This is part one of an investigative series into the Kansas family court system.
After my investigative series on the corruption reported in the Missouri court system, in which victims have alleged that court-appointed guardians and therapists conspired to drain their bank accounts by dragging out court cases unnecessarily and giving children to alleged abusers, victims from all over the country have contacted PJ Media asking for help. But Kansas City, Kansas began to stand out from the crowd with a quickly growing list of women who say they are victims of domestic abuse that is being suppressed or exacerbated by the court system. One guardian ad litem, Trina Nudson, ties them all together.
Nudson is a power player in the Kansas City family court system. She plays several roles including attorney, guardian ad litem, case manager, custody evaluator, and visitation supervisor, and she owns a reunification therapy center where the court orders litigants to receive treatment. Nudson’s therapy center is called The Layne Project which also doubles as a supervised visitation center. But mothers who have received psychological services there say it is simply an avenue through which abusers are given everything they want while victims are painted as “parent alienators.”
Cori Anzicek watched with her small children as her ex-husband attacked her oldest son with tin snips. The attack was so brutal it left blood all over the floor and the walls of her house and at one point her son stopped moving and she feared he was dead. The attack was so heinous that it ended up in the Kansas City Star.
A Bonner Springs man is facing charges, accused of stabbing his 16-year-old stepson in the head after a dispute about Christmas lights, according to the teen’s father.
Aaron Anzicek, 35, is charged in Leavenworth County District Court with two counts of aggravated battery stemming from separate incidents in May and November 2019.
Anzicek is a specialist in the Kansas National Guard and a fire protection
Anzicek was convicted of two counts of felony battery against a child. Nudson and her group of therapists along with Anzicek’s attorney Michael Duma and the custody evaluator Terri Harris are moving to give him 50/50 custody of his two biological children who witnessed the attack. Kansas Department of Family Services substantiated that the two younger children were victims of emotional abuse after witnessing that attack. PJ Media has reviewed photographs of the injuries sustained by the minor child at the hands of Anzicek. The photographic evidence is horrific but to protect the identity of the minor they will not be published.
Not only is it on the record that Anzicek is a child abuser, but the state of Kansas also says anyone who commits two counts of child abuse is not a fit parent.
38-2271. Presumption of unfitness, when; burden of proof. (a) It is presumed in the manner provided in K.S.A. 60-414, and amendments thereto, that a parent is unfit by reason of conduct or condition which renders the parent unable to fully care for a child, if the state establishes, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
(1) A parent has previously been found to be an unfit parent in proceedings under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 38-2266 et seq., and amendments thereto, or comparable proceedings under the laws of another jurisdiction;
(2) a parent has twice before been convicted of a crime specified in article 34, 35, or 36 of chapter 21 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, prior to their repeal, or articles 54, 55 or 56 of chapter 21 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, or K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6104, 21-6325, 21-6326 or 21-6418 through 21-6421, and amendments thereto, or comparable offenses under the laws of another jurisdiction, or an attempt or attempts to commit such crimes and the victim was under the age of 18 years;
Anzicek has committed two crimes covered under that statute and should be considered “unfit” to be a parent by Kansas law. Instead, Nudson and her team of court professionals assigned to this case are pushing for a known child abuser to have 50/50 custody.
This is the reason why detractors of 50/50 parenting laws, which are popular with father’s rights movements, say these laws are damaging to victims of real abuse. Instead of taking credible abuse allegations seriously, and in this case criminal convictions, domestic violence victims say family courts ignore the evidence and do everything they can to unite the abuser with the children in the interest of appeasing the 50/50 standard.
The custody evaluator in the Anzicek case is lawyer Terri Harris of Harris and Henderson, LLC. In her recommendation, Harris is not only pushing for 50/50 custody but added an inexplicable requirement on the victims of Mr. Anzicek’s violence. “Mom should keep [redacted] out of and away from Dad.” That’s the victim of the stabbing attack she’s talking about. So, not only did Mr. Anzicek not go to jail for stabbing his step-son repeatedly with pliers (he got probation) but now the responsibility to stay away from him is on mom and the victim. The abuser got everything he asked for in Harris’s recommendation with the added bonus that his victims are responsible for staying out of his way. PJ Media reached out to Harris for comment on her recommendation but as of the time of publishing received no response.
Cori Anzicek says she has been accused by The Layne Project’s therapists of being a “parent alienator.” Parental alienation is not recognized as a syndrome but it is used by court therapists to force reunification with abusers. A classic case of parental alienation being used to give a child to an abuser happened in St. Louis to Caroline Less, which you can read about in detail here. Instead of investigating credible disclosures by the child about sodomy and sexual abuse, the guardian ad litem, Elaine Pudlowski, withheld the evidence from the court which showed three court-appointed therapists saying the child should never be unsupervised with her father. Because of that suppression of evidence, the child has unsupervised overnight visits with the man she continues to say has abused her for over five years. The child’s mother who tried to protect her daughter was called a parent alienator and is ignored by all the court professionals as “crazy.”
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Crystalee Protheroe told PJ Media, “every time I reported abuse I got less time with my children.” This continued in her case until she lost custody of two of her daughters. She hasn’t seen them in person in four years. Both children disclosed sexual abuse by their father to therapists and police. Protheroe says that police and the childrens’ therapists told her to keep them away from their father. Nudson and the court disagreed and gave him full custody while accusing her of parental alienation. Protheroe is only allowed Zoom visits now.
