Monday, June 27, 2011

Can't afford an attorney? Beg online.

Posted By on June 27, 2011, 6:03 PM

At a popular funds-solicitation Website, a woman I will call "Erica" is asking for financial help to pay her attorney in her court battles to restore her five children to her care. She's already netted $3,000-plus in just a few months, but her plea for help isn't quite what it seems.---

"Erica" claims that following allegations by her soon-to-be ex, she was kicked out of the family home and lost access to her children. There's a glowing photograph of her and her five young offspring of varying ages. In her statement on the Website, she disparages her husband as a frightening alcoholic while effectively praising her own skills as a mother dedicated to her children's physical, emotional and spiritual welfare.

She is in the midst of an unfair tragedy, she proclaims, but she will never stop fighting to get her kids back. 

Her quest to raise $5,000 seems to have found willing ears, whether from folks in her ward, or elsewhere. Money has come in from anonymous sources, as well as friends and family. But in her moving appeal for help, "Erica" is being less than fulsome with the truth.

According to a probable-cause statement filed in 3rd District Court, "Erica" on April 6, 2011, became angry with her 13-year-old son. "As he turned to walk out the kitchen, defendant threw a knife at him." In his bedroom, her son found that his tank top was "soaked in blood." The probable cause statement also alleged that on the following day, she became angry with her 9-year-old son, grabbed him by the shoulders and kneed him in "the midsection."

"Erica", already embroiled in a nasty divorce and custody fight and being sued by her husband with cohabitant abuse, was charged with a second-degree felony, inflicting serious physical injury on a child intentionally, and a class A misdemeanor, child abuse involving physical injury.

None of this information is available on her online solicitation for funds.

What is available, however, is her attorney and his paralegal's contact information, including phone and fax numbers. "Erica" advises to give them your credit- or debit-card info to make a donation.

All of this strikes me as extraordinarily murky. Am I the only one who can't help but squirm at the thought of a criminal client, cap in hand, schilling for her attorney -- who is representing her in the divorce, cohabitant abuse and criminal issues -- while, at best, lying by admission as to why she needs said funds?


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