In the latest bit of news highlighting the disgusting nature of American family law, Christopher Butler, a Californian PI, has come under investigation for using honey traps and DUI setups to give wives the edge in custody disputes. Setups are very common in divorce, and are usually aimed at guileless husbands. Manufacturing domestic violence “incidents” is very common, and quite easy when emotions run high. I’ve spoken with men who have noticed strangers staking out their houses when their wives came over, and I’ve personally been subject to provocation while being taped by third parties (it didn’t work). People get dirty in divorce.
However, in most cases setups are carried out by the individuals involved (and often their friends and family). Where this story is different is that a man was running a business and making good money by setting men up during divorces. Although it sounds shocking, I find it difficult to believe that this is an isolated case. Evidently, Mr. Butler would hire attractive women to ply men with drinks and then encourage them to drive somewhere, upon which he would tip off the police and have the men arrested for DUI.
Butler worked not only with the women, but their attorneys as well. His services proved effective in giving wives the advantages they sought in custody cases, which is where the real money comes into play:
Reporting from Martinez, Calif.— David Dutcher met Sharon on Match.com in late 2008, a few months after separating from his wife. “We had a lot in common,” he recalled. Sharon loved four-wheel-drive trucks and sports.
They met for coffee, then dinner. Sharon was tall, slender, blond and beautiful. She moaned that she had not had sex in a long time. She told him he had large, strong hands and wondered if that portended other things. She described his kisses as “yummy.”
On their second date, Sharon suggested they join one of her friends “who was partying because she had closed a real estate deal,” Dutcher said. They drove to an Italian restaurant in a suburb near San Francisco. Sharon’s friend, “Tash,” was a loud and raucous brunet who was pounding down shots.
Sharon had trouble finishing her tequila shots and asked Dutcher to help, he said. When the women went to the bathroom, two men at the other end of the bar peppered Dutcher with questions.
“Are you a celebrity?” they wanted to know.
The women suggested going to a house with a hot tub that Tash was housesitting, Dutcher said. He followed them in his truck. Within a few minutes, a flashing red light appeared in his rearview mirror. The officer said he had been swerving.
Three months later, Dutcher’s wife filed a motion in their divorce case, telling the court that her soon-to-be former husband had been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and that she feared for their children’s safety. The judge ordered that Dutcher’s visits be supervised.
Yes, it is that easy for a man to lose normal access to his children. One mistake during a night out and he will be ordered to have “supervised custody,” which means the children are not allowed to be alone with their father, who is judged too dangerous to be around his own children.
Fortunately, a man who had previously worked for Butler cried foul and an investigation was opened. The FBI got involved, and it emerged that some cops had been taking bribes to arrest the hapless husbands. The women Butler hired were often prostitutes, so the cops may have been receiving sexual services as well.
Butler was flying high — even Dr. Phil promoted him:
In May, the FBI took over the probe, interviewing Dutcher and other ex-husbands arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. A federal grand jury indicted Butler and two of the officers in August and September. The charges included drug dealing, running a prostitution business and illegal possession of a weapon.
More indictments are expected. A third officer, implicated by Butler in the DUIs, faces state charges of accepting bribes to make arrests.
Stunned prosecutors combed through pending criminal cases and eventually dismissed charges in at least 20 DUI and vice crimes, tainted by the involvement of the accused officers. Two of them had once worked with Butler on the police force of the East Bay city of Antioch.
Butler also apparently hoodwinked reporters. His agency received national attention for employing gumshoe “housewives” who juggled soccer games with undercover spying. People magazine and Dr. Phil did stories. An East Bay magazine reporter who went on a ride-along with Butler later discovered that everything he had witnessed had been staged.
It would be hard to imagine a sleazier line of work than separating children from their fathers, but amazingly, in today’s America one can actually be celebrated for such efforts.
As the evidence is collected in the Butler case, hopefully people will become aware of the deep sickness that has come to characterize American family law.