abuse and the legal battle that Brian Wolferts has waged against his daughters can be found on Brittany’s blog, Support the Wolferts Sisters. Details of the abuse the girls have suffered and the fears they justifiably feel at the thought of being forced to return to his home also can be found on Brittany’s blog, which she is updating regularly.
Brittany is currently pursuing an appeal of the juvenile court's November 5 dismissal of her petition to determine abuse and neglect. She has a GoFundMe account set up to receive donations to help her pay the substantial legal fees already incurred and yet to be generated. My wife Lisa and I have made contributions to the fund and encourage anyone with means to also contribute. If you want to purchase a piece of fine art at a significant discount, while supporting a good cause, Lisa is donating the proceeds from the sale of her collage "Afternoon." If you are unsure about the worthiness of the cause, please read the rest of this admittedly lengthy post, and read Brittany's blog.
Some background: Michelle and Brian Wolferts were married in 1992. Brian was the son of a prominent Mormon leader, Edgar Wolferts, who had served as a Mission President for the LDS church in Germany. Michelle, a faithful LDS woman, thought she had landed the perfect husband. Within the first few years of marriage, however, she learned first-hand the wisdom of the church’s second Article of Faith, which says that we are “judged for our own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.” Likewise, we should not be judged by the virtues of our parents, but rather by our own actions. In 1995, when Michelle was seven months pregnant with Brittany, Brian’s violent side emerged when he forcefully shoved his pregnant wife to the ground.
Between 1994 and 2000, Brian engaged in multiple sexual affairs with women aged 18-29. In 2000, Michelle sought help for Brian, hoping that therapy could help him overcome what he self-described as a sexual addiction. Brian and Michelle sought the help of Dr. Randy Hyde, a highly respected and experienced licensed psychologist and family therapist, who provided counseling to the couple and later to Michelle. The therapy may have helped to some degree: Brian says he stopped having “real” affairs. But at the same time, Brian has admitted that between 2000 and 2003 he had 30-40 online affairs. During this time, when the three girls were all little, Michelle was supporting the family with her piano teaching business while Brian went to school (and engaged in multiple affairs).
In 2003, Brian went to see Dr. C.Y. Roby, one of the leading psychotherapists specializing in the treatment of sexual addiction and deviancy. After evaluating Brian, Dr. Roby concluded that Brian’s “sexual arousal patterns suggest a need for supervision and psychotherapy. Such therapy should include sexual reorientation therapy if he is to make the necessary modifications of his deviant sexual arousal patterns.” Dr. Roby also says it is clear that Brian “has a significant problem in regards to his sexuality and the controlling of his impulses and attractions” and that Brian “appears to be somewhat hypersexualized.”
In 2004, Brian filed for divorce from Michelle. The Utah district court awarded custody to Michelle while the divorce was pending. During that time, Brian again displayed his violent side and independent observers questioned whether his children were safe in his care. During this time, Michelle had to move into a shelter to avoid his abuse. In 2005, Utah DCFS investigated an incident of domestic violence, in which Brian had physically assaulted Michelle in Brittany’s presence, and “concluded that, in its opinion, there was a reasonable basis to believe that you were responsible for abuse or neglect” of 9-year-old Brittany.
In 2007 (after protracted litigation instigated and perpetuated by Brian), the district court awarded custody of the girls to Michelle. Shortly thereafter, the girls began complaining about the way they were treated during their visits to Brian’s house, and Michelle also discovered some very troubling information about Brian’s sexual history—information far more disturbing than his many affairs. Fearing for the safety of her three young daughters, Michelle felt she had no choice other than to go back to court to protect her daughters. So she did, not asking to terminate Brian’s parental rights but only asking that his visits be supervised. Think about this for a moment: Michelle had stood by Brian for years, despite his occasional violent outbursts and despite knowing of his multiple sexual affairs. She was weary of litigation, being on the edge of poverty as a result of Brian’s relentless litigation tactics during the divorce (and his dismantling of her piano-teaching business in 2004). She had won the custody battle and enjoyed primary custody. She had no reason to “invent” any allegations of abuse. None. The only reason she would willingly go through the ordeal of family-court litigation is if she knew her girls were in real danger if they were left alone, unsupervised, with Brian Wolferts.
So what happened? One view is that Brian Wolferts managed to manipulate a corrupt family-court system in vital need of substantial reform. Through three more years of aggressive scorched-earth litigation tactics, and using his lawyer’s connections within the incestuous Utah County family-court legal network, Brian was able to pull a jujitsu. Once he secured an uneven playing field—by making it impossible for Michelle to comply with Catch-22-style requirements and getting her evidence stricken—he was able to win custody in March 2011 despite all three girls’ fervent wishes to remain with their mother and be protected from their father. Tellingly, their supposed Guardian ad Litem, Kelly Peterson, never interviewed them. The special master, Sandra Dredge, never talked to them. The judge never talked to them. Dr. Roby and Dr. Hyde did not testify, nor was Dr. Roby’s affidavit accepted into evidence. Even though Sandra Dredge and Dr. Blakelock knew of Brian Wolferts’s violent past and were aware of the very troubling information about Brian’s sexual history that caused Michelle to seek protection for her daughters in the first place, they still recommended that Brian get custody.
