|Hannah Yeilding Upton|
The case in question is Upton v. Upton, a divorce case involving Linda Upton and her husband of more than 30 years -- multimillionaire industrialist Bill Upton, president of Vulcan Steel Products in Pelham.
The Uptons have one biological child, an adult son, and took several adopted and foster children, most of them with special needs, into their Mountain Brook home over about a 20-year period. One of those adopted children was Hannah Yeilding Upton, who was almost 20 years old when Bill Upton sued for divorce in 2010.
Bill Upton eventually admitted in court documents to having an extramarital affair with Gincie Walker, whom the Uptons had raised as their daughter since she was about 11 years old, and that was the driving event that tore apart the Upton family.
Bill Upton and Gincie Walker Upton, now in her early 30s, are married and live in Mountain Brook. According to court documents, Gincie Upton grew up in an abusive home in Shelby County and has been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder, including roughly 30 distinct personalities. Her biological father is Dr. William Flynn Walker, who currently is serving a 27-year sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina following his guilty plea on charges of child sexual abuse and sodomy.
Linda Upton has remarried and still lives in the former marital residence on Shook Hill Road, although she had to pay Bill Upton for his half of the property -- despite his admitted egregious marital misconduct. But that is far from the most dubious decision Private Judge Gary Pate made in the case. In fact, the sprawling record in the Upton case, which includes proceedings related to the children in Jefferson County Family Court, indicate Alabama's dysfunctional "justice" system betrayed the Upton children -- with tragic consequences.
We've seen nothing in the court record that indicates Linda Upton was an unfit mother -- and it's undisputed that she did the majority of the parenting in the household, while Bill Upton focused primarily on business matters. At one time, Bill Upton was a prominent figure in Birmingham's conservative religious circles, attending Briarwood Presbyterian Church and supporting the "pro life" movement. (Dr. William Flynn Walker also attended Briarwood Church.)
What kind of parent was (and is) Bill Upton? Well, he admitted in court documents to having a sexual relationship with a young woman who had called him "Daddy" for years. Aside from that, it appears Bill Upton, as a parent, is uncaring, out of touch, lacking in common sense -- or a combination of all three.
|Judge Gary Pate|
Hannah Upton, probably because she was an adult, also is not mentioned in the order, but she, too, wound up living with Bill Upton. The reasons for that are unclear, although Family Court might have played a role in that determination.
The Pate order putting most of the children in Bill Upton's care is dated December 4, 2012. (See order at the end of this post.) Almost exactly two years later, Hannah Upton was dead.
Would that have happened if Hannah had continued to live with her mother, Linda Upton? Did the lawyers who pushed for the children to live with Bill Upton, and the judge (or judges) who went along with it, contribute to Hannah Upton's death? Did they pretty much cause it?
We will examine those questions in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)