This true story aims to help readers face the truth that sometimes the victim is male and the price he pays is the loss of his children.

This is the riveting true story of Dan ‘Lefty' Burnham, renowned sculptor and artist, who travelled the world, exhibiting his artwork among celebrities, political leaders, and art collectors until he fell in love with a beautiful young musician he thought was the love of his life. His dream marriage morphed into a nightmare tale of betrayal, lies, infidelity, and chaos. At the center of it all was Lefty's greatest treasure — his baby daughter, snatched from him in a vicious smear campaign that cost him everything: his freedom, his life savings, and the joy of being there to raise his little girl. If that wasn't bad enough, a devastating stroke robbed him of physical strength and mental acuity, leaving him paralyzed in half of his body.

After the stroke, his wife disappeared with her lover and waged war on Lefty, separating him from the child he loved and sending him spiraling through the dark world of jail cells, courtrooms, parole officers, and a corrupt legal system that favors the lies and deception of a troubled woman over the innocent pleas of a battered husband. This is the story of his battle to survive while continuing the search for his beautiful daughter.

Lefty is not alone. We must now face the truth that sometimes the victim is male and the price he pays is the loss of his children. Men are rising up to wage their own battles to prove their innocence and establish their place in their children's lives. The quest has bankrupted many who have nearly nothing to show for the money, time, and effort they expend as they are left with little to no rights to the child they love and a costly uphill criminal case to defend. But Lefty, like millions of others, continues to fight. This is a book about personal redemption, overcoming incredible odds, and speaking out to expose how a woman can frame a totally innocent and helpless man in her attempt to destroy his life.


Excerpt from The Griefcase © Copyright 2023 Dan Burnham

“There be dragons”

“”Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” – Arthur Miller

My story was a fairytale, complete with all the elements of any proper romance.  There was a beautiful princess, lovely to look upon. I played the part of the prince, determined to win the hand of the fair maiden.  There was a grand ball with women dressed in lovely gowns and men in their dapper threads.  And, of course, there was a kingdom.  Two, in fact. The first in one of the most celebrated cities in America.  And the other, halfway around the world in the charming Italian countryside.

But, along the way, I forgot that fairytales also have dragons.  And mine… well, my dragon breathed fire.

The dragon did what dragons do.  It stomped through the kingdom, crushing everything beneath its feet to dust.  It spat fire, setting my kingdom ablaze.  And it sought out the strongest in the land to destroy him.  Any attempts to fight this dragon only made it more vicious and deadly.

Worse, my princess and my dragon were one and the same.

There are two versions of me.  One who is vibrant, active, and busy.  And another who is measured, deliberate, and confined.  One who is sharp, alert, and talented; a sought-after genius for his artistic ability.  Another who is challenged, fragmented, and broken — a shell of the man he once was.  One who is a loving and devoted father.  Another who lives with an emptiness deeper than the darkest cavern as he fathoms life without the daughter he loves more than life itself.

They are both me, even though one lives in my memory and the other stares back at me daily as I peer into the mirror, looking at the shell of what I once was.  Why two such stark versions of one man?  The answer is two-fold: the stroke that robbed me of my brain function and the woman I loved who abandoned me in my darkest hour and took my only child away forever.

My kingdom today lies mostly in ruins.  There are no more grand balls, no gowns or tuxedos, no tables spread with fancy foods, or lines of people stretching around the block to meet me.  There is only me, searching through the rubble of my once-perfect life, hoping to find the one treasure that truly matters: my daughter.

My life story seems, at times, too dreadful and disconcerting to share.  It evokes tears from those who have never heard it before and outrage from those who have.

Would that my scars were only physical.  I, like most of my gender, would brave the shame of the physical pain and wounds.  But the biggest part of the damage I suffered cannot be seen with the naked eye.  The emotional and psychological effects of having my daughter taken from me by a woman who played the legal system like a Steinway grand piano is a horror that was once too great for words.  But the time has come to reveal the truth.

There often seems to be no one to tell and no place to turn.  True, I have wonderful friends who support me and a fabulous attorney who has fought for my cause.  Still, I felt helpless as I remained trapped in a legal system designed to work against a loving father, stripping him of his rights and punishing him for crimes he never committed.

We fight on.  But the battle is long.

The culture of disenfranchisement of men seems to be worsening in the United States. Many women resort to a tactic called “administrative abuse,” where they use the police and court system to torture their partners and protect themselves from scrutiny by playing the victim.

Not long ago, another drama played out as the eyes of the nation — indeed the world — were fixed on screens big and small to catch a glimpse of the most-watched family battle of the century – the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, which, many pundits say, exposed the depths that a troubled woman will sink to in order to attempt to slander and defame her former lover and destroy his life and career.  Amber Heard nearly succeeded as Johnny Depp lost his case in the European courts and claimed he was dropped from several movie projects as a result of the accusations.  He faced ostracization in Hollywood and the effective end of his career.  But Johnny, against the advice of many, decided to fight back.  He felt he had been assaulted physically, mentally, financially, and socially.  Something inside him could not let that stand unchallenged.

My ex-wife subscribed to these same kinds of strategies in full force.  Her actions cost me nearly everything I have.  And the courts, both then and now, have served as her willing accomplice.  Reason, logic, common sense, and even the need for evidence seemed completely removed from our legal proceedings.  She portrayed herself as the victim and me as the abuser and perverted child molester.  When it was all said and done, she left with the one real treasure I had left in my life: my daughter.

Explorers of old did not relish going into strange and new places with no clue about what they might face when they got there.  So, many of them worked day and night to complete the map of the world.  But there remained a few places into which they could not or would not venture because of the potential danger there.  To warn other travelers and explain why they had avoided a particular place, they would simply write the following: “hic sunt dracones,” or “There be dragons.”  It was meant to be an alert to other travelers that there was something in the region to fear or, at the very least, it was unknown territory.

Such is the case in my story.  There be dragons.

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