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Cathy Meyer

Son Spends Four Days in Juvie for Refusing to Visit Father

By November 22, 2009

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MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. -- A Michigan teen has been sentenced to four days in juvenile detention for refusing to visit his father.

Jacob Mastrogiovanni, 14, lives with his mother in Warren. His father, who has joint custody, lives in New Baltimore. Mastrogiovanni said he has deliberately missed court ordered visitations with his father, and because of that, Macomb County Judge John Foster has ruled he should be held in contempt of court and sentenced to time in a youth home.

Mastrogiovanni's mother, Dawn Platevoet, said her son is a hard working student and that she fears for his safety inside the Macomb Juvenile Center. "I'm very worried. I'm very concerned for the well-being of my son," Platevoet said. "The child is being torn in between this kind of situation due to the friend of the court. They're not looking at the best interest for my son." Mastrogiovanni said staying at the youth home for four days would not change his attitude toward his father. "I guess he's going to have to be punished. I don't necessarily like that he's in there but something has to be done," Mastrogiovanni's father, Victor, said by phone Thursday.

Mastrogiovanni would not be specific with why he was refusing to spend time with his father. His reasonings were recorded in a confidentiality agreement being held by the court. Mastrogiovanni said he would rather be in a youth home than visit his father and that he's willing to go back to the youth home again if required by the court.

Mastrogiovanni's family and friends have made signs protesting the judge's decision. "Going to a youth home to be with criminals, for what reason? What is this going to solve? Is it going to benefit the child? Is it going to make matters worse?" Platevoet said.

Mastrogiovanni's mother and grandmother escorted him to the center Thursday evening. He is scheduled to be released Sunday. Platevoet said she plans to picket the court Friday.

When I read the above story several things popped into my mind. What kind of father lets his son go to juvie over visitation? What could the father possibly have done to cause the son to choose juvie over visitation? Is this a case of parental alientation? Is mother so guilty of poisoning her son against his father that she will stop at nothing short of her son spending time in juvie?

Due to the satement by the father..."I guess he's going to have to be punished," I'm leaning toward there being a problem with this father. What kind of father thinks that 4 days in juvie is proper punishment for his son's refusal to visit?

How many fathers reading this blog post think that your child belongs in jail if they refuse to visit?

This is a case of cruel and unusual punishment. It is also another example of the damage adults can do to their children when divorce turns adversarial or they put their needs before the needs of their children.

Related Content:
Tips to Help Restore Your Relationship With Your Child/Children

Are You Guilty of Parental Alienation?

A Father's Rights and Responsiblities

Comments
November 23, 2009 at 9:50 am
(1) Dan says:

You are one of the ASSuming Lemmings that follows this case. It is unfortunate that most people always tend to blindly favor the woman in such cases and the courts do as well.

I know both parents and child in this situation and the boy is spoiled and needs to have his way. Mom has a lengthy criminal records including DUI’s and has had the boy taken away for the weekend while being intoxicated and unable to care for him. Don’ make assumptions about cases you have no insight to.

November 24, 2009 at 3:16 am
(2) Rich says:

Something’s missing, maybe Dan’s assertion that he knows both parents is the key- a mother with DUIs might not be the best parent in the world. But the son’s decision to go to jail instead of his father says a lot, too. And I’m not happy with the father’s assertion that “something” has to be done, that something being juvie instead of visitation. Apparently there’s something going on between the father and the son. The mother’s fitness isn’t the key, it’s the relationship between the father and his son.

My then-14-year-old son went to live with his mother during my divorce. We’ve had lots of custody issues, but they were between my ex and me, not between my son and me. I believe my wife has attempted (with some success) to alienate my son. But not to the point where he refuses to visit me, choosing juvie instead. Thus I think there are more issues here than apparent from the article.

The last element here is the butt-headed judge who chose to confine the child instead of talking to him. The judge needs some intervention, too. If the child refuses to stay with his father, why not *ask* the child for his reasons? Then choose a course of action that’s in the best interests of the child.

Maybe the father isn’t ideal; maybe the mother isn’t either. But that doesn’t justify putting a child in jail because he won’t go along with the judge’s order. I believe the judge is most “at fault” in this non-criminal trial. (pun intended)

November 25, 2009 at 12:24 am
(3) Cathy Meyer says:

Dan, something doesn’t add up. I’m no fan of the family court system but I feel certain that if this mother had a lengthy criminal record and had, had the child removed from her custody due to intoxication, the child would no longer be in her custody.

Your argument doesn’t hold water and it sheds even further negative light on the father in my opinion. What father would not petition the court for custody of their child if that child was living with a mother who has issues with alcohol and a criminal record?

I have a feeling that this case is about two parents who are using the legal system to carry on the conflict between them and the child is the one who is suffering the consequences.

