by Michelle Chan, Parents Against CPS Corruption (PACC)

Joseph Bartholomew has turned his life around since being released from prison on July 13, 2017. Now all he wants is to be involved in his son’s life.

Joseph Bartholomew has no memories of his mother other than knowing that he loved her with all his heart. She died suddenly when he was 5 years old. There is nothing more traumatic for children than suffering the loss of a parent. The sudden loss and heartache drove Joseph to exhibit behavior problems all through his childhood and adolescence.

At the age of 12, Joseph landed in juvenile hall for the first time – the Youth Guidance Center at 375 Woodside Ave. in San Francisco – for vandalism. After that he was in and out of San Francisco’s juvenile justice system. In the Mission District of his childhood, gangs were prevalent. By the age of 14, Joseph got mixed up in them and started committing crimes like robbery and petty theft and drug dealing.

“Once you get involved in the system, it’s really hard to get out,” he said. He spoke of the emptiness and depression he felt from losing his mother at such a young age, and then five years later losing his grandfather.

“My grandfather was the foundation of my family. I never felt right inside growing up, and so I went through life with an attitude. All the system did was make me angrier. They didn’t provide me with the proper services. I should have had a therapist or a social worker or something other than just being locked up.”

As an adult, Joseph had resigned himself to the life he had always known, to the life of a drug dealer and drug abuser. On Feb. 15, 2015, Joseph’s then-girlfriend gave birth to their son. Three weeks later they were both arrested during a drug deal. They had the baby in the car at the time of arrest and Child Protective Services, or CPS, detained the baby into state custody. The case was opened in Napa County and soon transferred to San Francisco County.

Redemption: Should the formerly incarcerated be given second chances?

This last time that Bartholomew was incarcerated, things were different – because of the baby, because he hoped to one day be a part of his son’s life. The time had come for him to change, to break the cycle he had been trapped in for so many years.

He completed an alcohol and drug treatment program, which included relapse prevention, anger management, trauma recovery, family relationships and parenting, and individual therapy. In addition to this, he completed his GED and was valedictorian of his GED class.

Bartholomew is now clean and sober and works in construction. He sees now how misguided he was, sees the myriad mistakes, his unreached potential and all the missed opportunities, and understands that to continue on the same path is tantamount to insanity.

This last time that Bartholomew was incarcerated, things were different – because of the baby, because he hoped to one day be a part of his son’s life. The time had come for him to change, to break the cycle he had been trapped in for so many years.

Otis Moore is the pastor at Lighthouse Apostolic Church in Sacramento, California; the mission of the Church is to guide ships safely to harbor, “to guide souls unto Jesus, who is the light of the world.”

Pastor Moore shares his perspective on second chances and salvation:

“We have to see that we all are valuable and people should reach out to give second chances. We live in a society where everything is thrown away: We throw away food and we throw away people. We should have humility and the understanding and ability to see worth in others.

“CPS is supposed to give families chances. According to Proverb 16:27: ‘Ungodly man is immoral. An evil man digs up evil.’ Why does man dig up evil? Usually to slander you.

“Some people have done bad and can’t go back and change what they have done. But it doesn’t mean that they cannot change and that we should not exercise wisdom, love, compassion and humility. A person unwilling to help others is a person without humility. Proverbs 18:21: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue: And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.’

“CPS is supposed to give families chances.”

“We must use our words to build up, not tear down; encourage, not discourage. And thus we should encourage those who are trying to better themselves by giving them second chances.”

When Bartholomew was released from prison on July 13, 2017, he stepped into the world as if stepping into it for the first time – with fresh, open eyes and a brave vision of a world in which anything is possible and new beginnings truly do exist. He is still hanging onto hope that one day he can be in his son’s life, even if that contact is restricted to supervised visitation. Bartholomew wants nothing more than for his son to know that he is loved by his father and that his father turned his life around for him.

From top notch to nada: a night and day contrast in legal representation

Mark Wasacz is alleged to engage in a pattern of attorney misconduct while representing poor clients in San Francisco and Marin counties.

Bartholomew was appointed a criminal attorney, Jess Raphael, through the Napa County Public Defender’s Office. He was also appointed an attorney – Mark Wasacz – in his CPS case. In his criminal case, he received top notch and zealous representation. In the 2.5 years since the CPS case has been opened, Mark Wasacz has yet to meet with Bartholomew or discuss the case with him once.

“Jess Raphael met with me regularly during the criminal trial. He developed and executed a defense strategy, and he got me less time. Most importantly, he treated me with respect,” said Bartholomew. “I think this helped me to have a better attitude towards doing my time and making the most out of my situation. I wasn’t as angry and defeated going in.”

While Bartholomew was incarcerated, he was deprived of his right to be present at his CPS hearings. During his incarceration, Bartholomew reports that a parent educator from Child Haven sent out a letter to Mark Wasacz that Bartholomew had written; in the letter, Bartholomew stated that he wished to be present at his court hearings and that he did not want to give up his parental rights. He never received a response from Wasacz.

“I’ve called Mr. Wasacz at least 10 times and he’s never returned my call. I’ve texted and emailed him. When I went to the courthouse to find out what is going on with my case, they told me that my attorney is the only person who can help me. I just don’t know what to do.”

