A SWAT team + a Tank vs. a Mother
The call came at 2 in the morning.
After a 10-hour standoff with a Detroit SWAT team, Maryanne Godboldo had been arrested and her 13-year-old daughter, Ariana, taken into custody. The crime? Godboldo had refused to let Ariana be force-fed dangerous psychiatric drugs.
The judge at the other end of the call had promised Godboldo he would find the best attorney he knew to help her. Allison Folmar was that attorney. Would she take the case?
The answer: Of course.
“It was a very fateful call that got me involved,” Folmar told Freedom.
“Everything I do in the practice of law comes from a deep sense of passion that won’t let me rest until a situation is rectified. They had a SWAT team, tanks, helicopters, all of that to take her daughter because she didn’t want to give her a drug?” asked Folmar. “How wrong is that?”
It was so wrong that Folmar agreed to take the case pro bono, representing Godboldo from that day forward through a topsy-turvy affair that became a perilous faceoff against the deeply pocketed pharmaceutical lobby and an entrenched Child Protective Services alliance.
What would be a three-year nightmare for Godboldo started with a decision to allow Ariana to attend public school, after years of homeschooling. Maryanne became a stay-at-home mother after her daughter was born with a deformed leg that had to be amputated below the knee. Fitted with a prosthetic, Ariana grew up tutored by her mother, enjoying a happy life.
At age 11, Ariana entered public school for the first time. Like many states, Michigan requires children attending school to be immunized for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, as well as meningitis. Godboldo took her to a pediatrician, who administered the injections.
The shots had an instantaneous—and devastating—effect.
“Her eyes glazed over and she immediately became ill,” said Godboldo. “She refused to eat and wouldn’t even play with the dog. That’s how I knew something was really wrong.”
But that was only the beginning of the downward spiral.
“She wasn’t thinking straight and she was reaching for things that weren’t there,” said Godboldo, who was convinced her daughter’s problems were the result of receiving so many vaccinations at one time.
“I took her back to the doctor, and the doctor said it wasn’t the vaccines that were the problem and referred us to a county mental health agency,” she added. “They wanted to prescribe Risperdal, but I told them I didn’t want her on medication because I wanted tests first.”
Risperdal, a brain-damaging antipsychotic drug cited in several class-action lawsuits, was the subject of a $2.2 billion settlement in November 2013 between manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Justice Department. According to the department, Johnson & Johnson promoted the drug for unsafe off-label uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, while concurrently paying kickbacks to prescribing physicians. This, for a powerful drug that has been documented to cause diabetes, stroke, kidney failure, and even death.
Refusing to believe that her daughter’s problems were at all psychiatric, Godboldo consulted two neurologists and several other doctors who ran further tests. When the tests proved inconclusive, the doctors referred Godboldo back to the psychiatric facility where she was pressured into signing a consent form allowing Ariana to be put on Risperdal. The form gave Godboldo the right to take her daughter off drugs at any time.
On Risperdal, Ariana’s behavior worsened. Godboldo refused to accept psychiatric opinions about her daughter and continued to consult medical doctors. Finally, a holistic physician found the cause of Ariana’s debilitating neurological symptoms: brain inflammation resulting from the vaccinations.
In consultation with the doctor, and armed with the consent form that allowed her to discontinue the drug at any time, Godboldo began to wean her daughter off Risperdal.
Psychiatrists at the clinic where Ariana was being given drugs reported Godboldo to social services officials for “medical neglect,” despite her legal right to protect her daughter.
“Maryanne was aware of the dangers of these drugs because she had done her research,” Folmar told Freedom. “She was informed and educated. I only came to learn of the horrors of what was happening as I unraveled the case. Psychiatrists are forcing families, children and parents to take drugs that can potentially have severe side effects and kill their child.”
Despite pressure to force Godboldo to continue drugging her daughter with the dangerous chemical, she staunchly refused. Godboldo was soon facing a full-on assault from Detroit’s Child Protective Services system.
A social worker ruled that Ariana should be put back on Risperdal administered by an inpatient psychiatric facility. The Detroit Police SWAT team surrounded Godboldo’s home and, following a 10-hour siege, broke in and forcibly removed her daughter. Ariana was confined to a state-run juvenile psychiatric facility.
Godboldo allegedly fired a warning shot from a pistol into the ceiling during the siege, not aimed at anyone.
