Courts - USA - Down in Las vegas
George Knapp, Investigative
Equal Rights For Fathers - Part 2
(Aug. 3) -- A local organization that counsels
divorced fathers about their legal rights is drawing fire
for comments considered by some to be anti-woman. The founder
says most of his remarks are meant as jokes. But the family
court system that refers men to seek his help now has its
The organization is called Equal Rights for Divorced Fathers.
Judging by the orchestrated campaign of phone calls the I-Team's
been receiving since Monday night, E.R.D.F. and its founder
seem to have touched a lot of lives. But some are asking whether
the end justifies the means. Does helping dads have to come
at the expense of trashing moms?
Ernest Del Casal says, "I've always been a person who
tells it like I see it."
That's putting it mildly. Ernest Del Casal, who founded Equal
Rights for Divorced Fathers, doesn't pull punches. His group
was created ostensibly to even the playing field for fathers
facing the uncertainties of divorce and custody battles.
Del Casal says the E.R.D.F is pro-dads, not anti-moms, but
the t-shirts he displays and sells send a different message,
as do the jokes he cracks at his weekly meetings, as seen
in this undercover video provided to the I-Team by a third
Del Casal is especially tough on some female attorneys. "Because
they are women's rights type people and don't like what I
do and it bothers them," Del Casal said.
Family law attorney Gayle Nathan says, "It's like a terrorist
organization against women." Nathan has taken some lumps
from Del Casal. Not a big deal, she says, except she can't
believe that public agencies -- the family courts, the D.A.,
even the state -- refer men to Del Casal for help. Does it
make sense to send men to E.R.D.F when they are emotional
and uncertain, and let them joke about beating up their ex-wives?
"To put half the relationship into an organization that
encourages meanness isn't helpful to the recovery process,"
attorney Gayle Nathan said.
The family courts have an informal relationship with Del Casal.
The court's self-help center sends over men who have no money,
lawyer, or understanding of what they're up against. Judge
Bob Lueck, for one, thinks Del Casal does a decent job of
helping husbands with their legal paperwork, which means family
cases move through the system better.
Ironically, Lueck is one of Del Casal's favorite targets.
In his newsletter, Del Casal calls Lueck an insecure man who
runs his mouth. In his meetings, he says more. Del Casal commented,
"He started smoking ... crack. He went whack-a-doodle."
Judge Robert Lueck said, "We look at it as Ernie being
Ernie. Ernie has no more credibility over here because he's
unbalanced in the way he presents his arguments. He's mean
spirited, unfair, engages in venomous, vitriolic attacks."
E.R.D.F is even tougher on other judges. It describes Judge
Gerald Hardcastle as hostile, angry impatient and ill tempered.
Del Casal's comment, "This is the most miserable... I've
ever met. He hates father's rights."
Hardcastle declined to comment for this story. Tougher still
is Del Casal's opinion of one female judge. "She's a
mean spirited lesbian that doesn't like me."
Does he remember using the term "lesbian" to describe
Del Casal said, "Mmmm, one of them I said might have
comfortable shoes, no makeup, and a lot of body hair. I think
I used that terminology."
Jabs taken at female judges, female lawyers, ex-wives, and
women in general do not mean that Del Casal is anti-woman,
he says. It's all just in good fun, meant to build trust with
divorced dads. Wisecracks about a wife with two black eyes
or the battered women's shelter are just part of his routine
"I make jokes about old people, ethnic jokes everyday.
I make jokes about everything. It has nothing to do with what
I do," Del Casal said.
Which is to educate men about their rights and responsibilities.
But as part of that education, in his meetings, Del Casal
tells his flock how he would react if his wife ever tried
to call the authorities on him. "I'd never let her get
to the ... phone."
Del Casal says he has never engaged in domestic violence,
nor does he advocate it. Something else he says he doesn't
advocate is for husbands to hide their finances during a divorce,
but the information he distributes says exactly that.
The video the I-Team obtained was shot by Debecker investigations
on behalf of a client they decline to name.