Another disturbing trend the women reported was a bias against breastfeeding moms. Nudson and family court judges told moms to stop breastfeeding babies because it offended or alienated their ex-husbands. In Protheroe’s case, she has a court order telling her she isn’t allowed to breastfeed her baby in the view of her ex-husband.
Anonymous mom Jane Doe wrote to PJ Media about Nudson and said that she and The Layne Project kept insisting she pay for more and more reunification with an unrepentant alcoholic who had two DUIs. She says it cost her thousands of dollars and put her baby at risk.
I know my story is just one of many. The court systems don’t listen. I am the parent without DUI’s or a criminal record. I am the one with a stable career that I have had for 24 years. I am the one completely financially supporting my son because my ex just refuses to pay support…but Trina profits off of individuals like us. She does nothing to help. Honestly, I have learned like these other mom’s, the court system is broken. It does not protect kids. You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to do the right thing and protect them, when it never matters. Now, I just pray my son is safe when he is in my ex’s care and that we don’t make a new story someday for something tragic that could have been avoided had someone listened rather than used us for profit.
Anonymous mom Anne Doe wrote to PJ Media alleging that Nudson stirs up trouble for profit.
I have always found Trina to drum up issues that weren’t even on the table to prolong issues causing our fees/turmoil to increase unnecessarily and to benefit father 99.9% of the time.
I made several substantiated requests for the emotional abuse father projected onto the children, including she at least enforce the court’s ruling for father to attend counseling. In almost ten years of requests and multiple incidents warranting counseling my request was never enforced but when dad accused me of emotional abuse, we went directly into a custody evaluation.
The allegations of bias and money-grubbing behavior mirror those in St. Louis against GAL Elaine Pudlowski.
31 Missouri Judges Recuse Themselves from Lawsuit Alleging Family Court Guardians and Psychologists Orchestrated Money-Making Scheme
Barry Goldstein, an expert on domestic violence and Director of Research at Stop Domestic Violence wrote an article about how family courts make a big mistake when they treat domestic violence victims like everyone else.
Shared parenting is a controversial issue, but virtually all laws and research agree that shared parenting was not meant for DV [domestic violence] cases or cases in which the parents can’t communicate or cooperate. Courts like shared parenting because it is viewed as a quick way to resolve cases on a crowded docket. The research shows it is a temporary reprieve because the cases are likely to reappear. Shared parenting was not meant for the kinds of cases courts view as high conflict. DV cases should never be turned into shared parenting. This benefits the court professionals and abusers but not children.
In the cases in Kansas City, most of the moms PJ Media spoke to had been in court between eight and eleven years. In every case, it was the ex-husbands doing all of the filings and using the court system as a weapon of abuse to assert control over their ex-wives and force them to continue interacting with them. One mom said she paid $20,000 to get the same custody agreement she had before her ex-husband filed a change of custody motion. There’s no guarantee he won’t do it again and no one will stop him.
A review of The Layne Project’s YouTube page has found an amusing video starring Nudson herself. Her policies and rules are so numerous and overbearing that it reminded me of the scene in Harry Potter where Dolores Umbridge is asserting her power with hundreds of fussy rules at Hogwarts in a mad frenzy. It’s clear why courts have to order people to use The Layne Project — no sane person would sign up for this willingly. No whispering! No passing notes! You may not criticize The Layne Project staff! (Those are real rules of The Layne Project).
But while this video might make us laugh, what women are reporting happened to them because of The Layne Project owner Trina Nudson and others in the Kansas City family court system is no laughing matter. In another video on The Layne Project YouTube page, Nudson explains her disturbing philosophy. “Through therapy we help teach coping skills, acceptance, self-awareness…for parents we help them grieve the loss of control, accept what they cannot change, and understand how their emotions may unintentionally be impacting their children.”
But when moms and children are victims of domestic abuse, these goals don’t change. The moms told PJ Media that Nudson’s words terrify them. “The Layne Project believes that both parents play a part in the high conflict-divorces,” said Cori Anzicek. “Any sort of allegations, even valid ones, seem like they’re dismissed under the guise of two parents fighting for control. Teaching children to cope shouldn’t mean minimizing abuse.”
Anonymous mom Debbie Doe told PJ Media, “When Trina said this to me, I heard ‘I will interpret even reasonable concern about your children at the other home as overreach and creating conflict.’”
Anonymous mom Sandra Doe wrote,
Domestic violence victims understand a loss of control all too well. What we hope for is help from the legal system, both in the criminal and civil courts. Great strides have been made for survivors in the criminal court system, although much more work needs to be done in civil courts There is a much greater divide to bridge. Survivors and their children have been controlled emotionally, financially, physically, sexually, etc. We are protective parents who want, more than anything, to not perpetuate the generational cycle of abuse for our children. The criminal courts encourage us to leave these abusers, only to be continually traumatized systemically by the civil court system in family law. Somehow, all the expectations that are placed on survivors to protect themselves and their children, then we are literally told by family law professionals that protecting our children and standing up to abuse of us OR our children is causing the conflict.”
PJ Media reached out to Nudson for her response to the allegations but received none at the time of publishing.
If you or someone you know believes they are a victim of Kansas City family courts or The Layne Project psychological services, please contact [email protected]