In the 2.5 years since the CPS case has been opened, Mark Wasacz has yet to meet with Bartholomew or discuss the case with him once.

Bartholomew is entirely clueless about the status of his case. He does not know if his parental rights have been terminated, if his case ever went to trial, or if he was ever given reunification services. Even though he was incarcerated, Bartholomew had a right to be involved in his own case, to be present at his hearings, and to explore options that may have led to reunification services and supervised visitation.

Rosie Vincent is a California parent advocate and a fierce warrior for children and family rights. Four years ago, she started the Facebook group TEARS, an acronym for total Transparency, Evaluate & expose Abuses of CPS reform, Regulate, Social Services. At the time, she felt the public needed to know the system was broken and that people needed to be educated on how to navigate the system and regain custody of their children. She shares her perspective on the impact poor legal representation has on families:

“As time passed, I witnessed so many parents being taken advantage of by court-appointed attorneys. They were not fighting or filing anything on behalf of the parents or families, and several private attorneys preyed on parents. This was the impetus that drove me to start the Facebook group Attorneys Who Fight and Sue Child Protection Services.

“There is a huge problem within the courts as the judges are not allowing parents to speak in court and the attorneys are often not working for them; it’s a ‘lose lose’ for the parents and on the taxpayers’ dime. Honestly, the social workers would not be getting away with fabricated reports if these court-appointed attorneys simply did their jobs.”

Court reform now!

Mark Wasacz’s alleged misconduct and moral turpitude is not isolated to Bartholomew’s case. He is appointed as advisory counsel to Cheri Newton. Ms. Newton alleges that for the past couple years he has refused to meet with her to advise her on basic court procedures.

“I began to wonder if he’s racist, so I sent him an email asking him if he is. Mark Wasacz responded to me in a way that made me feel like garbage,” said Cheri. “He wrote in an email that he didn’t think he’s a racist, but that he wasn’t sure. What is that supposed to mean? It means to me that he is a racist.”

Mark Wasacz’s alleged misconduct and moral turpitude is not isolated to Bartholomew’s case.

Moreover, it was Mr. Wasacz’s indecent conduct as my own court-appointed attorney that drove me to form an activist group to fight publicly against CPS and court corruption. I detail Mr. Wasacz’s fraud and wrongdoing in an article published by the San Francisco Bay View newspaper on Aug. 30, 2017 titled “Misconduct and Collusion by CPS Attorneys in San Francisco Superior Court.”

Joe Sweeney is the founder of Court Reform LLC and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Modern Courts. Both organizations work to improve transparency and accountability in the courts.

“Everyone wrongly assumes our justice system works well,” he said. “But there are reasons why the United States has a higher incarceration rate than North Korea, why kids get taken from good parents, and why attorneys, judges and other public employees make wrong decisions. It’s because there are too many bad financial incentives built into the system.

“Everyone wrongly assumes our justice system works well.” 

“When a public official doesn’t do their job, or deliberately does wrong to a person, that’s the worst kind of abuse. Those individuals – whether judges, attorneys or others – need to be removed from the system. But they almost never are because there is no meaningful oversight in the courts and those who try to speak out are retaliated against.

“Nobody spoke out against child molestation by priests for decades, and that changed. Nobody spoke out against sexual assault for decades, and now that’s changing. More people need to speak out against abuses in our courts if that is to change.”

“When a public official doesn’t do their job, or deliberately does wrong to a person, that’s the worst kind of abuse.”

There needs to be greater oversight, accountability and transparency of our child welfare system and juvenile dependency courts. How is it that Joseph Bartholomew has been searching for answers for the past six months since his release, to no avail? How is it that parents are now turning to volunteer advocacy organizations like my own as a last ditch effort to receive justice and fairness for their children?

Joseph Bartholomew has joined Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, to stand up for family rights and to speak out against injustice and oppression. It is dangerous for society to allow those in power to deprive our citizens of unalienable rights such as due process, equal protection under the law, and the pursuit of happiness.

The decision to exclude Bartholomew entirely from his own CPS case did not belong to Mark Wasacz nor to San Francisco CPS. The decision should have been his and his alone. Yes, Bartholomew made mistakes. But our criminal justice and child welfare systems make mistakes too. The only way to ensure that children who do not belong in the system do not accidentally end up in the system is to follow the laws and procedure that have been put in place to protect the innocent.

There needs to be greater oversight, accountability and transparency of our child welfare system and juvenile dependency courts.

How can we be certain that Bartholomew’s son, or others like him, are not being unnecessarily torn from loving and suitable families if people are being deprived of their right to competent legal representation and to be present at hearings and trials? Prisoners have rights in America. Or do they?

Call to action

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local District Attorney’s Offices have jurisdiction over public corruption. However, both agencies are reluctant to take action unless we can show that CPS corruption is a systemic issue and not isolated to a handful of cases. PACC is urging everyone who has ever been wronged by CPS to file complaints in their district offices.

