A blog raising awareness about a woman who lost custody of her child because of her performance art.

Friday, December 04, 2009

New Blog

Dear Friends,

During the course of my legal troubles, I was ordered by a judge not to "report" on my court experiences in the way that I did on this blog, and that is why I stopped adding new posts. As far as I know, I am still under that order, and my case is still ongoing so I am not going to take any chances and write anything about that topic.

I have had my son back with me since the summer of 2007, and I am fighting the case from back at my beloved home in Georgia, so our family is doing so much better than the last updates on this blog. That is due entirely to the generosity of kind strangers from all over th
e world who donated to my legal fund, which allowed me to get the expert legal help I needed in that difficult situation.

I do not want to do anything to endanger my family's current happiness, so I will not be commenting on the court case beyond giving updates as to what the actual legal decisions and court dates are.

However, I love writing. I kind of can't help doing it. So I have started a new blog where I opine about the news of the day, support the Green Movement in Iran, answer questions from people who want advice about various things, and spout off on other miscellaneous topics!

If you're curious about what I'm up to lately, be sure to check it out! I am leaving this blog intact and untouched as an historical archive for people curious about the case and for those who have already referenced it in other documents.

Thank you all so much for your support all these years, I can't express how grateful I am for the outpouring of love and affection I've received from around the world.

I am sure Karma will reward you all!

-Rachel Bevilacqua

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Appeals Court Decision Overturns Family Court

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I actually wrote it last month right after the decision but decided to wait until my lawyer could look it over because I don't want to get in any further trouble with the court for writing about my case. The lawyer says it looks ok to him, so here it is:


I lost. My ex won his appeal. When the decision was finally released on July 6, 2007, I was so shocked that I actually thought they had made a typo--hey, I'm not the Petitioner, I'm the Respondent. I had to read it over and over again to understand.

At first, the pain and shock were so overwhelming that I didn't know how I would handle it. I just sat on the floor rocking back and forth, crying and crying. I kept saying, "I can't handle this, I can't do this, it's too much, too hard." It almost pushed me over the edge. Almost, but not quite.

I'm sure the Court would find it hard to fathom, but I do believe in a Supreme Being, albeit not an athropomorphic one, and I poured out my heart to this unknowable force, just saying, "Please, please, this can't happen. This can't end like this, I can't stand it." And gradually, gently, my tears stopped and I became filled with a certainty.

Some may say that I have deluded myself, others may say a guardian angel comforted me, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster touched me with his Noodly Appendages, but whatever it was, I began to believe that it will not end like this. Something or someone will step in and save my family. This is not how America works. This is not how it ends. We are not a nation that punishes people for their art, not really.

So once again, I appeal to all of you out there reading this right now. If you are a freak yourself, or just a person who believes in the American Way, then I am your canary. If I cannot be allowed to do these few, really small and insignificant acts of surreality, then how much longer will you be safe yourselves? What will be next, Dungeons and Dragons fans? Warcrafters? SecondLifers? If you do anything at all that Jerry Falwell wouldn't have approved of, then you could lose your children next. The time to fight is now.

The lawyers say they will keep fighting at half their normal rate of pay, but they need at least $5,000 to start an appeal to the next level, and I haven't got it. Every penny I get goes to pay off the loans I already took out just to get this far, loans secured with my parents' life savings. I hate to beg, but I really have no other choice. I must continue this fight, for my family and for all of you out there whose families will be in jeopardy if this ruling is allowed to stand.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Press Release

Prestigious Firm To Take Comic's Legal Case

Performance artist Rachel Bevilacqua (of the Church of the SubGenius) is being represented by the law firm of Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP.
[ClickPress, Thu Mar 16 2006]


The prestigious law firm of Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP has agreed to take the case of controversial comic Rachel Bevilacqua. Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP specializes in First Amendment cases and has defended such high-profile clients as publisher Larry Flynt, and performer Marilyn Manson.

Bevilacqua, who performs under the name “Rev. Magdalen,” was stripped of the custody of her 10-year-old son because of pictures found on the Internet of her performances with the satirical comedy group The SubGenius Foundation, Inc. The images were from a members-only yearly SubGenius convention in upstate New York.

Rachel Bevilacqua’s blog details the full story and is online at http://rbevilacqua.blogspot.com/ .

