March 5, 2013
Remember the young Fox Point girl whose mother kidnapped her to Japan in violation of a Wisconsin court order, and her father’s long, expensive, international legal battle to get her back?
A few weeks after his daughter’s return, Moses Garcia applied on her behalf to the Crime Victim Compensation Program. The Department of Justice denied payment, saying it wasn’t intended for situations involving divorce.
But a state administrative law judge disagreed.
“While I understand the floodgates nature of this argument, it does not apply here,” Rachel Pings wrote in a Feb. 20 order. Rather than parents merely speaking ill of each other in front of their children, which is common in many divorces, the girl was abducted to a foreign country for four years, with virtually no contact with her father’s side of her family or her prior life in Wisconsin, Pings wrote.
Pings found that Garcia met his burden of proof in showing that his ex-wife Emiko Inoue had committed the compensable crime of “Causing mental harm to a child,” and that it was irrelevant that she was neither charged nor convicted of that specific offense.
Pings cited records and testimony Garcia introduced at a Jan. 31 hearing that showed the mental harm the experience caused his daughter, including those of a therapist who worked extensively with the girl for months following her return to Wisconsin.
“The record contained no credible evidence” that Inoue took her daughter for the girl’s best interests, Pings found. “Rather, it appears that Ms. Inoue completely disregarded (her daughter’s) interests and mental well-being.”
The girl was 5 when she was taken to Japan and was largely raised by her grandparents there while Garcia fought for her return. Inoue was arrested in Hawaii, where she had gone to renew her U.S. residency permit,
She later pleaded no contest to interfering with child custody, a felony, under an agreement that she would ultimately be convicted of only a misdemeanor if her daughter was returned to Garcia, who had legal custody.
The case drew international attention in 2011. An advocacy group for parents whose children have been kidnapped and taken to other countries, usually by their other parent, said it was the first return of such a child from Japan. Not only does Japan not return children of Japanese citizens to the U.S., it does not extradite accused abductors to the U.S. either, according to the group Global Future.
Ping’s order reversed the DOJ decision to deny compensation, and sent the claim back for a determine how much the girl should receive from the fund.
Garcia said his application never got to the stage when any amount was discussed. He said he would like payment for the girl’s psychological treatment and “recognition that these kinds of crimes are child abuse and must be treated as such.”
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