A conservative businessman has been sentenced to three years in jail for helping a woman kidnap her biological child, flee the country and find new living arrangements overseas after she left a same-sex union and converted to a form of evangelical Christianity.
Is it a case of “no good deed going unpunished,” as the defendant claims, or a deliberate act based on religious convictions?
According to the court, it’s purposeful interference (and conspiracy to do the same) of a same-sex parent’s right to visitation and custody of her child, likely motivated by the man’s anti-gay beliefs. He has been an influential donor to right-wing religious groups in the past.
The biological mother was in a same-sex relationship, legalized under civil union laws in Vermont, before she gave birth to the couple’s daughter. The child was conceived using donor sperm through artificial insemination, and the non-biological mother wasn’t listed on the birth certificate as a parent.
After the couple split, the biological mother changed religions and became a self-proclaimed “ex gay.” She was represented in her efforts to deny the other mother’s visitation rights by Liberty Counsel, a law firm that often takes up anti-gay custody cases. This is a case they continuously lost.
It eventually became clear that the court was about to strip the biological mother of primary custody and give it to the child’s other mother instead. That is not uncommon in custody cases where one parent refuses to follow the court’s orders and play by the rules.
In response, the conservative businessman drove the biological mother and her child to the Canadian border so they could fly from Canada to Nicaragua. The mother originally fled to a Mennonite community there and stayed in a home that was owned by the businessman’s daughter — who just happened to be an employee of the law school associated with Liberty Counsel.
Several other people have also been sentenced for their roles in the kidnapping and the Liberty Law School was hit with a racketeering lawsuit — although the current whereabouts of the mother and daughter are unknown.
This case illustrates how seriously courts take the issue of custodial interference and how anybody involved can end up facing jail time as a result. If you need help asserting your visitation and custody rights to your child from a same-sex union, talk to an attorney today.
Source: www.wrcbtv.com, “Man in same-sex child custody case gets 3 years in prison,” March 22, 2017