The child's father, Bruce Anthony Sotelo Jr., was convicted and held in jail for beating a pregnant Ms. Styke-Marquez so severely in 2007 that the 4 month-old baby she was carrying died as a result of the attack that left Ms. Styke-Marquez with a concussion, broken ribs, cracked teeth, a split lip and contusions all over her body.
According to Hawaii State Statute 571-46(9) perpetrators of family violence are not candidates for either joint or sole custody of their children, yet in September 2010, Judge Tanaka inexplicably reversed his initial ruling that granted Ms. Styke-Marquez full physical/legal custody of their daughter and in contradiction of the statute, gave full physical/legal custody of the little girl to the man who put her mother in the hospital.
The case has caught the attention of several state lawmakers such as House Human Services Chair, Representative John Mizuno (Kalihi) and Domestic Violence Survivor Advocate, Dara Carlin, who said she is absolutely outraged by the situation. "Domestic violence victims flee their abusers in full faith that the system will protect them and their children from further abuse and trauma once they've fled and laws have been put firmly in-place to ensure this. That a family court judge can choose to disregard and override a state statute that protects those at-risk is simply unconscionable"
Research shows that 70% of batterers who request custody receive it, leading to 58,000 children per year who are forced to live with their identified abusers. Batterers are over 6 times more likely to sexually abuse their children.
 Bancroft, Lundy and Silverman, Jay, The Batterer as Parent, Sage Publications, 2002
Financially devastated from the litigation her abuser has put her through, Ms. Styke-Marquez, unable to afford an attorney, will walk into the courtroom alone to face her abuser (who as recently as November 19th has a criminal contempt charge lodged against him), his attorney (who is also a Per Diem judge) and a judge who has already ruled against her and state statute. "My last and only hope to save my daughter is to call public attention to what's going on and I'm not the only one this is happening to - I know so many other domestic violence survivors who have lost custody of their children to their perpetrators as well which only tells me that this is no small problem. I'm a protective parent, not a perfect one, and never tried to keep our daughter from her father so I can't understand how this is being allowed to happen" says Ms. Styke-Marquez.
Contact: Dara Carlin at breaking-the-
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AngelGroup is spearheaded by people who've experienced or observed the corruption in Hawaii's legal system, family courts, & social services. We're resolved to change the legal landscape, achieving long-term change and potential correction for individual cases. Read more at http://www.angelgroup.org