In an unexpected turn to the widely publicized story surrounding Catherine Kassenoff’s suicide, her husband, Allan A. Kassenoff, has taken legal action against TikTok star Robert Harvey.
Kassenoff alleges that Harvey’s videos were instrumental in his dismissal from a high-paying position as a patent lawyer.
The lawsuit offers the public insight into Allan’s perspective on this widely discussed story, previously centered on a woman who, allegedly driven to despair by numerous setbacks in family court and severed ties with her three children, took her own life.
Allan’s narrative, as detailed in the complaint, starts with the events that led to the adoption of their first child:
Allan and Catherine married on November 13, 2006. Shortly after marrying, Catherine insisted on starting in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments without attempting natural conception.
Following unsuccessful IVF treatments, on July 15, 2009, they adopted A.K. in Tampa, Florida. They returned to New York with the child a month later.
Allan and Catherine, both lawyers, worked during the day. They hired Kimberly Hull as a nanny to care for A.K.
When AK was four weeks old, Catherine instructed Hull to keep A.K. up all day so she would sleep through the night and not disturb Catherine’s nighttime rest.
Despite Hull’s best efforts, the baby fell asleep during the day.
Catherine instructed the nanny to “drip water on her face” to keep A.K. awake.
One night, Allan came home to find Hull crying in the kitchen. He told her not to dribble water on her face but let her nap as needed. But Hull was terrified of Catherine, so Allan went to her. She demanded that since Allan stopped the H2O efforts to keep A.K. awake, Allan would have to get up during the night when A.K. woke up.
Allan agreed, explaining to Catherine that “that is what parents of newborns do.”
Within months of adopting A.K., Catherine wanted to start IVF again. Allan thought they should wait, given that their marriage had become contentious. Catherine said she would proceed without Allan, using a “donor’s” sperm. Allan relented.
After several IVF attempts, C.K. was born in February 2011.
Shortly after C.K. was born, Catherine began another IVF cycle. J.K. was born in August 2013.
When AK was four, Catherine informed her she was adopted.
Allan gave instances in his complaint of how Catherine treated A.K. (her adopted child) differently than C.K. and J.K. (her biological children).
For example, Catherine preferred to eat dinner only with C.K. and J.K. in the kitchen, while A.K. was ordered to eat dinner alone in her room.
Catherine would watch T.V. and sleep with C.K. and J.K., in the master bedroom while excluding A.K., who slept alone in her own room. Catherine however would allow A.K. to enter the master bedroom where Catherine and her two biological children slept, he following day to make the bed.
Mylene Gry was the Kassenoffs’ nanny for 13 months in 2015-2016. She submitted an affidavit (dated June 4, 2019) to the Supreme Court, Westchester County, as part of the divorce proceedings.
- I witnessed Catherine punish [A.K.] by removing toys and books from her room….
- I also witnessed Catherine remove [A.K.’s] fancy bed from her room and … only permit her to sleep on a mattress on the floor. . ..
- I witnessed Catherine scream at [A.K.] for almost 10 minutes after she misbehaved. She said things such as ‘you will never have friends,’ and ‘you’ll never succeed in life or get married and have your own kids.’… Catherine insisted that I stay and watch.
- Catherine refused to allow [A.K.] to have playdates with other kids. Since I picked up [A.K.] from school, I was often asked by other moms to coordinate a playdate – I would always ask Catherine, and she would make up excuses.
- [A.K.] would ask for playdates, and Catherine would tell her, ‘no one has asked for playdates because you have no friends.’…
- Catherine would return [from] work… she would insist that [A.K.] go to her room or … do chores. The other children were never asked to do chores.
- When Catherine would return [from] work, I noticed [A.K.] become agitated and scared. … [W]hen she would see her car pull up, she would stand up if she was relaxing and say ‘mommy, do you need me to do anything?’
- Catherine never allowed [A.K.] to eat the same food as the other kids – [A.K.] was never allowed to have chocolate or treats, or even milk. The other kids were regularly allowed to eat whatever they wanted….
In March 2018, an au pair, Laura, whom the Kassenoffs employed after Gry, through the Cultural Care agency, made a Facebook post about Catherine.
Laura wrote: ‘Careful to all au-pairs who are looking for a family, I won’t advise you to work for the Kassenoff family, the mother is a psychopath…. They have been kicked out of every agency except ours. I don’t know if with my leaving them, whether they were kicked out of Cultural Care as well.'”
In October 2016, the Kassenoffs hired Celine Dublanchet as a nanny. On March 7, 2020, Dublanchet submitted a declaration to the court-appointed forensic custody evaluator, Marc Abrams, in the divorce case.
Dublanchet is a native of France, and her manner of writing English is not always grammatically correct:
Dublanchet wrote, “I noticed how Catherine treated [A.K.]. I was truly shocked. I know [A.K.] could lie, and it was a really problem. But I think, her problem was not treated in the right way. When my friends and my family asked me how things were going, the better way to describe the situation in which I was living was the story of Cinderella.
