Fargo parental kidnapper given parole, but children still on SD reservation


October 18, 2015

Source: Grand forks Herald

A Fargo mother who was convicted of parental kidnapping and whose daughters are still on a South Dakota Indian reservation with her half-sister has been granted early parole, much to the chagrin of the fathers.

Tricia Taylor SD

The 3-0 decision by the North Dakota Board of Parole will allow Tricia Taylor, 33, to be released Nov. 5 from the state women’s prison after serving about six months of a two-year prison term. Parole board chairman Duane Houdek, however, said Taylor also served about five months in the Cass County Jail before her conviction last April when she was sent to the New England, N.D., prison.

President Barack Obama greets the members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation, in Cannon Ball, N.D., Friday, June 13, 2014, during a Cannon Ball flag day celebration, at the Cannon Ball powwow grounds. It’s the president’s first trip to Indian Country as president and only the third such visit by a sitting president in almost 80 years. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

He also defended the decision by saying she was a non-violent offender and didn’t have a criminal record.

However, the two girls, ages 2 and 7, still aren’t back with their fathers who have been granted full custody by a North Dakota state court.

Houdek said it was the board’s understanding that the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation where the girls were taken has assumed jurisdiction and taken custody of the girls.

Thus, it was his understanding that “even if she wanted to, she couldn’t return them.”

However, the family spokesman for the fathers — Michael Nygaard of Fargo — disagrees.

“All Tricia has to do is make a call to her half sister and this done,” he said about returning the children. “Tricia is trying to get the tribe to take custody of the girls, but we have received notice … that they will not do this but want the tribal court to make a decision on custody, which has not been determined yet in the tribal court. Tricia wanted the board to think that she is helpless in this matter while that is not the case.”

Thus, the two fathers   — Aarin Nygaard and Terrance Stanley, both of Fargo — and their families are somewhat in disbelief she was granted parole.

Michael Nygaard, who is Aarin’s uncle, said, “We just can’t believe it.”

One of the fathers’ attorneys, RoseAnn Wendell of Pierre, S.D., said, “I think it’s a slap in the face.”

It’s now been more than a year since Taylor stole the girls away on Labor Day weekend in 2014 and since then, the fathers have been fighting through the tribal court system on the northwest South Dakota reservation for the girls to be returned to them. They’ve spent more than $40,000 on legal fees forcing them to set up a gofundme page and a donation account at Gate City Bank.

FILE - This Sept. 9, 2012 file photo shows the entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Sioux tribe. Five more American Indian tribes in South Dakota are seeking federal money to help operate their own foster care programs. The Rosebud Sioux in 2013 became one of the first tribes in the nation to receive a $300,000 planning grant. The Oglala and Crow Creek Sioux, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River,  and Yankton tribes this week also submitted applications for grants.  (AP Photo/Kristi Eaton, File)

They haven’t seen the girls either, although tribal judge Brenda Claymore did say earlier last month at one of numerous hearings on the case that they could visit the girls who have been staying with the half sister — Jessica Ducheneaux — in Timber Lake on the reservation. However, neither father has attended the hearings this year because their attorneys do not want them to succumb to the  jurisdiction of the tribe.

Even if they could arrange it, Michael Nygaard said they didn’t want to have a visitation on the reservation. “After discussing it, we thought it would just be too disruptive.”

So the situation has turned into an example of how people can get caught up in the legal limbo between state and tribal courts.

On one hand, the state courts wants tribal courts to respect their laws while the tribal courts want state courts to do the same.

Wendell,  who describes herself as a  “blonde white girl” who has been arguing cases on South Dakota reservations for years, said when she first started her chances of winning any cases in tribal courts were about as good as — well — being the “Easter bunny.”

She said she has developed a “good relationship” with the Cheyenne River tribal officials  and is “cautiously optimistic” that the girls might be returned to their fathers at the next hearing in tribal court in Eagle Butte on Oct. 29.

“I think she (the judge) knows that legally, procedurally and substantially that the law favors returning the kids to their dads,” Wendell said.

However, the judge could face a political backlash on the reservation if she does give up the two girls from the reservation and may even face the  loss of her job as the judge serves at the pleasure of the tribal chairman — as is the case on most reservations.

Moreover, Wendell said this custody case has been played out a lot in social media and has drawn a lot of attention.

“However, I think there’s been a lot of misinformation,” she said.

There have been allegations from Taylor that she has suffered physical and mental abuse from Aarin Nygaard  and his family and that he sexually abused the older daughter.