November 25, 2009 at 12:40 am
(4) Cathy Meyer says:

Rich, I agree, you have to wonder why a judge would hold a child in contempt of court in a custody dispute.

The good news is, the judge had a change of heart and the boy was released on Friday instead of Sunday as ordered.

I read earlier that the mother, father and boy have been in court ordered therapy since September with no resolution to the problem.

One has to wonder why a judge would think juvie would impact the boy in a positive way if weekly visits with a therapist and his parents didn’t.

November 28, 2009 at 10:39 am
(5) Ashley says:

WOW! IT IS EASY TO PASS JUDGEMENT WHEN YOU DO NOT KNOW THE WHOLE STORY!FIRST AND FORMOST I FEEL BAD FOR THE CHILD CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF WHATS OBVIOUSLY A DISPUTE BETWEEN DIVORCED PARENTS. ALTHOUGHTHE MOTHER MAY NOT BE MAKING THE CORRECT CHOICES I DO NOT BELIVE THIS HAS AN EFFECT ON THE SON AND FATHER RELATIONSHIP TO THE EXTENT IT HAS GOTTEN TO. YES I BELIEVE THE MOTHER, ESPECIALLY WHEN INTOXICATED, IS POSSIBLY ALIENATING THE FATHER, BUT A 14 YEAR OLD IS SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THIS AND CAN MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT THE FATHER HIMSELF. TO REFUSE VISITATIONS OVER JAIL…THERE MUST BE SOMETHING MORE GOING ON WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT AND HOPEFULLY THERAPY WILL ASSIST THIS FAMILY. WHAT THESE PARENTS NEED TO REALIZE IS THROUGH THEIR DISPUTES THEY ARE HAVING A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THEIR CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT THAT WILL LAST A LIFETIME! THESE PARENTS NEED TO STOP PUTTING THIER CHILD IN THE MIDDLE OF THIER DIVORCE AND INSTEAD OF CONCENTRATING ON MAKING EACHOTHERS LIVES MISERABLE SPEND THE EFFORT MAKING THEIR CHILD LIFE OF THEIR CHILD A RICH AND POSITIVE EXPERIENCE!!! ALSO THEY SHOULD TAKE PARENTING CLASSES SO THEY CAN BETTER UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIER SON…IS THIS THE KIND OF RELATIONSHIPS THEY WANT THEIR SON TO HAVE IN HIS FUTURE? AS AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR THIS STORY SADENS ME AND I WISH THE BEST FOR JACOB TO HAVE A LIFE FULL OF LOVE AND POSITIVE EXPERIENCES TO HELP FOSTER HIS DEVELOPMENT.

November 30, 2009 at 11:48 am
(6) Teresa says:

I was definitely disturbed when they put this child in Juvie for refusing to see his father. This was the most reprehensible decision ever made in terms of judgement. I have a son who hasn’t seen his father in over a year and a half due to abuse by his father. He won’t even talk to his father on the phone, so for this judge not to find out why this boy refuses to see his father and send him to juvie was wrong in my opinion. I hope and pray that they respect was this child refuses to do because a child knows their own mind and whether they feel safe or not to go and see that parent. My son was made to see his father, when I tried to get supervised parental visitation and no one would listen until my son was physically beaten. Still until this day the father has refused to take blame for what he did and I have a very bitter son who hates his father. Yes he has been in therapy since that day, but you can’t change the way he feels and he has resolved to move on with his life without his father in it.

November 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm
(7) Adair says:

Why is the Motathher even brought into this ? It is about the er and Son Not the Mother.The Father sounds like a criminal who thinks that punishing his son is going to make him like him more.Leave the Mother alone she has got custody.Must be doing something right

November 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm
(8) Debbie says:

Is’t the court system wonderful, now we throw a good kid in jail for wanting a say in his own life. A sad commentary on the American justice system when we now blame the children of divorce for getting in the “middle” of adult issues. Too bad he didn’t have a choice to come into this world!
Go Judge!!!!!

November 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm
(9) vicky says:

If this boy is a teenager, they now have a voice in the courts. if a judge refuses to hear the teen, the teen has a right to submit a judicial complaint. also there are organizations out there for kids who will tape and type affidavids and serve them on the courts when lawyers are not doing their jobs because they are afraid of the the governing law societies. Kids are number 1 and if a teen does not want to go to a parent, they should not be forced or punished, they should be heard. If the parent is participating in something like PAS or passive aggressive behaviour, the parent should be held accountable, not the teen. When the lawyers, court officials, child services and bad parents along with police corrupt the system, they should be called on it and all of us honest prople should be helping these teens and kids do it. Where are you people when this teen needs you. YOU ARE ALL LETTING HIM DOWN, INCLUDING HIS PARENTS! He will likely have more issues as an adult than not.