According to Folmar, kidnapping of children by state authorities is not a rare occurrence. “For every child they put in foster care in Michigan, the state gets $1,200 for the paperwork,” she said. “This has become a moneymaking business.”
Godboldo was arrested during the siege, charged with eight felony counts and held for five days until released on bond.
During that time, in direct opposition to the mother, psychiatrist George Mellos at the Hawthorn Psychiatric Center began administering Risperdal and other psychiatric drugs to Ariana. The girl’s prosthetic leg was removed, presumably to keep her from escaping to her family.
Neither Mellos nor anyone else at the facility possessed Ariana’s medical records, nor were her other health care providers consulted. They also lacked the consent of any member of Ariana’s family to administer the drugs.
It took two days for her family and their attorney to locate Ariana at the psychiatric facility. After seeing her, Folmar described her as “drooling and despondent.” It was nearly two months before Ariana was released into the custody of her aunt.
The battle moved next to the courts.
“When I go to court, I go to war,” Folmar explained. “I am unapologetic about that, because my client’s life and her child’s life are at stake. And excuse me if you are offended by my posture, but this is how it’s going down. You started this war and now I must finish it.”
“Knowing that most lawyers don’t like to touch these cases, I really feel like if I don’t help, nobody will. This is always an unfair fight when the courts step in and take the position of a psychiatrist. A court of law is supposed to be blind. That isn’t always the case.”
Folmar continued, “Lady Justice is blind to race, socioeconomic status and creed. All she is looking at is what is right and what is fair and what is just. That is what the practice of law means to me and how I apply myself when I am in the courtroom fighting for children who are suffering at the hands of psychiatrists.”
In her fight, Folmar was assisted by the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). Founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, CCHR is dedicated to ending psychiatric abuse.
“There are no other organizations like CCHR,” said Folmar. “CCHR is leaps and bounds ahead as a true watchdog, looking out for the health and well-being of families abused by psychiatry.”
Gradually, evidence surfaced exposing the actions of those within the Child Protective Services culture and the psychiatrists who often callously and irresponsibly give the orders.
The Detroit social worker assigned to Ariana’s case at the time of the siege on the Godboldo home had never met the girl. Under cross-examination, she stated, “I told 911 that I needed assistance to execute a warrant. I told them when they get the child out they will need to transport her in their back seat since they have a cage in the car. I’d never met her. I didn’t even know what she looked like.”
The order to admit Ariana to the psychiatric facility was stamped “Not For Medication,” indicating that she was not to be drugged. The social worker, however, authorized the facility to “if necessary” medicate the child with the dangerous drugs Risperdal, Haldol, Abilify and lithium. She further approved a list of 13 or 14 immunizations “if needed,” including one that Ariana’s mother believed had caused her daughter’s adverse reaction that ultimately led to the false psychiatric diagnosis.
All of this was carried out without consulting any of Ariana’s physicians or reviewing existing medical histories. To Folmar, the assaults added up not only to gross psychiatric fraud but crossed over into child abuse.
“I call it psychiatric abuse,” she said. “It’s abuse because it is against a person’s will. The state’s interest in the well-being of a child does not trump a parent’s right to choose not to drug their child. I don’t call psychiatric drugs a medicine; they’re not healing or helping anything.”
In August 2011, the eight felony counts against Maryanne Godboldo were dropped on the basis that the court order used to seize her daughter was fraudulent. The family court ordered that Ariana be returned to her mother the following month, and by December all child neglect charges against Godboldo were dismissed.
Charges were later reinstated on a technicality, due primarily to the warning shot fired by the Detroit mother. However, District Court Judge Ronald Giles finally dismissed all criminal charges against Godboldo in March 2014.
In his ruling, Judge Giles stated, “This court finds that the defendant, in fact, did use reasonable force…to prevent an illegal attachment. The Detroit Police did not have the authority to remove a child at that time.” He ruled that the court order being used at that time was “invalid.”
Today, though Godboldo and her daughter survived their ordeal, the attorney who achieved that victory in court fights on, taking on cases of families deprived of their rights and subjected to degrading psychiatric treatments. As she did with Godboldo, Folmar handles these cases either free or while earning comparatively little compensation for her services.
