Lea`s son, at the age of 3 years old, on November 6th, 2009 told his mother in detail about sexual abuse by his father, Jeremy Banken. Lea reported this abuse. There are witnesses who heard this from the boy, these witnesses were not allowed to testify in trial May 2011- judge Perkins said his mind was made up prior to Lea calling one witness. Boy was experiencing night terrors, unusual bed wetting, severe anger outbursts, and more. There are several witnesses to this abuse and behavior of the Banken children.
Lea was pregnant with the couple`s third child when Jeremy Banken filed for divorce September 2009. After the delivery of baby girl March 12th, 2010 – the baby, at age of 11 weeks old was taken from Lea Banken, for reasons unknown. Lea was allowed one overnight every two weeks with the infant, and minimal hours a week with the two Banken children ages 3 and 6 at the time, again no reason listed. Children were in the care of 20 year old nannies hired by Mr. Banken. Banken boy became enraged with anger at age of five years old from losing all time with his mother – boy killed baby bunnies with his boots at his father`s home; smashing them to their death, boy used a pruning shears to cut through a 70 lb dog`s tail (Link: Dog incident), boy pushed his baby sister down the stairs, and continually talked about killing his father, boy would fantasize and talk about how his father could accidentally die so he could be with his mother again. Animal mutilation in children is a telltale sign of severe abuse of a child. There are several witnesses to the continual emotional and sexual abuse of the children, along with the intentional alienation of mother by Banken father. Children were told to call their mother `Lea` not mom, they were told to spit on their mother when they saw her, not speak to their mother or her fiance, Anthony Dannewitz during visits, children were told to not show affection, and more. When father would come to pick up children after visits the children would act out, hide behind furniture, act like they were sleeping, beg to use the bathroom one more time, cry and beg to not have to go. Affidavits from several witnesses to this are in the Banken v. Banken case file. Even more witnesses than there are affidavits were on the witness list during trial, they took off work, sat through the entire trial… they were never allowed to take the stand. Judge Perkins said his mind was made up five days into trial and to not bother calling witnesses. This was a shock to all since the witnesses had compelling evidence of child abuse by father and during trial Mr. Banken was caught lying on the stand more than once. Those who sat through trial listening every day said there is no way a judge would give a man like that custody of children, yet this judge did. Even worse, he placed unobtainable and outrageous stipulations on Lea in order for her to see her children, he then claimed a few months later in a court order that she obviously abandoned them, giving full legal and sole custody to the father. Judge Perkins left Lea below poverty level, heavily in debt. Mr. Banken was given the couple`s $450,000 home, boat, assets, companies, 100% time with the three children, and full sole and legal custody.
Lea`s baby, at the age of only 6 months old came to her mother for an overnight visit. Baby had 6 bruises, a black eye, a scratch under her eye, and a diaper rash so bad it was bleeding into her diaper. The baby had bruises every time the baby was dropped off, Lea told the GAL and CPS workers about it continually, nothing was done. This time it was extreme, she again called Carver County. Child abuse investigator, Carole Cole is an unlicensed social worker with a horrible reputation, Cole claimed these wounds and bloody rash on a baby were normal for the baby`s age and wrote it off as such. The two older Banken kids told their mother and others about the baby continually falling off beds, chairs, and down flights of stairs at their father`s home. Children told witnesses they had to watch their sister at their dad`s home, they informed witnesses of incidents where their dad would leave them alone while the baby was in the bathtub. Oldest child, 6 years old, claimed she had to pull the baby`s head out of the water more than a few times. Six year old girl was the caretaker of the baby, this was obvious from her behavior and things she talked about that happened in her father`s home, and the way she behaved around the baby. She had to be constantly reminded by Anthony (Lea`s fiance) and Lea to not watch the baby at her mom`s house, to go and play, it was an adults duty to care for the baby. There are witnesses to all things the kids spoke about. Many witnesses called into Carver County, stopped in the office to speak to the workers, wrote affidavits, emailed… nothing was done to help the kids. In fact, things continually got worse for the children any time a witness or Lea would report the abuse.
