This is a story about Custodial Interference that eventually lead to Parental Alienation, then moved on to Parental Kidnapping under the guise of false abuse allegations. It’s something you might see in a movie or on TV….but it’s not made up, it’s unbelievably real, scary and very sad.
My husband’s marriage to Amy lasted only 4 short years. Although Steve had to deal with some disturbing discoveries about Amy’s past within their first year as a married couple, the real problems and crazy behaviors didn’t actually start until after Amy became pregnant with their daughter Gia. Things within their relationship started to shift. Amy could be cold and/or distant and she started acting erratically. Steve tried to be patient and hold things together thinking that it was just pregnancy hormones that were causing all of her strange behavior. After Gia was born Steve surprised Amy with the car of her dreams…he also paid for her to have the plastic surgery that she had been wanting to have. His thought was that the pregnancy was over and Amy would return to her normal behavior.
Shortly after that, Amy’s behavior became increasingly worse and she eventually became very abusive towards Steve. (Yes, men can actually be victims of spousal abuse). Amy also began to target Steve’s older daughter, Christy from his first marriage. She was verbally abusive, manipulative and vindictive towards Christy….and she became verbally abusive towards Gia too. Christy would overhear Amy on the phone with other men, calling them “Baby” and arranging times to meet with them. Steve found another man’s shirt and socks in the bathroom of their home upon his return from a month long training exercise with the military. His wife had men in the house when he was gone, with his children there. Also during the time when Steve was away Christy found drugs in the garage of their home, drugs that could have only belonged to Amy or the men she was seeing. What was supposed to be a happy life had turned into a nightmare. Not only was Steve having to deal with Amy’s crazy and abusive behavior and the drugs and the other men, she also sent him into bankruptcy due to her extravagant lifestyle.
Steve knew the marriage was over and just as he was at the point of sitting Amy down to talk about separating, she walked out of the house with Gia without telling Steve, and never returned. This is where the Custodial Interference began.
**Custodial Interference is when one parent takes or keeps the child(ren) from his or her parent with the intent to interfere with that parent’s physical custody of the child. This is a crime in most states.
Steve was eventually able to find out that Amy had left California and went back to Las Vegas to live with her parents. Steve immediately contacted a lawyer and started the process of going through the legal system to petition for visitation rights with Gia. It took over 8 months to fight Amy in court before visitations were finally granted. Steve was relieved and didn’t mind the 5 hour drive from his home in California to Vegas to pick up and drop Gia off. He missed his daughter very much and wanted to be able to be part of her life.
At this point in his life, Steve was trying to recover from the aftermath of being involved with Amy. He thought that the drama would finally be over and he would be able to provide his daughter Christy, and Gia when she was with him, stable and happy lives. The first year of visitation seemed to go pretty smoothly, but it didn’t take long for Steve to realize Amy never really intended to cooperate with the court order. It got to the point where Steve never knew what to expect when he got to the end of that 5 hour drive to pick Gia up for their scheduled visit. Sometimes Amy would refuse to let him see Gia at the last minute, or sometimes she wouldn’t show up at the meeting place and couldn’t be found, then the police would step in to help facilitate the pick up. One time when she didn’t show up, it was because she had devised a plan to have Steve killed. She was hoping that if she wasn’t at the meeting place, he would drive over to her house. So she called the police and told them that there was a crazy Marine outside of her home hiding in the bushes with a gun. She was hoping they would show up about the time Steve would arrive and mistakenly shoot him thinking he was armed and dangerous.
During the time when Amy and Gia were living in Vegas with Amy’s parents her Mother Justine was Gia’s primary caregiver. Gia adored her Grandmother and Justine loved Gia. Amy would stay out until all hours of the night partying and doing drugs. Her brother would come home from work at 2:30am after his shift was over and would frequently find that Amy wasn’t home yet. Steve didn’t know any of this until he recently was able to reconnect with Amy’s brother. The other thing Steve found out, well after Amy and Gia moved out of Amy’s parents home…after the death of Amy’s Father, was that he repeatedly molested his biological daughters. Gia would cry and make herself throw up on the days when he had to return her to her Mother. He always felt that it was because Gia missed him and her sister when they were separated and also because Amy was either absent or verbally abusive to her when she was around. But now he wondered if it was possible that Gia was being sexually abused during the 4 years they lived with her Grandparents.
