International child abduction case has a Western New York angle


October 5 , 2014

Source: buffalonews.com 

Mom, daughter on the run crossed border in Falls

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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.

Lisa-Miller-and isabella poster

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.”

National implications

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.

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The Most Dangerous Kidnappers: Parents


January 28, 2013

Source: Abcnews

Despite what seems to have been a rash of children abducted by strangers last year, there aren’t any more than normal, and vastly greater numbers of children are kidnapped by their own parents and relatives — and those cases rarely generate headlines.

sad-child

Stranger abductions make up the smallest percentage of children reported missing every year. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children believes that stranger abductions are decreasing overall and projects that there will be approximately 100 of these kind of cases by the end of this year.

According to statistics cited by the NCMEC, most missing children are abducted by relatives or parents: a soon-to-be released report, the Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, referred to as NISMART-2, finds that 203,900 kids were abducted in 1999 by family members or parents. Approximately, 58,200 were “non-family” abductions — only 115 were defined as the frightening kidnappings by strangers.

Parental kidnappings do not spark media attention — and the sense of urgency from law enforcement officials — that the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the kidnapping and slaying of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion and this month’s abduction and rescue of two California teenagers attracted.

Experts say there is a perception among the public and law enforcement that children kidnapped by their parents are not endangered. After all, figures from the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention show that only 4 percent of children abducted by their parents are physically harmed.

“I think there’s a perception with people that, ‘Oh, since they’re with a parent no harm will come to the child,'” said Nancy Hammer, director of the International Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “And also since it involves two parents and family, it seems to be a messy situation. It doesn’t seem as black and white as if a child was abducted by a stranger. It’s taken a while, but progress has been made in making these abductions crimes, felonies. But they can lack the sense of urgency in the public and law enforcement reserved for other cases.”

A Very Lucky Recovery

Tracy and Robert Morse had to fight those perceptions when their children were abducted. In December 1996, three of Robert Morse’s children from a previous marriage were kidnapped by their biological, non-custodial mother when they got off the bus at school.

Abducted_Children_USA

“There’s this perception in the public and among law enforcement, that when children are abducted by their parents that they’re safe, and that just isn’t true,” said Tracy Morse, co-founder of American Parental Abductions Resource & Support Organization — APART for short. “These children are separated from everything they know and love, they are forced to live a life of a fugitive, constantly on the run, separated from their identity and their schooling interrupted and often told their left behind parents don’t care about them.

“When my husband’s children were kidnapped by his ex-wife, she pulled up at school and made a big scene at school and everything,” Morse continued. “People who saw her take the children, they just thought, ‘Oh, it’s a domestic thing. We shouldn’t interfere.'”

Tracy and Robert Morse spent more than more than two years trying to find their children and only got a break in their search when the children’s mother remarried and sparked the suspicion of her new in-laws and their relatives. One of her new husband’s relatives went on the Web site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, saw the faces of the three children and contacted NCMEC officials. The children were recovered and reunited with the Morses in March 1999.

“The kids were a mess, in really bad shape,” said Tracy Morse. “But we were very, very lucky.”

Following their children’s recovery, the Morses founded APART to give parents a resource to both prepare themselves and their children for family abductions and give them guidance as to what to do during those situations. “Left Behind” parents spent so much time trying to figure out what to do when their children are abducted by an ex-spouse or family member, valuable time is wasted. Abductor parents easily flee amid the confusion and shock.

A Mother’s Desperate 28-Year Quest

One woman who wishes she had the Morses’ good luck and perhaps could have benefited from APART when her son was abducted is Marianne Malky.

Malky, founder of Voice for the Children, a Florida-based organization that helps locate and recover missing children, has been searching for her son David for 28 years. Malky said David, then 7 years old, was taken by his non-custodial father, Stephan Shipenberg, during a court-ordered weekend visit in 1974. Shipenberg, she said, called her and told her that she would never see David again.

Malky, who lived in New Jersey at the time, went to Shipenberg’s job at American Airlines in New York City and was told he had quit. She found out he had moved from his Manhattan apartment and ultimately tracked him and David at a new address as they drove away in a station wagon. As she pounded on the car window, that was the last time she saw her son.

