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The Ambrose Papers #5: Longtime ABC Reporter Wayne Dolcefino Investigating; Says Children Reached Out to Him Alleging Abuse by Father

This is Part # 5 of the Ambrose Papers, the extraordinary story of how a conniving father and a dubious gaurdian ad litem teamed up to ruin the lives of three adopted children.

It appears that I am not the only reporter interested in this story.

Enter Wayne Dolcefino…

Wayne Dolcefino. You don’t mess around with him.

A longtime investigative reporter, Dolcefino is not unknown. He heads a consulting and investigation firm with clients all over the nation.

For more than 25 years, Dolcefino was perhaps the most feared reporter in Texas. If Wayne Dolcefino contacted someone they would literally fill their diapers.  People were heard to whisper down Texas way, “we better not do that or we will wind up on Dolcefino’s radar.”

He was head of the Houston, Texas based KTRK-TV ABC 13’s national award winning “13 Undercover” unit. He exposed public corruption, cover-ups, charity fraud, the waste of taxpayer money and the injustices of family court on countless occasions.

As part of his present investigation of Connecticut Family Court, Dolcefino flew to Connecticut to interview those involved in the Ambrose case.

He is far from finished in his investigation, but he produced a preliminary video available on YouTube, Family Injustice: A Crime In Court?

He published the video on Sept. 21, 2021.

Children Reach Out to Dolcefino

Dolcefino went to the home where the father, Chris Ambrose resides. It is a rural home where the father keeps his children in virtual isolation. Not only may they not see their mother, but none of their relatives or family friends they’ve known since infancy.

Ambrose also took their phones away.

Yet somehow, the children, in their desperation, found the video or found a contact number for Dolcefino and reached out to him, hoping he would help them. The children claim their father is threatening and abusing them.

Dolcefino wrote to the guardian ad litem, Jocelyn Hurwitz and to others involved in the case, on Sept. 28:

Here is his email:

Subject: OUTCRY FROM AMBROSE CHILDREN

As you know my firm has been investigating injustice in the Connecticut family court system. I would like to know why none of the alleged advocates for these children has sought an immediate hearing for these children in front of the Judge as a result of their direct communication with my firm alleging mental and sexual abuse at the hands of their father.

While I have no independent way to confirm their outcry I have reported it to the Madison, Connecticut police despite their apparent disregard for my reporting.  So there is no confusion, I have not been retained by any party in your litigation and am shocked that none of you have gone to the Judge to ask that the children be brought to his chambers so that their independent voices can be heard directly.

We believe strongly here, based on decades of family court investigative experience, that once paid advocates are heavily financed by one side in a custody dispute it begins to raise questions of impartiality and possible bias. That would be true even if we believed the so called advocates for these children are doing their job. We don’t.  

The best way to ensure that is not the case is to actually protect the best interests of the children. I do not know what is more compelling than direct communication between the children and the judge, especially after they cry out for help after someone they didn’t know simply showed up with a TV camera to interview their father.

We have reached out to the Connecticut Attorney General for assistance in the event the protectors of these children don’t start doing it.

***

Video Tells Story

Dolcefino has told the story in a compelling way. There is no better primer on what happened than this eight minute video.

I will add a few observations as I provide the transcript of the video.

It is a shocking thing and until you wrap your head, and perhaps your heart, around it, you will not understand how three children are suffering and how a guardian ad litem is profiting from their sorrow.

As Dolcefino comments: “We’ve been exposing the disgusting family court system across the country for five years. But the lawyers, the ‘experts’, and the judge should be ashamed of what’s being done to a mother of three in Connecticut.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/JHwsv22uEGE?feature=oembed

Here is the transcript of the video with some comments by me [in brackets and bold] and screenshots from the video.

Karen Riordan, mother [crying]

I’ve done nothing. My kids love me. I’m a really good mom. Everybody that knows me will tell you.

{This is true. I have spoken to a number of sane sound people who have known Karen for years. Everyone says to a person that she is completely mentally sound, intelligent, compassionate and that her children were her life.]