In a petition that was sent to the parole board, another Taylor extended family member, Jennifer Ducheneaux, wrote that  “for years she (Taylor) has been dealt verbal abuse, physical abuse and harassment from the Nygaard family.”

The allegations infuriate the fathers and their families.

Cass County assistant state’s attorney Tristan Van de Streek backs up the fathers, saying there was an intensive investigation by police and other agencies into the abuse allegations but the evidence was insufficient.

“No way could we win the case with the evidence we had,” said Van de Streek, who also prosecuted the parental kidnapping case against Taylor. He did say a confrontation between Nygaard and Taylor at one point in their relationship, however, did land Nygaard with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, although it was later dismissed.

Another judge — magistrate judge Susan Solheim of Fargo — also has reviewed the relationships and the case and granted the fathers full custody, plus issued two contempt of court charges against Taylor.

The custody order, however, remains the focus of the dispute with the tribal court.

Wendell said these type of battles between state and tribal courts happen more than a person might think.

“Do people seek refuge on the reservation? Yes,” Wendell said.

She has seen other custody fights linger on reservations for years or even in some instances don’t even make it to court — another example of how jurisdictional issues can drag on between state and tribal courts.

“Sometimes it’s ‘good luck’ trying to get anything done,” Wendell said.

Because of that, some people simply give up as it gets “too hard, too stressful and too emotional,” she said.

Wendell said this case is somewhat different, however, not only because there has been the parental kidnapping conviction but because the fathers and their families are sticking it out and not giving up.

“I give them a lot of credit for keeping up the fight,” she said.

Meanwhile, Michael Nygaard said he worries that when Taylor is released from prison, she’ll go to the reservation and then they’ll never see the girls again.

However, orders provided by the parole board state that she can’t leave North Dakota without obtaining advance permission from a parole officer and she must also have a travel permit.  The order also states that she must waive extradition from “any jurisdiction” where she would be found and not contest any effort to return her to the state.

Michael Nygaard said if the fathers aren’t awarded custody at the end of this month, they’re done in the tribal court and will try to move into federal court with the case.

Neither Judge Claymore or Jessica Ducheneaux returned phone calls on the case or couldn’t be contacted.

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Custody Battle continues – Rutherford gets children for the summer


June 23, 2015

Source: Belfast telegraph

Kelly Rutherford has won a small victory in her ongoing custody battle with her ex-husband.

Kelly Rutherford

The Gossip Girl actress has been in a six-year-battle with ex-husband Daniel Giersch over the custody of their two children. Eight-year-old Hermés and Helena, six, currently live in Monaco with their dad after his US visa was revoked in 2012. While the bigger battle over where the children should live permanently rages on, 46-year-old Kelly has managed to secure the summer with them in the States.

“I am pleased with the outcome and that the children will be coming to the U.S. for a part of their summer vacation,” she said in a statement to People magazine. “I am reassured by the Monaco process and the judge and although I still maintain my legal objections about Monaco hearing the case, [my] serenity is restored.”

Last month Kelly was left disappointed when a ruling given by a Californian judge for temporary custody in her favour was halted because the United States does not hold jurisdiction over the case. Instead Monaco has full command over what happens to her offspring, which led to Monday’s hearing regarding their home for the summer.

While Daniel’s lawyer previously claimed his client had no problem with sending the children to America for their vacation like he had done since their joint custody plan was outlined in 2012, Kelly had reservations about it.

“I am concerned that he will try to further prevent me from spending time with them,” she said in a previous statement.

The former couple were both in court in Monaco for the ruling on Monday, but will face each other again in a Los Angeles court on July 9.

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‘If he wants to be a part of my life he can’: Woman who grew up in Australia not knowing she was kidnapped from the U.S. as a baby by her mother meets her biological father for the first time


April 27, 2015

Source: Yahoo, BBC

‘If he wants to be a part of my life he can’: Woman who grew up in Australia not knowing she was kidnapped from the U.S. as a baby by her mother meets her biological father for the first time

  • Samantha Geldenhuys was born in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Her mother kidnapped her and eventually settled in Queensland, Australia
  • Dorothy Barnett snatched her from her father when she was just a child
  • Now Barnett, who was under the alias Alexandria Geldenhuys, is in jail
  • Samantha was born Savanna Todd, but only found out when she was 21
  • Recently she met her biological dad Benjamin Harris Todd III for first time
  • Her step-dad Juan Geldenhuys died a week before Barnett was arrested

A young woman who was kidnapped by her mother as a baby and taken across the world from the US to Australia has spoken about the moment she met her biological father.

