The bill of indictment against the current leadership contains serious charges, certainly—but the remedies it seeks . . . will lead to nothing worse than some painful communal confessions and much-needed reforms.
Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities (McFarland & Co., 2014).
The truth about the family courts gives the lie to some cherished American assumptions. Americans believe they are safe from arbitrary abuse of governmental power—yet child protective services, “law guardians,” and family court judges can cast aside the norms of due process . . .
From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts—and What Can Be Done about It (University Press of New England, 2005).
Michael Lesher is a writer, journalist and attorney who provides unique legal services to survivors of abuse and to mothers and children navigating the dangerous terrain of the family court system. He has performed legal work for pro se clients, and for other attorneys, in federal courts and in states all over the country, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Many of these cases involve mothers who have lost custody of their children because of their efforts to protect the children from alleged sexual abuse. Michael Lesher has also handled federal civil rights cases concerning freedom of speech and equal protection under the law.
Michael Lesher, together with sociologist Amy Neustein, Ph.D., wrote From Madness to Mutiny. The book, released in May 2005 as the lead title of the University Press of New England, is having a profound effect on the family court system. Professor Maureen Therese Hannah, Siena College, describes it as:
A groundbreaking new book that is perhaps the most highly readable scholarly work I've encountered in my 14 years in academia ...
Dr. Joy Silberg, in the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Bulletin, 21(2), 2005, calls it:
... essential reading for any health or mental health professional or legal advocate for children.
“This motion gives this Court an opportunity to undo a grievous wrong—one which no other tribunal has had the capacity to rectify. This Court finally has the benefit of a full record on which to base its judgment. In the light of that record, this Court—at last—has the opportunity to erase a tragic error that has tainted for too long a decision of this Court, not to mention the lives of a victimized mother and an innocent child.” —from legal papers written by Michael Lesher.
“Modified sole custody ... is modified to provide for [the mother] as the legal custodian ... I want this child to feel that she has a safe place where if necessary she can talk about her feelings, about what is going on in her life ... without having to worry about being a go between [the parents].” —from a decision granted in favor of a mother who had lost custody due to suspected sexual abuse by the father, and whose legal papers were prepared by Michael Lesher.
Michael Lesher has also been deeply involved, as a writer and a legal activist, in the issue of child sexual abuse within his own Orthodox Jewish community. He is the author of Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities (McFarland & Co., 2014).
In addition to that book, apart from what is contained in the publications, legal work and press entries found on this site, some of Michael Lesher’s ideas on the subject can be found in an earlier essay, “The Disposable Jew: Reflections on Child Sexual Abuse and Religious Culture,” written some time ago but never found “suitable” for publication by editors of today’s Jewish journals or book publishers.
Michael Lesher has also published a volume of poetry, Surfaces (The High Window, 2019), and a memoir about becoming an Orthodox Jew, Turning Back: The Personal Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew (Lincoln Square Books, 2020), and has a novel and two more collections of poetry awaiting publication.
Michael Lesher •
Curriculum Vitae •
Legal Work •
Publications • Press and Presentations • From Madness to Mutiny • Reviews • Libraries