Oakland County judge upset with social media attacks on kids in custody dispute
Pontiac — An Oakland Circuit judge blasted a social media campaign “trampling” the privacy rights of three West Bloomfield Township children at the center of a court battle over their shunning of their father.
It was the second hearing this week before Judge Lisa Gorcyca for Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and her ex-husband, Omer Tsimhoni, in the battle over their two sons, 14 and 10 years old, and a 9-year-old daughter.
The case and judge’s rulings have so riled some members of the public supporting them and their mother that they have engaged in a social media campaign which Gorcyca and others complained have misrepresented the case, identified the children and run photographs of them, and even included death threats. It wasn’t specified who the death threats are against.
Gorcyca said Wednesday the children can remain temporarily at the unnamed summer youth camp until next month when they are expected to return home to their mother. But Gorcyca told Eibschitz-Tsimhoni that for that to be an option things have to immediately change.
“At this point it (camp) is in the best interests of the children,” Gorcyca said. “I’ve never seen anything like this ... a frenzy of misinformation that is not factual and their (children’s) privacy is being trampled on.”
The case of the three siblings has drawn international media attention after Gorcyca found them in contempt for not having a healthy relationship with their father and on June 24 placed them in Children’s Village, a county-run juvenile detention facility. She transferred them to a summer camp July 10. The children refused to look at, talk with or even have lunch with their father.
Gorcyca also issued a gag order for attorneys not to discuss the case with reporters and also sealed recent filings from Eibschitz-Tsimhoni which Tsimhoni’s attorney, Keri Middleditch, said were full of misrepresentations and violated the children’s privacy.
Middleditch also renewed a request that Tsimhoni’s ex-wife submit to a psychological evaluation. When the mother’s attorney, Andrew Abood, requested Wednesday such an order “be mutual” — to include the husband — Gorcyca told attorneys “do the whole family.”
Middleditch also told Gorcyca information about the children’s doctors appointments had been distributed on social media. They included criticisms directed at the camp, which Middleditch described as a “fabulous” facility with a great program and a waiting list of potential campers.
“She (mother) didn’t want the kids at camp in the first place,” Middleditch said. “It’s an effort to get them kicked out of the camp.”
Gorcyca set Oct. 5-9 to hear arguments for future custody but said it was her hope the parents would step up and resolve matters and “may never have to come before me again.”
The couple divorced in 2011. The contentious battle has frustrated Gorcyca and numerous attorneys, including William Lansat, the court-appointed guardian ad litem who decried the children’s behavior as “cult-like” after observing them huddle and tap their feet as if communicating in Morse code with one another.
The mother insists there is nothing wrong with their behavior. Abood agreed noting how they have loving relationships with their mother and each other, are social with friends, and get good grades in school.
“We want the children to have a positive relationship with their father,” Abood told Gorcyca.
Tsimhoni, who has moved back to Michigan, filed for sole custody of the children. He is an engineer with General Motors who has worked part of the year in Israel. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has said she fears her ex-husband will kidnap the children and take them it Israel.
Neither parent is allowed to write the children at camp and have only been able to visit in compliance with camp rules and with a court-appointed monitor present.
Lansat also commented on social media attacks directed at individuals and the court.
“What has happened in this case is ... there have been death threats from some very disturbed people,” he said. “It’s an attack on the integrity of this judiciary.”
Lansat reported last week the children had been uncooperative with him and mental health professionals trying to evaluate them.