Estranged husband of Westchester activist who allegedly died by assisted suicide resigns from NYC law firm
The estranged husband of a Westchester family court activist who accused him and the court system for her decision to die by assisted suicide resigned as a partner at a prominent New York City law firm.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP issued a statement on Facebook Sunday saying, “The firm has concluded its review of the situation to determine Allan Kassenoff’s status with the firm. Our primary obligation is to maintain and protect the core values and best interests of our firm, our clients, our lawyers and our professional staff. Allan has been on a short leave of absence and has now resigned from the firm, effective immediately.
The firm is sensitive to the needs of the three children, the primary victims of the situation, and therefore will be creating a dedicated trust fund with an independent trustee for the sole benefit of these children, to be voluntarily funded by the lawyers and staff of our firm. We wish healing and privacy to the children during this very difficult situation.”
Catherine Kassenoff sent a final email with hundreds of court filings and videos of her estranged husband’s alleged abuse to supporters and activists May 27 saying that she was “treated like a criminal” and unfairly kept away from her children during a long divorce battle with Kassenoff, and most recently during a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Catherine said she would die by assisted suicide later that day in Switzerland because she could not survive the "torment and the grief that comes from such a prolonged separation" from her children.
Dr. Bandy Lee is a New York forensic psychiatrist with 25 years of experience in the field who has testified in criminal and family court cases. She knew about the Kassenoff case after Catherine went public about her painful experiences in Westchester County court.
“I believe family courts are a place where much danger happens to women and children,” said Dr. Lee. “I have never imagined the kinds of dangerous practices - in fact lack of due process, secrecy and frankly abuses of judicial processes – as I have seen in family courts.”
Dr. Lee noted a study by the United Nations in 2022 found the home is one of the deadliest places for women and girls.
"The court room may be the second most dangerous place for women and children because domestic violence and child abuse are not recognized," said Dr. Lee.
News 12 interviewed her in 2021 as a family court legal expert for "Empty Home for the Holidays" – our report about protective parents who’ve lost custody of their children.
Allan Kassenoff‘s attorney Gus Dimopoulous addressed some of Catherine’s allegations for the first time in a statement to News 12:
“We are deeply troubled by the claims that Ms. Kassenoff has pursued assisted suicide and that various media outlets have reported on these claims without confirming their accuracy. It’s important to note that in this very challenging custody dispute, there are three young children involved. Our client has complied with the instructions of various courts to keep the details of this dispute out of the media and off of social media. Ms. Kassenoff has repeatedly taken steps to publicize the details of this custody dispute, generating a large following of individuals who believe her side of the story and advocate on her behalf without fully understanding all of the facts of this case.
At every stage of this four-year custody dispute, the court system has acted responsibly and thoroughly. Following a neutral forensic evaluator’s assessment, the court ordered an immediate order granting their father sole legal and physical custody. The court also issued an urgent order of protection against Ms. Kassenoff eliminating unsupervised interactions with the children based on what they observed when they were with their mother. Ms. Kassenoff violated that order, was arrested, and her access to the children was further limited. While it is always difficult limiting a parent’s access to their children, given the circumstances of this case, it was found to be in the best interest of the children to take these steps urgently. The children have been in our client’s care for 3 ½ years and they are safe and healthy.
Throughout this process, there have been many attempts made by Ms. Kassenoff to disparage our client. Attempts have been made by Ms. Kassenoff to hurt him personally and professionally, including a variety of absurd and baseless allegations and edited videos from more than 4 years ago to portray him in a bad light. Mr. Kassenoff continues to put his children first and their well-being is his primary concern.
Navigating mental illness is very challenging especially on a public stage. We encourage individuals and news outlets to withhold forming opinions or reporting salacious details about this case without understanding the facts and to consider the further potential damage that this type of attention could have on all involved.”
Activists, however, say Catherine's allegations and experience in family court is similar to other parents across the country.
“Her case, unfortunately, is similar to many, many thousands of cases across the country where a safe, protective parent is cut off from contact with their kids,” said Danielle Pollack.
Pollack works for the National Family Violence Law Center in Washington D.C. She knew about the Kassenoff case and first spoke to Catherine in 2020 after the court allegedly issued a restraining order, removing Catherine from the home she shared with her kids.
“There needs to be a lot of accountability over what happened in this case,” said Pollack.
News 12 reached out to the Office of New York Courts and Office of Judicial Conduct for information about Catherine’s allegations that court officials - including judges, attorneys and psychiatric evaluators - had alleged conflicts of interests and gave Allan Kassenoff special treatment. Representatives for both offices declined to comment.
A GoFundMe has been started by a friend of Catherine’s to benefit the children.