In February of 2011 Amy petitioned the court to be able to relocate to Manhattan NY because she was going to marry a man who lived there. Steve tried to fight it but the court ultimately decided that Amy could move with Gia. Amy promised the court ample visits for Steve and Gia…and even more liberal visits of Steve were to decide to move to Manhattan too. They moved in June of 2011 and Gia came back and spent about a month with Steve in August. That was the one and only visit Steve was to have with his daughter…and the it was the last time he was ever allowed to talk to her or know if she was ok. Amy had been orchestrating an evil plan and after Gia’s visit with Steve she set her plan into motion.
In November of 2011 Amy files sexual abuse charges against Steve, claiming that Gia told her that both he and Christy were abusing her. Steve immediately went and took a polygraph test to prove his innocence and passed with flying colors. CPS investigations were launched in Manhattan and also in California. CPS and the Sheriff’s office in California both interviewed Steve, his daughter Christy, Amy, Justine-Amy’s Mother, Melinda-Steve’s first ex wife, Christy’s therapist, the Pediatric Forensic Social Worker in New York that examined Gia and they also talked with the social worker in New York that was handling the investigation on that end. After a thorough investigation they determined that the charges against Steve were unfounded. It didn’t seem to matter what California CPS thought though, because back in New York they held a court hearing without even considering all that California had to say, and also even though Steve applied to appear by phone, no one from the court called him so he could be present during the hearing. The judge ruled in favor of Amy by default….meaning, because Steve didn’t show up to the hearing, she gets to win the case. It didn’t matter if there was no evidence to support her claims, it didn’t matter that the charges were unfounded in California, and it didn’t matter that the CPS report from New York showed no evidence of abuse either. There was even speculation from the New York CPS worker that maybe Amy was coaching Gia to say these things. No one even considered that maybe this was a set up. No one considered that they could be taking a little girl away from the Father she loved and missed. No one considered that this little girl would now never be allowed to spend time with anyone in her family ever again….not her Father and her sister, not her Grandmothers, not her Aunts and Uncles and cousins, not her friends that were dear to her. No one considered the life this little girl might have being left alone with her Mother with no one to check on her.
So since the time of that hearing, Amy ditched the man she claimed to be so in love with, the firefighter from New York. She didn’t need him anymore, she got what she wanted. Amy quietly snuck back into Las Vegas with Gia. They lived there for over 3 years, right there where all of Steve’s family lives, and no one knew. Amy never contacted them so that Gia could see her family, she kept Gia hidden and isolated.
All this time neither Gia or Amy knew that Steve never gave up searching for them until Amy received the Notice to Appear motion that we filed against her. She was shocked that we found her but being the snake that she is, she quickly packed up and moved Gia back to New York to hide behind the “No Contact judgement” against Steve that was awarded to her. She made up some lie to the Las Vegas judge that she had to move so that she could find a specialist physician for her alleged back injury. She requested to appear by phone, which she did, and she put on a very good dramatic show with tears and the whole nine yards. The judge ordered her to produce the evidence she had to back up her claims against Steve…and although she went two weeks past the date that she was to have them to the court, the judge overlooked it. Steve filed a contempt motion but it was denied. The paperwork she entered was the CPS report from New York which basically said there was a possibility the abuse claims could be true…but there was no evidence to back up the claims, nothing, no physical evidence, only what Amy was saying and what Gia was being made to say. The court in Las Vegas didn’t really want to have to deal with this so they let the time expire…so we would have to start over and fight her in New York. The law states that jurisdiction will be in the city where a resident has lived for over 6 months. So because they kept putting off our court dates in Las Vegas, we were forced to take this matter up with the courts in Manhattan because that is where Amy was living.
