Prosecutors in the Utah attorney general's office say they are irritated but not concerned that an attorney for convicted child sexual abuser Allan Hadfield wants their office to be held in contempt of court.
Attorney Richard Nemelka filed a motion with 4th District Judge George E. Ballif in Provo this week, asking that the judge order Attorney General David Wilkinson and Assistant Attorney General Robert Parrish to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for telling Hadfield's ex-wife to "disobey a court order" and send her abused children to a therapist not approved by the court."Frankly it is more an irritation than a concern because it says a lot more about the motives of the people filing it than about the validity of the motion itself," said Associate Deputy Attorney General Paul M. Warner.
"It's unfortunate because it just continues to victimize the children in the Hadfield case, which demonstrates that the system is being manipulated."
Warner said the motion raises many issues, including: Does legal expertise give someone medical expertise? In other words, does the court have the right to require a person to go to one physician, and not another?
"The answer is no. It might be beneficial for this and other issues to be aired in a public forum, but doing so continues to victimize the Hadfield children, who can't return to a normal life while they directly or indirectly are in the public eye," he said.
Earlier this week, Ballif ruled that Gay Hadfield was in contempt of court for taking her children to Dr. Paul L. Whitehead, a child psychiatrist in Salt Lake City. When the Hadfields were going through divorce in 1986, 4th District Judge Ray Harding ordered that the children, who said their father had sexually abused them, be treated only by Dr. Lynn Scoresby.
But 30 days later, on a motion by Gay Hadfield's attorney, Harding removed himself from the case. It was assigned to Ballif, who said he didn't have legal authority to modify that order.
The decision was unacceptable to Gay Hadfield and the attorney general's staff. They were concerned about the emotional well-being of the children, who would be witnesses in the criminal prosecution.
During a preliminary hearing in July 1987 - a month after Ballif reconfirmed Harding's order - the children testified about what their father had done.
Hadfield, 37, was convicted by an eight-member jury last Dec. 20 of sexually abusing and sodomizing his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.
The children's original therapist, Dr. Barbara Snow, came under intense criticism during the trial by those who were convinced Hadfield was
nnocent. She continues to be accused by some of "planting information" in the children's minds.
Whitehead, who accepted the children into therapy in January 1987, treated them for three or four months. Convinced that they had been abused by their father, he testified against Hadfield at the criminal trial. But he ceased treating the children as a result of the court order.
The children were not taken to Scoresby, who had testified on behalf of Hadfield and has taken the position that Hadfield did not sexually abuse his children.
"I telephoned Dr. Scoresby and he related to me that in his opinion the children would be better served by not having therapy at that time," Whitehead said. "I told him I was uncomfortable with that because we saw the children as quite depressed and we felt that therapy was indicated.
Parrish agreed, and in the summer of 1987, as the attorney general's office's prosecution of Hadfield was progressing, he wrote to Gay Hadfield, recommending that she continue therapy with Whitehead despite the court order.
"At the time we filed the criminal case we felt the children needed their therapy to deal with the emotional upheaval of testifying," Parrish said. "Frankly, all that Scoresby had done is try to disprove all that they had said was true."
While Ballif held Gay Hadfield in contempt of court, he concluded there was no intentional misrepresentation or misleading of the court. He fined her only $1 for contempt and sentenced her to one day in jail, which the judge then suspended. He also, however, ordered her to pay $750 in attorney fees to Nemelka.
Ballif also ruled that although the divorce decree required Hadfield to pay for his children's therapy, Hadfield didn't have to pay for Whitehead's services, because they were performed in violation of the court order. The costs are several thousand dollars.
Now Nemelka wants Wilkinson and Parrish held in contempt.
"They should be required to show cause why they shouldn't be held in contempt for advising the woman to disobey a court order," he said.
Warner and Parrish said they welcome the opportunity to respond - once they are served a copy.