November 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm
(10) Gordana Killian says:

Another shining example of the cesspool that is called American Family Law.

December 1, 2009 at 9:43 pm
(11) Don says:

I agree with the mother; the boy should not be in prison.
The mother should!

December 2, 2009 at 3:17 am
(12) Mary Lou says:

Thats right Don Mathis, it is always the mothers fault isn’t it?

December 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm
(13) Dan says:

Everyone here makes my point for me …

No one here knows any more than the story as published. Yet everyone assumes the mothers side of the story is accurate.

In fact, the judge has ordered another therapy session and pending the outcome he is inclined to award the father custody, very interesting. Also, it is curious that WDIV Detroit (the news station reporting the original story) had reporters in the latest hearing and immediately after pulled their original story from the web (print story, last I checked, I could still video the video), curious indeed, maybe they realized their original story was filled with misinformation??

Keep up the blogging Cathy, you obviously have a good view of both sides of a divorce story (sarcasm implied). :P

February 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm
(14) sillyrabbit says:

So the boy would rather sleep in Juvy then see the Father and the Father is okay and feels vindicated that the Judge ordered his son to sleep in jail. Hmmmmm…
Everyone that is jumping on the Mother here needs to take a good hard look at what I typed above. You have a child who would rather sleep in jail then see his Father and is prepared and willing to do it again and a Father who would rather see his son sit in jail then to take a step back and look at the big picture.
Something is very wrong with the Father. Honestly. A 14 year old child is old enough to make a decision (and the court should start excepting that fact) and when his decision is tested with a few nights in jail and the kid holds tight to what he believes is right…..seems like a kid who knows what he wants.
Exactly how is this Mother’s fault. The son is okay with spending time with her. The son refuses (even under penalty of jail) to see his father….sounds like Mom is doing something right. Any Father who is so proud and arrogant that he would rather his child sleep in jail than take a step back and prioritize is pretty useless as a man.
The judge is an idiot. This Father is a control freak .

February 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm
(15) tracy says:

Sorry without knowing the parents or much about the situation, I say the judge made a completely wrong decision! I thought jevenile detention is for juveniles who break or are accused of breaking the law…what law was broken? My understanging of custody is that it gives a parent the right to see a child, but the parent does not have to use that right, and can infact not have visitation or custody of their child ( as part of their decision, not someone keeping them away). I have a 14 year old son, and I am divorced from his father, and there have been times he does not want to see his dad, but I cannot ever see his dad wanting him to be treated in such a way!

March 26, 2010 at 12:36 pm
(16) Jace says:

I’m sorry to disagree with you all, but there are times when the parents have no control and the courts do need to step in. Perhaps foster care would have been more appropriate while the courts find out what the true story is but I would assume by this point a guardian ad litem has already been involved.

I know a ex-couple in a similar situstion with a 14 year old girl. She is spoiled and mom lets her have run over everything. Dad’s house has rules. The daughter decided to quit going over and now throws a fit whenever it is mentioned.

In my opinion Mom needs to get control over the child and if she can’t do so then maybe Juvie is the answer.

January 19, 2011 at 10:25 am
(17) momin nebraska says:

i am amazed at how many people take a court order lightly, the 14 year old is a teenager not an adult so he does not get to tell the court what to order, he should have gone to juvy for breaking the law and that is what disobeying a court order is,

March 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm
(18) daad says:

he wasnt sent to the JDC for violating the order, he was sent there because his mom said she couldnt control him and he needs to learn to have respect for his mother. she picketed the courthouse and the judge saw that he made the wrong decision so he released Jacob. He then effectively changed custody until further order of the court, pending a custody investigation.

September 18, 2011 at 12:14 am
(19) maddison says:

my fried is living with her father and does not get along with her mom. When it is her moms weekend she will go over and her mom will not spend time with her will say she doesnt want to be with her and then she gets yelled at and told she’ll go to juvie for not staying with her mom How is this her fault when her mom doesnt wanna spend time with her?

September 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(20) Duane says:

I am posting because I can relate to the situation described. I was divorced from my son’s mother 7 years ago. She now is getting ready to re-marry and I like the new husband. He and my son get along well. Just recently it began to get harder and harder to get my son to spend time with me. He and I have had an excellent relationship. I have tried on repeated occasions to get him to open up and tell me why – he simply says I don’t know.
He is at the age at which he has learned that he cannot be physically forced to do anything. The last weekend I tried to take him to go with me he would not leave his bed. I spent 5 hours trying to talk to him. The whole time his mother was saying “you are a horrible husband why would you be an any better father” and “can’t you see he doesn’t want to be with you”
I went home alone, confused and heartbroken.
I now must get an attorney. Would I force my son to go to Juvie? At what age is it too early to teach a child they must obey the law?
On second thought, I think I would.

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