Wayne Dolcefino:

What happened to Karen Riordan should be a crime.

Nickola Cunha, Karen’s attorney:

It’s a nightmare. An absolute nightmare.

[Nickola Cunha is one of the last perhaps of a dying breed of lawyer. She is spending her own money, not billing for hundreds of hours she has spent on this case. She knows it is unjust and the record she has is so compelling that when it finally gets reviewed, it is entirely possible that criminal charges might arise out of this.] 

Dolcefino: 

In fact, her lawyer says it is.

Cunha: 

On a one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of bad. It’s as simple as that.

Dolcefino;

Just minutes before our interview Nickola Cunha had sought an injunction hearing from a court in the Connecticut state capitol. It is unlikely to stop the injustice.

Wayne Dolcefino with attorney Nickola Cunha and Karen Riordan head to court as Cunha tries to get an injunction staying the order that prevents the children from seeing their mother.

Dolcefino; [To Cunha]

Karen’s been kept away from her three children for 17 long months. And she’s not allowed to see them?

Cunha:

She’s not allowed to see them. She’s not allowed to have contact with them and, in my opinion, those are illegal orders.

Dolcefino:

What do you think it’s done to the kids?

Cunha:

It’s destroyed them.

Dolcefino [narrating]:

For most of her kids’ lives, [Karen] was essentially a single mom.

Her husband Chris Ambrose spent much of his time off in Hollywood. A scriptwriter for shows like Law and Order and ironically a show called Family Law.

Chris Ambrose

Dolcifino [arriving at Ambrose’s house.]

Mr. Ambrose I’m Wayne Dolcefino. We’d like to talk to you about your custody case.

Seeing Dolcefino, Ambrose goes inside the house.

Dolcefino narrating:

When his own divorce began in 2019, Mr. Ambrose began accusing Karen of parental alienation. We’ve heard that one before in high conflict divorce cases like this one. That’s why a guardian ad litem was appointed.

Kelsey R. Garbraith, Dolcefino consulting attorney speaks:

A guardian ad litem is somebody who’s appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child or children in a divorce or custody proceeding.

Dolcifino:

And in this case it’s attorney Jocelyn Hurwitz.

Jocelyn Hurwitz, GAL. Attorney from Cohen & Wolfe.

[Dolcefino has reported that Hurwitz has billed $187,000 plus and I think he is likely right. I have only seen the first $175,000 in billings, But the case is far from over.[

Since September of 2019 she’s run up legal bills totaling… wait for it- more than $187,000. She never returned our phone calls and I kind of think I know why. Do you know how many times this protector of the children has even met with the three Ambrose children?

Based on her own billings just four times-  four times, in more than two years.

Maybe Ms. Hurwitz doesn’t even know that Karen’s daughter has experienced dramatic physical changes since she was taken away from her mom back in April of 2020.

Mia before, A happy child living with her mother, but also permitted to visit her father.

Mia, after, a depressed and unhappy child living with her father, never permitted to see her mother.

Even when she is not testifying Hurwitz is still getting paid more than $3,000 a day just to sit in court. But even if she had really earned all the money she’s made on this case how could she possibly be a neutral party anymore? All of her legal bills, all of them are being paid by the father in this case.

[As a side note: this divorce case has had 30 days of trial so far and not concluded. That is a huge number for such a case. The father, Ambrose, agreed, against the mother’s objections, to permit Hurwitz to sit in on every hour of trial, something that is rare, since guardians being paid by the hour usually only appear when they testify. The judge agreed with the father. This nets Hurwitz some $3,000 per trial day. Sometimes the trial is held by teleconference so Hurwitz can mute and do other work while half listening to the case from her office or home. She’s nobody’s fool.]  

The video cuts back to Ambrose at his house. He is seen coming out of his house on his call phone. 

Ambrose comes out of the house talking on a cell phone.
Chris Ambrose is questioned by Wayne Dolcefino. Ambrose declined to speak to Dolcefino, just as he declined to speak to Frank Report.

