Dad takes kids in Fairfax, flees to Tunisia


Source: Washington Examiner

By: Emily Babay | 12/20/11 8:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer | Follow Her: @Emilybabay
Photo courtesy of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN
Zainab Chebbi

Authorities are trying to recover two young Fairfax County children who were allegedly kidnapped by their father and taken to Tunisia.

Two-year-old Zainab Chebbi and 5-year-old Eslam Chebbi have been missing since Nov. 11, when prosecutors say their father, 39-year-old Faical Chebbi, flew with them to Tunisia.

Faical Chebbi called the children’s mother — his ex-wife — the next day and told her he and the children would not be returning, according to court records. Chebbi was charged in federal court in Alexandria with international parental kidnapping.

Chebbi and Edeanna Johnson-Chebbi divorced in January, nearly a year after she obtained a protective order because he threatened to kill her, according to court documents. Johnson-Chebbi had sole custody of Zainab and Eslam; Chebbi absconded with the children after picking them up from their grandparents’ house in Prince George’s County for a scheduled visit, according to the court documents.

“At first, I was sort of in an action mode,” said Johnson-Chebbi, who has created a Facebook pageand online petitions about the case. She said coping has gotten harder over the past month, but she is still optimistic her children will be returned.

“What else are you going to do?” she told The Washington Examiner. “I won’t allow myself to imagine that this will pass. They will be home. I just don’t know how or when.”

But Johnson-Chebbi faces an uphill battle. There are no treaties or agreements between the United States and Tunisia regarding parental abduction cases. The countries also don’t have an extradition treaty. And her ex-husband’s “arrogance” means the filing of criminal charges is unlikely to change his mindset, Johnson-Chebbi said.

She said the family’s court documents were on file with the Tunisian Embassy and the children shouldn’t have been able to obtain passports.

No attorney was listed for Chebbi in court records. The embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Anyone with information can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST (843-5678).

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Custody Laws – Violating the Custody Order Through Parental Kidnapping


If you are lucky to have your child back after he or she was kidnapped by your ex-spouse, you will now have to deal with another nightmare: the resulting trauma on your child.

The effects of parental kidnapping are emotionally, developmentally and psychologically devastating on children who in a moment were stolen away from their entire world of familiarity. Parents stealing children after a high conflict custody battle is not uncommon. Surprisingly more than 50 percent of these kidnappings take place during a scheduled visitation after which the child is not returned.

Taking a child away and concealing his or her location to the custodial parent in violation of a visitation order is a crime and a form of child abuse. Parental abduction has permanent ramifications in the victim’s life. The emotional effects on the abducted child can be as harmful as those of sexual abuse or neglect. After such an experience, children tend to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

In her presentation to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights titled “Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse”, Dr. Nancy Faulkner identified nine of the many harmful effects parental abduction can have on a child:

  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Fear and Phobias
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Guilt
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Parental Alienation
  • Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment
  • Grief

If you have been in a prolonged and highly conflictive custody and visitation battle, you must rigorously adhere to the guidelines in the order. The same is applicable to your ex-spouse. He or she must abide to the time share percentages and visitation calendar conformed in the order. Many custodial parents are so drained after a custody dispute that they avoid having to go to court in order to enforce or modify the order. However, it is your obligation to watch over your child’s health, safety and welfare. A parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule or percentages of time share is not acting right. He or she is acting in contempt of the court. He or she is been disrespectful to you, to your child, and to our legal system. This parent is not a good role model for your child, and in fact, he or she might turn out to be a bad influence for your kid.

Repetitive violations to the custody and visitation order mean that you must go back to court to have the order enforced. The parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule is relating in an erratic and unhealthy manner with your child. This type of conduct should be addressed and penalized from the very start, in order to avoid a more serious violation, such as your child being kidnapped by your ex-spouse.