Brittany has described the reaction she and her sisters had when they found out their father had won custody: “Sydney, Dani and I will never forget the day custody was changed. 'Painful' would not be an adequate word to describe that day. We had been checked out of school that day, and once we traveled to Provo to be informed that custody had changed, we weren't allowed to see our mom or go get our things. We were torn from everything we ever knew--our schools (although the courts promised we could go to our registered schools, we were forced to switch), our friends, our family, church community, neighborhood, and our primary caregiver; our mother. My mom had full custody for six years, and even before that, she was the parent that was most involved in our raising. The three of us were unprepared for the amount of detrimental change that altered our entire universe.”
That change that altered their universe is detailed on Brittany’s blog and in her petition to determine abuse and neglect that she filed in June 2014. The petition (and other legal documents filed since then) as well as her blog tell the story of a man who abuses his wife and daughters in myriad ways. Brittany suffered under her father’s autocratic rule until her 18th birthday in May 2013. As soon as she turned 18, she moved out of his house (having moved her personal items out over a period of months, one thing at a time, hidden in her purse or backpack and storing them with a friend, to avoid his wrath).
In December 2013, Brian suddenly moved to Topeka, Kansas, taking Sydney and Danielle with him, despite their adamant protestations against the move. He gave them very little warning (and gave Michelle even less, as he swore Syd and Dani to secrecy). It was the middle of the school year and the middle of their winter break from school. Brian planned the move for that time, knowing that Michelle was supposed to have visitation with the girls for the second half of Christmas break. Brian refused to alter the holiday visitation schedule to let Michelle see the girls over Christmas. Brian’s brother and sister-in-law offered to let Syd and Dani live with them in Utah until the end of the school year to minimize the disruption to their lives and ease their transition to Kansas. Brian refused. Brian failed to give the notice he was legally required to provide before moving the girls, and made it exceedingly difficult for Michelle to schedule time with her girls for her statutorily authorized visitation dates. Between the time Brian took the girls to Kansas in December 2013 until the end of the 2014 school year, Brian ensured that the girls spent only three days with their mom (at a cost to the Olson family of more than $2,000, because of Brian's refusal to help pay the travel cost and his many delays in scheduling flights, resulting in increased air fare costs). With the girls completely isolated in Kansas, he ratcheted up his abusive behavior toward them and toward their toddler half-sister Abby and toward their stepmom Angie.
When the girls arrived in Utah for their summer visitation with their mom after school got out in 2014, they told Brittany and their mom of their experience living with Brian. Brittany took them to see Dr. Hyde, who examined them. As a result, Brittany felt she had to take action to protect her sisters. Knowing how the Utah court had mistreated her mother, and knowing that she and her sisters were eyewitnesses to Brian’s abusive behavior over the last three years, in late June 2014 Brittany filed on behalf of her two younger sisters a Petition to Determine Abuse and Neglect. In connection with that petition, Dr. Randy Hyde filed an affidavit in support of the petition, stating that based on his interviews with Sydney and Danielle he did not “question the veracity of the petition’s representation of statements attributed to them.” Additionally, Dr. Hyde opined that the girls “would be severely emotionally harmed if they were restored to the physical custody of their father.” Dr. Hyde reported to DCFS the need for an investigation to take place on an emergency basis. Juvenile Court Judge Bartholomew appointed a guardian ad litem for Syd and Dani and issued a temporary restraining order preventing Brian Wolferts from being with the girls until a hearing could be held. Brian immediately filed a motion to vacate the TRO and to dismiss the guardian ad litem, arguing that he had not been properly served.
On July 11, 2014, the Juvenile Court held a hearing but did not address the substance of the allegations in the petition and did not address Dr. Hyde’s affidavit. The court, on procedural grounds, vacated the TRO but kept the guardian ad litem in place, ordering him to talk to the girls. The court indicated that a hearing might be conducted in the future after Brian was properly served. Less than a week later, as Brittany was driving the girls to meet with the guardian ad litem, and upon hearing that they would have to go back to their dad as it was the end of their summer visitation with their mom, they ran away, and have not been seen since (except for three videos they apparently made and sent from their place of hiding).
Approximately six weeks later, Brian Wolferts approached the media and told them his girls were missing. He did not provide any of the foregoing context to the media. It is not clear what Brian did between July 17 when the girls ran away and August 26 when he approached the media and set up a Facebook page to help in his efforts to find the girls. Sometime in August, Michelle also went missing and has not been heard from since.
