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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

1/17/14 1:33 PM

Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message


of hope
Friday, August 23, 2013 - Speaking of Family by Anne Stevenson

washingtontimes.com

Anne Stevenson
Ask me a question.
WASHINGTON, August
23, 2013 Caroline
Rices criminal trial on
three felony counts of
deprivation of parental
rights followed several years of malicious
prosecution in the family courts before Judge
Richard C. Perkins, the same judge who
presided over her criminal trial. This week,
Photo: Minnesotta Court of Appeals
the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in
Carolines favor when it overturned her convictions on the grounds that Judge Perkins and
prosecutors conspired at trial to deprive Caroline of her civil rights and access to due process.
Caroline insists that staying positive and looking for the blessings in life have helped her survive
the loss of her children, being left penniless, even spending time in jail for trying to rescue her own
children from their violent father and what many claim is a corrupt court system.
On numerous occasions, Brent Rices daughters say they were so terrified of him that they feared
for their lives. When the system failed to protect them, one daughter (A.R) repeatedly ran away
from home to the forbidden safety of her mother Caroline Rices care. Each time, Caroline was
forced to return her daughter to a home she says was dangerous. Eventually, they made a plan to
escape across the border to Canada for safety.
In 2006, Caroline Rice was a devoted soccer mom going through a difficult divorce with Brent
Rice, the Vice President of a well known investment corporation. A nurse by trade, Caroline set
her own career aside so that she could stay home and raise the couples five children while Brent
built his career.
Court documents show the Rice children had legitimate reasons to fear for their immediate safety
in their fathers care. The children alleged in court documents that Brent Rice was violent towards
them and had hit, punched, dragged, and smashed them on numerous occasions. Daughter L.R.
testified at trial about an incident when Brent Riced dragged her sister K.R. down a flight of stairs
by her ankles while L.R. and A.R. watched.
When the children reported to authorities that their father had assaulted them, Brent Rice was not
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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

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arrested or charged with violent crimes. Instead, Judge Perkins handled the case in family court,
then awarded Brent Rice sole custody of his alleged victims. Although Caroline Rice had no
history of abusing or neglecting the children, Judge Perkins revoked all her custody rights and
ordered her to purchase her parenting time from a supervised visitation provider Jackie Cardinal.
Despite overwhelming evidence that the children were telling the truth, Hennepin County social
worker Susan Olson and Carver County social worker Nicole Mercil, LSW were unwilling or unable
to substantiate the childrens claims. Guardian ad Litem Brenda Dehmer also sided against the
children and with Brent Rice in her recommendations that the father should have sole legal and
physical control of his alleged victims.
Instead of removing the Rice children from their fathers care, the children were ordered to attend
counseling, which was paid for out of pocket and through the Rices private insurance according to
Caroline Rice. Eventually, Brent Rice voluntarily placed A.R. into the States foster care system.
Vendor payment records obtained from Carver County show that:

Family Innovations, Inc. charged Carver County more than $107,800 for counseling services
allegedly provided to the Rice family.

Northland Counseling Center, Inc. also billed Carver County $1,575 for marriage counseling
and life skills counseling, allegedly provided to the Rices several years after their divorce was
finalized.

Foster parents Thomas and Carmen Huesman collectively billed Carver County
over $6,000 for, among other things, A.R.s foster care.
Caroline Rice says some of these providers may have double bill the Rices and Carver County for
the same services.
We had private insurance, says Caroline. The county also billed for L.R. in foster carestarting June 26-2009 her 18 birthday. L.R. did not spend one day in foster care ever. Billed for a
year- this is in addition to the other invoices. We did not attend counseling sessions billed for, but
when we did attend we paid through private insurance.
According to Caroline Rice, her family was not eligible for needs based public assistance during
the billing periods alleged in the invoices submitted by the providers to Carver County due to her
ex husbands extra ordinarily high income.
When A.R. was in foster care, we used private medical insurance and we were billed for foster
care since Brent had voluntarily placed A.R., says Caroline.
Caroline says she fears retaliation if she were to bring the billing discrepancies to the attention of
the authorities.

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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

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In January of 2012, Chief Judge Edward Lynch reviewed the Rice cases and several others where
children were placed at risk at the request of State Senator Julianne Ortman.
In his response to Senator Ortman, Judge Lynch concluded that I have found no evidence of
any conspiracy, collusion, or corruption related to Carver County court proceedingsIf any
mistakes were made in any of the matters I reviewed, I am confident that they were not the result
of any intentional disregard of the facts of the law or any conspiracy or corruption.
This week, Minnesotas State Court of Appeals sent a strong message of support to abused
children trapped in the system when it overturned Caroline Rices convictions on three counts of
deprivation of parental rights. In the case of State v. Rice, the Appellate Court decided that the
reason why Carolines convictions were illegitimate was that Judge Perkins and the States
prosecutor had engaged in various forms of misconduct during trial that violated Carolines civil
rights and deprived her of a fair hearing.
The appellate court decided that Judge Perkins improperly excluded evidence of Brent Rices prior
assaults on the children at trial. In the context of domestic abuse, the authorities failure to
substantiate the childrens reports of violence occurring in the privacy of their own home was not
evidence that the events did not occur. While the police may not have believed K.R. or A.R., the
jury may have.
The court failed to comment on the numerous jury members that Judge Perkins allowed to be
seated on Rices trial, despite Carolines objections that the jurors personally knew the Rice family
for years before the case was heard.
The Rice decision represents an increasingly frequent trend where the Appeals court has refused
to tow the line for corrupt trial court judges, social workers, police officers, and GALs who work
collaboratively to undermine the safety of children and the civil rights of the parents desperate to
rescue them from the profitably dangerous homes the courts order them to live in.
Does keeping Judge Perkins on the bench and the court industry professionals involved with the
Rice case employed to oversee the care of Minnesotas most vulnerable families pose a risk to
public safety?

See Part Two for a detailed discussion of solutions.


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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

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Mother's
Day Survey:
Who loves
Mom most? Black Republicans over 40

Anne
Stevenson is
a policy
analyst and
consultant
who
researches
the efficiency
of publicly
funded
Photo: Minnesotta Court of Appeals programs,
then helps clients create an effective advocacy strategy and materials to improve the policies
affecting their families.

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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

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Minnesota court overturns Mom's conviction, sends message of hope

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