An Alberta man looks forward to reuniting with his son following a separation that lasted more than three years while authorities searched for the boy throughout Central America.
“It was just so huge and exciting to finally get that call we’ve been waiting so long for.”
Chad, whose last name is being withheld in order to protect the identity of his four-year-old child, says the last time he saw his son was in January of 2014.
Chad’s ex-wife, the boy’s mother, sent him a text message indicating she had fled the country with their son and had no plans to return to Canada.
The father was awarded sole interim custody of the 11-month-old and arrest warrants were issued for the woman, whose name is protected under a publication ban, on charges of parental kidnapping.
The woman was tracked throughout Central America but remained on the run for more than three years. Last month, police received information she and her son were living in San Ignacio, Belize. Local authorities apprehended the suspect on charges related to improper immigration documents and she was returned to Canada.
The boy remains in Central America under the care of Belize Human Services. Chad has had an opportunity to speak with his son by phone and video calls.
“It was such an emotional moment for me getting to hear his voice the first time,” said Chad. “Then I even got to see him and that was just so exciting.”
Chad says his son appeared happy and healthy. Plans are underway to reunite the father and son in Canada, despite the boy’s weather-related concerns.
“He’s under the impression that it’s cold up here and it snows all the time in Canada so he’s trying to get ready for the snow,” said Chad with a laugh. “He likes airplanes and he likes flying kites, but he can only do it when it’s windy down there, which is fairly rare.”
“I just reassured him Lethbridge is windy so he’ll get to fly kites up here.”
The boy’s mother has been charged with child abduction and remains in custody. Chad says he would consider allowing his ex-wife supervised visits with their son.
“Her being the only person he has really known for the past few years, it’s not fair to him to just take that relationship away,” explained Chad.
Chad hopes to resume a normal family life with his son at his side. “It’s going to be just a huge adjustment for us here but a really good one.”
The boy’s mother is scheduled to appear in Lethbridge Court on August 15.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to or from Canada or Belize please feel free to contact us 24 / 7. We are always available at email@example.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)
An Alberta woman charged with abducting her young son three years ago has been arrested in Belize.
Lethbridge police say investigators received information last month on the whereabouts of a 33-year-old Lethbridge woman and her four-year-old son.
“Over the years, police have tracked the woman to Mexico, Guatemala and various parts of Belize after her ex-husband reported she had fled the country with the couple’s then 11-month-old son and was not planning to return,” the service said Thursday.
An arrest warrant has been outstanding since the mother was charged in 2014.
Police in Belize found the pair in the town of San Ignacio, where the mother was taken into custody and her son was placed in the care of human services. She was deported to the U.S. on Aug. 9 then taken to Canada, where she was arrested by Lethbridge police at the Calgary airport.
The child remains in the care of Belize Human Services and the next step will be getting him back to Canada, where he will be in the care of his father. Police say the child is in good health.
Sgt. Cam Van Roon, the primary investigator on the case, said the investigation spanning multiple countries has been challenging.
“We were really conducting an investigation from what felt like halfway across the world, so it was very challenging that way, trying to garner information both here and try to get some from abroad, and then piece that into what could be real time that could actually be used in Belize,” said Van Roon.
The investigation was launched Jan. 6, 2014, when police responded to a report of child abduction after the mother allegedly failed to drop her son off for a court-ordered visit and a text message was sent indicating they had left the country.
On Jan. 8, 2014, a court order granted the father sole interim custody and ordered the child’s immediate return. The order was sent to the mother and police say they made numerous attempts to contact her.
On Feb. 5, 2014, the mother was charged with child abduction and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Police allege she evaded police over the years by moving around Central America.
The woman, who can’t be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban, has been remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to or from Canada or Belize please feel free to contact us 24 / 7. We are always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)
The father of a baby girl whose mother took her out of Canada against his wishes last year is suing the RCMP for negligence, alleging the force helped her to commit a criminal offence.
“I’m just so angry. I just can’t imagine anyone would ever do this to somebody else,” said Craig Johnstone, 28, an electrician from North Vancouver.
Richmond RCMP let the mother leave, even though they had removed her from a flight the previous night for suspected parental abduction. She was trying to move to Australia with their Canadian-born daughter, who was six months old at the time.
The very next day, Johnstone said, “[RCMP Const. Eric Chan] told me, ‘I’m sorry, she has gotten on another plane out of the country.’ I don’t know how he could let her go.”