Now, that’s a lot of background just to get to the point where Lisa and I come into the picture. After Brian’s media appearance, Aaron Allred, an attorney from Texas who had served twenty-some years ago as a missionary under Brian’s father, the Mission President in Germany, learned that Syd and Dani were missing. Aaron and his wife Allison did not know Brian personally but respected Brian’s father immensely. They were understandably moved by the story of Brian’s missing daughters (but knew nothing of the background shared here). Aaron and Allison have big hearts. I know this because I was friends with them for years when we attended the Plano 5th ward together. And when I left the LDS church in 2008, they were two of a small number of ward members who continued to be friends with me even though I was considered by some mebers of the ward to be a so-called “bitter apostate.” I appreciated that, and I valued their friendship. Aaron is one of the brightest people I know, and I have always considered him an all-around great guy. I think he is an excellent lawyer and a fantastic father to his six children. Allison is a Renaissance woman of many talents. She has a sharp mind and is a devoted wife and mother. Their kids are phenomenal, and they can justly take great pride in them. Allison was also a friend to Lisa. While they differed on religion, they shared similar views on politics and art and literature. Lisa valued her friendship with Allison, which soured when Allison “unfriended” both me and Lisa on Facebook in late June for reasons that were not entirely clear to us (Allison has since told mutliple conflicting stories about why she unfriended us).
When the Allreds found out about the Wolferts girls, they wanted to do something to help, out of a sense of devotion to Brian’s father, whom Aaron considered a mentor. So they set up a Fundly account, even though Brian and his family asked them not to. The Fundly’s stated purpose is to raise $200,000 for Brian’s legal and “related” expenses, including $150,000 for Brian's past legal expenses. But this raises a couple questions. One, how do the Fundly trustees know that Brian incurred $150,000 in legal expenses? Two, does the $150,000 include expenses incurred for Brian's therapy to cure his sexual addiction and deviancy? Three, the appellate court decision ordered Michelle to pay Brian’s attorneys’ fees, so why does Brian need to raise money from the public for that purpose?
Allison then went on a social-media frenzy, placing over 1000 of her friends (including children) into a Facebook support group set up for Brian and shaming any of her friends who tried to leave the group. Aaron sent a blast email to his contact list (which included me) asking them to give to the Fundly (implying in the email that the girls had been abducted, not that they had run away). The story about the missing Wolferts girls also showed up in Lisa’s Facebook feed as one of her childhood friends posted about it. Intrigued, I clicked on the Fundly link in the email Aaron sent me and read the summary. I nearly contributed, especially after seeing that some of our mutual friends here in the Dallas legal community had contributed.
And then I did a Google search. I found the Facebook page referenced in the Daily Herald article. I found the Facebook page set up by Brittany Wolferts and her Uncle Troy Olson. Then I found Brittany’s YouTube video. So I went back to the Fundly page and re-read it. And the red flags started popping up. I discovered that the Fundly page contained a number of misleading statements. First, the page suggested that Michelle (referred to as “the mother”) had indicated that the girls ran away because they did not want to return to their father in Kansas. But I could find no reference in the traditional media or social media of Michelle saying anything at all. Second, the Fundly page stated that all abuse allegations had been heard and dismissed as unsubstantiated by the Utah district court. But the Utah district court had not heard any abuse allegations relating to the time since Brian has had full custody. Third, I found it odd that the trustees of the Fundly page could conclude that the abuse claims were “entirely without merit” since they had not heard any specific allegations of abuse nor seen any evidence or heard any testimony about the abuse allegations, but based their conclusion only on their 20+ year relationship with Brian’s parents (not Brian himself). Fourth, I found it odd that the Fundly trustees referred to Michelle as a “well-funded and litigious biological mother.” Even a cursory examination of the evidence shows that Michelle was anything but “well-funded,” having earned about $8 an hour as a piano teacher and having been represented pro bono on her appeal. Fifth, the Fundly account’s reference to “regurgitated abuse claims” was misleading: Brittany’s petition concerned allegations of abuse perpetrated by Brian since he obtained full custody. By definition, they were new, not regurgitated, abuse claims. Sixth, I was troubled by the Fundly account’s statement regarding what the collected funds would be used for. Not only would the Fundly account pay for Brian’s legal fees incurred, but also “to assist Brian in any future legal and other expenses associated with retaining custody of his daughters after they are located, and for other legitimate expenses, if any, approved by the trustees.” Seems pretty open-ended. What, exactly, will the fund pay for? Anything it wants, apparently.
My investigation led me to conclude that Aaron and his fellow trustees did not know the whole story (or if they did, they were not telling it, but I prefer to believe the former). So I kept investigating. I was motivated not by any desire to contend with the Allreds, but rather by a desire to know and defend the truth. And as I continued my investigation, I found many parallels to a case I had worked on in 2010, when I represented a good friend of mine pro bono in a divorce case in Utah County. These parallels fueled my desire to learn more and continue to follow the case. Lisa was motivated by similar impulses. The more we read and the more we interacted with people online concerning the case, the more apparent it became to us that Brittany and her sisters were credible and deserve to be heard and believed. The mountain of evidence we have received (in the form of documents and testimony from multiple corroborating and converging sources) over the last three months convinces us beyond a shadow of a doubt of Brittany’s and her sisters’ veracity.
Now, that was a very long preface to what comes next (believe it or not, that is a much abbreviated version—there is a lot more that has gone on over the last few months on social media that could be discussed, not to mention what has gone on among the Wolferts and Olson families over the last ten years). But I felt it necessary to provide the proper context and understanding of the situation as it stands today.
