On Tuesday, February 21, Hal Legere, a Fathers4Justice activist, was charged in Surrey Provincial Court with mischief for his September 2004 protest on the Patullo Bridge . Legere was given two years probation, 50 hours of community service work and ordered not to be a pedestrian on any motor vehicle bridge in the province of BC Canada.
Yesterday, February 23, Steven Hodges Whittaker appeared at the Victoria Supreme Court for scaling a tower crane in downtown Victoria dressed as Spiderman and hanging a 40-foot banner over Yates Street in May 2005.
Fathers4Justice Superheroes; Robert Waters aka The Flash, Doug Hanlon aka Superman, Steven Hodges Whittaker aka Spiderman, and Robert Robinson aka Burnaby Batman, converged upon the Victoria Supreme Court with signs warning the general public of the extreme gender bias of the court.
When I asked why he chose to become an F4J superhero Whittaker replied:
In October 2003 I had sole custody of my 13-year-old daughter, R. Note that despite many accusations of being abusive, I won sole custody in Dec 2000. While R was visiting her mother, D, in October 2003 one weekend (the right to overnight visits had been recently won by D) I received the fateful phone call.
Prior to that I realized that our Family Judicial System was flawed but I had hopes for it, after all, I had sole custody. On the phone D told me that R wasn’t going to come home. Simple, flat & just like that, “She’s going to live here, now.” So, I called the police.
If your daughter had been abducted by an abuser what would you do? Call the police, of course. Their response was that I needed a court order. I had a court order giving me sole custody but they said that they needed a court order to enforce that court order.
I went to the Ministry of Children & Families (MCF), the people who had removed R & her sister, G, from D because D was so abusive. They wouldn’t touch it & they would not assist me in contacting the original caseworkers. Their attitude & their statements all said that teenagers are not children & fathers have no rights as parents.
So, I got a lawyer & we took it to court. Guess how far that flew! Fathers should be grateful if they get to even visit their children! The Criminal Code of Canada states that if a child under the age of 14 has been abducted the stated wishes of the child are not to be taken into account.
The Judge, the MCF workers & the police all the issues with R. The judge was nice enough to allow me to spend $5,500.00 on a psychologist to study the problem; unfortunately, he turned out to be as sexist as the rest of them. D’s place was so messy one could not walk there, my place was a “pigsty”, D was “loveable.” That’s supposed to be unbiased? Loveable?
Now that R has been in “joint” custody & living with her mother I no longer get any visits, I do not get to see report cards, I do not get phone calls. I have been cut completely out of R’s life.
Ask yourself, what would happen to ANY man, let alone one who had previously been falsely accused of being a child abuser and abductor? I had been working already on the MESH Project, trying to get a Men’s Transition House in Victoria, and had therefore been in contact with various men’s groups, but this was too much. If working slowly but legally was going to leave the children vulnerable to damage then obviously I needed to step up the pace: hence Spiderman. S. Hodges-Whittaker.
Whittaker was found guilty of mischief and given 1 year probation with an unconditional discharge at that time. He was also ordered to pay $750 restitution to Farmer Construction for the costs of inspection to the crane. He was also promised an opportunity to read a short letter he had written to explain why he did what he did, a letter that shows the love of a father for his daughter. That opportunity never came. He promised his fellow superheroes he’ll keep strong and continue to fight for the rights of children.