A maternal grandmother, who claimed that her granddaughter’s injuries were not caused by her parents, but the result of a voodoo ritual, was denied custody and visitation by the Appellate Division, First Department. Its June 13, 2013 decision in In re Antoinette McK affirmed the order of New York County Family Court Judge Rhoda J. Cohen.

Judge Cohen had implicitly found that the grandmother had standing to pursue her claim for custody of and/or visitation with the child. However, Judge Cohen had found that an award of custody and/or visitation to the grandmother was not in the best interests of the child.

The First Department noted that during the fact-finding, the grandmother continued to deny that the child had been abused by the parents, but rather that the child’s injuries were sustained in a voodoo ritual undertaken by the Administration for Children’s Services and the granddaughter’s care agency. The grandmother’s letters and emails to the court, counsel and others, also raised concerns about her mental health. Moreover, the grandmother refused to acknowledge the deficiencies of the mother as a parent. The mother, who had been found to have a depraved indifference to the child’s welfare, lived with the grandmother.