There was also the case of Kim Gee in Buffalo, whose hellish battle with CPS resulted in the mother losing her daughter to state authorities on a charge of medical neglect—like Godboldo, for refusing to force her daughter to take Risperdal. Folmar went to court and had the judgment reversed.
As Gee reported to CCHR, “[Folmar] knew I had a little girl who was unlawfully seized for a ridiculous, bogus reason and she listened to me. She said she’d get my daughter back and she did! She came in like the wind! She knew we were wronged and she was going to make it right.”
Yet Folmar remains humble about it all, even after her efforts in exposing the Godboldo nightmare led Michigan Child Protective Services to alter its stand on parents who are allegedly failing or refusing to have their children ingest psychotropic drugs. MCPS is no longer mandated to respond to such complaints.
“It’s very difficult, because to some degree I’m a one-woman band,” Folmar said. “So many parents need help, and these cases tend to drag on for so long. The ones who are targeted and victimized inevitably are the ones who cannot afford to retain counsel to work outside of the system. The lawyers provided for the parents’ defense are typically pitiful, basically just a breathing body that does nothing. That’s not representation for a child counting on you to fight for her family and for her life.”
“I have to speak for individuals who don’t have the power or the resources to fight,” Folmar added. “I’m the voice of those parents who are not able to look a psychiatrist in the eye and say, ‘You’re going to tell me the truth about what you’re doing to this child right now. And you’re going to release the child this minute.’”
While Folmar said she has been successful in every one of the forced-drugging cases she has taken on, at the same time she has paid a heavy price for her selfless crusade to rescue parents and children. Her income has slipped since taking up the legal cause, partially because she accepts far less than her regular fee for families who can’t pay. But there is another side to it as well.
“The pharmaceutical companies want me gone because I’m such a thorn in their side,” Folmar maintained. “I’m standing in the way of the system. So many of the judges just rubber-stamp what the psychiatrists and Child Protective Services are doing. The government and the mental health profession are operating together. So I’m constantly being threatened with jail and fines just for saying the state cannot drug a child without the parents’ consent.”
Folmar says she would welcome the opportunity to directly challenge a psychiatrist and the “reckless abuse of power” in court. The problem, she acknowledges, is that “bogus” psychiatric reports are admitted but the person submitting them usually never shows up in person.
“Why don’t they? Because they’re cowards, that’s why,” Folmar charged. “The thing they fear most is someone like me looking them straight in the eye. It scares them.” She added that the one psychiatrist she was able to meet face-to-face quit working at his facility within a week.
But what lay at the root of this culture of forced drugging? It’s simple, Folmar believes. Just follow the money. Huge profits exist for Big Pharma and psychiatrists alike in peddling normal childhood behavior as mental illness. The psychiatric profession, she stressed, is fearful of parents arming themselves with the facts.
“Psychiatrists are forcing families, children and parents to take drugs that can potentially kill their child or cause severe medical side effects that will impact the child for the rest of his or her life,” Folmar said. “The psychiatrist is armed with nothing more than a personal opinion—not a professional opinion—merely a personal one with nothing to back it up. It’s like a physician performing surgery without first getting an X-ray. It’s at that same level, and equally criminal.”
The solution, she maintains, is to pass laws that establish the rights of parents to refuse dangerous psychiatric treatments.
“Short of legally extinguishing psychiatry altogether, I think the laws need to be changed to make judges and the courts defer to the Constitution,” continued Folmar. “We should progress toward allowing our children to grow up in a world that does not want to chemically suppress them for being an individual. Every child is unique. There are ways to deal with behavioral issues but the answer is not by drugging the child.”
In accepting a CCHR Human Rights Award in February for her work, Folmar told an audience in Los Angeles, “To every family who has suffered the loss of a child—and witnessed the mental and physical suffering and devastation caused by harmful drugs forced upon their child—let’s turn their turmoil into triumph by continuing to change laws in this country…We must work at this until not a single child is ever forcibly drugged again.”
Folmar has no intention of giving up her crusade to help families and children. “When you see the harm that is going on, you feel compelled to do what you know is right,” she said.
Yet whatever distress Folmar may feel from putting herself in the line of fire is countered by the fact she has staunch allies in her corner. One is CCHR, which she appreciates having stepped up. “They have my back,” she said with conviction.
She also feels that goodness, and God, are firmly on her side.
“Evil can’t touch me,” Folmar concluded, “because I’m working for a higher purpose.”