The SubGenius Foundation Inc. (www.subgenius.com) is a satirical comedy group responsible for many publications including The Book of The SubGenius, Revelation X, Arise – The SubGenius Movie, and the Hour of Slack radio show.

Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP (www.lipsitzgreen.com) is the fifth largest law firm in the City of Buffalo. They are a diversified law firm with a wide client base that ranges from individuals to large corporations.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

FAQ on Rachel's View of the Church of the SubGenius

Q: Is the Church of the SubGenius a real religion?

A: Google it. The question has been debated by performance art critics and theology students for 25 years. Feel free to make up your own mind on the matter, it's a free country.

Q: Is the Church of the SubGenius Rachel Bevilacqua's religion?

A: No. Rachel Bevilacqua views the Church of the SubGenius as an art movement dedicated to cherishing the uniqueness of each individual and promoting free expression by all people everywhere, as long as it harms no one.

Q: Well, what does the government say?

A: The government agrees that The SubGenius Foundation, Inc., the corporation which does business under the performance name of "The Church of the SubGenius", is a "fan club" roughly classified in the same category as the Star Trek fan club that does business as "Star Fleet", and with roughly the same level of geeky obscurity.

The SubGenius Foundation is a corporation that produces radio shows, an online magazine, books, etc, and arranges venues for free expression of performance art, hopefully of the highly comedic variety and loosely based around characters in a series of science fiction/humor books published by reputable publishing houses and sold in bookstores across the nation.

FAQ on Rachel's Religion

Q: What exactly is Rachel Bevilaqua's religion?

A: Rachel believes that organized religion is not right for her. She believes that each individual has the ability to directly commune with the divine in their own way, and that organized religions often become mere social clubs where no actual spiritual instruction goes on. Therefore she chooses to pursue spirituality privately through meditation and prayer.

Q: Rachel testified that she was a member of Grace Church of the Redeemer, a chartered Anglican congregation in Columbus, GA. Was that true?

A: Rachel, Steve, and Kohl became members of that congregation (Pastor Richard Davis, Bishop Manning, SEC) after seeing a true dedication in the congregation's pastor to the creation of a group that would do needed charity and civil rights work in the community, as well as spread the Anglican message of tolerance and openness to all seekers, which Rachel and Steve find admirable in an organized religion, especially in a small city in the south.

Grace Church of the Redeemer disbanded as a chartered congregation after the death of its pastor, Richard Davis, whose death certificate shows that he died of a heart attack despite his relatively young age.

Father Richard was self-conscious about his weight and often tried to lose weight by doing vigorous exercise while taking "stackers" energy supplements, and many of his friends feel these over-the-counter supplements may have contributed to Father Richard's death. The sad story is detailed on a public Columbus, GA Google Group.

Father Richard's Angican congregation is the only organized congregation Rachel Bevilacqua has ever been a member of, and it ceased to exist in Fall 2005.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Update 2/28/06 - Supervised Visitation Granted!

Today, for the first time in twenty-five days, I was allowed to see my son. Judge Punch granted supervised visitation for two hours, at my parents' home, supervised by my parents. Kohl and I had a wonderful time; he got to play with his cousin who is very close to him, as well as his grandparents who also have not seen him in twenty-five days. The time went by way too fast!

The judge expressed today that if Kohl exhibits no ill effects from having spent time with me, I can essentially work my way up to more contact with him.

I want to thank everyone whose support has helped me get to this point of limited contact with my son. I honestly believe that the watchful eye of the internet community has helped me get some degree of fairness from the judicial system. I appreciate everyone's support so much, I can't express my gratitude in words.

IMPORTANT RETRACTION:

On February 3rd, someone who represented themselves to me as knowing the judge well told me that His Honor was well known to be a very conservative Catholic. Today, February 28, His Honor informed me that this is not the case. He did comment that he does belong to a "church" of some kind, but he did not elaborate on what denomination.

I apologize for any confusion this may have caused, and of course anyone who feels that their support of me was based solely on their belief that the judge was in fact a conservative Catholic may contact me privately and I will happily refund any donations made on that basis. I certainly do not want anyone to feel that they sent me money to help with my enormous legal bills under false pretenses.

Friday, February 24, 2006

FAQ





QUICK SUMMARY: During the 2005/2006 Christmas season, Rachel lost all right to contact her son, Kohl, after her ex, Jeff, filed to change a custody agreement that had been settled for five years.

