Ashley and I enjoyed a very close relationship until during the divorce proceedings in the years 2001 and 2002 when she began to be used as a tool by Cindy and her attorneys.
Ashley was put on Cindy's list of witness. The thought of a young teenager being used as a witness in a divorce between her parents is sickening to me. When I was told Ashley could be called to testify by Cindy, my instructions to my attorney were clear: Ashley is not to be cross examined. I told my attorney to simply stand up and state "Ashley your father loves you very much and has directed me to do everything possible to minimize the damage that is being done to you; therefore, I will not be asking you any questions or attacking your testimony in anyway."
The court in Florida endorsed the use of a family counselor and I attended several meetings with him and also sessions that included not only him and me, but also Cindy. When he asked Cindy to bring Ashley to sessions so that he could facilitate communication between Ashley and me, Cindy refused.
Ashley was seeing a counselor at the high school she was attending in Vero Beach. I met numerous times with the counselor. When Cindy found out the counselor and I were communicating, Ashley did not go see the counselor again. It was heart-wrenching but the counselor assured me that at some point Ashley would be asking her mother why she had made her turn against her father. I am still wondering when that day will come.
In December of 2001, the children traveled to Oregon for my younger sister's wedding. Ashley was along and seemed to be spending a great deal of time on her cell phone. Upon the return of the children to Florida, I was served with yet another motion by Cindy and her counsel alleging contempt of court and other things. In the document it was plain that Ashley had been used as a kind of guide for private investigators hired by Cindy to follow me and my children while we were in Oregon for the wedding. The investigators went so far as to plant investigators at my sister's wedding and reception, and in fact, videotaped with a hidden camera the entire post- ceremony wedding brunch held the morning following the ceremony at a local Portland Restaurant. I guess they didn't notice me and the children were not at the brunch. I think my sister would still like to have a copy of the video.
I continued to ask Ashley to attend the weekly visitations with me, and she did so until a visitation in April of 2002 when she and my elder sister were discussing Cindy's allegations that I was schizophrenic and insane and on drugs and whatever other lie Cindy could drum up; I saw it on Ashley's face that facing the unfounded statements of her mother had finally become too much for her. She quit coming to visitation after that.
I had the habit of sending all the children, including Ashley, gifts periodically, for birthdays and Christmas. Then for Ashley's birthday of September 2002, I had asked my sister Linda if she would help me shop for some cosmetics and fragrances for Ashley as I felt Ashley had reached the age when those kinds of gifts were appropriate. I purchased a kind of prearranged gift basket and mailed it, among other things, to Ashley. I had to appear shortly thereafter in court in Florida, and when I was leaving the courthouse, Cindy came running toward me with something in her hands yelling something about "How dare you send this to Ashley; do you think she needs this?" and threw the cosmetics at me. As I look back, it is kind of comical, thinking of me running and taking cover behind my pickup, while my screaming ex-wife chases me and throws cosmetics at me. Sometimes a person just has to find a way to laugh.
Christmas of 2002, I traveled to New York to see the children, and Ashley and her friend came out of the house. I asked her if she would have dinner or spend time with me and she agreed. I asked her when and she was unsure, but I believe we agreed on the evening of January 2 , 2003 as I recall. I stayed three extra days in New York waiting and purchased a number of gifts for her. I knew she wanted a Louis-Vuitton backpack like her hero Gwen Stefani so I thought it would be a nice gesture. Ashley called and left me a message that she would not be able to make the dinner.
The next Birthday in September of 2003, I am not even sure Ashley is aware of it but I sent her a check for $400, and I received it back with a "no thanks."
In April of 2004, I left a message for the parent coordinator at Ashley's high school explaining the situation and asking for her help. I explained I wanted to travel to Ashley's graduation. I received a response that the parent coordinator had been informed I was not welcome, and if I attended the ceremony, I would likely be asked to leave. I have no idea if Ashley even knew this was going on, but I am fairly sure Cindy told the parent coordinator some fiction about me or my relationship with Ashley. Rather than involve Ashley in an embarrassing situation in front of her friends at graduation, I chose not to attend. This was an example of the choices I was presented with when trying to maintain a relationship with Ashley. Choices, in which any that I made would be twisted, distorted, and simply used to drive more of a wedge between us.
During my football career, I was able to save money for the children's education. Each year I would put $20,000 into accounts at Charles Schwab Brokerage. Over the years the money grew and accumulated.
When I filed for divorce, the total funds for the children's education had reached the amount of around $800,000. Cindy was listed as the custodian, but I, in fact, did all the transactions and deposits. Within some thirty days of the divorce filing, Cindy transferred, without my knowledge or the courts approval, all the funds from the children's account to Uniform Transfer to Minor Accounts under the laws of the state of New York (again she is preparing for the move to New York without my knowledge or consultation) accounts at Lincoln Financial Advisers. At the same time she emptied out as joint account that she and I had to the tune of some 1.5 million( I don't know the exact amount as the funds are unaccounted for to this day).
In the final divorce decree, the judge ordered Cindy to put the children's savings in accounts under the dual control of both Cindy and I. Cindy refused and continues to do so. Nonetheless, I had my counsel send the order to Lincoln Financial, and they responded by acknowledging the order. I was hoping the requirement of dual control would be what would finally lead my daughter Ashley to contact me. I can only imagine how much she has gone through, and I hoped to leave her alone, kind of keep her out of Cindy's crosshairs, as a way to get to me. This was not a full success.
In a legal proceeding in the Florida courts in which I brought a contempt action for Cindy's refusal to transfer the funds into accounts under dual control, Ashley testified that after her Eighteenth birthday she went into Lincoln financial and withdrew the entire amount of some $277,000.00 that was in her account. There were no documents produced to substantiate this, even though we requested them. THE SAD REALITY IS THAT THE LAWS OF UNIFORM TRANSFER TO MINOR ACTS ACCOUNTS FOR THE STATES OF NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, MISSOURI AND KANSAS, THE RELEVANT JURISDICTIONS TO THE ACCOUNTS, REQUIRE THE MINOR TO REACH THE AGE OF 21 NOT 18 AND REQUIRES THE CUSTODIAN TO TRANSFER THE FUNDS TO THE MINOR. Tragically, it appears Ashley is continuing to be manipulated. I sat there and watched Ashley testify and stick to her mother's story. I was acting as my own counsel and didn't have the heart to impeach Ashley's testimony. Cindy asserts that Ashley has control of the money, yet college tuition checks are written by Cindy, indicating that she, not Ashley, controls the funds. I am glad to see a portion of Ashley's account go toward her education, yet I have no way of knowing if all funds are being used appropriately and in Ashley's best interest.
I hope if Ashley ever reads this she will know how I have tried to protect her from being part of what was occurring but there was only so much I could do. I waited three years to even bring the action for contempt, hoping Ashley and I could find a way to work things out. I could wait no longer because over $440,000 was transferred from the other children's accounts.