Samantha Geldenhuys, born Savanna Todd, recently discovered her mother’s name was not Alexandria Geldenhuys but Dorothy Barnett, and the man she thought was her father was actually her step-dad.

Now, the 21-year-old, who grew up in the beachside suburb of Townsville, has opened up to Channel Seven’s Sunday Night about coming to terms with the shocking news about her mother being an international fugitive, and meeting her biological father for the first time.

‘It was good, it was casual, it was really nice,’ Samantha said of her ‘secret’ meeting with father Benjamin Harris Todd III.

Scroll down for video 

Samantha Geldenhuys, born Savanna Todd, recently discovered the truth about her past and opened up to Channel Sevens' Sunday Night program about her journey

Samantha Geldenhuys on meeting her father for the first time

‘As I said in the courtroom once I have my mother sorted, I have the opportunity to continue my life, and if he wants to be a part of it then he can’, she added.

At the end of last year the young Queensland woman travelled to Charleston, South Carolina where her mother is currently imprisoned.

This followed the moment the Australian Federal Police came knocking on the door of the family home and arrested Samantha’s mother.

That was when the young blonde learned she was the subject of one of America’s longest running child kidnapping cases, and that her mother’s real name was Dorothy Barnett who was an international fugitive wanted by US federal authorities.

Samantha’s father, a wealthy stockbroker, was granted sole custody of her when she was just a young baby, after a custody battle in court where Todd claimed Samantha’s mother Ms Barnett was abusive and unstable.

Samantha's father, Benjamin Harris Todd III, a wealthy stockbroker, was granted sole custody of her when she was just a young baby, and described meeting his now adult daughter as 'wonderful'.

For 20 years Samantha Geldenhuys (pictured) thought she was an ordinary young woman, but then police came and arrested her mother at their Townsville home and Sam learned she was the centre of America’s longest running child kidnapping case and her mum was an international fugitive

Never gave up hope: Savanna's father Benjamin Todd II (pictured with his baby daughter in 1994) never stopped hoping his kidnapped daughter would be found and each year updated her room and made a video for each of her birthdays

Dorothy Lee Barnett pictured with baby Savanna kidnapped her daughter after a bitter custody battle and absconded to South Africa and eventually Australia where she lived as a fugitive under an assumed name until her lie unravelled following a slip of the tongue while drinking with friends

Dorothy Lee Barnett pictured with baby Savanna kidnapped her daughter after a bitter custody battle and absconded to South Africa and eventually Australia where she lived as a fugitive under an assumed name until her lie unravelled following a slip of the tongue while drinking with friends

‘Unfortunately in the absence of knowledge one’s mind can conjure up all sorts of things,’ Mr Todd told Sunday Night, speaking of the two decades he has been without his daughter.

But on an unsupervised visit, Samantha’s mother fled the country with her, first travelling to Asia and South Africa before settling in Queensland, Australia.

‘She just took me and ran,’ Sam told Channel Seven. ‘She started anew just for me.’

It was a lot to take in the blur that followed. Sam’s mother made several appearances during extradition hearings in a Queensland court before Ms Barnett was finally deported to the US and immediately placed in prison.

Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program accompanied Ms Geldenhuys to the US for a tearful reunion with her mother and to attend 53-year-old Ms Barnett’s trial on Parental Kidnapping and US Passport Fraud charges, for which she is now serving prison time.

The only father she knew: Savanna, pictured as a toddler, was renamed Samantha. She is in the arms of the man she thought was her father, her stepfather, Juan Geldenhuys, who later died before Samantha learned the incredible truth about her past

Another life: Samantha pictured with the mother she knew as Alex Geldenhuys, whose real name was revealed as Dorothy Barnett following her dramatic arrest in Queensland last year and deportation back to a US Jail

Another life: Samantha pictured with the mother she knew as Alex Geldenhuys, whose real name was revealed as Dorothy Barnett following her dramatic arrest in Queensland last year and deportation back to a US Jail

Samantha and her real father Benjamin Todd III pictured together just months before Savanna disappeared. Following her parents' separation her father was awarded full custody of Savanna

A still from footage of baby Savanna before her kidnapping by her mother, who was only allowed supervised acess to her daughter after a court case in which Benjamin Todd III alleged Barnett was bipolar

A still from footage of baby Savanna before her kidnapping by her mother, who was only allowed supervised acess to her daughter after a court case in which Benjamin Todd III alleged Barnett was bipolar

Sunday Night tells the story of mystery baby Savanna Todd

While Stateside Samantha also made contact with the friends and family she would have had, had she not been kidnapped by her mother.

