A Michigan man is in jail after making social media posts
blaming a judge for the death of his son.
In September 2017, Jonathan Vanderhagen’s two-year-old son Killian passed away while in the care of his mother. Vanderhagen had previously lost a legal battle in which he petitioned for sole custody of the child, citing the unfitness of Killian’s mother.
Police found there was no evidence Killian’s mother was responsible for his death. Vanderhagen does not agree.
Following his son’s death, the grieving dad made several posts on social media criticizing Rachel Rancilio, the Macombo County Judge who handled his case.
One post read: “Time to speak up about my personal experience of corruption in in Macomb County FOC. The shady game Judge Rachel Rancilio & Mary Duross (14 yr vet of FOC) played with the life of my son.”
According to ABC affiliate WXYZ, Rancilio contacted authorities after she saw the posts and felt threatened. Investigators from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office looked into the offending posts and found no evidence that Vanderhagen had made any threats, according to court documents.
That didn’t stop officials from charging Vanderhagen with malicious use of telecommunications services in July and letting him out on bond. But he continued to criticize Rancilio on social media after his release.
“Dada back to digging and you best believe I’m gonna dig up all the skeletons in this court’s closet,” Vanderhagen wrote in one post.
Vanderhagen was jailed after a judge ruled he’d violated the conditions of his bond. His new bond is $500,000.
Deborah Vanderhagen, Jonathan’s mother, told WXYZ in an interview aired this week that her son “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,” she said.
In a reply on Facebook to a friend commenting on his case in July by asking, “What happened to freedom of speech,” Vanderhagen said: “Exactly. The truth hurts that’s what it is.”
A jury trial for the misdemeanor offense Vanderhagen is charged with is scheduled for mid-September.
Jonathan Vanderhagen and other controversies over male parental rights
Some advocates of male parental rights argue that systemic injustices against fathers exist in the legal system. These groups at times overlap with the controversial MRA movement, whose members say that feminist and progressive pushes for equality have resulted in systemic injustices against men and fathers.
As evidence, they point to cases such as Vanderhagen’s and the one involving Phoenix attorney Ruby Torres.
In March, the Arizona appeals court ruled that Torres could impregnate herself with embryos she and her ex-husband had preserved during their marriage. Despite his objections to the plan, the ex, John Terrell, could even be required to pay child support.
“It is, of course, true that if Torres were awarded the embryos, Terrell could be legally responsible to financially support the children,” the ruling stated. “That reality is the same today as it was when the parties executed the (in vitro fertilization) agreement nearly four years ago.”
Meanwhile, last month a Florida man complained that the state was declining to reduce his child support payments, even though he’d been awarded temporary custody of his son after the boy’s mother allegedly overdosed on cocaine while pregnant.
A judge ruled he violated his bond conditions. He now is in jail on half a million dollars bond.
His mom says she feels he simply was exercising his right to free speech.
“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.
A jury trial is scheduled for September 13.
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