PACC is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and has created a support network of peers, advocates and attorneys to help people who are struggling through CPS and family court issues. Every month we host meetings, workshops and team-building BBQs. We are also organizing class action lawsuits in San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties to give access to justice to people that would otherwise have none.

We are proud to announce that rockstar CPS and civil rights attorney Wallace Pate is now assisting PACC in our advocacy efforts and will be hosting periodic workshops in San Francisco and Sacramento counties to teach people their rights and to assist families with their CPS cases.

PACC is urging everyone who has ever been wronged by CPS to file complaints in their district offices.

To find out about protests and marches, reform initiatives, class-action lawsuits, meetings and workshops, and for advocacy and peer support, visit, call 415-815-9415, “like” us at and follow us on Twitter @ProtestCPS.

Correction and apology

In my last article, “Disgraced CPS Worker Ousted: Contra Costa County Fails to Fix Lives She Unnecessarily Destroyed,” I made sweeping generalizations about Arab and Muslim culture. These generalizations were biased. In fact, in many MENA region countries, women are quite strong and influential and much of the population is rather tolerant of so-called “Western ideas.”

I offer my sincerest apologies if I offended anyone. The article will soon be updated.

Michelle D. Chan is president of Parents Against CPS Corruption and can be reached at


  1. Interesting article. A month ago I read an article about a CPS failure in Australia, for God's sake, it is happening all over the world.

    That means, in human terms, that "best practices" for the CPS industry — as defined by paid consultants who publish seminars for the CPS industry worldwide — are quietly teaching public employees how to minimize CPS support costs to benefit politicians. That will include modeling how to get away with half-truths on the part of CPS workers. Quickie investigations and half-truths save money for the industry. Whether in Australia or California, legislatures are under-funding CPS knowing the inevitable results.

    And people at the top are approving these underhanded practices (CPS workers lying, for example) — all to minimize costs. All to enable politicians to divert funds away from helping people (their proper duty) and instead putting that money into "other" causes. But when policies are in place which reward public employees who will LIE to save money, more and more corrupt people are hired — while honest CPS employees do not get promoted and even get harassed out of their jobs. Eventually the system runs away from itself in a vicious circle and systemic corruption takes over.

    There is a parable about a corrupt judge who wouldn't give a woman justice. So she loudly picketed outside the corrupt judge's house and eventually she received justice. Not because the judge became un-corrupted, but because it simply became easier for him to do the right thing, in the face of the righteous woman's persistence.

    When good people make enough noise, so to speak, it forces more justice to occur, just to stop the noise. And yes, we need to throw the corrupt employees out, from judges down to entry level CPS workers. But some sinners will remain, continuing to lie & bear false witness, regardless; because lawlessness is the inner nature of the ungodly. Sin is lawlessness.

    God does not require the Godly folks to win, but only to do the right thing, to tell the truth, and show our own true, non-corrupt colors to the world. A corrupt judge or politician hates US because he/she is of the world, and we are not of the world. See: 1 John 3:12-13

    (from a former government employee)

  2. Thank you for all u are doing to help others i have p.t.s.d i was not allowed a truecboice tomy case i had to bow to get my name deztoyed to being shut out to loss of self awarness we my husbend and i do have children but loss of are 30 of life destoyed are foumdation starting over but with no pride and 35000 in det due to thair faults i may mention 4 kids are disabeld the systam made alot we paid all of are things and was charged pluss thay got paid from ivfunding for each child 4 of them. Kentzbip care got nothing

  3. I need help so badly I don’t know where to turn or even what to do next my name l is Leslie and my story can be found on by searching for my name Leslie Shanklin….my babies are about to be adopted out I have 2 more court dates coming up Dec. 5 2017 and Dec. 20 2015 n I only have 2 visits with my babies left Dec. 19 2017 (my son’s 4th birthday) and what my cws worker called the goodbye visit which is Dec. 22 2017 I am not saying I’m perfect by any means but I do not deserve to lose them over an accident from day one they have not wanted to offer reunification on day 2 I asked what we needed to do to get them to come home n I was told we don’t want to have to tell u what to do pretty much figure it out….I am only asking for the opportunity to succeed or fail… least then if I fail it is all my own doing….

    • Adoption can be stopped if you can find a good attorney. I am not sure how but also it can be reversed I’ve been told. Son lost his daughter while in jail they refused to take him to the hearing. go figure.
      Hanging there record everything. get “record my call” app on a smartphone
      Praying for you.

  4. That attorney stole his own children away from his wife, a friend of mine, two decades ago. He must be on the City dole after he trained through his own family. Evil.

  5. Joseph do not give up on your child you will once be reunited they can not terminate your parental rights make sure you keep everything paper trailed and keep a journal of everything. If you have any questions i would love to help you get through this and btw your good looking!!…LoL

  6. "There needs to be greater oversight, accountability and transparency of our child welfare system and juvenile dependency courts" I agree completely!

  7. We have Free In Deed. Gai Williams and Irene Talamantes. Please reach me at (916) 470 4883. I CAN GET I IN TOUCH WITH GAI. We both have lived it to and are living it.

  8. CPS should not be allowed to post anyone's name in Child Abuse Index unless it is criminal case and the person has been convicted.

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