“If my ex had said I am kidnapping my daughter I probably would have been in jail,” said Johnstone. “Maybe they just wanted to avoid a bunch of paperwork or whatever — and it was easier for them to let her go.”
Court had ordered her to stay
Police allowed Australian-born Natasha Bride, 33, to board the second plane just as Johnstone got a court order, which he said he told the RCMP he was getting, barring the mother from leaving.
The now worthless court order had ordered the RCMP to seize her passport, along with the baby’s.
“They were going to wait for me to get a court order and then enforce the law. But they didn’t,” said Johnstone.
He and his family are devastated over losing the little girl. He said he’s only seen her three times in 10 months – short, awkward visits in Australia.
“It hurts me — but it hurts my daughter much more,” he said. “I had a lot of faith in the court system and the judicial system but now I have none. None whatsoever.”
He also lost a court bid there to have the baby brought back to Canada, because the court ruled Australia is now her home. He now fears she will grow up without a father.
Father and grandparents heartbroken
“I ask to go on Skype. I ask for pictures. I ask how she’s doing. [Her mother] won’t tell me anything. She just ignores me,” said Johnstone, wiping away tears.
“There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Who is going to police the police in this case?” said the baby’s paternal grandmother Jane Johnstone, who also broke down in tears.
“They’ve caused a huge wrong. It’s affected lots of lives. We just love her. And we’d love to just give her a cuddle.”
This all happened after Johnstone went to Bride’s apartment last April 15 and found she had packed up and left. He called the West Vancouver police, because he believed she was at the airport with the baby.
The couple had recently separated. Johnstone claimed Bride was suffering from post-partum anxiety and starting verbal fights with him, so he moved out to give the baby a more peaceful environment.
“Natasha would just get upset with me over pretty much anything…and it just wasn’t good for my daughter,” said Johnstone.
“A month after, that that’s when I find out she is trying to get on a plane out of the country.”
Johnstone told West Vancouver police that Bride did not have his permission to leave with the child and said that was relayed to the RCMP at the Vancouver airport.
After the RCMP removed the baby girl and her mother from the Air Canada Sydney-bound flight, West Vancouver Police advised Johnstone to get the court order, which he did, while staying in touch with the RCMP by phone.
As he was on his way to the airport to deliver the court papers, RCMP Const. Chan called him back to say Bride was gone. Air Canada confirmed to Go Public it was the RCMP that authorized her to leave.
Air Canada given the OK
“We had received authorization from both the RCMP and … the Australian consulate authorities who cleared the passenger and child to travel the following day,” said Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah.
Johnstone said, “I wish whoever gave that clearance — I hope they lose their job and I hope they have to suffer the same way I am suffering. What I am going through is indescribable.”
He said the RCMP never explained their actions.
He suspects officers bought a story from his ex – without any evidence – that she was an abuse victim. Bride did later claim in an affidavit filed with an Australian court that she had to flee for her safety.
“I was living in the shadows of an abusive relationship…I was being abused…I was on a plane home and I was removed off the plane by police. The trauma felt like it would never end,” said Bride.
“I was in sheer panic and terror at the thought of now being held in Canada instead of returning home to safety with my baby.”
Johnstone said Bride also made false claims of abuse to the Australian consulate in Vancouver, so she could get the baby a passport without his knowledge or permission.
Her abuse allegations have since been discredited by the Australian court, which concluded Bride’s actions in the couple’s relationship “fly in the face of a person who has grave fears for her safety.”
Canadian police reports from before she left show it was Johnstone who called 911 – to report Bride was being irrational.
“Neither party had any injuries and there was no sign of a physical altercation,” reads a February report from the North Vancouver RCMP.
“[Natasha Bride] stated that they had been involved in a verbal argument, not a physical altercation…no assault had occurred.”
Bride didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Officers had ‘discussion’ with mother
The RCMP told Go Public officers at the airport took their direction from the West Vancouver police — to intercept the mother on the first flight — and could do no more.
“Richmond RCMP spoke with the mother and relayed the result of their discussion with her to the West Vancouver Police Department,” said spokesperson Cpl. Dennis Hwang.
“Richmond RCMP had no grounds at that point in time to prevent the mother from flying out of the country.”
A former police officer who runs the Missing Children’s Society in Canada said the RCMP could have detained Bride and investigated — but instead clearly dropped the ball.
“I would have charged her with parental abduction,” said Ted Davis.
