Grief-Stricken Father Jailed for Social Media Posts Criticizing Court System After Son Dies in Mother’s Care
A grieving father, robbed of his now deceased son by the notoriously unjust family court system, is being held in a Michigan jail for making social media posts about a judge he believes put his baby boy in harm’s way.
Jonathan Vanderhagen lost a custody battle for his son over two years ago, and his son died shortly after while in his mother’s custody. He had warned the court about the mother’s history of unstable behavior, but his pleas were ultimately ignored by the female judge and court referee.
Deborah Vanderhagen, Jonathan’s mother, is raising awareness about what she feels is a grave injustice that is being committed against her son.
“His lawyer said something is going to happen to this child. You need to get him away from the mother. There are too many red flags. And the judge said, oh that is in the past,” said Deborah Vanderhagen.
A police report filed following the untimely death of two-year-old Killian cleared his mother from liability in his death, but the Vanderhagen family disagrees strongly with that assessment. They feel that if Killian was taken care of properly, he may be alive today.
“He was so full of life,” Deborah Vanderhagen said while recalling memories of her beloved grandson. “I am trying not to cry.”
Jonathan Vanderhagen was vocal about his anguish on social media, assigning blame toward Judge Rachel Rancilio for granting sole custody of Killian to his mother. As a result, Rancilio complained about her safety, and the Macomb County Sheriff’s office charged Jonathan with malicious use of telecommunications services as a result.
“Dada back to digging and you best believe I’m gonna dig up all the skeletons in this court’s closet,” Jonathan wrote in one social media post that is being used against him by prosecutors.
He refused to be muzzled despite the court infringing upon his 1st Amendment rights. He went back on social media and continued to raise public awareness about corruption the court following his arrest.
For refusing to be silenced, a judge determined that Jonathan Vanderhagen violated his bond conditions. He was placed in jail on an astronomical half a million dollars bond, more than what is recommended in for rapists and murderers in many cases.
“He just wants justice. He don’t want to kill anybody. He don’t want anybody physically hurt. He wants them to acknowledge what they’ve done and get justice,” said Deborah Vanderhagen.
Jonathan’s attorney, Nicholas Somberg, believes that this is an egregious case of government overreach meant to silence a public opponent of judicial tyranny and scare away other potential whistle-blowers.
“This case is about the 1st Amendment and every person’s freedom to criticize and redress our grievances against the government in a public forum,” Somberg said to Big League Politics. “Mr. Vandenhagen is a father grieving the death of his son and speaking out against the system that failed both of them. He has never threatened anybody, has no criminal history, and is no flight risk.”
“A $500,000 cash bond is what you would expect for a murderer or rapist. I can’t think of any other reason to set such an astronomically high bond other than to intimidate and punish him for his speech. We are fighting this case not just for my client but to defend the constitutional rights of all of us,” Somberg added.
The jury trial against Jonathan Vanderhagen is scheduled to begin on September 13.