Member Story: We ended up in court

After the Lavons’ church preached a sermon about child training, some embittered ex-members of the church heard about it. They then twisted it out of context and accused the Lavons and numerous other families in the church of excessive corporal discipline. To defend the Lavons, Heritage Defense fought the system all the way to court.

When Richard and Kelly Lavon’s biological children were all grown, the couple felt called to adoption. Through foster care, they ended up adopting five children, several of whom had special needs. The children they adopted all had tragic histories and had been through significant trauma, both in their previous homes and in the CPS system. Now that they were in a loving and safe place, the children’s worst nightmare was the idea of ever having to deal with the CPS system again.

One day, the Lavons heard from some families at church about the false CPS reports being made by some former members. So it was with no small sense of anxiety that Kelly answered a knock on their door.

Not surprisingly, a CPS social worker was there to investigate a report of allegedly excessive corporal punishment along with an accusation claiming that the Lavons were not homeschooling properly. The worker also wanted Kelly to sign a form. Knowing better than to simply consent, she asked the investigator to wait while she called her attorney. Kelly closed the door, called Heritage Defense, and explained the situation to our attorney while the investigator waited.

After getting our attorney’s advice, and with our attorney on the line, Kelly allowed the investigator to just lay eyes on the children and said her attorney would be contacting the investigator. Once the investigator left, Heritage Defense assigned the case to our local contact attorney.

The local attorney defended the Lavons and kept their children from being subject to interviews that would have been especially traumatic for them given their past history. The CPS investigator seemed semi-cooperative, and the Lavons’ attorney felt like CPS may be closing the case soon.

Then CPS did close the case, but not for long.

Instead, a few weeks later, a police officer stood on their porch letting the Lavons know that another investigation had been opened against their family based on the same allegations. They had a new investigator, who ended up being much harder to work with, and who seemed determined to force private interviews with all of the children.

Then everything went quiet from the investigator.

Two weeks later, Richard opened the door to a process server who handed him an official looking envelope. Richard opened it, then nearly dropped the papers with astonishment. It was a court notification that a hearing had been scheduled before a judge.

The hearing would be to determine if CPS could force an interview with each of the children. Flipping the paper, Richard gaped at what he read next. The hearing was scheduled for 9am on the coming Monday. He glanced at the clock. 4pm…on a Friday. CPS had given them almost no time to prepare.

Richard and Kelly immediately called their attorney who sprang into action and spent the weekend preparing for their hearing. Their attorney also told them that, unfortunately, the assigned judge had a reputation for being biased against families undergoing CPS investigations.

Could things get much worse?

On Monday morning, Richard and Kelly arrived at the courthouse struggling with anxiety. The thought of their adopted children being forced to undergo stressful, private interviews that could reawaken dreadful memories and jeopardize their sense of security was sickening. A little before 9am, their attorney came into the lobby and informed the Lavons that he had filed for a change of judge. 

This was something hopeful, but it hardly eliminated their stress. For hours, Richard and Kelly waited, trying to pray rather than worry. Finally, their attorney reported that the state supreme court had granted his motion, assigned another judge to hear the case, and rescheduled the hearing for that afternoon.

The time for the hearing came, and both sides made their case. CPS even called as witnesses the disgruntled ex-members of the Lavons’ church. The Lavons clarified that the excessive discipline accusations were based on a sermon about discipline that was being taken completely out of context. In fact, the same allegations had been groundlessly made against numerous other families in their church.

Both sides having made their case, all eyes turned to the judge. She was immediately ready to rule. Richard glanced at his wife; her face was drawn and she stared straight ahead.

The judge opened her mouth to speak. “I find insufficient cause to force interviews of these children. The case is closed and the petition is dismissed.” The gavel came down and relief washed over the Lavons.

Recalling the experience, Richard said, “The attorney did a phenomenal job. He was tremendous.”

Heritage Defense covered all the fees for the local attorney.

The Lavons said,

“We are beyond grateful for the expert assistance we received from Heritage Defense. If your team had not been ‘in our corner,’ our children would have been subjected to traumatizing experiences at the hands of CPS. We praise God for pointing us to you and cannot recommend strongly enough the importance of all homeschool families subscribing and supporting what you do for families.”

If you are a member of Heritage Defense, we hope it is an encouragement for you to know that your membership is going to help families like the Lavons. While we cannot guarantee outcomes, if your family is ever falsely accused of child abuse or neglect, we are ready to fight to defend you and your rights.

If you are not yet a member, please join today to have 24/7 access to experienced attorneys ready to defend your family.

*Names changed for privacy

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Please re-word. A poet-laureate I am not.


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