“For the purposes of investigation they should have kept her pending the production of a court order saying that she couldn’t leave the country.”
He also said false claims of abuse are common in these cases.
“Investigating parental abductions for the last 20 years I would say the greater majority of allegations of abuse are more fictitious than they are real,” said Davis. “The greater majority are made up stories — so that they can get their way.”
The RCMP’s parental abduction specialist in Ottawa also said police have grounds to do more.
“I would advise them that they do have the authority to hold on to the parent they have arrested until they have a chance to investigate it,” Sgt. Jane Boissonneault of the RCMP National Missing Children Operations, in a phone interview.
She also said many officers don’t know how to handle parental abductions, because they don’t deal with them often.
“We do know anecdotally that not all police officers in the field are aware of the legislation in this area. They are not familiar enough with those sections of the Criminal Code,” she said.
Go Public then tried to interview Boissonneault on camera, but an RCMP media relations person abruptly cut off the interview when we asked her what police are supposed to do.
RCMP shut down interview
“It’s really not conducive to us getting our messaging across … so I think we’re going to end it here … we’re going to end it now,” said Sgt. Greg Cox, from RCMP Media Relations. He then cut our connection.
Neil Chantler, the lawyer handling Johnstone’s lawsuit against the RCMP, said, “They owe a duty of care to Craig [Johnstone] who is a victim of what appears to be a child abduction.” The suit also names the West Vancouver Police Department, because it was also involved.
“The true victim is of course the child — but Craig is at the very least a collateral victim.”
Meanwhile, Johnstone said he’s already racked up $50,000 in legal bills and can’t move to Australia easily because he has to first get a visa to work there.
Even if he does, he has no idea if or when he will see his child.
“I missed her first birthday. I missed her Christmas,” he said. “It’s been extremely difficult and it’s going to be extremely difficult.”
A Westman mother accused of parental abduction — arrested as she was about to board a plane to Australia with her son — testified that she’d always intended to return to Manitoba.
She says she was taking her son to visit her family for Christmas when, to her surprise, she was arrested by U.S. marshalls at the Los Angeles International Airport.
“I was in shock, I was scared, I was in disbelief,” the mother testified during her trial in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.
The Brandon Sun isn’t naming the parties involved in the case, in order to protect the identity of the boy who was seven-years-old at the time.
Court heard the incident came in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart.
The mother is originally from Australia. She and her husband met in that country in the mid-90s, wed in November 2001, and had a son.
The family moved to Canada, specifically to Westman, in 2008.
On Dec. 14, 2011 — the marriage crumbling — the mother picked up her son at school. She then drove with the boy to Minot, North Dakota and flew to L.A., via Minneapolis.
The father testified that on Dec. 14 2011, he returned to the family’s Westman home from work to find it in darkness.
Some of his wife’s jewelry was missing, and so were many of her and his son’s clothes. About $500 and some cash and travel bags were also gone.
While he guessed his wife and son may be headed for Australia, he said he didn’t really know where they’d gone and feared for their safety.
He couldn’t reach his wife when he texted and called her cellphone.
A call to his son’s teacher, his wife’s friends and her family in Australia failed to determine his family’s whereabouts.
It was then that he called RCMP who issued an amber alert.
RCMP contacted border officials and U.S. authorities, and determined that mother and son had a flight booked from LA to Australia.
Following her arrest at the LA airport, the mother was held at in a jail in that city until Feb. 24, 2012 when she was extradited to Canada with her consent.
After his wife’s arrest, the father travelled to LA to pick up his son, who had been placed in a foster home overnight, and brought him home to Canada.
His son was left confused and upset by the ordeal, the father testified.
Prior to the incident, he said, his wife had asked about the possibiliy of moving with her son back to Australia after the couple separated.
The father said he was against that idea, and hadn’t given his consent for his wife to travel with their son to LA or beyond.
While they’d discussed separation, there were no family court proceedings underway, so both parties had joint custody of their son at the time.
On her part, the mother testified that she needed space from her husband to think about their separation.
She’d learned that her husband had started to pursue a relationship with another woman.
Originally, she’d planned to take her son to a Brandon hotel for a getaway, but was worried her husband would stop by.
She was scared when her husband delivered a look of “pure hatred,” she testified, and made a snap decision to make good on a previous plan to take her son to Australia to visit her family for Christmas.
In LA, she called her family who booked the tickets for the leg to Australia.