Dolcefino Cameraman:

He’s calling the police.

Dolcifino:

Hi, Mr. Ambrose.

Chris Ambrose [talking on phone]

Yeah. Yeah. I’ve asked them to leave and they’re standing here with a camera.

Dolcifino:

Oh. Did you ask us to leave? We’ll leave.

Chris Ambrose [to Dolcefino]

Yes I did ask you to leave.

Dolcifino:

Well, I’m sorry I didn’t hear you. We’ll be glad to leave.

***

The next scene is at the office building of Dr. Jessica Biren-Caverly, the court appointed guardian-friendly psychologist who did the custody evaluation for the case.

Dolcefino walks in the office corridor and sees Dr Caverly wearing a mask

Dolcefino:

I’m looking for Dr. Caverly.

Dr. Caverly:

No comment. Please go.

Dolcefino:

Well, hold on. You don’t even know what I’m asking.

Dolcefino narrating: That was the greeting when we went to visit another controversial expert in this case of family injustice.

Dolcefino to Caverly:

Okay. Is she here? You’re not going to tell me if she’s here?

[Caverly retreats to her office and shuts the door.]

Dolcefino narrating:

We’re talking about Dr. Jessica Biren-Caverly the licensed psychologist who decided Karen Riordan had a sudden hidden mental disorder. No specific diagnosis but quote, “a significant personality disorder that impacts her ability to effectively co-parent with Mr. Ambrose.”

Dr. Jessica Biren-Caverly, Psychologist, Court Appointed Custody Evaluator

The video returns to Karen

Karen:

It’s just it’s just… It’s lies. There’s no way this would happen but what they do is they make it so extreme, it’s like, well something had to happen.

[One very curious thing is that there is no such thing as an unspecified personality disorder. Another is that medical experts disputed Caverly’s findings, actually blasting her findings. None of that mattered to the judge. And finally when Karen’s attorney Cunha cross examined Caverly asking her about the preposterous diagnosis, Caverly squirmed and stumbled, Cunha went in for the kill asking Caverly to admit there is no such thing as an unspecified personality disorder. Trapped and unable to answer without destroying her credibility, Caverly suddenly blurted that she had an appointment with a patient and using medical preference was excused b y the judge at the most critical moment of her testimony.    The judge also ruled that Cunha could not recall her.]

Dolcefino

Despite their protests, the children’s opinions were to be ignored. Biren-Caverly recommended sole legal custody to the father. A psychiatrist treating the family called the report, “misguided, dangerous and could be considered malpractice.”

Another psychiatrist feared the kids might now be in “imminent danger,” but Biren Caverly’s report called for Karen not to see her kids for a period of 90 days, but instead that separation has dragged on now for a year and a half with no real good explanation. The Connecticut judge who’s allowed this unexplained injustice is Gerald Adelman.

[The reports are stunning.  Here is Caverly’s biased reportThen read the reports of experts on who is the better parent for the children: Dr. Margaret Coffey, M.D, Psychiatrist report.  Dr. Coffey letter to the US Department of Justice.

Dr. Tami Amiri M.D, Psychiatrist report  and Dr. Dorothy Stubbe M.D. Psychiatrist. and  Dr. Robin Lynch, a psychologist. Her review of Caverly’s custody evaluation. No wonder the judge let Caverly run for the hills.] 

Connecticut Family Court Judge Gerald Adelman

The video now shows a clip of Family Court Judge Gerald Adelman, who took over the case from Judge Grossman

Gerald Adelman quote from CT judicial reappointment hearings (2017):

“My commitment and my goal is to provide every citizen who comes to the court with a fair objective and meaningful hearing.”

Dolcefino:

Judges are appointed in Connecticut but when Adelman was reappointed in 2017 it wasn’t smooth sailing.

Connecticut Attorney General Attorney General William Tong:

“Some people have accused you [Judge Adeleman] of being biased against them and in particular that they feel you have a bias against women litigants.”

