“I ask that you please keep telling my story so that the truth is known far and wide,” wrote Catherine Youssef Kassenoff in her final Facebook post. The former EDNY prosecutor and special counsel to the New York governor’s office wrote that she had received a terminal cancer diagnosis and would end her life with the assistance of doctors in Switzerland on May 27. Her post cited the “abuse and terror” of her ex-husband, Greenberg Traurig shareholder Allan Kassenoff, including a folder of documents she wanted readers to pass along.
Since then, clips of Kassenoff’s tirades have erupted on TikTok, with millions of views over the last week. For example, “The Robbie Harvey” posted this video featuring the tirades.
A firm spokesperson provided Above the Law with this comment:
Allan Kassenoff has been involved in a divorce and custody matter that has been going on for more than 4 years. After lengthy trials and reviewing all the facts, including some videos, none of the 4 judges who presided over the trials or the 2 court-appointed neutral forensic evaluators found him to have committed wrongdoing or abuse as to his children or the contended domestic violence, and instead awarded him sole legal and physical custody of their three children. Nevertheless, the firm will be conducting its own investigation to determine his status with the firm. In the meantime, he is taking a voluntary leave of absence to focus on his family.
There’s no excuse for the behavior captured in these videos. No matter what’s going on in a relationship, the “Biglaw screamer” routine is a toxic environment for children. And insulting and denigrating the other parent in the presence of the kids is heartbreaking to watch. The children’s reactions captured in these clips drive home how damaging it is to witness this sort of rage between caregivers.
That said, it’s critical to remember that these are only a few minutes of the family story, captured by a former prosecutor in the midst of a contentious custody fight. There’s no condoning these specific moments and whatever excuses he can muster that led up to these outbursts doesn’t diminish the impact on the children. But “multiple judges, Child Protective Services and two separate neutral, court-appointed forensic evaluators” also saw these clips as part of inquiries far deeper than a 5-minute TikTok and determined that Allan Kassenoff should have sole custody, noted a letter we received from a tipster that was drafted by Kassenoff’s attorney and distributed to Greenberg Traurig personnel.
The original opinion, issued by Justice Nancy Quinn Koba, stated:
The mother’s manipulative conduct demonstrates a deliberate ‘placement of her self interest above the interests of others.’ The evidence of false allegations of abuse against the father, i.e., the March Zoom Visit, and the purposeful actions to alienate the children from him is ‘so inconsistent with the best interests of the child[ren] that it raises, by itself a strong probability that the offending party is unfit to act as a custodial parent.’ There was no evidence presented that the father manipulated the children into making any false claims against the mother.
Courts can be wrong, of course. And Catherine Youssef Kassenoff’s documents include file folders labeling both the forensic evaluator and the attorney representing the children’s interests as “corrupt.”
But it’s also likely that there was a lot more to these lives than just the clips going viral. Though absolutely everything about this story makes it clear that the children have been exposed to a horrific experience throughout.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.