Parental Kidnapping – Complex challenges posed in international child abductions


May 11, 2015

Source: gazettenet.com

By: RIK STEVENS, Associated Press

Custody cases that cross international borders are not uncommon and create a unique and challenging set of circumstances for parents and governments alike.

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The U.S. State Department estimates at least 8,000 American children were abducted by a parent between 2008 and 2013, and legislation signed into law last year says more than 1,000 are reported each year.

The department’s Office of Children’s Issues says it has received thousands of requests since 2007 for assistance in getting a child returned to the United States after they’ve been wrongfully abducted by a parent. Only half the children abducted to countries who participate in an international treaty are returned to the United States.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law in 1980 recognized international custody abductions as a problem requiring a global response. Currently 93 countries, including the United States, have signed onto a convention that signals their desire to protect children from wrongful removal and to ensure their prompt return to their home country. The convention was not in play during the Kelley case, because investigators could never determine with certainty where she was.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, has led efforts to reform the way the U.S. deals with international custody cases. In July 2014, Congress approved Smith’s bill that seeks to prevent international parental child abductions. The legislation, signed by President Barack Obama, requires the U.S. State Department to produce an annual report that names countries in which there was at least one parental abduction the preceding year, with the goal of shaming them into action.

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The legislation also for the first time sets a schedule of actions, ranging from a private, unofficial complaint up to potential economic sanctions. The legislation also puts pressure on the State Department and the members of Congress who represent a parent to act.

Kelley is set to face trial on charges she violated a court order when she spirited her then-8-year-old daughter out of the country more than a decade ago during a custody dispute with the girl’s biological father.

Prosecutors believed she lived in Costa Rica with her second husband, the son they had together and her daughter.

When the girl turned 18, Genevieve Kelley decided to return to New Hampshire. She and her second husband, Scott Kelley, face charges that can bring up to seven years in prison on each of three felony counts of custodial interference and witness tampering, and up to a year in jail on each of two misdemeanors. A hearing is set for May 18.

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Lawyer says daughter in alleged parental kidnapping case suffers from PTSD


January 20 , 2015

Source: unionleader.com

LANCASTER — Last week ended with a flurry of motions filed in the case of accused parental kidnapper Genevieve Kelley, including one to let her daughter provide videotaped testimony because a court appearance would traumatize the 18-year-old and cause a “severe reaction.”

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Kelley, a former physician in the North Country, faces two counts of interference with custody for fleeing the state and going into hiding in 2004 with her then 8-year-old daughter Mary Nunes, whom Kelley claimed was sexually abused by her ex-husband Mark Nunes. Authorities do not believe the allegations are true; Mark Nunes has not been charged.

On Nov. 17, 2014, Kelley surrendered to the Coos County Sheriff’s Office. But Mary Nunes, now 18, and Scott Kelley, who is Kelley’s current husband and is also charged, have not come forward.

Genevieve Kelley has asserted two affirmative defenses: conceding that while breaking the law, she was justified in doing so because it prevented Mary from further alleged abuse and also that there was no alternative except to leave the state because Mary faced “real and imminent physical danger.”

In motions filed Friday, Kelley’s attorney Alan Rosenfeld wants the court to allow Mary Nunes to testify in her mother’s trial by videotape, saying the possibility of testifying in open court and in the presence of her father would result in her suffering “emotional or mental strain” and could potentially “cause such severe reaction as to make her unable to recall and relate the facts that are relevant to this case.”

Although Mary Nunes “is currently in hiding,” she intends to return for the trial, Rosenfeld wrote, but because she suffers from post-traumatic-stress disorder — a consequence of the alleged abuse by Mark Nunes — she should be allowed to provide videotaped testimony that would be recorded in the week before the trial.

Genevieve Kelley

Last Thursday, Coos County Attorney John McCormick filed five separate motions in the Kelley case in which he sought to extend the filing of substantive motions until Feb. 15; to continue Kelley’s jury trial from March 23 to sometime in May; to depose Mary Nunes; to allow prior court orders to be allowed into evidence; and to take away the ability of Alan Rosenfeld to be part of Kelley’s defense team.

Rosenfeld, who is licensed to practice law in Colorado but not in New Hampshire, was previously granted permission by Justice Peter Bornstein to represent Kelley, who is also represented by John McKinnon of Campton.

During Kelley’s Dec. 18 arraignment, Bornstein rejected McCormick’s motion not to grant Rosenfeld’s motion to represent Kelley. At that time, McCormick claimed that Rosenfeld’s remarks to a North Country newspaper prior to the arraignment were prejudicial and had the effect of poisoning the pool of prospective jurors.

McCormick’s new motion is based on a Jan. 7 e-mail that he believes was sent by Kelley, Rosenfeld or their agent to media outlets.

The e-mail contained a photo and a prepared statement about Kelley’s release earlier that day from the Grafton County Jail after she posted $250,000 cash bail.

The court has not yet set any dates for hearings on McCormick’s motion, nor on those filed on Friday by Rosenfeld.

In his motions, Rosenfeld wants McCormick to produce a letter from Mark Nunes that McCormick attempted to present to the court at Kelley’s arraignment.

At the arraignment, McCormick asked the court to order that Kelley undergo a wellness evaluation and submitted, but later withdrew, a letter from Mark Nunes, who, like his ex-wife, is also a physician.

Rosenfeld also wants to know about any communication McCormick’s office has had with representatives of Mark Nunes, private investigators, “and TV or news personnel.”

McCormick has asked the court to prohibit Kelley from using the affirmative defenses; a hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Feb. 4.

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