She said she left without telling her husband, but he’d known she’d wanted to travel to her home country. She intended to call her husband from there, she said, and always intended to return to Manitoba.
Initially, upon her return to Canada, she was placed on a bail with an order to have no contact with her son.
However, court heard that she and her estranged husband now share equal access to their son who splits his time between his parents’ homes.
“He’s happy. He loves his mom, he loves his dad,” the mother testified. “He’s glad he sees us both.”
Rebekah Isaac and her 2 young children were last seen on the morning of Oct. 27
A Toronto mother and her two children are missing in what police have called a parental abduction, and investigators are asking for the public’s help in locating them.
Rebekah Isaac, 34, was last seen with her seven-year-old son Jonathan and her five-year-old daughter Joylin on Monday morning in the Neilson Road and McLevin Avenue area.
Rebekah Isaac, 34, and her two young children Jonathan and Joylin were last seen on the morning of Oct. 27. Police are concerned for their safety. (Toronto Police Services handout)
Rebekah is described as five-feet to five-feet, two-inches tall, 120 pounds, with straight black hair and gold earrings. She was last seen wearing black pants, a red-and-white striped shirt and a light brown three-quarter-length hooded jacket. She was carrying a black and blue knapsack.
Jonathan is described as four-feet, four-inches tall with a slim build and short black hair. He was last seen wearing a pull-over sweater with brown and blue horizontal stripes and blue jeans.
Joylin is between four-feet and four-feet, two-inches tall and 35 to 50 pounds. She has short black hair and was wearing dangling gold earrings.
Police are worried about the family’s safety, and are asking anyone with information that might help to find the trio to contact them.
Turner, 52, was set to stand trial on 16 criminal counts for taking his then-three-year-old son, Luke, on May 25, 2013.
Instead, he pleaded guilty to four charges: second-degree kidnapping, felony menacing, use of a stun gun and violation of custody. The sentencing hearing will be held next month.
Monty Turner pleaded guilty on Wednesday to second-degree kidnapping, felony menacing, use of a stun gun and violation of custody. The plea deal calls for 36 years in prison. (Longmont police)
In May 2013, Turner assaulted his ex-wife with pepper spray and a stun gun, then took Luke and drove 1,500 kilometres from Longmont, Colo. to the western Manitoba city.
He was arrested at a Brandon motel shortly after checking in. Luke was not hurt and was returned to his mother.
Turner’s father, Ronald, was convicted in April for helping to plan and orchestrate the kidnapping. In June, a U.S. judge sentenced him to 27 years behind bars.
It’s not known yet exacty how many years Monty Turner will serve.
In his plea agreement, Turner agreed to 36 years, but that includes guilty pleas for other violent crimes, such as felony menacing, use of a stun gun and violation of custody, as well as the kidnapping.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21
Harsh U.S. sentence raises questions about Canadian courts
The sentence Turner may serve is raising eyebrows at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Kevin Maryk was sentenced in Winnipeg last month to four years behind bars for abducting his two children and taking them to Mexico for four years.
Maryk was sentenced in September, but he was also given credit for time served. He’ll be out in less than a year.
Christy Dzikowicz of Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection said comparing the two cases raises questions about how seriously Canadian courts view parental abduction, given Maryk’s four-year sentence.
“It seems like a very inadequate response to the crime that was committed when we see these sentences come out of the U.S.,” she said. “It really underscores where we really need to make some changes on our side.”
Dzikowicz said it’s disappointing.
“We have a long way to go for people to recognize how serious a crime it is to remove children. It’s not a matter of, you know, they’re with a parent, so it’s not so bad. It is bad.”
Maryk’s ex-wife, Emily Cablek, said it’s clear U.S. authorities take the issue of parents abducting their children much more seriously.
“I mean it is really surprising,” she said. “Canada has a long way to go. The Canadian laws are very, very sad and disappointing.”
Cablek said even though she has full custody of her children now, she is afraid Maryk will try to take the children again when he gets out of jail.
“I don’t want to lose my kids again and I will say, they don’t want to see him,” she told CBC. “It’s hard because I hope he doesn’t put us through another custody battle, I hope he doesn’t take more years away as a family.”
At an age when most girls are thinking about junior high, making new friends and fitting in, Isabella Miller-Jenkins is on the run from the law.
It’s an international journey, authorities say, that began with her kidnapping in Virginia, brought her to Buffalo and eventually landed her with a group of Mennonites willing to hide her in Nicaragua.