Recover_Abducted_Child

Since then, Malky has had little progress in finding David, and she said she has received little help from law enforcement. She was so anxious to get her son back and track him down that she did not file a missing person’s report in New Jersey when he was first abducted. When she tried to file one year later, she was told too much time had passed.

“There isn’t any finding your kids unless you do everything yourself. You basically have to do everything,” Malky said. “No one [from law enforcement] really wants to get involved. ‘It’s too complicated,’ they say. ‘It’s a domestic problem.’ You’re told you need custody papers or you need to go to an attorney to get custodial papers, but what you need are [private] investigators. Custody papers don’t find missing children; investigators do.”

At one time, she said, she received a tip that David was attending grammar school under another last name “Kaplan” and contacted officials. However, by the time she made it to the school, administrators had contacted Shipenberg and he had retrieved David. She has learned that her son attended middle school and high school in Oyster Bay, N.Y., but she says the schools refused to give her access to his records. She also learned that he was in the Navy, but officials would not release any records because of privacy laws.

“In the United States, it’s very difficult to find them [abducted children and abductor parents] because they change their name,” Malky said. “It’s very difficult if you don’t know what their name is.”

Frustration of ‘Left Behind’ Parents

Malky said she has received tips and help from people who believe they have spotted Shipenberg and David over the years. However, she said her quest has cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars and frustrated — experiences commonly shared “left behind” parents.

“You end up broke and physically and emotionally drained,” Malky said. “But I was — am still — determined.”

And lack of resources is an obstacle for parents in family abduction cases. Not everyone has the money to hire private investigators and communication firms to print fliers for their missing children. Often, as time passes and money dwindles, parents are forced to accept that they may never see their children again.

“Unless you really keep the pressure on police, really harass them, you won’t get the updates that you want on your case, and it’ll fall on the bottom of the pile,” said Morse. “You have to turn to private investigators but not everyone has those kind of resources.”

Malky said she never saw David’s abduction coming. His father never made any previous threats, and they had civil discussions about the custody and visitation arrangements.

“I didn’t see this coming. Usually they tell you that they’re going to take your child. I was never told,” said Malky. “But I tell you, all these cases are premeditated. They know where they’re going to go, where they’re going to hide.”

• Family Abduction Safeguards and Warning Signs? Read Below

AMBER Needed for Parental Abductions

New wireless child safety tracking devices have been developed that enable parents to trace the whereabouts of their children. The lightweight devices integrate digital technology from the Department of Defense’s Global Positioning System satellites to pinpoint children’s locations, and many child advocates believe they could prevent child abductions or at least help recover kidnapped children.

Abducted_Children_Mexico

Still, more needs to be done. Experts say parental abduction victims need a program similar to the AMBER alert system, which was credited with helping law enforcement officials to rescue two California teenagers approximately 12 hours after they were abducted at gunpoint, and save an infant abducted from an Abilene, Texas, parking lot last week. Parental abductees have little, if any chance, of being considered for the AMBER alert system because the children’s lives are not considered endangered in most cases.

“The AMBER alert system is great, and they need to develop one for family abductions,” said Morse.

More may also need to be done in the courts when parents are trying to reach an agreement on visitation and custodial rights. Sometimes the early signs of a family abduction manifest during legal negotiations.

“The first instance or signs that people may abduct their children are likely seen in court,” said Hammer. “Maybe if more court officials are trained to pay more attention to certain risk factors, they can identify which child may be at risk and take action and fully inform parents what they face, what will happen if they do abduct their child.”

Child advocates also argue that there should be more severe punishment for parental child abductors — or at least they should be prosecuted to the law’s fullest extent. Stephen Fagan pleaded guilty in 1999 to kidnapping his two daughters, telling them their mother was dead and living under an assumed name for 20 years. He avoided jail time by agreeing to a deal that gave him five years’ probation, a $100,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

Barry and Judith Smiley kidnapped a baby after an attempted adoption of the infant was ruled invalid, and they lived for 22 years under an assumed name, raising the boy they called Matthew Propp as their own son. They avoided trial and possibly 25 years by agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree kidnapping in June. Barry Smiley received a two-to-six-year sentence while his wife Judith was sentenced to a six-month prison term and five years’ probation.