Lea`s oldest daughter, at six years old informed her mother that her father showers with her alone. Lea Banken reported this, Jeremy Banken admitted to showering with his daughter. He admitted this not only at that time in 2010, but also on March 2nd, 2012 at another hearing during cross-examination. There were witnesses and supports of Lea Banken in the court room who heard this, along with two members from the press, court staff, Bailiff, Christopher Banas (Banken father`s attorney) and judge Perkins. Needless to say, nothing has been done to address the situation.
Oldest girl also informed her mother of sexual abuse December 9th, 2010 at 9 pm while at her mother`s home. Link: `Almost every night` This was the first time girl spoke of the abuse to her mother, this was the first time (other than the showering incident) that Lea reported sexual abuse of her daughter. According to Carole Cole, in her report, this was one of many reports mother has made about sexual abuse of the young girl, this is false. Carole Cole of Carver County CPS allowed Banken father to set up the appointment with MCRC in St. Paul to physically examine and question the young girl for the abuse allegations. Girl told her mother the abuse happens in her father`s bathroom, `almost every night, except when grandma stays over` Carole Cole, Patrick Murphy and Nicole Mercil of Carver County picked up the girl from her father`s home in January 2011 and drove the girl to St. Paul alone, with no parent present. In the interview girl was physically examined by an RN for `trauma to the area`. Girl was pointedly asked over and over if she has been inappropriately touched. This is not how you investigate a 6 year old girl for sexual abuse, according to MN Statute and laws, according to common sense as well. This is very damaging to the child. Girl told the nurse (RN) that the only person she feels she can talk to is her mother, and her mother`s friend, Tony. Girl also told the nurse she told her mother about the inappropriate touches. Girl was visibly frightened, as any child would be, she whispered a lot of the time, hid her face, and was terrified. This is a highly inappropriate interrogation of any young girl. Lea Banken asked in a prior hearing to have the two older Banken children properly evaluated by a professional Feb. 9th hearing, this request was denied by judge Perkins in a court order dated February 13th, 2012. Not only have the children not been properly evaluated for sexual abuse , they are forced away from their mother, with no contact whatsoever. Perkins claims Lea is able to see the children any time she wants. The stipulations placed on Lea are outrageous, unobtainable, and there is no reason for them whatsoever.
Lea Banken and Anthony Dannewitz continually requested the investigative reports from MCRC of sexual abuse before and during Banken v. Banken trial in May 2011 (4 months after the investigation of the young girl) Lea and Anthony were continually told the report was `not ready` or `not available` by the Sheriffs Department of Carver County. Judge Perkins refused to request the reports from the Sheriffs Department for determination of custody of the Banken children. Lea Banken had to submit the reports during a separate hearing after trial. Directly after the reports were entered into the file, Perkins marked them CONFIDENTIAL. Additionally, Lea Banken and her children`s supports/witnesses to the child abuse by their father have attended court hearings where Lea has asked Perkins, `Witnesses to the abuse are here in the courtroom, would you like to hear from them now?` Perkins has refused each time.
CW, one witness to the abuse of the Banken children is an LICSW and licensed counselor for children. CW has known the Banken children since birth. CW, who was a social worker for Sibley County at the time, put her license on the line in an attempt to help the Banken children. She spoke to CPS of Carver County, along with many other witnesses to the abuse. CW obtained reference letters from her supervisor and co-workers in order to get the workers at Carver County to listen to her, as they refused to listen to any witnesses. CW was a highly respected social worker for the county in which she worked. CW since moved back to her home state of Indiana, went back to school, and opened her own practice offering counseling services for families. This terrifying and helpless situation she watched Lea and her kids go through prompted CW to center her practice on helping families found victimized by CPS.
When your child reports sexual, emotional or physical abuse, what are you to do? What are your friends, family and others to do when they witness the abuse? According to this situation, and many other cases found in Carver County, you report the abuse and the children will be forced to live with their abuser. You will lose your children.
More affidavits from the court file and others to come…