Latest in the series A Herkimer Kidnapping
After winning sole custody of our 4-year-old grandson, University of Michigan Professor Somangshu Mukherji had Avram’s mother stripped of visitation rights. Stealthily depositing Avram 740 miles away, Mukherji returned to his solitary life in Ann Arbor.
He’d successfully shucked himself of his mentally ill American wife–the ticket to his green card–and of her son, who was not his blood relative. Free of the double-edged threat of child and spousal support, Somangshu Mukherji lay back to enjoy the prospect of lifetime tenure and a six-figure income. The good life was at hand.
Alas! The best-laid plans…
In April of 2019, our grandson Avram was taken from his mother here in our home in Herkimer, New York. He was taken by Herkimer County Sheriff’s deputies without a New York court order, at the behest of our wife’s husband, University of Michigan music professor Somangshu Mukherji, an Indian national.
Mukhjeri, who is not Avram’s blood relative, had just won a Michigan custody battle for sole custody of Avram. I’ve documented that travesty of justice separately in “A Herkimer Kidnapping.”
Spiriting Avram back to Ann Arbor, Mukerji quickly oversaw the crafting and rubber-stamping of a court order essentially preventing our daughter Alex from seeing her son again. The order freshly in hand, Mukherji sent our daughter an obscene and sadistic email, vowing “you will never see your son again!” Based on that email, she was granted an order of protection (restraining order) to stop Mukherji’s cyberstalking.
True to his word, Mukherji prevented our daughter or anyone in our family from speaking with or seeing Avram. Mukherji wouldn’t answer Alex’s phone calls, or immediately hang up, sometimes with a terse “Go see a psychiatrist!” No photos of Avram were sent or offered. Somangshu Mukherji’s only interaction with his American family was to retain a “reputation protection” law firm to sue me for defamation by documenting his treatment of our daughter and grandson. His child custody and defamation litigation against us measures 6 inches and weighs 14.1 lbs and growing. Our failed attempts to have him pay spousal support and accept service for a New York order of protection are as light as they were futile.
Somangshu Mukherji’s actions made a mockery of his glib custody testimony. Our daughter had no lawyer. Absent from his email was the deep and abiding love of her that Somangshu swore to during Avram’s custody hearing:
Somangshu Mukherji Relents
Suddenly, on August 12th, 2020 Mukherji called our daughter. It was Avram’s 4th birthday. Mukherji was civil–my son-in-law can be winsome when he wants something. He let Alex speak with her son, who was overjoyed to talk with his mother for the first time in 16 months. Mukherji told Alex how much he and Avram missed her. He shared with her that Avram had made a dance video entitled “Where’s My Mommy?” and invited her to return to them in Ann Arbor, to see how things went, and offered her a train ticket.
Avram’s Mom Goes to Ann Arbor with Hope, Fear And Trepidation
Somangshu told Alex that his mother, who’d allegedly been Avram’s principal caregiver since he’d taken Avram from Herkimer, was returning to India on August 18th, 2020 and he couldn’t care for Avram alone. With much hesitancy and great trepidation, given Mukherji’s alleged long abusive treatment of her, Alex agreed. Only after four tries and four changes of schedule was she able to overcome her fears and board the train from Utica to Ann Arbor. Her mother Linda argued that she really had to go, as her son needed her. If it didn’t work out, she was welcome to return to us in New York.
I’ve know Somangshu Mukherji since 2003. Skeptical that he’d had an epiphany, I waited for the other shoe to drop.
Somangshu Springs A Surprise
On September 10th, After an exhausting eight-hour train and bus ride, Alex arrived via local bus at Somangshu’s capacious upscale Ann Arbor townhouse condo, eager to be reunited with her son. “He’s not here,” said Somangshu, opening the door. “I just took him to Rhode Island.” As he surely anticipated, she was crushed.
Watch For the Flying Pig!
Somangshu had left our grandson with my sister-in-law, Alex’s mother’s estranged sister, and her husband in Providence. “But he says he’s going to pick him up on Friday,” Alex told her mother on the phone, still hopeful. That call from Somangshu to Alex on Avram’s birthday must have come from Providence, we surmised.
I thought there was a better chance of a flying pig returning the kid to Ann Arbor than Somangshu. In her custody hearing Answer, (page 9) Alex alleged Somangshu often called Avram “the little bastard” which would belie his honeyed “my beloved son” custody testimony:
And of course, he loves his wife:
That evening, Somangshu ordered takeout. He even shared it with Alex. In a touching attempt at reconciliation, she gave Somangshu her new tablet.
Somangshu Mukherji Judges And Diagnoses
A few days later, Somangshu allegedly told her it would be a few more days–he hadn’t completed his judgment of her mental fitness to be near her son. Somangshu has a doctorate in music theory and worked with primates at Harvard. Disagree with him, oppose his will, you risk being diagnosed:
Although he wouldn’t let her speak with Avram on the phone, he did supposedly play Alex an audio of Avram speaking with Somangshu at her aunt’s in Providence. Alex tried calling her aunt directly, but her Aunt Janice didn’t pick up or respond to a voicemail.