These plea deals, child advocates argue, make would-be parental abductors believe that they would not be risking anything if they kidnapped their children.

White House Weighing In

Many left-behind parents have complained that custody orders have not been readily enforceable when they locate a missing child. Often, they have had to hire two attorneys — one for each state — if the abducting parent has traveled to another state. As the filings go through the court system, the abducting parent may flee the state again without a trace, leaving the wronged parent back where they started, not knowing the whereabouts of a missing child.

According to the Department of Justice, California is the only state that requires district attorneys to take whatever civil remedies and criminal prosecutorial measures necessary to locate and recover children abducted by family members and to enforce child custody orders. In July 1997, the National Council of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws approved the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which contains a similar mandate. As of February 2001, 21 states had enacted UCCJEA, and it had been introduced to the legislatures in 10 other states.

Some change may begin with attention from the White House. President Bush has announced the White House would hold a first-ever conference on missing, exploited and runaway children in September. Held in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, the conference will focus on the prevention of child victimization, improving law enforcement policies for handling crimes against children, stranger abductions, and domestic and international parental kidnapping, among other topics.

‘Never an End’

Despite the time that has passed, and the fact that her son is now approaching his mid-30s, Marianne Malky is willing to do whatever it takes to find him. She said she plans to file lawsuits against the schools she suspects David has attended to force them to release his records.

If Malky finds her son, there is a possibility that he will not accept her. It happened to Barbara Kurth, the ex-wife of Stephen Fagan, when authorities tracked him down and prosecuted him for kidnapping. Even after learning that that their mother was not dead and that their father had lied to them for 20 years, Kurth’s daughters stayed by Fagan’s side. Afterwards, Fagan said he abducted the daughters because Kurth was neglecting them and abused alcohol, a claim she denied.

Still, knowing this, Malky remains determined.

“I know he has been told that I don’t care about him, that I don’t love him, but I’m not giving up,” Malky said. “Hopefully, I will win. … The feeling that I and many parents of children who have been abducted is not unlike those whose children have been killed, except that we never have an end. There’s never an end until you find your child.”

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U.S / Barbados – Mother who kidnapped children gets 18 months


January 19, 2013

Source: Buffalo News

Jacqueline Bontzolakes says an abusive relationship forced her to gather up her two kids, flee her Town of Tonawanda home and escape to faraway Barbados.

map of caribbean

A federal court jury didn’t buy her story, however, and instead found her guilty in one of Buffalo’s first cases of international parental kidnapping.

Today, a judge sentenced Bontzolakes to 18 months in prison, well below what he could have given her.

“I ended up doing something I regret in order to protect my daughter,” she told U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in a tearful plea for leniency.

Bontzolakes never denied taking her kids away from their fathers and leaving the country, but insisted there were sound reasons for what she did – the fear that her oldest daughter also was being abused.

Federal prosecutors tell a far different story of why Bontzolakes kidnapped her children. They claim it was because she had lost custody of the girl.

“I would ask the court not to forget who the real victims are here, the two children she kidnapped,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly told Wilson, a visiting judge from Arkansas.

With nearly two dozen of Bontzolakes’ family, friends and supporters looking on, Wilson stopped well short of the three-year sentence he could have given her under federal sentencing guidelines.

The government’s case against Bontzolakes offers a glimpse into international parental kidnapping, which until this year was rare, if not unheard of, in Buffalo federal court.

It has been a long-standing problem elsewhere, however, an issue so big that a Hague Convention in 1980 resulted in an international treaty governing how countries deal with these types of kidnappings.

 

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New York Woman Convicted for International Parental Child Abduction


Source: divorcelawyerconnecticut

An upstate New York woman who was convicted of international parental kidnapping of a child was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Tricia Griffith, 37, formerly of Niagara Falls, N.Y., admitted taking her child from a residence in Niagara Falls to Jamaica in June 2010. The defendant left the area without the knowledge of the child’s father and in violation of a court order of custody issued previously by a Niagara County Supreme Court judge. Griffith was arrested several months later at New York’s JFK International Airport by HSI special agents when she returned to the United States without the child. The child remains outside of the United States at this time.

