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Protective Mom Finds Her Voice in Judge Norblad's Courtroom: No More Fear

What I Said to the Judge Who Took Away my Baby & Children

Coral Theill on the witness stand in Circuit Court - Questioned by Judge Albin Norblad, Salem, Oregon, Marion County Courthouse

Court Hearing October 1996 - INHUMANE, CRUEL AND OBSCENE


The first day I realized I had no more fear of those who wished to harm me was in October 1996, during my divorce hearing in Salem, Oregon. Judge Albin Norblad, Circuit Court Judge of Oregon, arrogantly asked me what I had done with myself since he had taken my nursing infant and children from me six months earlier.*

I said, "Well, your honor, I worked two jobs (80 hour work weeks), stayed in touch with counselors and good friends, and enrolled in exercise classes. But, your honor, I just want to say one thing, "If you take a baby from a mother who does not have a good support group, you will be dredging her out of the Willamette River." He was shocked I would be so bold, but I was putting out a warning that what he did to me on March 10, 1996, was beyond cruel. His actions were inhumane.

Photo: Coral Theill with her eighth baby, Zachary David Warner, July 1995, five months before Judge Norblad removed Coral's nursing baby from her via court order when she sought safety and a divorce.

Judge Norblad laughed in court with my ex-husband about my fertility and the rapes I had suffered. I heard from numerous mothers throughout the years who had read my published memoir. Judge Norblad had also abused them in court. He consistently removed babies and children from nurturing, loving mothers and gave custody of children to the mother's abuser during his 30 year career. He died last year after falling down the stairs. He was 74 years old. He was arrested for drunk driving and suspended for one month. He was known as "the hanging judge" due to his harsh judgments. Judge Norblad is mentioned in a report, "Worst Judges."

Two hundred years ago a system of legal slavery allowed for the ownership of human beings as if they were livestock. Children were ripped away from their mothers with as little consideration as separating a calf from a cow. In this country today, extreme forms of paternalistic religion promote an institutional form of slavery where a woman must be totally obedient to a husband who has absolute control of her life. The wife’s lot is to obey and bear children. If she rebels and chooses to save herself by escaping from this life, the father—supported by the church community and often by the court system, can forcibly strip a child away from the mother.

On March 10, 1996, I was forced, by an Order of the Court, and by my ex-husband, Marty Warner, his attorney, his family and religious supporters, to do something that raged against my good conscience, my common sense and against all my motherly instincts. After a temporary custody hearing, a Court Order signed by Judge Albin Norblad forcibly removed my nursing baby and two youngest children from me. I obeyed the Court Order and gave my children over to my ex-husband. I drove to the hospital, rented a breast-pump and later collapsed and went into shock. I could not understand what had happened and why. I have not yet recovered from the shock; perhaps I never will....

The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.

The treatment I received in Oregon’s courts was more abuse and humiliation. Sexual crimes I endured as a child, my breakdown, my fertility and the ‘rape’ by my husband all became subjects for ridicule in court. Oregon Circuit Court Judge Albin Norblad laughed when he heard I became pregnant when my husband raped me. My husband got custody of all eight children, including my nursing infant, and I was ordered to pay child support!

Removing a mother’s children from her, when she has committed no crime, is cruel and unusual punishment. The physical, mental, and emotional toll of surviving the negligence, abuse and trauma from the individuals who are part of my story will last forever. Although I risked everything to escape from my ex-husband, and in some ways I lost everything, I have never been more sane or more sure that the choices I made were the only choices I could make and survive.

A judge’s signature on a white sheet of paper can be a shattering experience for an individual. I believe judges in America will continue to use their absolute power until people wake up from their “huddled fear”. A non-custodial mother remarks: “to lose one’s children in such a way would unmake any woman.” And it is true. Taking a woman’s children is the last great punishment an abuser can scar them with. To be publicly and permanently branded ‘unfit’ is a new scarlet letter. It can and will scar an entire family for life.

