Children Now Made Fatherless Cries Go Unheard
by: Raquel Okyay
North Carolina assemblywoman is executing legal jihad to financially bury a Mayberry father for the personal benefit of her private law firm in violation of state and federal laws.
“My children are the unnecessary victims of this senseless war against me,” said W. Neil Shelton,
A single father involved in a custody dispute in Surry County family court. “It has been three years since all contact with my children was removed – even phone access.”
In a strategic move and with plenty of financial backing including revenue from marital assets, he said his ex-wife hired high-paid Mt. Airy divorce lawyer Rep. Sarah Stevens of NC-District 90, to represent her in their divorce. While that in itself is not improper, he said the lengths that Stevens takes to undermine Shelton’s rights are above and beyond what is appropriate.
“The kids are all that matter to me and they are keeping me from being their daddy with no basis,” he said. “Everything has been wrongfully taken away from me based on false allegations.”
Stevens advised Shelton’s ex-wife to secure a restraining order against him and had the court renew it three times in the course of his three year divorce, he said.
“The assemblywoman admitted on the record that I did not commit any acts of violence against my ex-wife or children, yet she continues to pursue arrests.”
Although he was arrested 79 times by the Mayberry Police Department, the district attorney failed to charge or convict him of any charges, said Shelton. “Many of the arrests were violations of the same renewed restraining order.”
Typically, he said divorce lawyers use protective orders to gain leverage in custody matters even if there is no record of violence. “My ex-wife admitted that I never raised a hand to her but she was able to file restraining orders against me anyway.”
Nonetheless, despite any proof of dad being an unfit parent, Stevens continues to bully, intimidate, and harass him, he said.
“The judge recently ordered me to have a $3,000 dollar psychological evaluation – in addition to the four psychological exams I have already completed, by an evaluator of Stevens’ choice,” said Shelton. “I don’t have $3,000 so I asked that a local group that charges $500 conduct the evaluation.” This request was denied, he said.
“Stevens said if I do not have the $3,000 evaluation done in 30 to 45 days, I will go to jail and lose all custody to the kids,” he said. “I have been routinely threatened by the MAPD to keep quiet and have been falsely imprisoned six times – each time resulting in either acquittals or no-charges.”
On the sixth arrest in April 2013, he said the state assemblywoman’s law firm produced a bogus letter threatening various officials and accused him of writing it.
Shelton said he was thereafter charged with six felony counts of threatening a court official and six misdemeanor restraining order violations. After being held captive by law enforcement for one year, he was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers and released from jail.
“I was purposely being kept away from my divorce case,” said Shelton. When he tried to complete legal divorce work while in jail, he said he was punished for doing so. “I was not allowed to have or make phone calls, have visits, money on books or send and receive mail for a long time.”
A few days before Shelton was released from jail, he said the divorce proceeding had been completed outside of his presence with devastating results. “I lost the house, all of its content, all of the money; where’s the equitable distribution state law requires?”
All of his pre-marital personal belongings were either destroyed or sold – even inherited items were awarded to his ex-wife, he said. “She sold a 1968 Ford Mustang given to me for Christmas when I was 14 years old to a scrap-yard for $250.”
Michael Volpe, a free lance journalist, said Stevens is engaging in what is commonly-known as the “silver bullet technique” which essentially converts dubious restraining orders into custody orders. “As the divorce is unfolding, one parent files a restraining order to get immediate custody of house and children then the likely end-scenario of the divorce is the custodial parent keeps custody of both.”
In preparing for his book Bullied to Death: The Chris Mackney Story about a father who committed suicide after being a victim of the silver bullet technique;
Volpe contacted Stevens to address the topic.
“She denied knowing what the term means,” said Volpe. “That’s like a journalist not knowing what plagiarism is.”
Stevens admitted that Shelton was not violent towards his ex-wife however she added that victims of violence are usually spouses, he said. “It was not clear how that statistic, whether true or not, relates to Shelton.”
Part of Volpe’s research found that protection orders are used as “legal gamesmanship”. As an example, he said nationwide 40 to 50 percent of the protection orders that are filed are requested merely as a legal maneuver. “As noted by Washington state attorney Lisa Scott – the silver bullet technique is being used in family court as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ against the non-custodial parent.”
Shelton said the time he has missed with his children has hurt him the most. “I am not embarrassed to say I cry each night to sleep because I miss my children so much.”