Turkish judiciary lets down child victims of sexual assault yet again

A Turkish court recently gave custody of a 10-year-old boy to his abusive father, whose assaults on the child have been documented by professionals in six different reports. Mother Aynur Erzengin has been legally battling to protect her son from the sexual abuse of her ex-husband, a judge, since their divorce in 2014.

Aynur Erzengin is seen holding one of the six forensic or medical reports that demonstrate her ex-husband's abuse of their son.

Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR - Duvar English

Six different forensic reports of sexual abuse by a father identified only as Ş.K. were not enough to stop the Kahramanmaraş Chief Public Prosecutor from granting custody of the child survivor to his father, who managed to tackle all judicial barricades by inserting his influence as a judge. 

The child's mother, Aynur Erzengin, divorced the perpetrator in 2014 and has lost every single legal battle she waged on the perpetrator ever since, as he's managed to reverse court rulings, declare the mother mentally unfit and eventually obtain custody of the child. 

"There are six reports of his sexual abuse. My son was six years old when he talked about his father's abuse," Erzengin said. 

Born in 2010, the child was four years old at the time of their parents' divorce, but Erzengin noticed that he became aggressive after spending time with the perpetrator even if he couldn't express his trauma verbally. 

"I would send the kid over on visitation days but he threatened me saying 'I'll make you regret this, I'll come and take your child from you with a court order,'" the mother said of the perpetrator's attacks on her after the divorce.

Erzengin's son would kick and hit her after his return from the perpetrator's home, which a therapist they saw said was a sign of severe trauma. 

A court initially dismissed Erzengin's testimony to Ş.K.’s abuse of not only their child but other kids as well, on the grounds that her testimony wasn't recorded on video.

The perpetrator later reversed a 2017 court order that barred the child from spending the night with their father until he turned seven, even though the mother obtained a report of his abuse the same year from the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution. 

After a 15-day stay at his father's house, a school counselor told Erzengin to avoid sending the child to stay with his father, as he "told the most awful things."

"The counselor told us to absolutely not allow him to stay with his father and gave me an official report, which I gave to the judge. The child psychiatrist told me to avoid sending him over there too, he told them horrible stories," Erzengin said. 

The perpetrator launched 16 lawsuits for custody of their son, and led to courts' turning down Erzengin's every petition by questioning her mental capacity, she said. 

"The doctor in Kahramanmaraş made an official report too, but the judge sends me to get a mental examination every time I present a report. I'm reported to be mentally sound. There are six reports of his abuse." 

The perpetrator waged a legal battle on Erzengin with a shocking 32 lawsuits, all of which she says he won; he even managed to win a damages suit for 45,000-liras against the mother. 

"The Adana court decided he couldn't come near my son because of the report of his abuse, he reversed that too. I begged the Kahramanmaraş judge, now the same judge is looking at [the perpetrator's] custody case."

The Kahramanmaraş judge has not only failed to rule against the clearly-documented perpetrator but also failed to provide protection for the child during the custody case, Erzengin added. 

"We'll show the prosecutor and the police [the perpetrator's] threatening messages, we show what was done to my son. The Kahramanmaraş judge still told me off at his doorstep."

The Kahramanmaraş Chief Public Prosecutor's Office granted the perpetrator custody of the survivor, despite having a statement on record where the latter clearly reported his father's repeated abuse, as well as being threatened with a knife to not disclose the assaults. 

A defendant against charges as serious as child sexual abuse should be removed from their post, no matter their title, Erzengin's attorney in the sexual abuse case in Adana, Mert Bilge Demir, said.

"That's where the problem starts, at its core. It makes you question whether justice works correctly," Demir noted.

12 yrs for abuser of child who died from post traumatic heart attack

Separately, a court in the Aegean province of İzmir sentenced a child abuser who led to the ultimate death of the victim to a mere 12 years in prison, prompting public outcry over the short sentence.

Fifty-seven-year-old Tuncay Ç. assaulted nine-year-old Yağmur K. on July 29, 2016 in İzmir's Bornova district, which the survivor reported to her mother immediately after.

Tragically, the survivor died of a heart attack brought on by stress two days before the first hearing in the lawsuit against perpetrator Tuncay Ç. on Nov. 21, 2016. 

Tuncay Ç. was also accused of assaulting two children in the Aegean province of Muğla later on but received a mere 12-year prison sentence on Dec. 14. 

Aegean correspondent for the daily Cumhuriyet, Tuncay Mollaveisoğlu noted that Yağmur K's death was partly the responsibility of the Turkish judiciary system.

"Aren't those who brought that poor child face-to-face with that pervert responsible?!" Mollaveisoğlu wrote.