Amy filed a motion against Steve as soon as she moved back to New York…claiming that he broke the No Contact order because he filed a petition in the Las Vegas court system to review the case and modify custody. Steve still at this point, never had his day in court to present all of the evidence from California…he only wanted a fair hearing and to be able to plead his side of things. Her motion was denied and the case was dismissed, the judge ruled that he didn’t break the No Contact order by filing a petition. This made Amy really angry and she went into hiding, once again. As much as we tried, we couldn’t seem to track her down to serve her the papers to start court proceedings in New York. She knew if we couldn’t find her, we couldn’t serve her and if we couldn’t serve her we couldn’t take her to court. We hired another private investigator to try and find her and all they could find was that she had a suspended driver’s license until 2024. So after repeatedly asking the courts permission to subpoena the school systems in New York to see if Gia was attending school, we finally got what we needed….we found the school and the school gave us their address!
Because it was getting costly to stake out her residence to try to catch her to serve her the papers, our lawyer suggested we come to New York and do the foot work ourselves. We thought that was a great idea and we were hopeful to even possibly get a glimpse of Gia. So we brought our daughter Chloe who is about the same age as Gia with us so we didn’t look like child abductors if we had to stand outside Gia’s school. On the last day that we were scheduled to be in town, we were feeling quite defeated because we still hadn’t been able to serve her the court papers. So we went back to the school and Steve waited in the car so as not to break the No Contact order and Chloe and I went into the school and started asking questions. I was able to find a girl who was friends with Gia so I had a quick talk with her and found out that she had already gotten on a bus and left. We were devastated. So we decided to take one more shot at trying to find Amy at their address…which, by the way is a homeless shelter for battered women!! So she’s living off the government pretending to be a battered woman, getting free services, including free legal services from a battered woman’s service provider in Manhattan. Steve’s daughter has not only been uprooted and dragged back and forth across the county 3 times in the last 7 years, she is being made to live in hiding in a battered women’s shelter. So not only has she had heinous thoughts and images put into her head and also forced to believe lies about her Father, Gia has been made to live like a fugitive, always hiding, having to be careful not to tell people too much and always looking over her shoulder in fear–because her Mother has pounded it into her head to be afraid of her Father and not let anyone know who they are or what the situation is because he might find them. That makes it pretty hard for a little girl to be mentally and emotionally healthy and for her to have a normal life…to have friends and play sports etc.
Chloe and I somehow managed to just walk right in to this shelter even though it’s protected by guards who have to buzz you in. Not sure who they thought we were but they buzzed us in and I walked up to the guards desk and asked them if they had an Amy ******* living there and they of course told me that they couldn’t give out that kind of information. So I proceeded to tell the long and crazy story and let them know that they may be harboring someone, for one, that wasn’t battered…and two, that she was avoiding the court system. They were horrified as I was filling them in on the details so they called the on duty manager over. She had tears in her eyes when I was telling her the story but she said that even though it was very sad, she wasn’t able to tell me anything about the women who lived there because they were there for protection. But as she was turning around she whispered, but if you were to call the police I will cooperate fully. That told me all I needed to know…she wouldn’t have me call the police for nothing, Amy and Gia did indeed live there. So I called the police and asked them to come and help me serve Amy. While Chloe and I were standing in the lobby waiting for the police, in walked Gia from school! My heart was beating and I didn’t know what I should do. So as she rounded the corner and was about to get on the elevator I called out her name. She peeked back out of the elevator, looked at me and said…”yes?” I asked her to come over to where we were and all she said is, “I can’t” …and disappeared back into the elevator, the door shut behind her and she was gone. I was shaking. I just talked to my husband’s child that he hasn’t been allowed to see in over 7 years! The police came and I filled them in as to what was going on and also gave them the shortest version of the story that I could. They were shocked and thought it sounded like a movie you would see on TV. They went in to talk to Amy, who was very irate at this point because she found out that Steve found her and that I was able to get into the building that was supposed to be safe, secure and private. She yelled and screamed to the police for almost 45 minutes and then they served her the court papers. But this is how good of an actress she actually is….when the police came back to give me the paperwork, they had a different attitude. They just looked at me with pity and they said, there are some things that you don’t know about your husband. I was shocked…and then furious! Are you kidding me??! Apparently they didn’t care that I had a 6 inch stack of reports, testimonies and evidence that my husband was the victim of a vengeful ex wife. Apparently they didn’t care that Steve and I had been married for close to 5 years and had a houseful of children and not one bit of abuse that Amy was accusing him of has ever happened in our home. They never took into consideration that Amy could possibly be lying….or that just maybe poor Gia was being held prisoner by a psychotic woman who didn’t really care anything about her, that she was just using her to carry out some crazy scheme to hurt Steve. I couldn’t believe it. I just walked away with a very heavy heart, disillusioned with the system that was put into place to protect people and to carry out justice. Wasn’t it innocent until proven guilty? How could a screaming crazy woman be believed over me, a calm person that had facts to back me up…me with a fear and concern for the child??
