exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Letter from Scott M. Hollander, executive director KidsVoice, to State Bar of Georgia


May 17, 2007

Carmen Rojas Rafter

Grievance Counsel

State Bar of Georgia

Office of the General Counsel

104 Marietta St. N.W., Suite 1000

Atlanta, GA 30303

Re: Grievances by James Marsh and Diane M Sternlieb Regarding Representation of Masha Allen

Dear Ms. Rojas Rafter:

I serve in the capacity of Executive Director of Kids Voice, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to abused and neglected children. I write concerning the above-referenced grievances to clarify and correct certain statements attributed to me in a letter addressed to you by Diane Sternlieb, Esq. dated April 29, 2007.

First, let me clarify that Masha Allen is a former client of KidsVoice. Faith Allen was not and has never been a client of this office or of mine.

When Mr. Marsh wrote to me in October and November about his concern regarding Masha's safety and disappearance, both former KidsVoice attorney Linell Lee and I attempted to assist in locating Masha. We contacted several individuals in trying to ascertain Masha's whereabouts and communicated some of the concerns raised in Mr. Marsh's emails to those individuals.

I was later contacted by Ms. Sternlieb, who indicated that she represented Masha and Faith in their claims against Mr. Marsh and had learned from Judge Cheryl Allen about the emails I had received from Mr. Marsh. Judge Allen, a member of the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, was one of the individuals we contacted in trying to locate Masha.

When I spoke with Ms. Sternlieb, I did disclose that Mr. Marsh was a law school classmate of mine. I declined Ms. Sternlieb' s request that I send copies of Mr. Marsh's emails to her. I also declined to send Masha's file based upon Ms. Sternlieb's request, while acknowledging that Masha, as a former client, was entitled under the ethics rules in Pennsylvania to her file

I later received a letter from Masha -requesting that I send to Ms. Sternlieb, a copy of the KidsVoice file, including the related correspondence from Mr. Marsh, all of which I sent. I have served for years as an appointed member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association

Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee, and as a member of that committee am familiar with the obligations imposed by the rules and the ethics opinions on retention of client files, including attached PBA Formal Opinion 07-100, which was issued this year.

Ms. Sternlieb and I discussed the question of my testifying in the case. I stated that I would not voluntarily testify. I further stated that one of the reasons I did not wish to testify -- in addition to my personal and professional relationship with Mr. Marsh -- was that in being  subpoenaed and forced to testify I would be put in the undesirable position of discussing our office's strong disagreement with Faith Allen's decision to publicize Masha's sexual abuse in the media, which was something that we have always believed was contrary to Masha's best interests and well-being. On that point, I did say to Ms. Sternlieb that I-- and others who had been involved with Masha and Faith -- were concerned that Faith's own issues related to her sexual abuse impacted the decisions she made for Masha, especially regarding her decisions to publicize the circumstances and details of Masha's abuse, a decision with which so many of us disagreed..

When Ms. Sternlieb suggested to me that it was Mr. Marsh who had persuaded Faith to publicize Masha's case, I responded that Faith's publicity efforts began well before Mr. Marsh ever was involved in the case. I did acknowledge that Mr. Marsh and I have fundamentally different philosophies about the appropriate use of media and publicity in our clients' cases, and that it is my position and that of our office that there are many potential harms to publicizing a child's history of abuse and neglect. It is also our position that the media should treat abused and neglected children in the same way as adult victims of sexual assault and rape by not disclosing their identities. I did say to Ms. Sternlieb that Mr. Marsh is a passionate and strong advocate for children, that he has a different perspective than me on some issues, and that he has always spoken publicly about his own experience as a child and about the circumstances around his adoption as being part of his work and perspective.

I did not imply or state, as Ms. Stemlieb reports, that I felt "James to be unstable, as he also was adopted as a child." Moreover, such a statement is contrary and insulting to my work, my clients, and to my own personal values, circumstances, beliefs and actions. Similarly, I did not state that I believed that James was too emotionally involved in the case to behave in a rational or objective manner.

Until last week:, I was not aware of any Juvenile or Superior Court cases involving Masha in Georgia, or that Ms. Sternlieb was Masha's appointed GAL in those cases. I was aware of the Georgia DFACS investigation of Masha's care, but did not know that this resulted in a court proceeding. As I was unaware of these cases until last week, I did not speak with Ms. Sternlieb about her or anyone else's role as GAL in those cases.

I disagree with other aspects of Ms. Sternlieb's statement that: "The original Guardian ad litem in the federal case regarding Masha, Scott Hollander, contacted me and informed me that he was willing to testify for Faith against Marsh as he had been receiving "disturbing emails from James after Ms .. Allen terminated his services." That statement could be interpreted as saying that I was the one who initiated contact with Ms. Sternlieb when she was the one who first called me. I returned her call.

I did not say that I had received "disturbing emails from James after Ms. Allen terminated his services." In contacting several individuals in trying to ascertain Masha's whereabouts and communicating some of the concerns raised in Mr. Marsh's emails to those individuals, I did describe the emails as disturbing. But what was disturbing, and what motivated me to try to find Masha, was the description of Masha's mental health and well being, and particularly the reported suicidal conduct. That was what disturbed me about the emails, not that they were sent to me by Mr. Marsh nor that they might have been sent at some point after his representation was terminated.

As I mentioned above, neither KidsVoice nor I ever represented Faith Allen. She is not a former or current client. The statement that "Faith is also being assisted by Judge Allen and Mr. Scott Hollander in pursuing all claims against Marsh and his cohorts" is not true in regards to me or KidsVoice. Nor is it accurate that "Mr. Hollander remains active in assisting Faith seek justice in this matter" Faith did contact me to request my assistance in helping her and Masha find a new attorney after Ms. Sternlieb terminated her representation of them. I did let Faith know that I was unable to provide any assistance in finding another attorney.

Again, the intention of this letter is clarify and correct certain statements attributed to me in Ms. Sternlieb's letter to you. It is not my intention to take any position as to the merits of the allegations in the grievances, which are the province of your office to duly investigate. Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing this letter.


Scott M. Hollander

Executive Director

2007 May 17


Hollander Letter.pdf (106769 Bytes)