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Metro Detroit domestic violence victim battles for custody of children

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 14:00:10-05

It is a story you will see only on 7 Action News, a mom says she was a victim of a traumatizing crime and called for help. She says she lost her children as a result of that call. 

Erin Beaton says she used to be at everything for her two daughters. She coached her daughter’s Pom squad for 6 years, was active in dance, and volunteered at their church’s vacation bible school. 

She loves being a mom. 

“I didn’t deserve to lose them,” she says now.

She cherishes the memory of the last time she saw her oldest daughter 14 months ago. 

“It was her birthday, so I took her to dinner,” she says.

Erin’s nightmare started in 2015. When her marriage started heading toward divorce, she met a man on Tinder. They dated less than 3 months. 

“It started getting verbally abusive and then it got physical,” she says.

She called police, who arrested him. Because her children were home, Child Protective Services was called. 

Erin got a personal protection order. She thought she did everything right. Then the ex came to her house and picked up her 10-year-old daughter. 

“He called and said if you want Carlie, you have to come get her,” she says.”

To rescue her daughter, she agreed to meet him at her relative’s house. She thought if she pretended everything was fine, she could take her home safely. 

But when she tried to leave - he attacked. 

“I put my arm up and he stabbed me. I pulled whatever it was out of my arm and drove my kids home with a severed artery. I got the kids home and put them all to bed,” she says. “I did drink when I got home. I was hurting. Not only was I emotionally hurting, but physically. It broke me. I never had anyone do anything like that to me ever.”

Her blood alcohol content was around .08 when she got to the hospital. 

She was shocked when CPS took her girls and accused her of putting them in danger while drunk. 

They ordered her to go to take random drug tests, go to parenting classes, and therapy.

She says at first she resisted for a few months because she felt they were punishing the victim. She says she did not show up to the drug tests or ordered Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Erin tells us those missed drug tests showed up as failed on her record.

But court documents show soon thereafter she did everything the court asked. 

Still, the Livingston County Probate Court terminated her parental rights. 

She still gets to see her youngest daughter because she has a good relationship with her dad. 

But her oldest daughter Carlie has a different dad and is in foster care. 

“I asked for my good bye visit and they told me no. I never got to say good bye to Carlie,” she says. “I never got to tell her I am not done and am going to keep going. So her birthday was the last time I saw her.”

Erin’s attorney Stacy Combs says all too often domestic violence victims are treated unfairly. 

She says the man who stabbed Erin served a year in jail, then went to a different court to regain custody of his son. 

“The person who caused this situation got his kid back and my client hasn’t seen her oldest daughter in 14 months,” says Stacy Combs.

“He went back to living his life and I am still fighting for my kids,” says Erin.

They took their fight to the Michigan Court of Appeals.  

After reviewing all of the evidence in their brief, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that this mom was treated unfairly by the referee in Livingston County.  But that doesn’t mean she gets her kids back - at least not yet.

The Department of Health and Human Services does not comment on pending cases. 

The Court of Appeals ruled another referee should take a second look at the case.  

As they wait for that to happen, Erin and her attorney want the system changed to be more objective statewide. 

“I did what you asked -- I did more than what you asked. And I am missing out on a lot,” Erin says.