CLARKSVILLE, TN – G is eleven years old and can’t legally speak for herself. When she turns 12 she’ll be able to tell a judge that her mother abuses her. G could testify how her mom committed her to Cumberland Hall Hospital in Hopkinsville, Kentucky because she was “suicidal and homicidal”.
“My daughter wasn’t having a psychiatric crisis. My daughter was reacting to abuse,” said the girl’s dad, Ralph Ulysses.
On September 18, 2020, G’s mother, Christina Blankenship, took her to the Tennova Hospital in Clarksville. They found opiates in her blood. According to Ulysses, the girl told the triage nurse that her mother was abusing her. Mom reported that G threatened to kill her and commit suicide.
“Mom was using her power as an adult to tell my daughter’s story to make it seem like she was the victim,” Ulysses said.
Dr. Srikar Koranam placed the girl on a psychiatric hold. Youth Villages, a DCS contractor, gave G two evaluations within 24 hours. Both concluded she did not need to be committed but should be released to her dad “for respite”.
Doctors can override social workers and Koranam did. But no mental institution in Tennessee would take G because two separate evaluations concluded she wasn’t crazy.
On September 22, 2020 Tennova Hospital transported the girl to Cumberland Hall Hospital in Hopkinsville, KY, where Mom had her committed. Cumberland Hall diagnosed G with disruptive deregulation disorder that means she couldn’t control her emotions.
“The problem with that diagnosis is that my daughter spends 7 hours a day at school, 5 days a week. 35 hours a week and not once in 6 years has she ever be in trouble for not being able to control herself,” Ulysses said.
“The only place where she can’t control her moods is in her mother’s household. I have no problem with her being ‘disregulated’,” he said. G had no problems at summer camp or when he brought her to work. Ulysses works for a large insurance company as a senior insurance underwriter. Mom is unemployed.
On September 25, 2020 while G was still at Cumberland Hall, Mom took out a restraining order against Dad claiming she had a recording of a conversation between the two discussing a murder plot to shoot Mom and her husband, Matthew Blankenship. “Preposterous and absurd,” Ulysses said.
Last week, when the Tribune interviewed Ulysses he asked, “Why hasn’t anybody pressed the play button?” Ulysses said the recording, if it exists, would disprove Cristina’s claim. A year later the matter has still not been heard in Juvenile Court.
For more than a year, G and her dad have been living a waking nightmare. DCS has tried to pathologize both the girl and her Dad.
Dad’s filed 14 referrals for child abuse with DCS that they failed to investigate. Ulysses said Clarksville Team Coordinator Heather Jeffries personally buried two of them.
“They had to cover up their inability to look into child abuse before it became bad enough to put a child into a mental institution. They participated in the abuse themselves,” he said.
DCS claimed G never made statements about being abused. They said Dad was making allegations out of the blue. “They said I’m disgruntled, difficult, blah, blah, blah,” he said. DCS was parroting what G’s mom and her husband had told them.
“But when they released their records it turns that my daughter had been making these allegations. She made them to DCS; she make them to Youth Villages; she made them in school and DCS ignored all of this,” he said.
“Heather Jeffries has quarterbacked this entire thing,” Ulysses told the Tribune. She took over the case last year when Cumberland Hall wanted to discharge G for her own good. Jeffries pressured them to keep her there longer.
“The entire time my daughter was at Cumberland she refused to visit with her mom and she alleged abuse almost nonstop so DCS couldn’t release her to her mom,” Ulysses said. Because of the restraining order, she couldn’t be released to her dad either.
The case was becoming troublesome so Jeffries tried to send her to Florida. On October 14, 2020 DCS asked Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Barnes to place the girl with her maternal aunt. The aunt drove to Clarksville from Orland expecting to be given custody on that day.
After Ulysses objected Judge Barnes blocked the out-of-state placement, ruling it would be illegal to do exactly what it looked like it was—an attempted kidnapping by Mom and DCS’s Jeffries to send G away.
Barnes took the girl into state custody on November 2, 2020 and two DCS caseworkers drove her to Parkridge Valley Hospital in Chattanooga. Their records indicate it was an initial admission but it was G’s second commitment in less than two months.
Parkridge didn’t know about the girl’s time in Cumberland Hall and DCS didn’t tell them. In fact, DCS claims it has no case records from the time Tennova found opiates in G’s blood until the time she entered Parkridge. Parkridge Valley records show she was admitted because “her parents are worried about her”.
“That’s utter and complete bull,” Ulysses said.
“They want the record to start at Parkridge so they control the narrative,” he said.
Dad described G as a gifted child with a high IQ. In six weeks, she ran up a $35,600 bill at Cumberland Hall, which Cristina couldn’t pay, TennCare wouldn’t pay because it was out of state, and Ulysses’ insurance wouldn’t cover it because there was no medical necessity and no prior authorization for the commitment.
“The judge, along with DCS, they have these outside providers that they work with and the state can be billed for it,” he said.
|Youth Villages||$81.2 million|
|Keys Group Holdings||$35.5 million|
DCS paid Parkridge Valley Hospital $9.2 million in 2020. While she was incarcerated there, G was treated by therapist Christy Belew, who tried to brainwash her into accepting her fate—and willingly go back to her Mom’s house—or face indefinite detention. G held out for six weeks. She finally acquiesced and went to her Mom’s house on December 17, 2020.
On February 24, 2021, G was talking to her Dad on the phone and she asked him,” “What am I going to do if they remove you from my life?” “I would die before I would let that happen,” he answered.
By this time Dad had a pretty good idea who he was up against. Mom was conspiring with DCS; DCS lawyer Margaret Parker was conspiring with Judge Barnes and the guardian at litem, Erin Poland. They were all trying to keep Ulysses away from his daughter and declare him a threat to her wellbeing.
But the record shows he’s not.
On February 25, 2021 Ulysses had a trove of subpoenaed records to show Judge Barnes what Jeffries and her minions had been up to. He hoped Barnes would at least dismiss the restraining order so he could go back to 50-50 parenting time.
Erin Poland (left) was appointed Guardian ad Litem by Juvenile Court Judge Tim Barnes (right). DCS attorney Margaret Parker with unidentified Texas Stars fan
But his motion to vacate the restraining order never came up at the hearing.
“They were backtracking to use the legal process to clean up their own mess and scapegoat me for their missteps,” he said.
DCS did not released two months of records crucial to his case but they sent Ulysses records from a different case. Ulysses sent those to Representative Mary Littleton, Chairwoman of the Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee that oversees DCS operations.
When the Feb 25th hearing began, DCS’s Parker immediately started attacking Dad. She told Barnes that Ulysses had violated HIPPA regulations. Barnes agreed with Parker even though it was DCS that released private information. Neither DCS nor Judge Barnes liked Ulysses blowing the whistle on them.
The HIPPA accusation was a red herring but effective because Barnes did not take up the motion to vacate the restraining order. Cases involving protection and restraining orders are usually heard within two weeks. It’s been more than a year and the order is still in place.
“They are doing everything they can to keep it from coming up,” he said.
Ulysses is like a boxer who keeps getting rabbit punched by a dirty fighter and the referee does nothing to stop it. But Ulysses won’t go down.
And he has managed to win a round. Last month, Ulysses filed a motion asking Barnes to recuse himself. He had plenty to say about the judge’s biased mishandling of the case. Barnes has presided over a kangaroo court with paid informants from DCS helping him do their dirty work. Barnes did recuse himself and a new judge, Sharon Massey Grimes, has taken it over.
Ulysses said he would ask Grimes to vacate the restraining order on November 4.