Isabella, now 12 and under the alias of Lydia, is believed to be living there with one of her two mothers, Lisa A. Miller, the woman accused of abducting her five years ago.
Their story, which has garnered national headlines, could very well end here if Isabella and her mother are ever found. A federal grand jury in Buffalo recently indicted Miller and two others on charges of conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.
“Isabella, like any other child, deserves to grow up in her home country with parents and relatives who love her,” Janet Jenkins, Isabella’s other legal parent, said in a statement to The Buffalo News. “I am grateful for the efforts of law enforcement in Vermont, Virginia, New York and Nicaragua who have been working to find Isabella and prosecute those who have conspired in her abduction.”
Unlike most cases of parental kidnapping, the Miller prosecution has unfolded on the national stage for all to see. The New York Times and Atlantic Monthly are just two of the many news organizations that have followed the story.
It’s a case chock-full of social and legal issues – same-sex marriage, homosexuality, parental rights – that divide much of the nation.
So why prosecute the case in Buffalo?
The allegation is that Miller, eager to leave what she now calls the “homosexual lifestyle,” fled Virginia with her daughter in 2009 and, with the help of co-defendant Philip Zodhiates, made her way to Buffalo.
It was here, at the Greater Buffalo International Airport, that she hired a taxi driver to take them across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. From there, they made their way to Mexico and ultimately Nicaragua.
“Janet believes that her daughter is still in Central America in the company of Lisa Miller and the Amish Mennonite community,” Sarah R. Star, Jenkins’ Vermont lawyer, said in a statement.
Jenkins is eager to have her daughter home and is asking anyone who might know where she is to please come forward.
“Isabella is sorely missed by her mother Janet, her aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and many friends who have not seen her in five years,” the attorney said. “She requests that anyone with further information about Isabella’s whereabouts or her well-being contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”
A renounced relationship
The photos of a smiling 7-year-old girl in blond pigtails have been part of the National Center’s website for four years.
A flyer with the words, “Missing. Please bring me home,” has been circulating since Miller fled Virginia with Isabella, leaving behind Jenkins, her partner from a civil union in Vermont.
Years earlier, Miller had renounced their relationship, returned to Virginia and, according to the Times, taken a job teaching at Liberty Christian Academy, a school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
By then, Vermont had dissolved their civil union and granted custody to Miller and visiting rights to Jenkins.
Miller, now 46, would later acknowledge that, even before she and Jenkins moved from Virginia to Vermont, a state that recognized same-sex unions, she had started questioning their lesbian relationship.
Miller, who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization, also had a troublesome pregnancy with Isabella and, in notes that later became public, acknowledged a desire to reconnect with the church.
“I promised God that, if he would save my baby, I would leave the homosexual lifestyle,” she said in one of her journals.
One of her lawyers, Rena M. Lindevaldsen, associate dean of the Liberty University Law School, refers to the notes in “Only One Mommy,” her 2011 book on Miller’s decadelong fight to become Isabella’s only parent.
When the courts in Vermont and Virginia disagreed and upheld Jenkins’ visitation rights, Miller tried stopping her former partner from seeing their daughter.
When the courts again intervened and ultimately granted Jenkins custody, she left Virginia and never returned.
“I only want to see my daughter,” Jenkins told the Times in 2012. “What’s hard for me is not knowing what she’s going through.”
Jenkins, now 49, is still in Vermont and has since married another woman.
Even before she fled, there were hints that Miller might not accept the courts’ rulings on Jenkins’ visitation and custody rights.
In a 2009 letter to a judge in Vermont, according to the Times, she said Isabella, “knows from her own reading of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman … that she can not have two mommies.”
“What is at stake,” she told the judge, “is the health and well-being of an intelligent, delightful, beautiful, 7-year-old Christian girl.”
Early on in her custody fight, Miller enlisted the support of Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit Christian organization known for its pro bono work on issues such as same-sex marriage. The group argued that Virginia law, which did not recognize civil unions, should have precedence over the case, and that Miller should be declared Isabella’s sole parent.
A lower court in Virginia initially agreed, but the state’s appeals court took a far different stance. It said Vermont’s laws should rule.
Viewed as a custody fight with national implications, gay-rights groups such as Lambda Legal and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders have joined the battle, providing legal aid to Jenkins.
