The order is for the purpose of protecting the man and the former couple’s 11-year-old son, who hasn’t seen his mother in more than a year. She is entitled to scheduled visits under a court-ordered American parenting plan that is also recognised by Cook Islands law, but the man says she skipped her visit last year.
The couple had been living together in the States until their separation nine years ago. The man has had full custody of their son for three years.
He remarried two years ago and moved back to Rarotonga with his son and new wife last year. His ex-wife was required to submit to court-ordered treatment for mental health issues before seeing their son.
Earlier this year the man received word that his ex-wife and her new boyfriend were planning to sail from the US to Rarotonga.
“They said they were planning on coming here to kidnap (my son), or to take him, and also he sent me a text message saying, ‘Dig your grave, I’m coming to get you with everything I’ve got’,” the man told CINews.
“So we got a protection order for us before they even arrived. And then they arrived on their boat, so the minute they got off they got served.”
Since her arrival, the man says his ex-wife has repeatedly broken the protection order, which among other things specifies that she must not “emotionally, verbally, or psychologically abuse” the man or his son.
After repeated but fruitless visits to the police station to inform them of his ex-wife’s actions – “I hate trying to tell anyone at the police department what emotional abuse is,” he told CINews, the man eventually submitted a written statement to the police on May 8, but still has yet to hear anything back.
That statement listed a number of alleged incidents illustrating his ex-wife’s violations of the protection order, including her spreading rumours about the man sexually abusing other people’s children, making accusations that he kidnapped her son, and verbally abusing the man’s elderly parents in public.
He has also been the subject of several false allegations made by his ex-wife to Cook Islands Police, including that he had threatened to kill his ex-wife and her new partner, and that he left a knife on their boat in the early hours of the morning.
These allegations resulted in the police making four visits to the man’s residence, all of which occurred while his son was home.
“Deliberately making a number of false accusations against me is a violation of the protection order as it causes emotional and psychological abuse,” he said. “I feel as though everyone is listening and acting upon what (she) is saying and yet I have the child and protection order and get no support.
“My biggest concern is my son,” he added, going on to describe “the negative effects this situation is having on my son and his 11-year-old ability to handle this”.
“When you affect a child’s sleep and concentration at school due to stress then you have proof of emotional and psychological abuse.”
Asked for comment on the situation, a police spokesman initially told CINews that, “in this particular case, the PO (protection order) provides for protection by stipulating distance and prohibiting direct communications”.
“The police can only enforce the conditions provided under the PO. If the complainant has raised additional matters, it will be up to the court to issue new conditions.
“The police are aware that this particular dispute is ongoing and that any complaints arising from those involved are followed up – upon the lodging of those complaints.”
After the man lodged his written statement with police on May 8, CINews sought further comment and were told that, “police are aware of the ongoing nature of this particular dispute, and there is information that won’t be shared publicly”.
“There is ongoing monitoring of the people involved. Other than that, the police will apply the court order as appropriate.”