He is a predator, now what about the kids?

Michael Terpening 2003 Arrest
November 4, 2012

Mrs. Terpening, along with Michael, still face a possible jury trial in Family Court on a petition to terminate their parental rights to their eight children, five of whom were adopted from the foster care system and for which the Terpenings are receiving monthly tax free stipends for what may be more than $5,000 since the children are in a sibling group and at least one has special needs.

As a matter of law Michael Terpening will lose his parental rights as a result of these convictions.

Mrs. Terpening (we do not choose to fully name her on this site) faces a difficult problem. Her testimony in defense of Michael Terpening can be fairly seen by a Family Court jury as perjury. Her testimony seems at odds with the DNA evidence and was clearly not believed by the jury in last week's criminal case. She also faces trial as the State of Michigan seeks to terminate her parental rights, as well as those of her hudband.

In the Family Court Mrs. Terpening, the five adopted children and three biological children all have their own lawyers. What amazes this observer is the stunning choice by Mrs. Terpening to even attempt to defend her husband in what many would see as a vain attempt to dismiss the DNA evidence supporting the claim of the first reporting victim in last week's criminal trial. It seems impossible her lawyer in the Family Court case, who is not Michael's lawyer, would not have warned her against testifying.

Mrs. Terpening created new problems for herself in the family court proceedings, first, her testimony may constitute a felony and, second, it was in defense of a sex offender. Given her testimony starkly contradicts DNA evidence it will be difficult to argue Mrs. Terpening was not intentionally acting.

We have heard from a former boyfriend of Terpening's sister Mrs. Terpening has suffered abuse at the hands of Michael. If she is an abused spouse one wonders if this becomes a defense; and if it becomes a defense how can the court assure the safety of these kids when Michael Terpening gets out of jail when Mrs. Terpening makes choices to possibly commit perjury at the very real possible expense of eight children losing their mother?

Will the family court consider the role of the Terpening family and friends throughout this trial process? Has the mother protected her children from people who may have attempted to obstruct justice or tamper with witnesses or did she participate?

And just how does a 25 year old single mother raise eight special needs kids? With this conviction West Michigan now has its very own Octomom, a mother with eight kids and  the support of people who viciously worked to defeat the process of bringing the case to trial while abusing the victims. This is Mrs. Terpening's support?

How can this situation serve the interests of these children? What remedy can be fashioned? Will the State of Michigan show this woman mercy when she appears to have lied to protect a predator?