Alex told her mother that Somangshu’s townhouse was mostly empty of furniture with little indication a 2 to 4-year-old child had lived there.
Alex and Avram, Somangshu Mukherji’s Apartment, Ann Arbor November 2019
Alex Before Somangshu Mukherji
“Mukherji quickly moved to strip Avram’s mother of visitation rights, then surreptitiously deposited him far away and returned to his life in Ann Arbor.”
The three of us were skeptical as to how long ago Avram had really been shipped off to Providence, or if Somangshu’s elderly mother had ever been in Ann Arbor. It seemed unlikely he’d stashed mom on the sofa for 14 months in a house mostly devoid of furniture. Avram’s grandparents speculated that if our grandson was in Rhode Island, he’d been there since Somangshu had him taken from his mother in April 2019.
As with his wife, so with his son; Mukherji’s words were in sharp contrast to his deeds. He’d won custody of our grandson with these heartrending words of love and anguish at being separated from Avram for the three months Avram was with his mother and us in New York:
Yet after winning sole physical custody of Avram, Mukherji quickly moved to strip Avram’s mother of visitation rights, then surreptitiously deposited him far away and returned to his life in Ann Arbor. The specter of child support payments no longer loomed. As for his cast off and penniless American wife, Mukherji capitalized again on the lack of a unified national family court system. He shrugged off New York spousal support hearings, dodged service of an order of protection, and left his mentally ill wife dependent on her retired parents and the State of New York.
Somangshu Mukherji no longer had need of his American family. His money was safe, his academic future bright. He would be granted a sinecure at the University of Michigan through tenure, his salary jumping into the six figures. He was also anticipating the publication of some books. He shared his achievements, real and envisioned, with the court:
Grandma Sends The Cops
Meanwhile, back in New York… Told that her grandson had been stashed at her sister Janice Kaidan’s house in Providence for god knows how long, the scales fell from my wife’s eyes. Only a few weeks before, she and Alex had briefly visited with Janice en route to overnight camping in Rhode Island. Janice and her husband Norman Rosenfield met only briefly with Linda in an empty first-floor room of their house. It wasn’t unusual–the two sisters’ relationship has been strained for decades. And Alex had long felt spurned by her Aunt and Uncle because of her bipolarism, and more so since she’d had Avram. Linda gathered Alex and left after an awkward and brief visit.
After speaking with Alex in Michigan, my wife immediately called her sister. Not unusually, Janice didn’t answer that or subsequent calls, nor would she respond to voice or emails.
Has Somangshu Been Fired?
Somangshu allegedly confided to Alex that he was losing his academic teaching post at UMich’s School of Music. Just when was not clear to her or us. It was Mukherji’s eighth year at UMich and he’d again failed to make tenure or publish those books he’d mentioned in his custody testimony. He assured Alex that “your idiotic Dad’s” blogging about him had nothing to do with it. (Though maybe my emails reporting him to his Dean and the UMich President served as a catalyst–the good professor was using his university email account to harass our family.)
Was Mukherji losing his academic teaching post? Not the sort of thing you say if it’s untrue.
Relations became strained, Alex commenting to her mother on the phone, “He can never be nice for more than seven days.” Alarmed at her husband’s alleged increasing attempts at micromanagement and growing hostility, she went out for a walk and didn’t go back. Calling her mother from the Ann Arbor Amtrak station, Alex got herself booked on the next Amtrak bus to the Toledo OH train station, the pickup point for the eastbound train to New York. There was the usual three-hour layover in Toledo waiting for her train.
Somangshu Mukherji In Pursuit
At 1215 am on 9/20, Alex called her mother from the Toledo Amtrak Station. She reported that Mukherji had followed her from Ann Arbor MI to Toledo OH via Uber. (He does not drive.) From what she said then and later, it was a harrowing experience involving Mukherji, the Toledo police, and Alex fleeing to the Women’s Room, Mukherji in pursuit. It would be her word against his. Though if what she said is true, it would under Federal law qualify as Interstate Stalking.
My wife and I can attest to an overheard portion of the incident, in which Mukerji approached Alex and threatened to have my wife, Avram’s grandmother, arrested for “potential kidnapping” and “contempt of court” if she tried to visit her grandson at her sister’s home in Rhode Island. (My wife is not a party to any of Somangshu’s voluminous serial litigation.)
It was awesome awakening at midnight to that familiar voice. I hadn’t heard Somangshu speak since his custody hearing testimony. There he decried me for everything but saving his ass from deportation in 2003–No Good Deed Goes Unpunished–and at great financial risk to our family, when he was allegedly ousted from Harvard. We did it because it seemed the right thing to do.
My wife asked Alex to tell her husband that if he followed her on to the New York train, she would meet the train with the Utica police and a copy of his New York Order of Protection.