Q: What were the custody arrangements before Christmas Break 2005/2006?


A: Rachel had residential custody of Kohl. They lived in Columbus, Georgia, with Rachel's husband, Steve Bevilacqua. Jeff had regular visitation with Kohl consisting of 6-8 weeks at Summer Break, 1 week at Spring Break, and 2 weeks at Christmas Break. This plan was followed without incident for five years, since May 2000.



Q: Why didn't Kohl go back to Georgia, as planned, after his 2005/2006 Christmas Break?

A: On December 22, 2005, Jeff filed a petition for modification of custody and a petition alleging violation of a court order. The basis of these petitions was Jeff's claim that Rachel had moved from Columbus, GA to the state of Alabama with Kohl without informing him of her new address. He also claimed he had no way to contact Rachel, and that he felt she was a kidnapping risk.



Q: Did Rachel present any evidence to deny these allegations?

A: Rachel was not informed of the allegations until January 9, 2006, two weeks after her son was removed from her custody. The judge ordered Temporary Sole Custody for Jeff on December 23, 2005 on the basis of Jeff's allegations alone, without contacting Rachel to give her a chance to reply to them. After receiving her copies of the allegations, Rachel submitted affidavits from herself, her husband, and a close family friend denying that she had changed addresses. She also submitted phone records proving that Jeff not only had a way to contact her, he was using it frequently.



Q: What about allegations that Rachel and Steve are not providing a good home for Kohl?

A: Rachel submitted medical records proving Kohl has insurance and has a family doctor. Kohl is an unusually small boy, but not abnormally so. Rachel took Kohl to a pediatric endocrinologist to check Kohl's growth, and the specialist's diagnosis was that Kohl is simply genetically small, like his mother. Rachel and Steve are vegetarians, but it shouldn't even be necessary to justify that in this day and age.

Rachel and Steve homeschool Kohl, but after being placed with his father, Kohl tested into the fifth grade at the local public school, demonstrating that he has been adequately educated in the homeschool environment. Kohl participated in numerous socialization activities, such as chess lessons, art lessons, Tae Kwon Do, boxing, and general neighborhood kid activities with the many kids living on his street.

Rachel and Steve do occasionally leave Kohl (age 10) unattended in their home for short periods of time, as Georgia law allows children over 9 to be left home alone for up to two hours, as long as the home is not an unsafe environment. Letting children spend some time alone is not considered a dangerous practice in the quiet Southern neighborhood where the Bevilacquas live. Kohl has his own cellphone and is a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, as well as knowing the neighbors on both sides of the house, and Rachel and Steve were never more than three blocks away from him during these times.



Q: So did the court have some reason to disbelieve the Bevilacqua affidavits and phone records?

A:
New evidence was entered at the February 3, 2006 hearing, consisting of 16 exhibits, mostly photographs of the annual SubGenius X-Day Festival in Upstate New York. After the exhibits were entered, Judge James P. Punch announced that the images were "so disturbing" that he had to take a recess to compose himself. When he returned, he heard testimony from Jeff Jary and Rachel Bevilacqua. His Honor interrupted Jeff's lawyer to pose his own questions for Ms. Bevilacqua about the pictures, repeatedly asking "Why a goat?" and demanding that Rachel explain what was humorous in each of the photographs. Judge Punch became visibly angry and ended the hearing with a verbal outburst calling Ms. Bevilacqua a "pervert" and accusing the X-Day festival of being a venue for "sex orgies". He then ordered that Rachel Bevilacqua was to have no contact with her son from that moment on, not even in writing. The last time Rachel saw Kohl was January 20, 2006.





Q: Okay, so what was in these pictures???

A: Obviously, these pictures are considered by some people to be highly offensive. Please do not let minors look at them or look at them yourself if you find you are easily offended.

Official copies of the pictures have not yet been received by Rachel from the court. However, all the pictures were from the internet. Examples of the types of pictures shown can be found at:

http://www.subgenius.com/bigfist/fun/devivals/devivals.html

Also entered as an exhibit was this Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_SubGenius

Rachel was asked to state whether, in her opinion, the entry was an accurate description of the Church of the SubGenius. Rachel stated that the only part she could say with any confidence was accurate was the line under "Sense of Humor" about members playing practical jokes on each other.