“Because the issues surrounding the unauthorized removal of a child by one parent to a destination abroad can be so complex and daunting, the United States Congress, the Hague Convention and numerous states have all passed legislation forbidding this conduct,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. “These crimes involve unspeakable suffering and loss – not the least of which is the cruelty and damage inflicted upon the child. This office stands fully committed to prosecuting the perpetrators of this crime wherever they may be found.”

Assistance is available to parents of internationally abducted children through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fauzia K. Mattingly and Trini E. Ross.

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Celebrities – Stalking and Kidnapping


Sourse: Valerie Ferrari

We hear so much about the paparazzi sticking cameras in celebrities’ faces and stalking them for days just for a photo or two and how sick celebrities are of being hounded in this obnoxious fashion.

Paparazzi harassment, however, pales in comparison to kidnapping threats. Celebrities must ever be on their guard against threats against them and their families. They must be sure to have extraordinary security measures in place at all times to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In 2005, a painter employed on David Letterman’s ranch in Montana hatched a plan to kidnap Letterman’s baby son and his nanny. Kelly A. Frank, 43, was caught before he could execute the despicable plan because he confided the plot to a man who in turn told the police. Frank said he had a key to the house and knew where the baby slept. He intended to kidnap the nanny so she could take care of the child until he collected a $5 million dollar ransom.

Frank was sentenced to 10 years in jail in a plea bargain. David Letterman was stalked for years prior to this by a deranged fan, Margaret Ray, who believed they were married. She continually broke into his home in Connecticut house. Margaret Ray was sent to prison, where she served 10 months and, after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she served 14 months in a mental institution. She later committed suicide at age 46.

Madonna was forced to cancel a concert in 2004 when she received corresponding threatening her children, Lourdes and Rocco. The correspondence contained details that badly frightened Madonna since she readily discerned that her home and staff were being watched.

In 2001, Australian actor Russell Crowe, of Gladiator fame, was informed by the FBI that they were taking a kidnap threat against him seriously and insisted upon accompanying him to the Academy Awards to protect him. Crowe later revealed that the threats came from al-Qaeda.

That’s just a mere sampling of plots that were discovered before any harm could be done. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In 1985, Julio Iglesias’ father, Julio Iglesias, Sr., was kidnapped by Basque terrorists and held captive for 2 weeks, repeatedly threatened with death. Spanish police were able to rescue him unharmed one day before the ransom money was to be paid. The incident was far from over for the Iglesias family. The singer’s father was deeply traumatized and suffered for a long time after the rescue.

In 1973, John Paul Getty III, the grandson of billionaire John Paul Getty, was kidnapped by the Italian Red Brigades in Rome and held in the Calabrian Mountains. His father did not have enough money to pay the $17 million ransom demand, and while his rich grandfather initially refused to help. John Paul Getty did not wanting to give in to the kidnapper’s demands and reportedly said: “I have 14 other grandchildren, and if I pay one penny now, then I will have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” Several weeks later, when one of his grandson’s ears arrived in an Italian newspaper’s mail, he agreed to help. John Paul Getty III’s life continued to deteriorate after his return. He later took a mixture of prescription drugs that put him a 6-week coma and left him paralyzed and blind.

Celebrities pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to take every imaginable security precaution, including 24-hour bodyguards, to deal with the ever-present spectre of kidnapping and stalking. They cannot know what goes on in the minds of the deranged and criminal in every instance, and, tragically, as the John Lennon murder case illustrates, sometimes the attacker can appear in a non-threatening situation that then turns deadly.

Published by ABP World Group Ltd. Security Solutions
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What Is The Hague Abduction Convention?


Source / By Jermey Morley

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty signed by more than eighty countries.

-It provides that a child who is taken to or retained in a foreign country without the consent of a person with “rights of custody” over the child under the law of the child’s “habitual residence” must be returned to the habitual residence unless one of six exceptions applies.

Hague Convention Member Countries

What is ICARA?
In the United States the Convention is integrated into law by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, known as “ICARA.” That law gives state and federal courts concurrent jurisdiction to handle Hague cases. The law also provides the burdens of proof that govern the conduct of Hague trials. In addition, the law provides that if a petition is successful the parent who has taken a child away from its habitual residence must pay the legal fees and travel expenses of the petitioning parent.

