War of the Words

The war between the sexes takes no prisoners--except children, who often earn their purple hearts during custody battles.

Even after Anthony Roszel won the court fight to be named custodial parent of his daughter (won it twice, in fact), the war with his ex-wife, Keleigh Kasteile, wasn't over. Not by a long shot.

By last December, the hostilities had escalated to the point that Roszel, worried his wife might try to kidnap their daughter, taped a phone conversation between Kasteile and the then-eleven-year-old while the girl was sitting safe at home. Her father's home.

That tape captures an awkward and extended greeting, after which the daughter laughs.

Kasteile: What's the matter?
Daughter: The dog licked my foot...
Kasteile: At least you're happy.
Daughter: What is that supposed to mean?

Kasteile: Well, I'm glad you're happy and you're not upset about things. I'm upset.

Daughter: Oh, if you find out it's your weekend you have my birthday.
Kasteile: I'll have your birthday anyway.
Daughter: You do?
Kasteile: Yeah.
Daughter: But it said no three-week...
Kasteile. It, no, well, your dad's a fucking liar.
Daughter: Well, how do you figure?
Kasteile: Because weekends during Christmas do not count.

Daughter: Then the weekends during Thanks-giving wouldn't have counted, right?

Kasteile: No. It does...Why, does your dad say he has you now?
Daughter: Uh-huh.
Kasteile: Well, then we won't come back. That's all there is to it...We just won't be back until after your birthday.

Daughter: But...
Kasteile: But what?
Daughter: What are you doing?

Kasteile: Well, that really pisses me off now. So he says it's your birthday weekend now, too?

Daughter: Uh-huh.
Kasteile: Your dad is an asshole.
Daughter: But...
Kasteile: Pardon me?
Daughter: But...

Kasteile: No. And you know what? I can't wait for the day he dies. This whole world would be better when he's dead.

Daughter: He wouldn't give you the satisfaction.
Kasteile: Well. Maybe somebody will take that satisfaction and kill him. I've never hated anybody as much as I hate him. You know that?

Daughter: Probably.
Kasteile: And I would have been better to kill him years ago.

Clearly, it was not to be a very merry Christmas at the Roszel house. As she continues her rant, Kasteile warns her daughter that if she isn't ready at the moment visitation starts at 9 a.m. Christmas day, Kasteile will bring the cops. Midway through this diatribe, the call is cut off. Kasteile calls back and picks up where she left off. "He lies to you about everything," she tells the girl. "Then you continue to believe him, and I don't know why."

The daughter asks that her mother give her father until at least 9:05 before calling in the cops.

Kasteile: No, nine o'clock. No phone calls are necessary. I am filing contempt. Your father will not let me know the whereabouts of where you're at. And I someday hope the son of a bitch gets what he deserves. And I am so sorry that he is your father. You know? He should try suicide, like everybody else in his family, because it would suit him just fine.

Daughter: It's not nice.
Kasteile: Well, it doesn't matter. It's the truth. They play so many games with your head.

She then grills her daughter about what she's getting people for Christmas--including Kasteile.

Kasteile: Well, you don't have to buy anything for me.
Daughter: Well, too bad. It's not really all bought, but that's okay.
Kasteile: What does that mean?
Daughter: Tell you sort of what it is. It's like a little, mini-jewelry box.
Kasteile: Where did you get it?
Daughter: Not going to tell you. Why?

Kasteile: You just happened to have something laying around that you're going to give me?

Daughter: No, I put stuff on it.
Kasteile: Oh.
Daughter: Like, sort of like a collage on the outside. Got it?
Kasteile: Whatever...

Daughter: Well, yeah. Because if you don't want it, I could get you something else?

Kasteile: If I am not worth going shopping for, then I'm not worth shopping for. It's no big deal."

Still, Kasteile goes on about that "deal," telling her daughter that the "things I need you can't give me...somebody to murder your father," and harping on the gift until the girl abruptly apologizes.

Kasteile: What are you apologizing for, baby?
Daughter: Well, you think I don't want--don't love you or something.
Kasteile: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Daughter: Because I didn't get you something.
Kasteile: No, no, no, no, no. I know you love me. I know you love me.

Listening to her mother's abuse, your heart bleeds for this young casualty of war.

And you can listen to it, of course, because Roszel was taping the conversation, and while his ex-wife's references to murder and suicide were familiar weapons in her arsenal, the threats to take their daughter were not. He reported them to the police, and to the court monitoring their custody battles, and asked that a restraining order be issued against his ex-wife.

Instead, Roszel wound up facing felony charges in Jefferson County, for wiretapping.

Jeffco happens to be the county where law enforcement officials encouraged the Aronson family to tape conversations of their Evergreen neighbors, the Quigleys--conversations that occurred not during calls to the Aronsons, but in calls to others that the Aronsons picked up with a scanner. The Jeffco District Attorney's office then used transcripts of these calls, conveniently provided by the Aronsons, to file a dozen ethnic-intimidation charges against the Quigleys and another neighbor in December 1994.

Six weeks later, after his office reviewed the tapes more closely, Jeffco DA Dave Thomas dropped all but one of the charges--and that one involved an incident with a car, not a car phone. The following December, he apologized publicly to the Quigleys and agreed to pay them a $75,000 settlement for their troubles.

The DA's office must not have learned much from that costly fiasco, judging from how it handled Roszel. Had Thomas listened carefully to the tape, he would never have filed charges--much less let his prosecutors introduce the call into evidence at a preliminary hearing in July. At that hearing, Kasteile categorized the mother-daughter chat as "normal conversation."

On what planet?
After that, Thomas soon dropped the charges, citing "legal uncertainty" regarding the right of a custodial parent to tape a minor child's call. But couldn't that "uncertainty" have been cleared up before Roszel was charged with a felony?

Roszel's attorney, Craig Silverman, has asked Thomas to apologize, just as he apologized to the Quigleys, but Roszel isn't holding his breath--or his tongue. "For ten years I've been trying to tell people what's been going on in my family," he says. "I took the tape in. I made this public. I wanted someone to listen to me.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun