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Witch Hunt: Another Mom Jailed on Bogus Kidnapping Charges
On Thursday, Elizabeth was indicted on 5 felonies: 2 counts of kidnapping, 2 counts of child abduction/deprivation of custody, and one count of burglary. She is facing 21 years in prison.
These serious charges are exorbitant and unwarranted for reasons enumerated below, strongly suggesting this DA’s office is doing what so many others do: aid and abet Family Court judges in punishing, disempowering and silencing women about their ex’s abuse.
[See below to participate in our campaign to the DA to dismiss the charges.]
On Tuesday, June 7th, Elizabeth’s ex reported to San Diego police that Elizabeth had “broken into” and kidnapped their two young children, ages 4 and 6, from “his” house.
The same police department that had recently arrested the father for domestic violence immediately issued a MISSING CHILDREN bulletin for him, citing Elizabeth as an “accomplice”, saying somebody had seen her in a U-Haul. This with the full knowledge the kids would be given to the credibly accused violent father if she were caught.
The police alerted the media to get the public’s help in capturing her. The local stations covered the story from the perspective that Elizabeth was a bad mother who had kidnapped her children. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/GAL program, Voices for the Voiceless, jumped on it, publishing this photo:
Later that same day, around 4pm, Elizabeth was found with her children, just a few miles from the father’s house (her home before she was kicked out). She was not in a U-Haul; she was near a mall.
This made it obvious it was a custody case, not a kidnapping, but the police arrested her anyway and threw her in jail on a $100K bond. Apparently, without doing even a minimal investigation, the detective referred the case to the D.A. for prosecution.
At her arraignment, the DDA [Deputy District Attorney] told Judge Laura Halgren that Elizabeth had kidnapped her children, was mentally ill and a drug addict, and had stolen the children from their father previously for three weeks.
But there is no credible evidence corroborating any of these accusations and there is much to refute them. The DDA was just regurgitating the father’s unsupported allegations in the Family Court case.
The DDA went above and beyond by arguing Elizabeth should be denied bail because she is a danger to her children and a flight risk. But she has no history of being a danger to her children or kidnapping them. She has been the primary-nurturing parent and their primary attachment figure, thus the kids are harmed greatly by being kept away from her.
Elizabeth’s public defender had no idea what was going on. Even so, he could have objected to DDA’s request to deny Elizabeth bail on the grounds that she had proffered exactly zero evidence supporting her specious accusations.
Judge Halgren denied Elizabeth bail and suggested mental health and drug treatment. The thing is: Elizabeth has no history of mental illness or drug addiction. It is the FATHER who is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, which supports Elizabeth’s allegations that he has rages that terrify her and the children.
Elizabeth is indicted on 2 counts of kidnapping: PC 207 (a): “anyone who forcibly, or by any means of instilling fear, steals, takes, holds, detains, or arrests a person and carries them to another country, state, or county, or into a part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.” This carries an 8 year max sentence, X 2 kids = 16 years.
Elizabeth did not have to “force” or instill fear to take her children, and she did not take them to another county, not even to another city. She also did not take them maliciously—an element of every crime.
Elizabeth is also indicted on 2 counts of child abduction/deprivation of custodial rights: PC 278 (a): “Every person who takes…and maliciously deprives a lawful custodian of a right to custody, or a person of a right to visitation is guilty under this statute.”
Having the children for a few hours does not constitute depriving the father of a right to custody, so these counts are completely unwarranted. And she was not “malicious”.
Elizabeth is also charged with one count of burglary. The DDA told Halgren that Elizabeth had “broken into” the father’s house. She didn’t happen to mention that it was Elizabeth’s home before the Family Court judge wrongly kicked her out on unfounded allegations the father had filed the day after he was arrested for DV against her.
It was not disclosed what she “burgled”. It could have been contested marital property since it was her home she took it from.
The abduction and burglary charges are “wobblers”, meaning they can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. But for some obscure reason, the DDA chose to charge as felonies.
All these charges require “malicious intent”, which has been a thorn in DA’s’ sides, as it makes it harder to prosecute mothers who have no malicious intent. So they’ve found ways around that pesky little element. In California, jury instructions are given that if the mother has violated the letter of the law, that qualifies as malicious intent, so they have no choice but to convict. This is absolute BS, used specifically to aid in prosecuting protective mothers.
On March 1st this year, the father was arrested for domestic violence, which a neighbor witnessed, and he was released shortly. The police did not file, nor suggest Elizabeth file, a Restraining Order against him.