Dolcefino

A lifelong friend of Karen Riordan told me the lawyers, experts, and judge in this case should be ashamed and you know what? She’s right. But her lawyer says this is part of the family court game plan in Connecticut.

Cunha:

There are certain attorneys that are known to support the removal of children from their mother and there are certain psychologists that are known to issue fabricated and trumped-up evaluations to make the mother seem like she’s crazy and alienated the children’s affection from their father.

Dolcefino:

And that’s what they now say about Karen Riordan, a woman who taught special education in Greenwich Connecticut schools for 17 years.

Karen:

Anybody who is going to take children from a mother. It is anxiety inducing. It’s like I’m dead.

Dolcefino: asking the friend of Karen’s

She ain’t crazy?

Michelle Pawson:

She ain’t crazy. When I tell people this is what I’ve been going through with her, people are like what? Wait. What? It’s so unbelievable that it doesn’t seem possible.

Dolcefino: When Karen’s daughter ran away to see her mom, Madison Police made her go back despite her serious outcry of abuse caught on tape.

Mia: [on tape]

I’m like ‘my dad told me to kill myself’ and then they just stared at me for like, ten seconds.

Dolcefino:

And now this small town Connecticut police department has apparently chosen to ignore my warnings that these children desperately need help. I can’t say how, but, after our visit to the Ambrose house, the children got a message to me that they need help.

Quoting the children, “We’re being abused. We’re scared of him all the time. He threatens us and says we’re sick.”

Allegations of mental and sexual abuse inside the house that we cannot independently confirm.

The scene goes back to the Ambrose house

Dolcefino to Ambrose

We’ll be glad to leave but we can’t leave with you standing in front of the car.

Dolcefino narrating:

We relayed the message [of the children’s outcry of abuse] to the Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm despite what his officers had told Karen Riordan.

A recording of a police officer talking with the Karen is played:

Officer Foito:

Why would you call Chief Drumm?

Karen:

Because Chief Drumm has been involved in the case.

Officer Foito:

He’s an administrative officer.

Karen:

He’s been involved in the case.

Officer:

He’s an administrative officer. We are on the street. You should have called dispatch.

Dolcefino:

Weeks later still crickets from the chief.

Jack Drumm, Madison CT Chief of Police

Cunha:

Everything they knew and understood life to be was ripped away from them. They’ve been held captive in my opinion.

Karen:

They haven’t seen anybody in 16 months. It’s not just me. They have no wi-fi. They have no phones. They have no computers. People try and see them and send them stuff and they’re cut off. They got ripped out of their lives. How is that healthy?

We would have asked Jocelyn Hurwitz that very question if she had called us back because she’s made so much money to protect these kids.

We would have asked psychologist Dr. Jessica Biren Caverly or the Judge, Gerald Adelman.

And that’s what Karen Riordan’s biggest crime may be. Just fighting back. You know the family court system; it doesn’t like that.

Dolcefino: asking Cunha

Money’s gonna trump what’s the right thing to do?

Cunha:

Always does. Doesn’t it?

Dolcefino:

So this desperate mom is now forced to talk to her kids through us. I hope they get to see this.

Karen [speaking to the camera hoping her children will see it]: I’m so sorry. And I love you and I miss you and this never should have happened. And I’m doing everything I can 24/7. And mom loves you and Aunt Michelle loves you. Your whole family. Papa and Joani and all of your cousins, your aunts. Everybody loves you.

See the other stories in the series:

The Ambrose Papers Part 1: ‘Secrets and Lies’: TV Writer Chris Ambrose and the Connecticut Family Court Puts Children in Danger

The Ambrose Papers Part 2: Children Cry Out for Escape From Father; Nobody Listens

The Ambrose Papers # 3: TV Writer Bought Influence in Connecticut Family Court; Cohen and Wolf Lawyer Jocelyn Hurwitz Gets Results for Bad Dad as Children Suffer

The Ambrose Papers #4: Follow the Money, Not the Children, as CT Family Court Guardian Jocelyn Hurwitz, of Cohen and Wolf, Does!

About the author

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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