Letter To the Editor


"Your goal in the dilemma as a custodial parent to your children is to strip permanently and forever, irrevocably, any rights of the children with their mother; is that what I heard you say?"

My name is Sarah Elizabeth Schottenstein and I have more courage than any adult in Columbus [Ohio] with the possible exception of my mother. I am sixteen years old, an honor student and I am here to tell you that my father, Steven Schottenstein, is a child abuser who has used physical violence on every member of my family. He has pushed, hit, thrown, twisted arms, choked, and smothered us. My father has used intimidation, isolation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, legal abuse and this past year has even had me locked up in institutions to cover up his actions. I am compelled to use the press to make known the crimes that have been committed against my family and me by my father because no one in the courts, especially Judge Jim Mason, will listen to my story. No one in Columbus will stand up to one of the richest men in town. They are all cowards.

When I was a student at the Columbus School for Girls, I won the Citizenship Award. My younger sister Abby, just received the same honor this past June.

None of that matters in Judge Mason's court. In 1998 my mother filed for divorce in order to protect us from my abusive father. My father dragged her back into court in a custody battle. Children's voices weren't heard in Judge Mason's courtroom. We were treated as non-existent individuals and forced against our will to be with my father. When we ran to our mother, my father had her jailed.

My mother was denied her rightful interest in my father's company. They were married for fifteen years. My mother raised us, while my father built up MI Schottenstein Homes. He became one of the richest men in this city. He makes 2.5 million dollars a year and has never paid a penny of child support in three years.

Steven Schottenstein, Corporate Chief Operating Officer at MI Schottenstein Homes, has failed his responsibilities as a father, a parent. He was a weekend father who felt he had to dominate everything to ensure he had absolute control. When my mother fought for our freedom, my father responded with a barrage of well-orchestrated litigation. He manipulated facts to decimate my mother, my sisters and me.

Why are we the only ones with enough courage to stand up to this bully?

My Aunt Jeanie Schottenstein, who co-chairs the domestic violence league, refused to help. She is the wife of Jay Schottenstein, Value City Owner, and close friend to my father.  The Columbus Dispatch failed to act. Joel Chow from NBC turned his head too. Ronald Solove, my previous Guardian at litem, was also an ex-employee of the family law firm, Schottenstein Zox and Dunn. Mr. Solove neglected to listen to my sisters and my wishes and desires. He sided with my father. He crucified my mother, and helped sentence my mother to jail. This man destroyed the best years of my life, along with my family. Rhonda Schottenstein, my stepmother, signed the check which had me admitted into Cross Creek Manor, a juvenile delinquent camp. Dr. Steven Beck, a psychologist,  wrote a personal letter to Judge Jim Mason that admitted me into Menniger Clinic, under false pretenses.  He refused to testify about it.  Barry H. Wolinetz, my abusive father's well-paid attorney, verbally attacked me in court, while I was testifying. My attorney had been fired.

No one wanted to fight a Schottenstein except us - his victims. Will nobody help? Will nobody stand up? A week after teachers from Columbus School for Girls had written letters of praise on my behalf about my achievements, my father had me locked up, first in Cross Creek Manor in Utah. There I was surrounded by suicidal teens, drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes. The staff berated me, I had no contact with anyone, I was isolated from society; it was as though I didn't exist. Later my father had me moved to the Menninger Clinic, a psychiatric hospital in Kansas. They attempted to brainwash me, took every ounce of freedom I was ever granted, and forced me to live with a coke addict. My mail was monitored and so was every phone call with my mother, and my two younger sisters.

We are going back to court again. This time Judge James. W. Mason should disqualify himself. We - the children - are not irrelevant. This judge received eight citations of error for his prior decisions on our case. The Franklin County, Ohio, Tenth Appellate District stated," We no longer live in a time when children are mere chattels, with no rights and no inherent merit. We no longer live in a time when maxims such as 'spare the rod and spoil the child' are generally accepted. Instead, a parent who uses a rod is at real risk of child abuse charges, and/or loss of custody through juvenile court proceedings. "

I, Sarah Elizabeth Schottenstein, am a citizen of our United States of America. I am entitled by our United States Constitution to express my wishes and desires, to be treated equally, and be respected by every human being. Shame on those who think otherwise, and don't believe in justice. A promise I must propose, I will take on the responsibility, with the help of others, to ensure that children don't live in a world of violence; but more importantly are able to be free. Free from manipulation, money, power and control. Children's Rights are here to stay!

Sarah Elizabeth Schottenstein © 2001