The next day, the father hired a fathers’ rights attorney and filed for divorce, along with a Restraining Order on unsupported claims of Elizabeth being a danger to her children because she is a mentally ill drug abuser. Judge Jose Castillo, granted the TRO against Elizabeth, despite no credible evidence she was a danger to her children.
The next day, Elizabeth filed for a Restraining Order in pro per, providing compelling evidence that the father was the one who had committed domestic violence against her and the children on multiple occasions; he had been reported to CPS for child abuse; he had been diagnosed with Bipolar causing his rages. The evidence included witnesses, videos, and written communications.
Judge Castillo ignored all her evidence, denied her TRO, kept the father’s in place and kept two young children away from their loving mother.
With the children as leverage, Elizabeth eventually was coerced into agreeing to drop her valid TRO and then he would drop his invalid TRO, so that she could have partial custody. This was likely the goal all along: clear the father of his history of DV and gain him equal parenting time so he would not have to pay child support. You know, the kind of tactics found in the old fathers’ rights manual: Screw the Bitch.
Not long afterwards, Elizabeth had cause to go to a DV shelter. San Diego was full up with victims, so she was sent to Arizona, where she got a Restraining Order. The father knew she was in a DV shelter, but he filed a fraudulent ex parte claiming she had kidnapped the kids. Judge Castillo ordered the father have sole custody and Elizabeth have no contact with her children, not even supervised.
[Remember, at the arraignment, the DDA said Elizabeth had absconded with the kids for three weeks, but this was when she was in the DV shelter. Judge Halgren mentioned this as a reason to deny bail to Elizabeth.]
When Elizabeth discovered she had lost custody AGAIN, she hired an attorney. Her attorney attempted to get the truth on the record and straighten things out, including the most recent wrongful change of custody.
It is unclear what the visitation order was when Elizabeth took the kids on Tuesday. Maybe she missed them. Maybe she was worried about them. Maybe she was having a bad day and wanted to hold and hug them.
What is clear is that she was wrongly deprived of custody and visitation TWICE. What is also clear is that taking her kids from her home that she was wrongly evicted from by a biased Family Court judge, and hanging out with them in the same city for a few hours DOES NOT not legally constitute kidnapping or abduction/deprivation of custody.
What is also clear is that indicting this mother on five serious, unwarranted felonies is part and parcel of the Witch Hunt raging in family courts around the country and world.
D.A.’s, criminal courts, law enforcement and social services often act as arms of the Family Court, colluding to punish and disempower uppity women who inadvertently challenge male authority in the family by reporting abuse and attempting to get protection.
DA Summer Stephan needs to be made aware that Elizabeth has been wrongly indicted and the charges must be dismissed. And that this is a custody case in which a mother wrongly lost custody and visitation due to the discriminatory family court system.
DA Stephan prides herself on her advocacy for vulnerable women and children, so she should step up in Elizabeth’s case and do the right thing. It is a SHAME that her own “Family Protection” unit is prosecuting a DV victim when it’s mission is specifically to serve and protect DV victims.
The Coalition is initiating a campaign to D.A. Summer Stephan, who is likely unaware of Elizabeth’s case to date. We are asking her to dismiss the unjustified charges and release her from jail immediately.
You have an opportunity to help Elizabeth and engage in activism to end the Crisis!
CONTACT DA STEPHAN
PHONE: 619-531-3315 [you can leave voicemail even though it says to email]
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org [subject: Elizabeth]
Write/say your own or use this example:
DA Stephan, I am with The Women’s Coalition and we believe Elizabeth has been wrongly indicted for kidnapping. This is happening to lots of women who’ve unjustly lost custody in Family Court. Elizabeth is a domestic violence victim. Please dismiss the charges against her and release her from jail. Thank you.
If DA Stephan does not dismiss the charges, we will protest in front of her building in downtown San Diego and ask media to attend.
If you are interested in joining the protest, email: WomensCoalitionIntl@gmail.com and put “sd protest” in the subject line.
Thanks to all who are active in supporting mothers!
IN OTHER NEWS
ZOOM FOR KRISTINA
There’s another chance to help another mom on Tuesday by joining a zoom!
We reported on Kristina’s case last week. She hasn’t seen her daughter in almost a year.
On Wednesday, Kristina has a hearing on her motion to dismiss the custody case/orders giving her ex sole custody. Since Kristina was not served with the custody lawsuit, the case is legally void.
WHEN: Wednesday, June 15th at 2:00pm
ZOOM LINK: sanmateocourt.org/court_divisions/family_law/dept14.php
CLICK on “Click to Join Now”
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