On December 9, 2014 Aaron Allred posted a statement titled “Criminal Conduct and Misdirection by Kidnappers” on the “Help Find Missing—Wolferts Sisters” Facebook page. The statement contains numerous inaccuracies, misrepresentations, half-truths, and, ironically, misdirections. The day after Aaron posted the statement on the Facebook page, a new blog appeared with a version of the statement that did not identify the author.
Aaron’s statement makes four points, each of which I vigorously disagree with. According to Aaron:
1. Brittany Wolferts is a kidnapper and a liar.
2. Anyone who supports Brittany, and her sisters Sydney and Dani, is a “supporter of the mother” and a kidnapper and liar.
3. Brian is an innocent victim, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The “rule of law” should apply to Brian, meaning he is innocent. But the same “rule of law” does not apply to Brittany and the girls, and their supporters, whom Aaron deems “kidnappers” and “liars.”
4. The Utah district court’s custody order entered in March 2011 and the Utah Court of Appeals opinion from 2013 are relevant to accusations that the district court never heard, to evidence that was never presented to either court, and to the allegations of abuse occurring over the last three-and-a-half years, the substance of which no court has ever ruled upon.
Aaron’s statement follows. I have placed my comments directed to Aaron and corrections within the text of Aaron’s statement below in red.
Criminal Conduct and Misdirection by Kidnappers
by Aaron R. Allred
Background. Allison and I support Brian Wolferts, the custodial parent of Sydney and Danielle Wolferts. These girls have been missing since July 2014. True, but a little misleading. They are missing, but not because they were abducted, but because they ran away and went into hiding to avoid being sent back to the custody of their father, whom they had publicly accused of abusing them. They ran away after the juvenile court where their petition to determine abuse and neglect had been filed vacated the temporary restraining order that had been, for a brief time, protecting them. Their father has vigorously resisted all efforts to reinstate the restraining order or provide a guardian ad litem for Syd and Dani, or offer them a safe haven, even when Brian's brother offered to provide it. It appears from social media reports that their mother and her supporters are hiding them. Aaron, why don’t you specify which social media reports make it “appear” that “their mother and her supporters are hiding them”? I have seen no evidence that Michelle (yes, “the mother” does have a name) is hiding them. Brittany and others have expressed hope that Michelle is with the girls, but that is mere speculation. I have seen no evidence, and you cite none, that “Michelle’s supporters” (whoever they might be—you do not identify any) are “hiding” the girls. Incidentally, referring to the people who support Brittany and her sisters as “Michelle’s supporters” is a misdirection to try to characterize the situation as a bilateral custody dispute with Brian on one side and his ex-wife on the other. But this is not about a ten-year-old divorce case; it’s about current allegations of abuse against Brian Wolferts being leveled not by Michelle but by the three daughters who have lived with him for the great majority of the last four years. Brian has worked with local police departments, not-for-profit missing persons organizations, father’s rights groups, and other organizations to locate his daughters. It is true that Brian has been working feverishly to locate his daughters before Brittany and her sisters can get their day in court. His express purpose is to find them and have them returned to his home, a home in which Sydney and Danielle have said they feel unsafe. He has not heard from them in over five months. Syd and Dani were able to make a video in September, which they mailed to a family member. The video was provided to Brian’s attorney and to the police and then posted on YouTube.
In 2013, a published opinion of the Utah Court of Appeals indicated that in the child custody case regarding Brian’s daughters, the mother (1) was not cooperative, (2) was not credible, (3) inappropriately coached the daughters, (4) interfered with their relationship with their Dad, and (5) did not appear to understand that her behavior was harmful to the daughters. For these reasons and many others (what, pray tell, are these “many other” reasons. Methinks if there were any, you would have mentioned them), the court transferred full custody of the children to Brian. This mischaracterizes the Court of Appeals opinion. The trial court made those findings—after striking all of Michelle’s evidence and because her attorney, according to the Court of Appeals, did not preserve objections or call witnesses (that attorney is now a District Judge who has said that the Wolferts case was the biggest travesty of justice she has ever experienced in her career). Because of the attorney’s supposed failures at trial, the Court of Appeals had no record on which to reverse the trial court, so the lower court’s award of custody stood. I encourage people to read the whole opinion, as well as the documents posted on Brittany’s blog from the divorce case, and decide for themselves whether they think Michelle was treated fairly at trial and on her appeal. My professional opinion is that she was not.
