Wayne County family court judge accused of helping cover up child abuse of own grandson

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Judge Tracy Green

A Wayne County family court judge is being accused of helping her son cover up abuse of her grandson - but she says none of it's true.

Tracy Green is a judge at the Wayne County Family Court. Her job is to determine whether children are being abused and to protect them. Her grandson says she not only ignored how her son - who is his father - beat his kids, he says she covered it up.

"My dad would tell her about a bruise I had or something, and she'd put make-up on it 'cause we had to go to school and stuff and she didn't want people to see," her grandson said.

The young boy, who FOX 2 is not naming, says Green would put the makeup on him in her upstairs bathroom.

Green denies the allegations entirely. 

"I didn't put makeup on any bruises, conceal any abuse, that is utterly preposterous," Green said. "It just didn't happen."

Green, an experienced family court lawyer, was running for judge last summer when a disturbance at her son's home prompted neighbors to call 911. 

The following is a portion of the 911 call made last summer:

"He was beating his kids like, I'm talking about, he's been beating them for like 45 minutes. And this is like beyond a whooping. He was over there screaming and telling them, like, how he blacked their mama's eyes, he would kill everybody," the caller said.

A second caller said the ruckus interrupted her slumber: 

"Woke me up out my sleep he was beating these kids so bad."

When Detroit Police and Child Protective Services workers arrived, they found a house in chaos. Green's son, Gary Davis-Headd, admitted that he hit his then 8 and 10-year-old sons with a belt.

The beating was so severe, CPS removed the boys and three other children from Davis-Headd's home. Over the next few months, the boys and their siblings told child welfare workers and testified in court that their dad turned their cramped home into a house of horrors. 

Both boys spoke with FOX 2 with their mom present. The younger boy, who is now 9, described what life was like in his dad’s house.

"It was bad and difficult," he said. "We weren't getting fed right and stuff and we got beat."

In interviews with child welfare workers and on the witness stand, the boys and their siblings described how their father ordered the boys to strip down to their shorts, kneel down, then stick their face in a pillow to muffle their cries as he whipped them with a belt.

The children and their stepmother also told investigators and testified that their father once choked out their stepmother until she passed out. The children said they thought she was dead, until their father splashed water on her face.

Davis-Headd denied beating his wife, but acknowledged what he called "spanking" the boys - and even his young daughter - with a belt. He denied abusing them, however, and explained that he was administering appropriate discipline.

In March, after deliberating for less than an hour, a Wayne County Family Court jury found him guilty of neglect and said he put them at substantial risk of harm to their mental well-being and was unfit to care for them.

The judge said he found Davis-Headd's testimony to be "appalling and abhorrent" and that Davis-Head demonstrated "a complete an utter inability to understand parenting at all."

The judge concluded that "by clear and convincing evidence" Davis-Headd "abused the children" and "there is a reasonable likelihood that the children will be harmed if returned" to him.

Green, who became a judge in the same courthouse earlier this year, doesn't agree.

"Obviously, I love him. He's my son and he's a decent person. He's certainly not without his challenges and beyond that I can't really get into a lot of opining, because there's open litigation concerning him. I'd like to, but I'm bridled in that way," Green said.

Because she's a judge, Green is bound by rules that prevent her from speaking as freely as she would like. She can, however, address matters that came up in court. That's good because the investigation into her son raises questions about what she knew - and when.

Her eldest grandson not only testified that Green used makeup to hide his bruises, he testified that he had been telling her since 2016 that his father was beating him. What follows is some of what he said on the witness stand:

"Like almost every time I saw her, I told her. I told her about the time he choked her (his step-mom). I told her about the times he beat us that I remember. I don't remember too much now. I told her about most everything.

"I told his mom, my grandmother." 

Attorney: "Your grandmother Tracy?" 

Boy: "Yes."

Later on in his testimony, he says nobody ever tried to help him, including her.

"She never helped us," he said.

Green said it was painful to hear her grandson say that, but added it's not true.

"It's not truthful at all," Green said. "I have some opinions, but it wouldn't be appropriate for me to give them to you because of pending litigation." 

Her oldest grandson initially told child welfare workers that his stepmother put makeup on his face to cover up his bruises. When FOX 2 asked him to clear up the contradiction in what he told welfare workers and what he testified to, he said both his stepmother and grandmother used makeup to conceal his injuries.

Davis-Headd's attorney tried arguing in court that the boys were not truthful and had been coached by their mother, Choree Bressler, who does not get along with their father or judge Green.

The eldest grandson testified: "Nobody told me what to say. All my mom said was, 'just tell the truth.'"

A child welfare worker reported that Green told her she once heard her son yelling at one of her grandsons, heard a slapping sound, and saw a handprint on the boy's face. That would suggest that she had some awareness that her grandkids were being hit.

"It certainly would suggest, but regarding the comments that are attributed to me, I never said that. Not even anything close to that," Green said.

Green was called as a witness in her son's custody case. When asked about that report, she acknowledged seeing a handprint on her grandson's face - and denied the rest.

When the prosecutor asked Judge Green if she remembered telling a child welfare worker that she had spoken with her son "about how he disciplined the children," she said: "I don't specifically remember that, but I don't dispute it."

She also testified that the children told her they were spanked, but she never asked what that meant.

She also testified, under oath, that she did not use makeup to cover any bruises.

FOX 2: "There are people who would say that if these kids were beaten so badly and so regularly and left with so many marks, how did someone with your pedigree miss it?"

Green: "Well, I think the assumption there is that, what you just said is true."

The possibility that a judge may have lied under oath is the kind of thing that might interest the Judicial Tenure Commission, which polices judges. Fox 2 described the situation to Peter Henning, an expert on judicial ethics at the Wayne State University School of Law, who said:

"She has an obligation to tell the truth. If there's any issues with regard to her not telling the truth, the Judicial Tenure Commission is going to be very interested in that, because that could effectively be thwarting what the family court would be doing."

Currently, only her grandson is accusing Green of a cover-up, but the case against her son raises concerns because it transcends one family's tragic story.

Green says the people of Wayne County can count on her to protect their kids.

"I am certainly capable of protecting children from my perch as a Third Circuit Court judge," she said. "There's nothing that I have done or would ever do that would jeopardize the safety of any child - particularly a child that I love.

"And what I'm saying to you Mr. Elrick, is that I've done nothing wrong, I've not failed to do something that I should have done. And that's the bottom line."

As for Davis-Headd, he's got more legal problems as he's facing criminal charges of child abuse and domestic violence. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and is scheduled to go on trial next month.