In response to a judge’s order to return to their father’s custody, a Utah brother and sister have barricaded themselves into their bedroom at their mother’s residence, refusing to live with their father whom child welfare investigators say sexually abused them.
Despite government investigators’ conclusions that abuse had taken place, Judge Derek P. Pullan issued an order authorizing police officers to enter the mother’s home “or other place where the children are located, and to use reasonable force necessary to compel compliance, including entry into locked rooms, closets, or enclosures.”
Should the children run away, Pullan authorized police to pick up the kids and “place them in detention” until they agree to be released into the father’s custody.
For the last month, Ty Larson, 15, has been posting videos to social media platform TikTok to draw awareness to the court case involving him and his sister, Brynlee Larson, 12.
Ty is also posting to help raise money for legal bills, just one of which he said amounted to $25,000. In order to continue the custody battle, Ty says his mother has sold numerous belongings, including her home.
“I was abused by my father, physically, sexually, and emotionally. This all started when I was about three years old and went until I was about 10,” he explained in one video. “For my little sister, she was three to seven. I was 10 years old when I disclosed, and I finally was able to get taken away from my biological father’s house.”
In 2018, Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services determined that the children’s father, Brent Joel Larson, sexually and emotionally abused his children, categorizing the abuse as “severe & chronic,” ProPublica reported.
Following the investigation, Larson’s custody was restricted to a few days of supervised visits per month, and a restraining order prohibited him from any unsupervised contact with the children.
As of February 2023, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office says new allegations against the father have sparked a fresh criminal investigation. Two Utah police departments say they are investigating the father for child abuse, according to ProPublica.
The father’s attorney, Ron Wilkinson, disputed the determination by state officials, arguing in a statement: “There have been similar false claims — repeatedly, for years. The stories continue to change and expand each time — always about the same events.”
The father also alleges that the children’s mother is sabotaging his relationship through “parental alienation,” which occurs when a child is manipulated by one parent into refusing to have a relationship with the other parent.
Fatigued from this court case which has dragged on for nearly five years, Ty says the courts are pushing for reunification, which, he argues, only works for young children, not teenagers like him.
“The court thought that this was my last opportunity to have a relationship with my biological father again. So they’re putting me through this reunification process. Even my own guardian-slash-my own attorney hasn’t even been standing up for me in court,” he explained. “My own word does not matter, and they don’t believe my truth. This is all through the Utah court system.”
Ty mentioned that a week before Christmas, police showed up at his door to try and remove him and Brynlee from the home. He also says he fears for his life after his father threatened to kill him and his family if they told anyone about the alleged abuse.
“My life has just gotten super crazy recently, and now I’m having to be barricaded in my room, my own choice for me to stay safe because the court system isn’t trying to save us,” he told viewers. “Nobody’s trying to keep us safe. I am the one that’s gonna have to choose my own safety.”