No sightings since 2011
Sometime in late September 2009, Isabella and her mother arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, and were greeted by Timothy D. Miller, a Mennonite pastor who is no relation to Miller.
He took the two of them to Jinotega, a town in the “coffee-growing hills of northern Nicaragua,” according to the Times. They stayed for about two months, he told the paper, and returned to Managua, but had trouble accepting the isolation there.
Mother and daughter eventually went back to Jinotega but, in 2011, disappeared when word filtered back that Timothy Miller had been arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with aiding in Isabella’s abduction.
By all accounts, there have been no sightings of Isabella or her mother since then. Authorities believe they are still somewhere in Nicaragua.
Lindevaldsen could not be reached to comment, but in a 2012 interview with C-SPAN, said she has no idea where her client ended up.
“It seems at one point she was in Nicaragua,” she said at the time, “but that’s all I know, as far as what’s in the court papers.”
The latest indictment also charges Timothy Miller and Philip Zodhiates with helping Lisa Miller escape the country. Zodhiates, a Virginia businessman, is accused of traveling with them to Buffalo and then contacting an unidentified individual who helped them make their way through Canada.
Zodhiates could not be reached to comment, but is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in Buffalo before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
For Timothy Miller, this is the second round of federal charges. He was charged in 2011 after his arrest, but the government dropped the charges, reportedly because he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
A few months later, another Miller, Kenneth, a Mennonite pastor in Virginia, also was charged with aiding in Isabella’s kidnapping. None of the Millers are related.
In 2012, a federal court jury in Vermont deliberated only four hours before finding Kenneth Miller guilty. His 27-month prison sentence was stayed pending his appeal.
Defense lawyers for Kenneth and Timothy Miller could not be reached to comment, and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont and Buffalo declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the FBI and Interpol’s search for Lisa Miller continues.
Layale Khalifeh and her seven-year-old son Jad have a bedtime routine when they’re apart: they look at the moon and imagine the other is doing the same.
It was a ritual they practised during regular phone calls last month while Jad was in Lebanon with Khalifeh’s ex-husband, Mohamad El-Husseini.
But at the end of August, the phone calls stopped — and El-Husseini hasn’t come back with their son.
Khalifeh now believes her ex-husband has abducted Jad, and has turned to authorities to compel his return.
Amid her frantic efforts to find her son, Khalifeh said she draws some solace in the belief that Jad is thinking of her when he peers up at the moon.
“I know wherever he is, he’s still doing that,” she said Thursday.
Parental abduction cases involving Lebanon can be notoriously difficult to resolve, but Khalifeh said she won’t rest until Jad is back in Calgary.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring my son back,” she said.
El-Husseini had taken Jad to Lebanon and returned him without incident since the couple’s separation in 2011 — but what Khalifeh has uncovered in the past 10 days has the look of alleged plan to permanently leave Canada with the boy.
Khalifeh, 33, agreed to let El-Husseini travel with Jad to Toronto, then Lebanon, at the end of July for what he said was a family wedding.
Khalifeh signed a legal consent letter, which specified El-Husseini and their son would return to Calgary on Sept. 1.
The first sign something was amiss was Aug. 26, when Khalifeh phoned El-Husseini to speak with Jad — something she did every few days — and the call cut out.
“Since then, I have continued to attempt to contact him, but have not been able to reach him or our son,” she stated in her affidavit, filed in Court of Queen’s Bench last week.
The allegations in Khalifeh’s affidavit haven’t been proven, but were enough to obtain a court order granting her sole custody of Jad and compelling his return to Canada.
Khalifeh stated in the affidavit she went to El-Husseini’s house on Sept. 1 and no one was there — what’s more, the house appeared vacant.
She also found out another property of El-Husseini’s in Calgary was sold in June.
When Khalifeh called British Airways to see if the airline had any information about her ex-husband and son’s travel plans, she learned El-Husseini cancelled their return tickets last month.
That’s when Khalifeh went to Calgary police.
At the same time, Khalifeh’s parents, who live in Lebanon, contacted El-Husseini’s family in that country and found more disturbing news: the relatives said he quit his job in Calgary.
“(El-Husseini’s aunt) further advised that he had planned to move back to Lebanon without my consent,” the affidavit said.
Calgary police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for El-Husseini, 34, on a charge of abducting a child in contravention of a custody order.