The Purpose of the Hague Convention
The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the Convention is “to prevent harms resulting from abductions” which “can have devastating consequences for a child” and may be “one of the worst forms of child abuse” which “can cause psychological problems ranging from depression and acute stress disorder to post traumatic stress disorder and identity formation issues” and lead to a child’s experiencing “loss of community and stability, leading to loneliness, anger, and fear of abandonment” and “may prevent the child from forming a relationship with the left behind parent, impairing the child’s ability to mature.”

The Key Terms in the Hague Convention

1. “Right of Custody” in the Hague Convention

A petitioner in a Hague case must establish that he or she had a “right of custody” over the child under the law of the child’s habitual residence.. This does not require that there must have been a custody order in place before the child was taken. It means that the law in question gave certain rights to the petitioner which are sufficient to constitute a custody right. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a parent’s right to prevent international travel, known as a ne exeat right, is a “right of custody” within the meaning of the Convention.

2. “Habitual Residence” in the Hague Convention

The key term of “habitual residence” is not defined in the Convention.

In many judicial circuits in the United States there is a heavy presumption that a child’s habitual residence should be determined by “the last shared intent” of the child’s parents, unless it is clearly shown that the child has become acclimatized to another jurisdiction. The courts in other circuits look primarily at the position of the child reviewed objectively without regard to parental intention. Many Hague cases are won or lost based on the application of the competing approaches to the often-complicated facts of particular international situations.

Mr. Jeremy D. Morley is an international lawyer & advisor who is well-known for international child abduction & hague convention issues.

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Abducted: Man sees sons in Egypt after abduction by ex-wife


Source: Dalje.com

CAIRO, Jan. 17 (UPI) — A U.S. man visited his two sons in Cairo during the weekend, the first time he had seen them since they were abducted by his ex-wife .


Colin Bower was granted full custody of his children in 2008 after his divorce from ex-wife Mirvat El Nady. Using fake Egyptian passports she kidnapped the boys in New York and brought them to Cairo, the Egyptian Bikya Masr news agency reported.

Egypt has no legal arrangement with the U.S. in matters of parental abduction, and it was six months of diplomatic negotiation, aided by U.S. Senator John Kerry, which provided Bower a chance to see his sons Noor, 7, and Ramsy, 9.

He called the 90-minute visit a “godsend.” U.S. Embassy officials and his ex-wide were present to observe the visit.

Bower said he suspects his ex-wide and her family were protected by former president Mubarak’s regime, allowing his sons to stay in Egypt with their mother. In 2009 he took legal action against the airline EgyptAir for their failure to notice his ex-wife and sons used false identification when they flew out of New York.

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One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

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Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan


Source: CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A young Iraq War veteran is in the fight of his life against his ex-wife to bring his children home.

Michael Elias, who is now a Bergen County sheriff, claims his wife kidnapped their two young children and took them to Japan.

America, the country he risked his life defending, is powerless to bring his children back.

At 26-years-old, Elias has already endured more pain than most people ever will.

As a young Marine, the New Jersey native was injured twice in Iraq – the first time when he’d only be in-country two weeks, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports.

“We were hit by an improvised explosive device around three o’clock in the morning, then we were ambushed by small arms fire,” Elias told Dahler.

When he returned from Iraq three years ago, Elias was greeted by his wife, Mayumi, and his two young children, Jade and Michael, Jr. He was also met with the news that Mayumi had been having an affair while he was at war and she wanted a divorce.

A Bergen County judge granted the couple joint custody and ordered that the children’s passports be surrendered, even though Elias had no idea what Mayumi was going to do.

elias and mayumi Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan(credit: Handout via CBS 2)

A few months later, Elias and his mother were expecting Mayumi to drop the kids off. But they never showed.

“My mother went over there and the apartment was completely empty, like ready to be rented. The very next day,” Elias said.

Mayumi, her alleged boyfriend and the children were on a plane to Japan.

Mayumi was able to obtain new passports for her children since she worked at the Japanese embassy processing visas and passports.

The question is, did anyone with the embassy help her?

