Orange County court ignores abundant evidence of abuse, gives children to father

Robert J Hansen
Julie Holburn (left center) running from her ex-husband, William Holburn with her two children in Costa Mesa, California on March 13, 2021.Photo by(Courtesy of Julie Holburn)

Julie Holburn had full custody of her two children since she divorced their father, William Holburn in 2012 until last November after an Orange County judge reversed the custody order.

Julie only gets one supervised visit a week for three hours with her children and Mr. Holburn was given full custody.

“I feel like my heart has been ripped out of me,” Julie said. “It makes no sense.”

Since their divorce, Julie has had a protective restraining order against Mr. Holburn who has violated those orders over a dozen times between 2014 and 2021, according to court records. Mr. Holburn has withheld their two children several times and records show a history of child abuse.

Between 2014 and 2022, Julie had full custody of the children but when Orange County Judge James L. Waltz took over the case in October 2022, he vacated the restraining order, claimed Julie was “alienating” the children from their father and completely disrupted the children’s established routine.

Citing a CPS report, Judge Waltz told Julie that her “hysteria” caused the chase and attack and that she is a “bully” for writing formal complaints to internal affairs and the attorney general’s office.

“[Waltz] cites that I am guilty of “parental alienation” and that the kids have false memories,” Julie said. “That the abuse is all made up.”

Although parental alienation has never been accepted as a psychiatric disorder by the medical community, mental health professionals, specifically those who specialize in custody cases, assess and treat it throughout the United States. 

Judges nearly always make rulings based on the advice of these non-licensed professionals.

University of Irvine professor Jacquelynne Eccles, an expert in adolescent development said what the judge did is one of the most harmful things that could happen to a child’s development.

“Taking children away from their established routine and a safe environment and completely flipping their lives upside down is incredibly harmful to children,” Eccles said.

The court accused Julie of parental alienation after she raised allegations of abuse relating to a March 2021 incident that was captured on video.

In March 2021, Mr. Holburn did not return the two children to their mother for a few days.  After three days, Julie and her adult son went to bring them home.

The two children started to run for their mother and brother when they saw them outside in the parking lot. Mr. Holburn grabbed at and tried to restrain the children and started to chase after them when they broke free, the video shows.

An anonymous 911 caller said she saw Julie running down the street being chased by Mr. Holburn who was “grabbing” at them.

“This guy was walking, or I guess kind of running after them and grabbing them,” the caller said. “The kids were still screaming and before I knew it the older kid was beating the guy to get him off of them because he was grabbing them. I called because the kids were like, screaming.”

When Costa Mesa police arrived, they questioned everyone but no arrests were made.

In the body cam videos, Costa Mesa police are never seen treating Julie or the two minor children as victims or asking if they are hurt.

Nadine Katibloo, the family therapist, sees Julie’s daughter alone and with her brother. 

Katibloo wrote in a letter in August 2021, stating that Mr. Holburn's emails and phone calls have become very aggressive and threatening over time. 

Because of what the children have shared with me during their therapy sessions, which were remote and in person, it is not in the children's best interest for her to share the content of my sessions or any records with Mr. Holburn, Katibloo wrote.

“It is my recommendation that it is not safe or in their best interest to have in-person visitation with Mr. Holburn at this time,” Katibloo wrote.

Katibloo wrote in an email that the daughter has indicated that she doesn't like visiting with her dad because he is mean to her brother and hit their mom when they were running away from him.

Both children have told mediators about the abuse they experienced from their father and that their preference is to live with their mother. Judge Waltz has so far ignored those preferences. 

Judge Waltz said at a May 5 custody hearing that he is only concerned about the best interests of the children and the interests of the parents are not relevant.

The hearing was postponed to include the testimony of a reunification therapist.

Mr. Holburn also owes Julie about $80,000 in child support that he has not been forced to pay nor has the court shown any concern for.
Orange County records showing William Holburn owes Julie Holburn $80,000 in child support.Photo by(Screenshot by Robert J. Hansen)

Mr. Holburn’s pattern of making threats

Mr. Holburn has threatened Julie’s doctors, therapists, court watchers, boyfriends and even journalists over the past several years and as recently as early this month.

Psychotherapist Ari Novick said he was contacted by Mr. Holburn on April 1, 2016. 

Mr. Holburn left a voice message at his office and when Novick returned his phone call, Mr. Holburn questioned him about whether or not Julie was a patient and who had been paying her counseling fees. 

“He also asked questions about whether or not I was treating his children,” Novick wrote. When I was unwilling to provide detailed answers to his questions, he threatened to take legal action, if needed.”

After Ms. Holbun brought her children in for a consultation, he referred her to a child psychologist.

“While I do treat children in my practice, I felt it would be in the children's best interest to be seenby someone who specifically works with young children and divorce,” Novick wrote.

Mr. Holburn also accused Dr. Novcik of being a "personal friend" of Ms. Holburn. 

“I am not friends with Ms. Holburn. We have a professional relationship and I have never seen her outside of her scheduled counseling sessions at my office,” Novick wrote.

Mr. Holburn threatened the father of children who are friends with his two children in 2022, text messages show.

Daniel Bonaventure, the father of Julie’s kids’ friends, was threatened by Mr. Holburn with legal action for not responding to a text message from him.

“Hi Daniel, I did not receive any response to my message. My attorney will contact you and Tabitha to discover what is going on,” Holburn wrote.
Text messages between Daniel Bonaventure and William Holburn.Photo by(Courtesy of Julie Holburn)

Bonaventure stopped communicating with Julie because of Mr. Holburn’s behavior.

“Your ex is a psycho. I hope you can use this against him, but I will not allow my kids or myself to be looped into his circus,” Bonaventure said.

Family therapist Michael Uram has also faced threats from Mr. Holburn.

“Please do email me back with clarification regarding the court order for Will having access to records and you having sole legal custody. He has escalated his threats recently,” Uram said in a 2021 email.

Mr. Holburn was contacted for his version of events but chose to make baseless allegations of defamation and threats of legal action.

“I will need your communication records with the respondent in this case. Once again, please provide your address so you can be served,” Mr. Holburn said.

When asked why the video shows his children and ex-wife running away from him in fear and why his children seem terrified of him, Mr. Holburn threatened this journalist with legal repercussions.

“I have simply asked you to provide contact info so I can serve you with legal documents. You have refused to assist and I will let the court know when it is time,” Mr. Holburn wrote in a recent email.

The DOJ first adopted a new policy in July 2021, prohibiting the use of subpoenas, warrants, court orders and other compulsory legal process to obtain information from journalists when they're acting within the scope of their newsgathering duties, according to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The new regulations only allow prosecutors to subpoena records in certain circumstances, including if the information they are seeking is imperative to prevent a serious crime, if the journalist themselves are the target of an investigation, if the records involve already public information or if the journalist agrees to the disclosure of their records.

Julie and Mr. Holburn's next court hearing is Friday, May 19.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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