Since custody was granted to Brian, the mother and her supporters have engaged in a public smear campaign against Brian alleging all manner of horribles in an attempt to harass, bully, or trick him into giving up custody. The district court granted Brian custody in March 2011. The idea that Michelle has been engaged in a “smear campaign” against Brian for three-and-a-half years is just absurd on its face. The vast majority of the smears and allegations predate the court decision, and were either known to the court or determined by the court not to be credible, when the court granted custody to Brian. Aaron, it is not clear what you are referring to as “smears and allegations” that predate the court decision in 2011. Possibly the Roby Report? But that is not a “smear”—it is truth. And the court, in awarding custody to Brian, did not consider the Roby Report. Nor did Dr. Roby testify. Nor was his affidavit stating that Brian had not completed his sex therapy admitted into evidence, because Michelle’s evidence was stricken. Full custody was transferred to Brian after reviewing extensive and contested information from attorneys, psychologists, expert witnesses, and one or more guardians ad litem. This, again, is an inaccurate summary of what the district court did. Much of the information was, in fact, not “contested” because Michelle was either not permitted to contest it or her attorney declined to contest it. See the Court of Appeals opinion, paragraphs 12-22 and Footnote 5. It is axiomatic that the transfer by a Utah court of sole custody to a father is no small matter, and is not done lightly or without deliberation. It is axiomatic that sometimes the courts get it wrong, terribly wrong, as they did in that case. Anyone watching the news lately is familiar with this concept. The focus on a years-old court case is a misdirection: it deflects from the real issue, which is that no court has ever ruled on the substance of the allegations being leveled by Brittany and her sisters against their dad, which relate primarily not to things that happened before he got custody, but to his abuses of all of his children and his current wife Angie since he got custody. These are not, as falsely stated on the Fundly page, “regurgitated abuse claims”; rather, they relate to how Brian Wolferts has mistreated his family for the last several years since he has had custody. And Brian has pulled out all the stops to prevent any court from hearing the girls (which is why Sydney and Danielle ran away).
Examples of harassment and misconduct towards Brian include the following:
1. Knowingly False or Reckless Abuse Claim to State of Utah. In July 2014, an anonymous call was made to the State of Utah Division of Child and Family Services (Utah DCFS) alleging physical abuse by Brian. Physical abuse against whom? When? Where? How do you know that this anonymous caller’s report was “knowingly false or reckless”? Do you know who made the call, whether the caller was in a position to have personal knowledge concerning the matter being reported? Do you know what the allegation was? Without these facts, how can anyone judge whether the claim was “knowingly false or reckless”? Could it have been a report from Dr. Hyde, after he had examined Syd and Dani? Are you suggesting that Dr. Hyde made a “knowingly false or reckless abuse claim”? Two months later (September 2014), the Utah DCFS issued a report stating that the abuse allegations were unsupported. “Unsupported” does not mean “knowingly false or reckless.” It simply means that the Utah DCFS could not verify the claim. I am not saying the allegation was true (how could I, without knowing who made it and what the claim even was?). Perhaps the abuse claim was “unsupported,” not because it didn’t happen but because the girls who could testify to it had run away from their abuser.
2. Knowingly False or Reckless Abuse Claim to State of Kansas. In September 2014 another anonymous call was made to the State of Kansas Department for Children and Families (Kansas DCF) alleging physical abuse by Brian. One month later (October 2014), the Kansas DCF issued a report stating that they had completed their investigation and all allegations were unsubstantiated. Same as above—how do you know that the anonymous person who called made a “knowingly false or reckless abuse claim”? How do you know what the person knew or what the person’s intent was? Additionally, how do you know Kansas DCF issued a report? Do you have a copy? If so, can you please post it?
3. Knowingly False or Reckless Request for Abuse Claim to State of Texas. During that same time period, the supporters of the mother used social media to publicly request calls to the Texas CPS against my own family suggesting that we were abusers because we support Brian. We called our local police regarding this matter and were advised that for them to protect our family, we needed to “stay away from crazy people and stay off the public website administered by them.” Thereafter, Allison discontinued regularly visiting and posting on the public website.
I saw one post in mid-September on the Finding the Answers Facebook page by the only administrator running the site at the time (who later took the page down), a person who calls herself Mel Bittner (and who has posted under a number of pseudonyms on that page and other FB pages, including Ashley Taylor and Melissa Lewis). In that post, Mel Bittner called upon people to report the Allreds to Texas CPS. Lisa and I were appalled by the post about the Allreds and made our disgust with the post known. Lisa commented on the post, saying that she had “no knowledge of anyone doing anything illegal in this debate. I have no personal reason to believe her [meaning Allison’s] kids are not safe in her care . . . .” The post by Mel Bittner asking people to call CPS on the Allreds came just two days after Mel took complete control of the Finding the Answers site.
For some time, Mel Bittner had been serving as an admin at the Finding the Answers page with Lisa (and for a time with Troy Olson as well), but Mel took total control of the site, first booting out Troy and then booting Lisa after Lisa questioned some of Mel's juvenile antics. Mel's actions as admin of the site reflected poorly on Brittany's family and on the other participants in the site. She would frequently put up egregious posts in the middle of the night, such as when she put the Roby Report up for auction. Lisa and Troy (and Brittany, who had no administrative powers on the page at all after it was first started) worked behind the scenes, trying to get Mel to stop her nonsense. But Mel took total control of the site on October 29, when she posted a photo she had created depicting Brian and Angie on a flyer in a toilet (this was in response to the birthday video that Brian and Angie had posted on YouTube). Lisa, in her role as admin, hid the toilet pic post, which angered Mel, who then deleted Lisa as admin. A few days later, Mel began trying to extort the family, saying that if they did not pay her money, she would shut down the site and spread lies about them. When the family refused to pay her, she shut down the site and then suddenly began posting in support of Brian, telling lies about me, Lisa, Brittany, Troy, and other supporters of the girls, and falsely claiming that Brittany did not really have any attorneys generating legal fees (see here for the truth about that).