[A.K.] was Cinderella, her two sisters Anastasia and Drizella, and Catherine the horrible stepmother.
[C.K.] and [J.K.] were not mean as much as in the Disney story but Catherine controlled their relationship of the three sisters.
Most of the time [A.K.] was ‘stealing’ food in the closet, because she was ANGRY. At the breakfast, or even dinner [A.K.] could not eat as much as she need. She was scared to ask her to have food again, because she knew that Catherine was going to say NO or yell at her if she takes more food (it happened at the breakfast).
Her sisters could eat whatever they wanted, even other food that Catherine brought home for them. But [A.K.] could not have it. . . . [A.K.] was simply scared of Catherine. She was also lying because she was scared to say the truth.
Every time, Catherine took something from her.
[A.K.] was sleeping on a mattress on the FLOOR – she did not have a BED! And her sisters were sleeping in the bed of the mother, [A.K.] was always sleeping apart, she could not watch T.V. with [C.K.] and [J.K.] at night. She spent most of her time alone in her bedroom. She only could read (… before her mother took away her books). Once, she had nothing in her bedroom her dresses were tak[en] away, her books, toys…
With months, the situation got worst. Punitions were getting worst. I was so shocked, and I felt so powerless….
While we were taking snacks, Catherine found again that [A.K.] lied… She put [A.K.] in the basement, [A.K.] wore only a pajama. It was during the winter. And downstairs, it was REALLY cold.
I had to take [C.K.] for her French class, when I left, I looked at the door of the basement, Catherine went upstairs with [J.K.] and left [A.K.] alone and in a really cold place. I felt my heart broken and powerless. When I came back later, I learned she stayed 2 hours…. This situation happened twice.
Another day, at night, Catherine asked [A.K.] to ‘clean up’ the garden in the dark. It was on very low temperature period. She was also only on a pajama…
[A.K.] always wanted the attention and love from Catherine, she always shared her school but Catherine did not listen to her (Once, in the kitchen [A.K.] was speaking to Catherine, and she told me she did not listen to [A.K.] – It was always like that.
[A.K.] always asked if Catherine wanted some help to do anything, it was a way to show her, she was there, to get attention and love. While her sisters were getting spoiled, [A.K.] was doing everything to ‘exist’ to her mother’s eyes. This situation was really hard to live. . . .
Allan argued often with Catherine. Sometimes she wanted to have his support about [A.K.’s] lies, or sometimes for her, everything he did was wrong. He could be very angry because she really pushed him in his emotions, and she wanted the girls to see how [their] father could be so angry, she did it on purpose, to have the children on her side. . . . But he was never violent with the girls.”
To round out Allan’s version of Catherine, according to Allan:
- Catherine cut A.K.’s long hair really short as punishment. Allan told Catherine that cutting a child’s hair like that was a form of child abuse.
- Catherine told A.K. that she was not really part of the family.
- She allowed C.K. and J.K. to tell A.K. that she wasn’t their real sister and to treat A.K. like she didn’t belong
- She would tell A.K. that she would “send her back to Florida,” which is where A.K. was adopted from;
- When A.K. was 7 or 8 years old, Catherine made her wear a diaper to school as a punishment
- Catherine made A.K. sleep in the basement as a punishment when Allan traveled out of town for work
- Catherine would wake A.K. up in the middle of the night, demanding that A.K. make her a vodka with grapefruit juice.
- Catherine once got so angry she threw the vodka with grapefruit juice at her. The glass shattered and cut A.K.
- Catherine pushed A.K. into a radiator, causing burns on her body.
Catherine caught in a reflection taking a video of Allan getting angry.
Catherine filmed by Allan getting angry at A.K. over whether she ate a chocolate bar.
In addition to her treatment of A.K., Allan alleges that Catherine abused him mentally and emotionally and, on occasion, acted violently. In his complaint, Allan alleges that Catherine punched him in the face in May 2016. He included a picture of himself taken the next day.
From his complaint, Allan emerges as a husband who fights for custody to protect A.K. from Catherine’s abuse.
Catherine, who committed suicide, informing her children of her death through a public Facebook posting while bequeathing to them a dozen damaging videos of their father getting angry.
In the next post in this series, we will examine Allan’s version of why he filed for divorce and how he wound up with sole custody of the children.
Catherine, who claimed she had terminal cancer, a claim that may have been false, said Allan used his wealth and power to cheat her out of custody.
FR has a few questions at this point:
- If Catherine loved her children, why destroy the father’s reputation since he is the only one left to care for them?
- Are the nannies telling the truth?
- Was Catherine a mentally ill mother who abused her adopted daughter?
- Was Allan the girl’s savior?
- Is this a case of DARVO and who is who?
- Was Catherine’s dramatic departure not meant to help anybody but to destroy her kids’ father?
- Or was she a benighted victim who went to her grave – at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland – saddened and led gently to a hoped-for better place where good mothers are honored, yet not before she revealed what a bad man her husband was?
These are questions that may never be answered. At the very least, in the interest of fairness, they ought to be posed because the father now alone remains to support his children.