Parents Falsely Accused: Lynn and Ed

Rebuilding the Bond

"Visits in prison were a catch-22. You would want to see your family, but then you'd be devastated when your family would have to leave," Lynn recalls. Her husband and three sons would drive all weekend just to spend four our five hours with her. "God bless them for doing it, but in the same token, you don't want them to do it, but in the same token, your heart aches for them to do it."

"When My mother was convicted of murder, I needed a loved one to explain to me what was going on," says Ed, who was 8 years old. "I was yanked out of my mother's hands, and this was the time that I needed her the most."

 

Ed was put in the foster care system " living in eight different homes over a five-year span. "In all of them, I felt I was treated like an outsider, like I didn't belong, because most of them had their own kids or had foster kids whom they liked better or knew longer," he remembers. "[I felt like] why should I adapt to these people, why should I try and get close to them, because I just knew they were going to move me to a new foster home at any time."

 

In studio, Dr. Phil asks Lynn to describe her relationship with her son.

"I left a little boy and came home to a man, a gentleman," she says, adding that Ed has served two tours in Iraq.

"Has this been difficult?" Dr. Phil asks Ed.

"It's amazing to have her back," he says. "It's kind of like rebuilding a relationship. I've got to get to know her again. You can visit in a prison, but you can only do so much and get to know somebody so much. We've got to get that mother-son bond back."

Dr. Phil points out that they have to form a new relationship based on them both being adults. "The truth is, both of you had a very difficult time during those 13 years," he says.

 

"They took him before I [was] even accused, found guilty, anything. They took him immediately," Lynn says.

"When you come to a relationship, you either contribute to or contaminate that relationship, based on what you bring," Dr. Phil tells her. "You have a lot of baggage that you need help with."

Dr. Phil introduces Lynn's husband, Chuck, whom she married in 2000, while she was in prison. "You've obviously believed in her innocence," he says.

"From the beginning," Chuck replies.

Dr. Phil asks Chuck if it's been difficult to adapt to having Lynn back after he's raised their twins alone all these years.

"I got the boys from foster care when they were 9 months old, and I also got Ed ... and we made a family waiting for mom to come home," he explains. "Then, all of a sudden, mom's home. They just, all of a sudden, opened the doors and said, ‘You're free. Here you go,' with nothing. The boys don't know her. They've never spent an evening with her. All we had were the visiting days at the prison."

"One of the things that struck me, is that there is a story within a story," Dr. Phil says to Ed and Lynn. "Ed, you wrote us an e-mail that I think speaks so loud and so long to the issues that are going on here."

 

Dr. Phil shares that he and Robin are passionately involved with CASA â€" Court Appointed Special Advocates for foster children. "You are an absolute poster child, at the time, for what this is all about."

Dr. Phil reads the e-mail Ed sent to the show. "You say, ‘There I was grieving over the loss of my sister, all alone, all by myself, no one to talk to, no one I knew to trust. I stayed in this first foster home for a very short period of time. My second foster home, the foster parents did a lot of mental damage. I wasn't allowed to play outside with the other kids. I would be sent to bed at 6:30p.m. every night. I would sit at the bedroom window and watch their biological children â€" same ages as me â€" play outside until 10:00 p.m. At snack time, I would get over-ripe fruit that I could barely eat, and their kids would get sweets. I started lashing out with anger in the group home. I was placed on Lithium. My dad and grandmother were fighting like hell to get me out of there. By March of 1997, they had me so drugged up, they thought it was safe to put me back into my foster homes, so I went to my sixth placement, my seventh placement,'" he reads and comments to Ed, "The system failed you miserably."

"It did," Ed agrees. "I would tell my caseworkers and my supervisors what was going on, and it was ignored."

 

"Did you know some of this?" Dr. Phil asks Lynn.

"I knew some of it, but not all of it," she replies.

"How do you feel about it as you hear?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Outraged," she says. With tears in her eyes, she continues. "He had family who wanted him. His grandmother wanted him. His uncle wanted him. Chuck wanted him. There was no need for him to have to go through all that."

Dr. Phil introduces Michael Piraino, CEO of CASA. Referring to Ed's story, he says, "Michael, this is exactly what CASA is all about."

"Exactly," Michael replies. "This was a case where the system that was supposed to think about Ed's needs, deal with them, help him, failed him at every turn. They forgot that he was a child who needed to be paid attention to. They forgot that he was a child who needed connections, and someone to speak up for him and make sure he had a voice."

Dr. Phil explains that there are many people who want to help children, but can't take in a child. As a way to help, they can become a CASA volunteer by participating in a training program. "You become a special advocate for a child like [Ed]," he says. "You have the ability, as a friend of the court, as the eyes and ears of the judge, to step up and advocate for this young man."

Turning to his wife Robin, Dr. Phil says, "You are so passionate about this program and are devoting so much time and effort and energy to it. Why did you get so turned on by this particular program?"

"I am a mother, and I recognize the needs of children," she says. "Anytime I feel like I can do anything to make the life better for a child in need, then I'm going to do it. I'm going to be there for them. I've heard these stories ... When they came to us and asked us to be a part of this, it struck a chord in my heart. There was no way I could say no, and I just ask anyone who's watching this story and watching this show, to please join me and be a part of CASA, because when you can truly wrap your arms around a child in need, then I think there's nothing better."

Dr. Phil addresses Ed and Lynn. "This stuff doesn't just unravel itself. It has to have help," he tells them and offers to provide counseling for the family.