Mel Bittner continues to post in support of Brian, using some of the same juvenile tactics she used when she was admin of the Finding the Answers site, but for some reason Brian’s supporters, including the Allreds, do not criticize her for it. (In hindsight, it seems that “Mel Bittner” may have been a plant for Brian and that she inserted herself as a way to gain insider knowledge for Brian and to do things to sabotage Brittany’s credibility and that of her most vocal supporters. In fact, Mel Bittner did all of the most egregiously immature actions that Brian’s supporters like to refer to when they try to refer to "the mother's supporters" acting improperly. This would explain her swift 180-degree turn from supporting Brittany to supporting Brian. It would also explain why Brian and his supporters have not criticized Mel Bittner for her lies and zaniness since "switching" sides).
4. Knowingly False or Reckless Attempts to Have Brian Fired from his Work. In December 2014, another of the mother’s supporters publicly encouraged supporters through social media to call on Brian’s employer with reports of abuse in an attempt to have him fired. No idea what this is about. Aaron, you do not name the person you call one of the “mother’s supporters” or what this person said, or which social media was involved. Brian has had to leave at least one job in the past because of “a potential sexual harassment charge.”
This is a disturbing pattern, and appears to have been designed to influence custody of the girls. I have some thoughts on “disturbing patterns” I will share in a subsequent post.
Criminal Conduct. In Utah, Kansas, and Texas it is a crime to make a report known to be false. It is also a crime to make a report with reckless disregard for its the truth or falsity. And it is also a crime to make a report with the intent to influence the custody of a child. These crimes pale in comparison to the kidnapping itself, but each is independently worthy of note. It is also against the law to falsely accuse a person of a crime, such as kidnapping.
Brian’s supporters repeatedly asked people to call CPS if they were concerned about Abby. And they have repeatedly said that the proper channels include notifying CPS. Additionally, Dr. Hyde indicated that he reported his concerns to Utah DCFS. Aaron, do you think people should go through legal channels by reporting information to the authorities or do you want to intimidate people who might be thinking about contacting the authorities by alleging that such reports are themselves “criminal conduct”? Which is it?
Misdirection. Allison and I received screenshots today from a December 9 post on “wolfertssisters.blogspot.com.” Aaron, why did you need someone to send you screenshots? The blog is public. Did you read the blog post or only look at the screenshots someone sent you? Moreover, have you been watching the debate as it has unfolded? Allison has blocked so many people that you may not even be aware of what has been said. The post centered around a September 16 surgery (actually, the surgery was on September 15) for Brian’s youngest daughter (half-sister to the kidnapped daughters). Actually, the post centers around Brittany’s concerns for her half-sister Abby, and includes details of the physical and emotional abuse Brian has inflicted on Abby. Those details are important. Some of those details are in the blog post you apparently didn’t read. Others can be found in other posts on the blog such as this one. And this one. And this one. And, of course, this one, where Brian traumatizes two-year-old Abby by throwing her favorite stuffed animal away because she dropped something on the floor. The post included a picture of the daughter, identified her by name, and voiced a strong belief that she was a victim of abuse. This is extremely irresponsible, and may constitute yet another crime. What crime would that be? Last time I checked, exposing an abuser for his abuse is not a crime. Expressing concern for a small child who lives with a man with a history of sexual deviancy and domestic abuse is not a crime. You think it is a crime for Brittany to talk about her sister or post a picture of her on her blog? Seriously? Was it "extremely irresponsible" for Brian Wolferts this week to post a YouTube video featuring Abby?
In abuse cases the correct approach is, of course, to call child protective services or the police. Didn’t you just say that calling CPS was perhaps a criminal act? Should people who are dismayed by what they have heard about Brian Wolferts call CPS or not? You are being inconsistent. But the kidnappers already tried this, and the appropriate authorities investigated their claims and determined them to be unsubstantiated. In addition, their claims did not result in Brian giving up his rights to his children or in negotiating with kidnappers on their requested interim transfer of his daughters to a “neutral location” or “safe haven.” Accordingly, the kidnappers are now pursuing a public social media trial against Brian through channels including the blog, to rally support and raise capital from people with either: (1) less visibility into the facts and circumstances than the Utah courts and the appropriate child protective services agencies, (why do you think that Brittany Wolferts, who lived with Brian for 18 years, has less “visibility into the facts” than the Utah courts or CPS?) or (2) a separate agenda, such as fighting what they perceive to be an unacceptable patriarchal Mormon culture that serves primarily to repress women, which they can use this case as a vehicle to promote. Brittany, Sydney, and Danielle are, to my knowledge, faithful members of the LDS church. I have no idea what you are even talking about here. There are people from a variety of backgrounds supporting the girls, including many faithful Mormons and also people who have no connection to the LDS church or, like me, used to be members of the church but are no longer. Some of the faithful Mormons I have talked to are appalled that a man like Brian Wolferts has been given leadership positions in the church where he has the opportunity to be around children. He has used the fact that he has served in prominent church callings as a weapon against his girls, telling Brittany that this fact proves he is not an abuser. He uses his church callings as both a shield and a club.