"Losing Custody of your child is shameful and elicits public condemnation. It is also the symbol of "patriarchal ownership" that exists still today. The chattel laws of the past are very much alive and the only women who retain custody after divorce are those whose husbands did not fight. When we divorce in this society, we are divorcing the protection of marriage, like an umbrella, the rights given to men were shared with the wife. Once divorced, we are not protected under the law and, therefore, our children are not protected either. Nor do we have a rightful claim to the children we birthed. We are set adrift in a society still clinging to archaic practices. The manipulation and retaliation, the denial and complicit behavior of community are foundations in patriarchal society where male superiority is king, and women who fight back against this rule are punished severely. Mothers desperately, both individually and collectively, need to be vindicated and our good names restored." - Melissa Barnett, Mothers of Lost Children Advocate

As long as society, victim advocate groups and the judicial system, chooses to turn a blind eye whenever control and manipulation tactics are practiced by a custodial parent through courtroom litigation in order to separate child from mother; and refuses to act against this lowest and most hateful form of spousal revenge, justice cannot be served. As long as those who hold the power fail to acknowledge and support the rights of non-custodial parents, justice cannot be achieved.

LIFE Magazine, USA Today and many other magazines have featured articles on women in prison in America. They report that women prisoners are allowed to keep their babies with them for eighteen months while serving their sentences, (Florida Statute 944.24). I am haunted by this single question. Why was I treated lower than a criminal by Oregon's judicial law system? I was a faithful wife and mother for almost twenty years. Presently, I have fewer rights than a criminal in America and I have no criminal record and have no history of alcohol, drug or child abuse.

Loving non-custodial mothers face a stigma in society that is reprehensible and unjust. People assume these mothers do not have custody because they are drug addicts, alcoholics, child abusers, or they just didn't want their children. While there certainly are cases of abusive mothers who give up their children, and walked away, in more and more cases today, fit and loving mothers are losing custody of their children against their will.

Losing permanent custody and visitation of your children feels like being doused in oil and set on fire. Healing is slow and difficult. The pain never goes away. One doctor describes removing a nursing infant from a mother similar to castrating a man. I still wake up with night terrors. The memory of being forced to give up my children is a continual torment to my body, mind and soul.

Forcibly taking a mother's children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of 'mis-use' of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.

What I experienced during my childhood, in my marriage, in the churches and the court system amounts to nothing less than hate crimes with a gender bias.

My case speaks loudly of the insidious crimes that are legally permitted and condoned under the guise of church and state-sanctioned domination of males in marriage. The message that the current judicial system gives to many domestic violence and rape victims is that they are not worthy, and that no one cares. This needs to change.

It has long been known by those who seek power over others, Hitler, the Taliban, Genghis Kahn and many others throughout history, that the way to destroy a population is to destroy their connections to their past.

The men who would destroy women are not necessarily destroying only the mothers, their intent is to destroy the child. The mother is but a tool in this quest, a tool that serves as proof of the man's past. He must destroy her to break the connection and reeducate the child into a likeness of himself, or destroy the child trying.

It should be a goal of every court to uncover the past of any man who seeks custody of a child, an unnatural position for a male. Was he himself abused and now seeks to remake his own childhood through his offspring?

What of the people who help him in this endeavor? American society is the least giving of all modern societies, so the motivations of those who would place a child in an unnatural situation must be scrutinized. To seek power over groups of others, as is the case with lawyers, "experts", police and judges, they must have the tendencies of a narcissist, a sociopath or a psychopath as a result of treatment they received as a child. They suffer from Stockholm syndrome, identifying with the abusive person, stemming from the abuse they suffered.

About the Author: Coral Anika Theill's published works address abuse and trauma recovery and most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines and service members recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, professors and authors.

BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. In July 2011 Coral received the Lester Granger Award from the National Montford Point Marine Association. In 2002 she received a Writer's Award from iUniverse Publishing Co. She is also a contributing writer for Leatherneck Magazine and Short Rations for Marines. Her October 2011 Leatherneck Magazine article, "Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI," is cited in the U.S. Army War College "Psychological Health Notes."

Ms. Theill is a survivor of childhood sex trafficking, molestation and abuse, rape, domestic violence, marital rape, spiritual abuse, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. Before her marriage, she was co-valedictorian of her high school class, completed pilot training and ground school (age 17) and worked as a court reporter and legal secretary. She survived twenty years of domestic violence and now lives under a “state address protection program” from her former husband, Marty Warner of Independence, Oregon.

*I own copies of all the court audio and video tapes including this court hearing as well as 44 additional court hearings from 1996-2015. Read complimentary copy of Coral Anika Theill's published memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark.

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