However, the family court order and the Canadian warrant don’t have any authority in Lebanon, which has never signed an international treaty governing parental abductions, known as The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Police and Khalifeh’s lawyer, Andy Hayher, acknowledge the case is challenging to pursue from Canada.
“It’s very difficult in Lebanon to convince a court that a father has abducted his own child,” said Hayer, who is working on the case with a lawyer in Lebanon.
Khalifeh and Hayher have also contacted Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, who is Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Obhrai said consular officials in Lebanon will be pressing the case on Khalifeh’s behalf.
Local police, too, are working with counterparts across jurisdictions, such as the RCMP and INTERPOL. In the meantime, Khalifeh is trying to remain strong until she can see Jad, who was supposed to be starting Grade 2 at the Calgary French and International School.
Tim Arcaro recognized for his efforts in assisting parents of abducted children.
FORT LAUDERDALE–DAVIE, Fla., Aug. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — NSU Shepard Broad Law Center Professor and Associate Dean Tim Arcaro, J.D., has been formally recognized by the U.S. Department of State for his work on the Hague Convention Attorney Network. Arcaro’s work involved representing parents attempting to recover children who have been internationally parentally abducted from South Florida, or who may be targets of international parental abduction.
Beth Payne, director, Office of Children’s Issues, United States Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction issued a certificate of appreciation thanking Dean Arcaro for generously donating his legal services in assisting parents and for contributing to the effective operation of the Hague Convention in the United States. Arcaro also received commendations from Patricia Hoff, legal assistance coordinator for the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
“Dean Arcaro’s participation in the Hague Convention Attorney Network underscores his commitment to addressing this fundamental human rights issue and to the South Florida community,” said Jon Garon, JD., dean of NSU’s Law Center. “Parental abduction is a growing issue in the U.S. and there is a tremendous need for attorneys with training and commitment similar to Tim’s. I applaud him and each of our faculty members here at the Law Center who give of themselves in service to our community. Tim’s work reflects the fundamental values our faculty, student, and staff embrace at NSU and the Shepard Broad Law Center.”
The Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues actively seeks lawyers who are willing to participate and assist parents involved in international family law and child abduction cases. By joining the Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network, attorneys provide the critical assistance necessary to navigate through the legal system with a view toward obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access. More information on the program can be obtained by visiting http://bit.ly/1wmRwjJ .
Arcaro is a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been admitted to the Florida and Pennsylvania bars, as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Arcaro has been a member of the Law Center’s faculty since 1994. After serving as a clinical instructor in the Civil Law Clinic, he was appointed Director of the Children and Family Law Clinic in 1998. He became director of the Master of Science in Health Law Program in 2003, and served in that capacity until being appointed director of the Master of Science in Education Law Program in 2005. Professor Arcaro teaches both online and on-site courses, including Administrative Law, Professional Responsibility, International Human Rights, and Immigration Law.
Arcaro has lectured extensively on professional responsibility, domestic violence, child advocacy, and developing clinical legal education programs. In addition to memberships in local, state and national bar associations, Arcaro also maintains professional memberships in numerous legal, clinical and educational associations, such as the Education Law Association, International Society for Technology in Education, National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and the Association of American Law Schools Clinical Legal Education section. He has served on the Florida Legal Aid Corporation’s Executive Board of Directors, the [Florida] Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, and the Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence Legal Clearinghouse. Arcaro has received many awards in recognition of his service to both colleagues and the community, among them: the 2007 Faculty Professionalism Award from the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism; Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, from the Broward County Guardian Ad Litem Program; Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year, from the Broward Legal Aid Service, Inc.; and Pro Bono Recognition from the Broward Lawyers Care (Broward County Bar Association).
About the Shepard Broad Law Center: Nova Southeastern University’s Law Center offers a rigorous traditional academic program in three-year day and four-year evening versions, as well as dual-degree programs. Additionally, NSU Law offers three online Master of Science degrees in law in the areas of education, employment, and health. NSU Law prides itself on preparing graduates to make a smooth transition from the classroom to the courtroom or boardroom. Lawyering Skills and Values (LSV)-Every student completes a four-semester LSV sequence that combines traditional legal reasoning, writing, and research with an introduction to lawyer interviewing, counseling, negotiating, mediating, advocating, and other critical skills in a simulated law firm experience. For more information please visit http://www.nsulaw.nova.edu/
About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 314 beautiful acres in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels. NSU is a not-for-profit independent institution with 27,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit www.nova.edu. Celebrating 50 years