Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Girl’s dad plans libel suit against mother
The father of the 12-year-old girl whose Facebook flogging post has created a firestorm of comments over discipline has disputed her mother’s claim that he was a deadbeat dad. He spoke on Vibe CT 105.1 FM’s Mixed Nuts morning programme yesterday but declined to reveal his name due to his occupation. The man said he had always been there for his children. However, he admitted since his separation from Helen Bartlett, the mother of the children there were some problems which hindered his communication with his two daughters. He said he was only made aware of the incident when someone called him and alerted him to the video of Bartlett beating the child with a belt which has since gone viral on YouTube and Facebook.
In a telephone interview yesterday, a close relative of the father told the T&T Guardian, via telephone, the father met with an attorney yesterday and they have started the process of filing a libel lawsuit against Bartlett. “He met with his lawyer and we have a strong case because she has scandalised his name and have borne false witness against him. Legal action is being prepared. It is already in process,” she said. Asked whether he would be applying for custody of his children, the relative said the court had already awarded legal custody to the mother. “The children will still want their mother in their lives,” she added.
During a radio interview with i95.5 FM hosts Dale Enoch and Tony Lee on Wednesday, Bartlett said she was yet to hear from the child’s father. Bartlett said the father had refused to get involved in the matter. The relative said: “He can’t get them so right now he is trying to see about his name. This has rocked the family. It had shocked him. He is traumatised and hurt by this.”
The relative said that because the child’s father is a police officer, both of them would remain anonymous until necessary. The viral video of the Bartlett beating her daughter stemmed from a text message she received informing her that a teenage boy was trying to persuade the girl to have sex. After searching her daughter’s Facebook profile, she found seductive photos of her daughter. Although Bartlett’s action and the video have been criticised by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, police and other public figures, there has been support for the mother on social networking sites.