TY AND BRYNLEE’S STORY:
A 16-year old young man named Ty has gone viral on TikTok for speaking out about his experiences in the Provo, Utah (4th District) family court system. Ty and his 12-year-old sister Brynlee, have made allegations of abuse against their father but equally concerning are their claims that family court professionals assigned to their case are refusing to protect them. For the past month, Ty and Brynlee have chosen to barricade themselves in their bedroom (and in various rooms in the home) after being court-ordered into a controversial reunification camp.
Many times, before children are sent to a reunification camp, they have lodged allegations of abuse against one parent and are vocal in their preference to stay with the other parent. This was reported by the Center for Investigative Journalism aired on public radio’s Reveal program in 2019. Reunification camps are considered to be a branch of the “troubled teen industry,” which has come under fire due to advocacy efforts by Paris Hilton and nonprofit organization, Breaking Code Silence.
In a call for submissions in 2022, the United Nations Human Right’s Office of the Commissioner acknowledged that family courts have a “tendency to dismiss the history of domestic violence and abuse in custody cases extends to cases where mothers or children have brought forward credible allegations of child physical or sexual abuse.”
Last year, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was reauthorized and it included an important new provision: Kayden’s Law. The adoption of Kayden’s Law (also known as Keeping Children Safe from Family Violence) in VAWA marks the first time in history that the federal government has so plainly acknowledged the need for improved child safety measures in the private family court system all across the United States. In this important, child centric legislation, reunification camps and therapies are specifically addressed:
“Limiting the use of reunification camps and therapies which cannot be proven to be safe and effective. No “reunification treatment” may be ordered by the court without scientifically valid and generally accepted proof of the safety, effectiveness and therapeutic value of the particular treatment.”
This federal legislation goes on to state:
“Courts must consider evidence of past sexual or physical abuse, including protection orders, arrests, and convictions for domestic violence, sexual violence, or child abuse of the accused parent”
In the case of Ty and Brynlee, not only have both children made allegations of abuse against their father, DCFS has substantiated multiple reports of physical, mental/psychological, and sexual abuse. Some findings were noted as “severe and chronic.” As a result of the DCSF findings, Ty and Brynlee went almost 4.5 years without an overnight visit. There is currently an active criminal investigation on their father related to other children.
Despite the extensive and substantiated history of abuse, Commissioner Joanna Sagers ordered reunification therapy and unsupervised, overnight visits. Ty has made allegations that court-appointed minor’s counsel, Daniel Eyre and reunification therapist Michelle Jones are failing to act in his best interest. Most recently, Commissioner Marian Ito ordered the children into a highly controversial reunification camp called Turning Points for Families which is owned and operated by Linda Gottlieb.
On Friday, January 20, 2023, Judge Derek P. Pullan was presiding over the six and a half hour hearing and at one point, recommended “withholding food from the children” to encourage them to come out of their room and surrender to law enforcement. Judge Pullan also issued a gag order for Friday's proceedings. A decision is expected to be handed down on Monday. It is imperative for people around the world to link arms and demand justice for Ty and Brynlee. We are asking Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, to step in and protect these children.