Patty Roth, Barnett’s former best friend was particularly emotional about the reunion.

‘She instantly bonded with my girls, and that was special,’ Patty told Sunday Night.

The dramatic events of Sam’s past began on an access visit in 1994, when Dorothy Barnett did not return baby Savanna to Benjamin Todd and the two disappeared.

Todd and Barnett had been engaged in a bitter custody battle, but each side has different reasons for the failure of their doomed relationship.

Benjamin Todd II was a softly spoken ‘southern gentleman’ and classical music lover, the son of a nurse and a doctor from Kentucky who entered a career working at financial management company Merrill Lynch in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dorothy Lee Barnett, had been raised by a single mother and stepfather on welfare, and had travelled extensively, running a piggery in Belize, a jewellery business in Africa, before finally settling for a job as a flight attendant.

Samantha and her mother not long after fleeing. Todd and Barnett had been engaged in a bitter custody battle, but each side has different reasons for the failure of their doomed relationship

Savanna now named Samantha with stepfather Juan and mother Dorothy, now known as Alex, in South Africa

A young Samantha who insists she had a loving, stable upbringing and that her mother was nothing but loving, doting on herself and her younger half-brother, who's father is Samantha's late stepfather Juan

A young Samantha who insists she had a loving, stable upbringing and that her mother was nothing but loving, doting on herself and her younger half-brother, who’s father is Samantha’s late stepfather Juan

Samantha last year after learning the truth about her past

Savanna Todd as a baby with her mother Dorothy before Ms Barnett fled overseas and began living life under the radar until her arrest in Townsville last year

Loving relationship: Barnett and 11-month-old Savanna disappeared and embarked on their lives as fugitives, travelling to Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa where Barnett married Juan Geldenhuys and had a son

When the pair met, and married after a whirlwind romance, Dorothy became pregnant with her daughter.

Dorothy Barnett’s friends told the Seven Network that Benjamin Todd had wanted Barnett to terminate her pregnancy with Savanna in 1993.

But when the marriage failed, it was Todd who gained custody of Savanna following a court case in which he alleged Barnett was bipolar, and she was awarded only supervised access to her baby daughter.

It was on one of these visits Barnett and 11-month-old Savanna disappeared and embarked on their lives as fugitives, travelling to Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa where Barnett married Juan Geldenhuys and they had a son.

Mr Todd's lawyer, J Graham Sturgis told Channel Seven, Benjamin Todd 'never quit' looking for his daughter. 'For years he updated her room to be age appropriate and would record a video message to her on her birthdays,' Mr Sturgis said

Mr Todd’s lawyer, J Graham Sturgis told Channel Seven, Benjamin Todd ‘never quit’ looking for his daughter. ‘For years he updated her room to be age appropriate and would record a video message to her on her birthdays,’ Mr Sturgis said

The couple emigrated to New Zealand, where they gained citizenship, and then Barnett and her children moved to Australia’s Sunshine Coast, where they were known as Alexandria, Samantha and Rhys Geldenhuys.

Juan Geldenhuys died from cancer just a week before ‘Alex Geldenhuys’ was arrested.

It was over evening drinks after a day’s sailing in 2011 that ‘Alex Geldenhuys’ slipped up.

Ms Barnett referred to Samantha as ‘Savanna’ and said she had fled an ‘abusive’ relationship in America.

Barnett’s South African friends went online and found a page on the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.

They saw pictures of a woman who looked like a younger ‘Alex’ and an age-advanced photo of a girl who resembled Samantha.

They contacted Benjamin Todd III in America. His long hunt for Savanna was over.

Tearful reunion: Samantha speaks on a phone to her mother inside the South Carolina prison where Dorothy Barnett is serving time for her kidnap and passport fraud offences 

Dorothy Barnett cries as she speaks with her daughter in the prison where she is serving 21 months after being deported and pleading guilty to kidnapping her own child from the US in 1994

As Mr Todd’s lawyer, J Graham Sturgis told Channel Seven, Benjamin Todd ‘never quit’ looking for his daughter.

‘For years he updated her room to be age appropriate and would record a video message to her on her birthdays,’ Mr Sturgis said.

‘It is a parent’s worst nightmare not to know what happened to a child [but] he never lost hope and pursued every possibility that might lead to her recovery.’

However, friends of Ms Barnett described Todd as an ‘evil, evil man’ while Barnett herself described his pursuit of her as ‘corrupt’ and ‘criminal’.