Find out about the custody laws that will impact your case, and learn how to get the custody order you want.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Caleb_Jonsun

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Father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


Source:  Jessica Rush, Planojobs.us June 13, 2011

Ronnie Baker / Staff Photo –For the last two years, Plano father Bart Hermer has dedicated his life to seeing his daughter returned from overseas. Alessia was abducted by her mother and represents one of more than 200,000 family abduction cases in the United States every year
Bart Hermer carries a pacifier with him at all times. It’s purple with flecks of glitter and has the words “Princess Alessia” scrolled across the plastic.
He keeps the soother as a small comfort of his own — a reminder that his 2-year-old daughter, Alessia, is still out there and waiting to be reunited with her father.For now, Alessia lives in the United Kingdom with her mother, 40-year-old Simmone Cohen, who is a British citizen. Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally.

Every night, Hermer sleeps on a bed in the nursery to feel closer to his daughter, but an empty crib is a constant reminder that the woman who first stole his heart, also stole his most precious possession.
Blindsided
Hermer and Cohen’s relationship started out as a picture-perfect romance. He fell for her British accent and stunning looks when they met on a single’s cruise in 2007, and months later they were visiting each other’s countries. The aging couple talked about both wanting children, so within a matter of months they were engaged.”I swear on my daughter’s life, heart and soul we never had an argument,” Hermer said, reflecting on the blissful times. “We were the envy of everybody we knew.”

The two began planning for a wedding at the Dallas Arboretum — plans that were delayed when Cohen found out she was pregnant with Alessia. When the baby was 10 months old, Cohen planned a regular trip for the three of them to visit her family in London. Hermer said he had just been laid off from his job as an advertising executive, but Cohen had income from her marketing business she ran from their Plano home.

While going through customs at the London airport, Hermer was pulled aside and questioned. A customs officer accused him of trying to enter the country with the intention to live there — information Hermer’s fiancee had told them. As much as Hermer denied the story, he was sent back to the United States alone, and Cohen and Alessia remained in England.

“I was set up,” Hermer said. “The truth was she just wanted a baby.”

Back in Texas, Cohen’s designer clothes still hang in the closet. Her laptop was left behind, and a Plano detective confirmed in writing that she wrote messages contradicting their happy engagement.

“I definitley [sic] don’t want to marry him,” Cohen wrote in one Skype message to a family member. “… he knows I am delaying things so he may have guessed,” she wrote to a friend.

“She played him like a sucker,” Hermer’s mother, Kathy, said. “She lied about everything.”

An epidemic
The Hermer’s are not alone in their daily struggle with parental kidnapping. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) estimates more than 200,000 family abduction cases occur annually in the United States.

In cases involving children taken from the United States to the United Kingdom, 92 percent of cases are unresolved for longer than a year, and 38 percent are unresolved for more than five years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hermer has tried to use international child abduction laws from the Hague Convention to get Alessia back. Article 3 of the convention talks about the “rights of custody” and says the courts must use the law of the state — in this case Texas — where the child was a resident before being abducted.

Even with letters of support from Texas Senators Florence Shapiro and Jane Nelson and state Rep. Jerry Madden, most of Hermer’s evidence was not allowed in the British court.

“I was not given a fair trial,” Hermer said. “I have solid evidence from credible people … and that evidence was not allowed. A lot of these countries will not return a child because of gender bias.”

After a crushing loss with denial of appeal, Hermer is trying a different approach. He hopes Attorney General Greg Abbott will push to have Cohen extradited to Texas on felony kidnapping charges.

“If my child stays there, it sets the precedent for thousands of children in the future,” Hermer said.

Time is ticking
Two years have passed with Hermer devoting his life to studying state and federal parental kidnapping law. He now works as assistant director of the Global Missing Children Fund.
Precedence from other international kidnapping cases shows that courts consider a child acclimated to their new country once they reach 3 years old. After that point, the courts are reluctant to return the child.

“I’ve got six months,” Hermer said, desperation in his voice. “She’s my life. She’s my pride. I don’t want to catch up with her in my 70s.”

He sees her occassionally when he is allowed to enter England for scheduled court hearings, but the trips are expensive and visitation is never guaranteed.

“When they are together it’s like they’ve never been separated for a moment,” Kathy said. “They had such a tight bond.”

Hermer is praying that someone will hear Alessia’s story and know how to help. While he is openly thankful for the ongoing support from Jewish Family Services, a separate fund has been set up for donations to offset some of the court costs at www.firstgiving.com/Bring-Alessia-Home.

“I’ll never quit until she’s in that crib,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes.”

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