Calling people kidnappers with absolutely no evidence that they have perpetrated such a crime is itself an actionable offense. I have watched and sat silently by for the last three-and-a-half months as Allison has repeatedly defamed Lisa and the people who are supporting Brittany, Sydney, and Danielle in their efforts to be protected from the man they say has abused them, their stepmom, and their little sister. At first, I attributed her remarks to a misplaced zeal. Allison's comments became increasingly alarming, and untethered to reality. Because of the false allegations she repeatedly made, Lisa and I thought it was prudent to take screenshots (especially because Allison had a tendency to post vitriolic comments, only to later delete them). I am astonished to see you, Aaron, adopt the same charged rhetoric that Allison has been using. Frankly, I expected much better from you. I have always considered you to be a thoughtful person who chooses your words with care. I am disappointed to see I was wrong about that.
Today’s blog made much of Allison’s misunderstanding regarding the reason for the September 16 (it was actually September 15) surgery. Prior to that date, Allison thought she understood (“thought she understood”? What does that mean?) from the child’s grandmother that the child may have had a condition at birth with one of her legs. In addition, a member of the mother’s family had indicated to a not-for-profit agency representative that the daughter had “hip dysplasia.” This was also communicated to Allison. And where did the family members pick up these ideas? Did they invent them out of thin air? When the child had a tonsillectomy on September 16 (have you seen evidence of this? Can you post a medical bill that proves Abby had a tonsillectomy?), Allison was confused and thought the surgery had to do with hip dysplasia. When Allison subsequently realized she was wrong, she acknowledged it, and publicly apologized for the confusion. How that was extrapolated into a grand conspiracy to conceal abuse is a matter of grand misdirection by the kidnappers. In light of the kidnapper field day with Allison’s mistake, it is not surprising that Brian’s wife would have said that Allison’s posts were misinformed and not legitimate. If I were in her shoes, I would have been miffed at Allison. Why wouldn’t you have been miffed at Jane Wolferts who is the one who told Allison that it was a hip problem? Is it more likely that Jane was mistaken or that Angie and Brian are covering something up? And perhaps she was. But it is a tempest in a teapot and has nothing to do with the real issue here, which is kidnapping and trying to ruin a man’s life. No, Brian is not the victim here. And “kidnapping” is not the real issue. The real issue is that an abuser has gotten away with hurting children for years, and people like you are—inexplicably and astonishingly, in light of all the evidence—defending him. The real issue is that two teenage girls are so afraid to be alone with him that they ran away and have been in hiding for five months, and their dad has done everything in his power to (a) find them and bring them back to his abusive home and (b) prevent them from getting any protection from the courts. The real issue is the pervasive, continuing campaign of abuse by Brian Wolferts, and it is not a “tempest in a teapot.” Minimizing, downplaying, pooh-poohing the testimony of multiple eyewitnesses to the abuse Brian Wolferts has unleashed on his daughters is deplorable.
As a complete side note, because we are at fault for the dysplasia confusion, it is interesting to note that according to hipdysplasia.org it is believed that hip dysplasia is developmental. Not a condition arising from “physical trauma” as suggested in the blog. Hipdysplasia.org also indicates that genetics play a role in the condition, and that it is 12 times more likely to occur where there is family history. Aaron, is there a family history of hip dysplasia? Are you saying that Abby does suffer from hip dysplasia, but that it is a genetic condition? If so, you are saying that Allison was correct when she said Abby had hip dysplasia. But you just said she was confused about that. Which is it? If Abby does not have hip dysplasia, are you saying she has no condition that causes her to limp? Or that she has some other problem that causes a limp (such as one leg being longer than the other (which, incidentally, is a symptom of hip dysplasia))? Why wouldn’t Brian produce the proof that Abby had a tonsillectomy and not a hip surgery? Why did Jane think Abby had a hip problem and tell Allison that? Why was Abby not in Dani’s birthday video? Why did the doctor tell Angie that Abby had a hip problem that she was not born with? Are you saying Brittany lied about that? Do you think Brian’s method of carrying a toddler by holding her thighs is reasonable? Do you think it is reasonable for a father to discipline a toddler the way Brittany has reported Brian does: by taking her alone into a locked room for up to an hour and causing her to scream, then go silent, then scream, then go silent. Have you ever disciplined your children that way?
Aaron, you say you support Brian. Do you support that? Do you also support his taking Abby’s beloved teddy bear and throwing it in the trash—because the toddler had the temerity to drop something on the floor? You say you support Brian. Do you support the way he treats his wife Angie? Do you support his detailed discussion of child pornography with his daughter? How about his obsession with his daughter's bras? Is that something you support? How about Brian's obsessive control over his daughters? Is that something you support? If you don’t support these things, what exactly do you mean when you say you support Brian Wolferts?