The Japanese Consulate has yet to return any calls to CBS 2.

“I was horrified,” the children’s grandmother, Nancy Elias, said. “We just said, ‘Okay, she kidnapped them. She not only crossed state lines but she took them to another country. This is wrong, we’ll get them back.’”

elias children Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan(credit: Handout via CBS 2)

In doing their research, they quickly learned a devastating fact: of the thousands of children from all over the world who’ve been abducted to Japan, not one has ever been returned home.

“It’s a haven for child abduction,” Nancy said.

The problem is Japan is not party to the Hague Convention on Parental Abduction, and despite pleas by the U.S. State Department, there are no legal means to bring the Elias children back home.

“It has destroyed me, my son, my whole family,” Nancy said. “We’re never going to be the same. Never.”

“When she took them, she took my soul with her,” she added.

This past May at a congressional hearing on abducted children in Japan, Elias described the last time he saw his children via Skype.

elias and jade Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To JapanMichael Elias and his daughter Jade (credit: Handout via CBS 2)

“My daughter Jade looked at her mother in heartache and said to her something ever so softly in Japanese. When I asked Mayumi what Jade had said, she replied, ‘She wants to be with you.’ The monitor immediately went blank. That was the last time I saw my daughter’s face.”

When Michael was in Iraq, it was clear who the enemy was, but not anymore. His most prized possession is now a photo of his daughter holding his hand the day he came home from war.

“It’s disgusting to me that this is allowed. We’re supposed to be the most powerful nation and these are our allies. These are not our enemies. I don’t understand what the problem is,” Elias said.

He vows to never give up but his only hope now, he says, is for the president himself to put direct pressure on Japan.

President Obama recently brought the issue of parental abduction up with the Japanese Prime Minister and urged him to resolve the hundreds of outstanding cases.

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Abducted Children – We can bring them back


Time is a very important factor if a child is missing. Immediate access to current information about the missing child is critical. Although nobody hopes to be in such a situation where this information is needed, parents have to keep in mind that child abduction can occur anytime, anywhere, to any child. Therefore, parents must have the resources and knowledge about their children ready, so they can take action if their children become missing.

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings,
Runaway children and Counselling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult time.
We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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‘A very disturbing trend’: Parents kidnap their children, flee country


Washington (CNN) — More children are being abducted by a parent who then takes them out of the country, and more needs to be done to bring the children back to their legal homes, the U.S. official who oversees the issue said Wednesday.

The number of such abductions reported is “sharply on the rise — a very disturbing trend,” said Susan Jacobs, the special advisor for children’s issues at the State Department.

Jacobs also said her department is one of the fastest growing offices at the State Department because of the increasing rate of international abductions involving children with American parents.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children said that in 2010 there were nearly 2,000 parental abductions in which the child was taken out of the United States.

“International parental abduction is a federal crime with long-term, damaging consequences for both parents and children, even when the cases are resolved,” Jacobs said. “Parents seeking the return of their children or permission to visit them confront unfamiliar legal, cultural, and linguistic barriers; they suffer emotional trauma, and they face significant and long-term financial costs.”

The United States is encouraging other countries to sign onto The Hague Convention on international child abductions, a treaty signed by more than 60 countries that provides a civil mechanism to return children wrongfully removed from the country where they live.

Jacobs said decisions under the convention are commonly based on where the child usually resides. When properly implemented, “the convention works,” she said.

The issue grabbed headlines a few years ago with the case of Sean Goldman, whose American father, David, was engaged in an international custody battle after the boy’s Brazilian mother refused to let the child return to his father following a vacation in Brazil. The boy was eventually returned to his father after a ruling by the Brazilian supreme court.

Jacobs, incidentally, met with Brazilian authorities last week to discuss ways to speed up the reunification of children with their families. From their discussions, Jacobs said, Brazil and the United States are to hold the first meeting of a children’s working group later this year.

Jacobs and others traveled to the Department of Justice Wednesday afternoon for an observance of National Missing Children’s Day to honor the work of those in law enforcement who recover missing children and combat child exploitation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the issue as well. In videotaped remarks to mark the day, Clinton asked for to people to continue to speak out on the issue to “help children around the world come home.”

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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