Whatever is the truth, the extraordinary story of how Ms Barnett eluded the FBI for two decades, and how her life as a lie unravelled, is said to have ‘deeply confused’ 21-year-old Samantha.

Sunday Night were with Samantha at the prison her mother was being held at when they reuinted

Channel Seven filmed her as she reunited with Ms Barnett in the South Carolina prison where she is serving a 21 month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of International Parental Kidnapping and two counts of False Statement in a Passport Application.

Ms Barnett will be required to undergo two years’ supervised parole following her release.

‘His daughter thus far has been reluctant to meet,’ J Graham Sturgis, told Daily Mail Australia, before the airing of the program.

‘She only knows her mother and the misinformation that has been provided her. She likely would be considered by her mother to be disloyal if she were to meet [Todd] at this time.’

Child Recovery Agents Parental Kidnapping

Mr Sturgis said the intensely private stockbroker understood why the daughter snatched from him and who never knew him as father had held off from speaking with him, and that he feared jeopardising his hoped-for reunion with her.

But Mr Sturgis said Todd yearned for the ‘long awaited opportunity’ of meeting Savanna and had literally counted the days – 19 years, six months and 12 days – from the access visit on which Savanna disappeared to when Australian police knocked on a door in faraway Townsville and his long lost daughter was found.

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Parental Kidnapping – Woman faces bigamy charges after lesbian marriage


March 17, 2015

Source: newsleader.com 

WAYNESBORO — Police extradited a Florida woman who married another woman in Waynesboro and then reportedly fled to the Sunshine State with three children that she had with another man, her legal husband, according to a press release.

Keyshana Rae Childress

Waynesboro police said Keyshana Rae Childress, 28, of Gainesville, Florida, is charged with bigamy, parental kidnapping and perjury.

Authorities said Childress’ husband, a 51-year-old Charlottesville man, called police and said his wife had married another woman and taken their three children, ages 3, 4 and 6, without his permission and against a child custody/visitation order to Florida.

The Waynesboro Police Department said the husband provided them with a marriage certificate from February 2008 through the Charlottesville Circuit Court that showed he was married to Childress. Police said a check through the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records indicated there is no divorce record for Childress or her husband.

On Oct. 8, police said Childress and her partner, an unidentified 27-year-old Waynesboro woman, obtained a marriage license from Waynesboro Circuit Court. Childress previously resided in Waynesboro. Officers think that Childress falsified the application for the marriage license when she indicated, under oath, that she was not presently married at the time.

Waynesboro police said Childress eventually left Virginia to reside in Florida with her wife and three children. Florida is the original home of Childress’ wife.

In early January, Waynesboro police obtained five felony warrants for Childress. Through a family member, officers were able to determine a Florida address for Childress. Officers communicated with Gainesville authorities in early January and Childress was arrested. She was held at Alachua County Jail until extradited by the United States Marshals Service last week.

Childress is being held without bond at Middle River Regional Jail.

Asked if this was the first bigamy case of its kind in Virginia, Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney David Ledbetter said it probably is, but the prosecutor quickly noted that the same-sex angle of the case is not the issue. “The essential issue … is the parental abduction,” he said.

Ledbetter also said the perjury charge is equally as important, as it helps protect the integrity of the city’s record keeping when those seeking a marriage license aren’t being entirely truthful to the city’s court clerks despite being placed under oath.

“The clerks cannot prove these things ahead of time … so we put them under oath,” he said.

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Aussie mum cleared of Canadian child abduction


January 28 , 2015

Source: news.com.au

Australia / Canada – Parental Child Abduction Case

AN Australian woman arrested at Los Angeles International Airport with her seven-year-old son has been acquitted in a Canadian court of parental abduction.

Secuestro Parental reocupar

The woman planned to fly to Australia with the child without telling her Canadian husband.

A court in Brandon, a city in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, was told the woman’s marriage was crumbling in December 2011, when she picked up her son from school and flew to Los Angeles.

They were booked on a flight to Australia.

When the father returned home from work the family residence in Manitoba was dark and his wife’s jewellery, cash, travel bags and many of their son’s clothes were missing.

Canadian and US authorities were able to track the woman and her son to the LA airport, where she was arrested.

Justice John Menzies ruled the mother always intended to return with the boy to Manitoba, and did not intend to deprive the father of his ability to regain care and control of his son.

“I’m satisfied that it was always her intention to return,” Menzies told the Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday, the Brandon Sun reported.

The woman, who has not been identified to protect the identity of her son, met her husband in Australia in the mid 1990s, they married in 2001 and moved to Canada in 2008.

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