Alex reported from her train that Mukherji eventually left the Toledo Amtrak Station, presumably for the echoing emptiness of his townhouse. She returned home safe but shaken and very depressed.
Knowing where Avram probably was, the action shifted south to Providence Rhode Island and the home of his secret keepers, Norman Rosenfield and Janice Kaidan.
So Far Away -Norman Rosenfield and Janice Kaidan’s – Where Somangshu Mukherji Stashes His Beloved Son
Norman Rosenfield and Janice Kaidan have always been Somangshu Mukherji’s go-to for stashing our grandson. Janice is my wife’s estranged sister, Norman is her husband. In our experience, Norman makes the decisions. We assume Mukherji pays them for Avram’s upkeep, and that it’s less he’d pay in child support.
Following Alex’s difficult delivery of Avram, Alex needed help caring for him and herself while she recovered from her C-section and postpartum depression. Rather than allowing her mother to come and stay with her, Somangshu traveled with his wife’s infant son to Rhode Island and left him there with Norman and Janice. FOR SIX MONTHS. Alex was coerced into being separated from her son – cut off from direct or indirect contact with her child by her husband- no photos, no status reports – a cruel pattern of behavior still in place.
During Aram’s custody hearing in April 2019, Alex, unrepresented, questioned Somangshu about this–allegedly he’d never before deigned to offer her an explanation for taking her son. Under oath, he finally did, shrugging it off:
Unable to inspire a response from her sister, Linda took Alex and on 9/17/29, drove the 500 roundtrip miles from upstate New York to her sister’s home in Rhode Island. Linda rang the bell and knocked on the front and side doors of her sister’s home. Two men working next door said hadn’t seen a four-year-old within the last 2 days. Her sister’s neighbors ignoring her when she knocked on their doors, Linda walked the neighborhood, decrying that a grandmother wasn’t allowed to see her grandson and on a high holiday. (Rosh Hashanah) Her cellphone video is below. (As per YouTube requirements, the identifying attributes of the guilty have been edited out.)
Somangshu Mukherji And The Little Boy Who Wasn’t There – Where The Trail Led
“You don’t have an appointment.”
Linda called the police and waited for them across the street from Norman and Janice’s. At this point, when she was no longer videoing, her brother-in-law Norman opened his front door a crack and peered out. When Linda approached, she said “Norman, Alex went all the way to Michigan because Somangshu said she could see Avram, but he wasn’t there. He said he was here. I just wanted to see if he’s here. I just want to see him, I don’t need to talk with him. I’m very very concerned. Especially as Somangshu told Alex that his teaching contract isn’t being renewed.”
At that news, the color drained from Norman’s face. “You can’t come in,” he said. “Why not?” asked Linda. “You don’t have an appointment,” said Norman, slamming the door in her face.
Shortly after that, the Providence police arrived in response to Linda’s call. Told what was happening, they advised her to ask for a wellness check. She said she’d done that a few weeks ago. She wanted to see her grandson, but her sister wouldn’t let her. She was advised to file in Michigan for grandparents’ rights. The police left.
Somangshu Mukherji Rages And Threatens Again
His grandmother’s attempt to see Avram triggered a torrent of email threats and abuse from the real Somangshu Mukherji to his wife, the honeyed words of his court testimony long behind him. They lend further credence to her calling him out as abusive and controlling:
Soon after Somangshu’s tirade, an email from Aunt Janice told Alex that Avram had returned to Ann Arbor. On 10/29, Alex called the Michigan State Police and asked for a wellness check of Avram at Somangshu’s townhouse. They reported at 8 p.m.on a cold night there was no answer to their knocks, no lights visible, no furniture on the first floor, and that the window glass was cold. Avram’s grandmother then emailed her sister, reporting what the state police had said, and asked for a photo of Avram. There was an unsigned reply: “The last time I saw him he was fine.” No photo was attached.
Your Own Family May Not Care, But Their Neighbors May
An admirable quality of Orthodox Judaism is its sense of community and mutual responsibility; not all of my in-laws’ co-religionists approve of Norman and Janice’s behavior. Following Linda’s public appeal to their Elmway Street neighbors, we were able to confirm that Avram is still there and looks ok.
We’ll be applying for grandparents’ rights in the appropriate family court, continue proxy-watching our grandson, and waiting to see where Professor Mukherji lights if he moves on from Michigan. I’ll continue opposing his legal machinations to take down my posts about him, and I’ll continue calling out his heinous conduct. I suspect more people have now read my articles about Somangshu Mukherji than all he’s ever written. Of course, that may change when those two books of his are published.
Audio recordings in this post were excerpted from the official audio transcript of Somangshu Mukherji v. Alexandra Kaidan-Berry, 19-352-DC, provided by the Office of the Clerk, Washtenaw County Trial Court. All Michigan family court records are public unless pertaining to cases of child abuse and neglect.
The author of this work hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and
moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, distorted or destroyed in any manner whatsoever without further attribution or notice to the creator.