In Summary. Brian’s girls have been taken from him, (Correction: they ran away) their lawful custodial parent, and he has not heard from them in over 5 months notwithstanding every effort to locate them. The mother (her name is Michelle) and her supporters appear to be (“appear to be”? Is that lawyer-speak? Do you think that gives you immunity from a defamation claim?) directly involved in kidnapping or in aiding and abetting kidnapping. How so? How are these unnamed supporters “aiding and abetting kidnapping?” Do tell. Have you got any evidence to back up such a claim? Are you accusing me or Lisa of this? If so, please have the courage to do so directly without resorting to lawyerly euphemisms. There is nothing nefarious about a father seeking to find his missing children (Oh, yes, there is, when he wants to find them to bring them immediately under his dominion so he can rain down abuse upon them, there is something very nefarious, indeed) and being disinclined to negotiate with kidnappers, who claim not to know where the girls are in the hope of avoiding prosecution, regarding transfer of the girls “neutral sites” and “safe harbors.” It is Syd and Dani who are asking for safe asylum. Are you calling them “kidnappers”? Why would a safe harbor be something Brian does not want for his girls? Why don’t you? What does Brian have to fear in granting his daughters a safe harbor? If I were falsely accused of abuse, as Brian claims he is, I would have no problem giving my daughters a safe harbor. It would certainly be preferable to not knowing where there were. On the other hand, if I were guilty of the things my daughters were accusing me of, I would not give an inch; I would try to find them before anyone else, and I would do all in my power to make sure they did not have their day in court or a place where they felt safe to tell people what I had done to them. In other words, if I were guilty, I would act exactly like Brian Wolferts has behaved over the last five months. The kidnappers (you seem to know who the “kidnappers” are. Have you reported them to the authorities? Have the authorities detained them?) have a history of reporting abuse against Brian and his supporters, with knowledge of the falsity of their reports (how do you know the people reporting abuse did so “with knowledge of the falsity of their reports” if you don’t know who they are or what they reported?) or with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of their reports. The kidnappers have sought to destroy Brian’s livelihood based on information known to them to be false or with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of their reports. In the case of the September 16 surgery (it was actullay the 15th), the mother (I have not seen anything posted by Michelle since I began following this story at the beginning of September. Have you? Michelle went missing shortly after the girls ran away, and to my knowledge has not posted anything anywhere ever since. Do you have inside information as to Michelle’s activities? Can you point to us what you believe Michelle said regarding the September 15 surgery?) and her supporters (again, to whom are you referring? I have seen many people supporting Brittany and her sisters but have not seen these “supporters of the mother” to whom you keep referring. Not that Michelle is not worthy of support; just that the dialogue has been about supporting Brittany, Sydney, and Dani. It is Brian and his "supporters" who seem obsessed with demonizing Michelle and deflecting attention from Brian's behavior toward his daughters, perhaps because Michelle is not around to defend herself) have sought to misdirect the public away from the fact that they are in fact liars (can you identify some specific statements you think are lies? I have seen many from Mel Bittner but not from any of the girls’ supporters. “Liars” is a pretty strong accusation. Got anything to back it up?) and kidnappers (so all of these unnamed “supporters” are kidnappers? Really? You sound a little unhinged here) by suggesting a grand conspiracy to conceal abuse over a mistake by Allison regarding the nature of a personal surgery. It’s really not all that “grand.” It involves the abuser, Brian Wolferts, and his wife (over whom he exerts significant control). They tell their supporters what they want to hear, who then repeat whatever the story is they are supposed to tell (i.e. “it was hip surgery! Oh, wait, tonsils, yeah, that’s the ticket!” No grand conspiracies required; just an abuser who has sycophants willing to do his bidding (for what reason I still can’t quite fathom).
I suspect that the mother’s supporters will invoke their usual highly charged buzzwords, such as “victim shaming,” against me for supporting the application of the rule of law to Brian and his family, but I will endeavor to persevere through it. So “liars and kidnappers” are not “highly charged” words but “victim shaming” qualifies. Got it. Odd that your allegiance to the “rule of law” extends only to the defense of abusers like Brian Wolferts. You have had no problem accusing innocent people of being liars and kidnappers with no regard for the truth of the claims you made. Brian and his defenders, including Allison, have hurled insult after insult, told lie after lie, harassed and bullied people both online and “in real life,” and you have said nothing. Someone points out inconsistencies in Allison’s statements and you suddenly find a voice.
Aaron, if you had any facts or evidence to support your claims, I think you would have provided them (as I have done and as Brittany has done). But the facts and evidence point overwhelmingly to the conclusion that Brian Wolferts is a perverted control freak who has abused his wives and children, and his daughters Sydney and Dani are justifiably afraid that if they come out of hiding they will be returned to his dominion and control. They have stated that they feel unsafe with him. Why do you continue to support the man who has abused them? Is loyalty to your mentor a higher value than protecting children from abuse? If you had no connection to Brian’s father, I can’t believe you or Allison would take the same position you have taken. You are both far too good for me to believe that.