Amy filed criminal charges against Steve that day for breaking the no contact order. We didn’t realize that the order also included anyone approaching her FOR him. Apparently our lawyer didn’t know that either because it was under his direction that we went in the first place. We left town the next day, victorious but also fearful…for Steve, because he could possibly be arrested for this, but more importantly for Gia because we knew she did something that Amy warned her against doing–she talked to a stranger and told her (me) who she was. We feared that Amy would retaliate against her and severely punish her for that. We decided to call CPS in New York and file a concern. We gave them more information than they knew what to do with, hoping that they would see what was really going on ….but sadly, after 2 months they closed the case and labeled it Unfounded. The thing we learned is that CPS is only there for emergencies…so it doesn’t matter to them if they stumble on a situation like ours where there is long history of abuse and evasion, they just try to determine whether the child(ren) are in immediate danger. So don’t rely on them to come to your rescue if you have finally tracked down your ex who has taken your child(ren) away from you unlawfully…they won’t help you, and they can be pretty darn rude about it.
After we managed to have her served, a court date was set but we were in doubt as to whether she would decide to show up or not. Well, she did…but she showed up late and then delayed the hearing. To make matters worse, we got into the courtroom (we had a court referee instead of an actual judge….this is the same person who threw her charges against Steve out about a year before this)….and Amy told her that she would rather this case be heard in front of a judge. So after we had already sat there with 2 lawyers for at least 2 hours, we now had to continue to wait around to maybe possibly get in to see a judge. Eventually we were told that we could enter the courtroom….but the judge was NOT happy! It was her lunch hour and she was wondering why on earth we were sitting before her. So she set a court date for a month from that time and we all walked out. Just one more trip to New York, more money spent on gas, food, lodging and lawyers. Oh the lawyer fees! That day we added 6 hours of lawyer fees to our bill, 3 hours with 2 lawyers and 3 hours with 1. As with everything else in New York City, lawyers don’t come cheap! They pushed our court date back 2 times and this is where we are today as I am writing this.
We have a court date in one week…September 27th. Our lawyer sent us the affidavit today that they wrote up explaining the facts of the case and what we are asking for…I was amazed! It was so beautiful, it brought me to tears! All of our hard work trying to find all of her mistakes and inconsistencies …hours of going through that 6 inch stack of paperwork to find her errors and slip ups….Steve and I put together a 6 page timeline to help our lawyer keep everything straight and to have all of the important information in one convenient place and it was finally all neatly packaged up into an actual court document! So we leave in 4 days and start our journey to New York once again, anxious yet hopeful. We are bringing our usual bag of things we want to show and to give Gia….2 photo album books that introduce her to her family and help her to get a feel of who they all are, a necklace we carefully picked out for her with special meaning that she can wear to remind her of our love, a small photo album for her to keep filled with the last pictures Steve had of her and his oldest daughter and him together, “getting to know you” forms that Chloe and our youngest daughter Amayah filled out so she can start getting acquainted with them and letters from the kids. Its been just over 7 years since my husband has seen, talked to and held his baby…..we hold our breath and pray that this time he will be able to finally do those things again.