Also entered was a drawing titled "Map of X-Day".

Another memorable picture was of two people, one of whom is wearing a shirt that says "Christianity is Stupid".

There was at least one photo of the Passion of the Christ parody, in which a woman with a "dildo" is standing in the background.

There were two photographs in which Rachel appeared nude(one of Rachel having a heart drawn on her buttocks to illustrate a point about Roman times, and one of Rachel being body painted), two of her in a Santa Elf outfit, one of her in a yellow superhero outfit, one of her wearing a pirate outfit, and of course the two infamous Goat Head pics.

There was one photo of Steve sitting in a chair with a wreath on his head.

There was one photo of Steve and Rachel embracing, which has coincidentally been chosen by some bloggers as emblematic of the story.

There was one photo of the annual Bobtism in which dozens of SubGeniuses are naked in a pool together, and one of them is holding a baby. Rachel was later told that this picture was included because someone thought the man holding the baby in the picture was Steve. The man in the picture is not Steve, but is probably a SubGenius who shall remain nameless and who looks somewhat like Steve, and who did sometimes take his own baby swimming in the pool with him.

Feel free to trawl through the internet and submit links to pictures you think fit this description, perhaps we can collect them all before the court manages to send out official copies.

Additionally, here is a picture from X-Day of a man wearing a suit made entirely of Cheetos. This photo was not entered into evidence, but people should know such a photo exists before considering what is and is not "normal behavior" for an attendee at X-Day.





Q: Was Kohl ever at X-Day? Did he ever see these pictures?

A: No. Kohl has never attended any SubGenius event. He does have his own computer, but his internet access is filtered and he cannot see the SubGenius website or any websites rated mature.



Q: When will we be able to see a transcript of Judge Punch's outburst?

A: A partial transcript containing the judge's outburst should be available by March 3, while the official transcript may not be available until early April.



Q: What is the ACLU/Americans United/NYCLU/Etc. doing about this?

A: If they were doing something about it, they probably would not want to comment until they finish investigating it.



Q: Is this for real?

A: Yes. Read the documents and google away, it's all for real, and it's really as expensive as you might imagine, with lawyer fees in the hundreds of dollars per hour. And yes, they charge for every minute you're on the phone with them.



Q: Why is the disclaimer on the SubGenius MagHelp page so odd?

A: It was copied from that advocated by Dr. Gene Scott, a very odd man who nevertheless was loved by many and who is widely considered to be the best disclaimer-writer in recent memory.



Thursday, February 23, 2006

Documents Update

The documents I just uploaded, with filenames that say 010906 in them, are all the documents that I received from the Orleans County Family Court on January 9, 2006. I have the envelope showing the postmark that confirms this delivery date. As you can see from the documents, many of them were not even officially entered into the record until January 4, 2006, while my son was taken from my custody on December 23, 2005.

Let me repeat that again. I had custody of my son and sent him to my ex for Christmas Break. My ex filed petitions with Orleans County Family Court on December 22, 2005. On December 23, 2005 he was granted sole temporary custody, meaning that I no longer had any custody rights. I was informed of this officially over a week later. I actually found out about it when my ex told my mother she would not be seeing Kohl for his New Year's visit. December 31, 2005, over one week from the court's actions, was the first I heard that they had occurred, and I heard it from my ex, not the court.

As the basis of the allegations is that my ex claims he cannot get in touch with me, and therefore I must be a kidnapping risk, one would think that the court might attempt to contact me, say by getting in touch with my mother, who is in the telephone book and is named in court documents, or by asking a deputy in my area of Georgia to stop by and check on my whereabouts, or send me a telegram, or I don't know, any number of things besides instantly take the allegations at face value, remove the child from my custody, and not inform me of it until I call them to ask if it's true.

Is that too much to ask? Am I crazy for thinking that might have been better for my son than this horrible situation? I don't know, obviously I think I'm right. Feel free to form your own opinions on it, just please be kind because I'm suffering a lot.

Violation Petition




Summons for Violation of Court Order

December 22, 2005 Petition for Modification

PETITION SUBMITTED BY JEFF JARY ON DECEMBER 22, 2005






Summons to Jan 17 Hearing

Order Appointing Law Guardian

December 23 Custody Order

Punch's Order Forbidding Contact Between Rachel and Kohl