Following is a letter I received from a French Father whose wife kidnapped their children while he was at work (in France) and took them to Warren County Ohio. Not surprisingly, his repeated requests to have his children returned to France have been illegally and unlawfully denied by a Warren County judge who most likely lacks any jurisdiction in the case.
I know which Warren County judge is providing a safe haven for this mother who internationally abducted her children. He is the same judge who is gleefully paving the way for a different Warren County mother to kidnap her son and take him to Switzerland, this despite this boy’s Father’s incessant efforts to prevent it from happening.
Dear Mr Fantetti,
I am the French father of two boys, non fraternal twins: they will be 11 on May 22 of this year.
After more than 4 years of judicial procedures, I finally have a decision from the French family court regarding shared parenting time and shared residency.
My two boys should be in France with their father on summer vacations, starting two days after the last school day, which is May 31, 2008, and returned to Ohio 7 days before back to school day. I know that their mother will not let my children come to France because she wants to have them for her alone and never let them come to France.
She claims that Ohio has jurisdiction (with the help of the Warren County court in Lebanon) She took my children wrongfully on October 8, 2003, from France, while I was at work, as they were 6 and ½, in breach of their father’s rights of custody by French law.
She left a note at our house saying that her mother was very sick and that she was going to see her, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she resides: this has been proven to be a fallacious reason. She never went to see her “very sick mother”. She ended up in Ohio a few days later and took residency at the house of an old friend and immediately enrolled my boys in a public school without telling me. She never tried to call me the day she left France and after, when she was in Ohio, has it has been proven too, by her testimonies and by the phone records.
My children were enrolled in school in France, which is mandatory at their age. Less than two months later, on December 3, 2003, her complaint for legal separation was filed at the Warren County Court of Common Pleas, in Lebanon. Her affidavit and the court order giving her custody were filed that same day, and I, the father, was never contacted. To me, she kept saying that she was on her way to Louisiana, to see her very sick mother, but that she had to stop in Ohio and was stuck there because the children were sick and could not be in contact with her very sick mother.
The Lebanon school records prove that the children were not sick, they attended school every day except two or three days in two months. Beside, she could have dropped the children at her sister or her brother in Louisiana.
I had to locate her and the children with the help of an investigator. By chance, she had lost her address book at the airport in France, the day she left, and it ended up in my hands. When she arrived in Ohio, she had no job in the States, no house or rent, no car, and the boys were not registered in any school except in France.
When I began to understand the situation (I could not get doctor reports from her for the boys) I decided to go to Ohio to see what was going on with my “sick” children. I arrived there on December 22, 2003. I immediately went to her place with a police officer as witness, to tell her that I disagreed with her taking the boys from France. I asked her to come back to France with the children. The police officer made a report for me.
The day after, we agreed on a place where to meet (a parking lot of a gas station at the entrance of Lebanon) in the morning, so I could go with her to a doctor appointment for one of my children. In fact, she never came to the parking lot, she was using this appointment to trick me and send a process server to serve me with documents.
A car came towards me and blocked my car. A man tried to give me an envelop that I refused so he threw it in my car and left as I was walking to the pay phone to try to call my wife to ask her what was going on. When I came back to my car, the envelope was no more in the car.
Later, we realized that the report from the process server said that I had been served at a hotel where I had never been. I have an affidavit from the inn keeper of that hotel to prove that the report from the process server does not tell the truth.
During my stay in the United States, she did not let me talk to my children in private and she followed me every where I would go with them, like my shadow.
Back to France, I immediately filed for divorce for fault. In September 2004, I obtained shared custody and the parental residency, a temporary order. She first appealed, claiming that France was not territorially competent and that she had filed first for legal separation. She lost on appeal. What is interesting is that she also appealed of the decision regarding custody and claimed custody and shared parenting to the French court.
It is also very important to know that she tried to obtain from the Judge in Lebanon that my children NEVER come back to France. That scared me to death and made me decide to change U.S. attorney. With my new attorney, we filed a Petition for the return of my children in the Southern District court of Ohio via The Hague Convention of October 25, 1989.
My Petition was filed on May 17, 2004. The District court took almost five months before the first audience. The trial began on October 8, 2004, in Montreal, Quebec, and was video taped.In other words, there was no judge to rule during this first trial.
Then, we had another course of 9 audiences, from November 2004 until April 2005! During these audiences, the same questions were repeated over and over, on subjects totally out of the matter, which was the residence of the children immediately before their wrongful removal.
Also, the mother hired a child psychiatrist and asked him to make a report. Dr Nelson interviewed my children, in the presence of their mother, sometimes in the room, sometimes behind the door, for more than 8 hours total in a few days. I was never contacted or even aware of these interviews until they were finished. The interviews of my children took place one year after she left France with them.
Finally, on June 29, 2005, the magistrate judge Hogan made a report and recommendation, saying that my Petition for the return of my children should be denied. That was not the final decision, just a recommendation.
All the evidence against the mother, all her lies, contradictions and manipulations had been totally ignored by the court. Both parties were very surprised by this obviously “biased decision”, even the mother and her attorney.
Before the report and recommendation, she had tried her best to get an agreement via mediation, because she was very concerned that the children could be returned to France. She and her attorney even filed a motion to enforce settlement agreement, although no agreement had been reached between the parties, just an incomplete draft hand written on a piece of paper by one of the two mediators (the lady who was with her, the man being with me).
I could not accept this draft for two reasons: one was that I wanted my children to come to France sometimes for school. The other reason was that the agreement was too hard on the children with four trips per year. With the time difference, and the jet lag, it would have been very hard on them. That did not seem to bother their mother.
My attorney filed 62 objections to the report and recommendation. None of them were granted, which, statistically, make no sense. The mother filed only two objections. The final decision was to come.
Five months later, in November 2005, the judge Weber said that he was too old for the case and he decided to withdraw himself. A new judge was designated but he was going to have surgery. So it took another year, starting from the report and recommendation, to finally get the court decision to adopt the report, on May 19, 2006!!!
Two years and 120 000 U.S. dollars later! The District court denied my 62 objections all together and decided to adopt the magistrate judge report and recommendation. My case broke records regarding court delays and costs wise.
Everybody knows that children don’t wait to grow. Article 11 of The Hague convention is very clear: such matters should be treated in priority by the courts. Justice delayed, Justice denied?
I appealed of the decision. The sixth circuit said that the reasons for not returning my children to France, as given in the report and recommendation, were not valid reasons but still denied my petition, giving other reasons. I totally disagreed with these other reasons, but could not go to Supreme Court.
My feeling is very strong that I have been the victim of political and religious segregation by a chauvinist court. For instance, the mother and the judge talk at length on where she goes to church. Who said “Believe me, all I know from France is that Jacques Chirac gave us difficulties to finance the war in Iraq”? Magistrate Judge Hogan
I am not making all that up. It is written in the thousands of pages of transcripts that I have received from the law firm that helped me on appeal. These transcripts cost a lot of money and I was not able to buy them during the trial. With the transcripts and all the court documents and e-mails and correspondence in my possession, I have decided to write this story. My book could be titled “Children stolen by twisted tongues”. That is exactly what happened.
In France, she has been convicted by a French criminal court for the wrongful removal of my children. She has appealed. Her sentence has been aggravated on appeal. Now, the Warren county court says that Ohio has jurisdiction because the children have not been returned to France. They want to sweep off four years of court procedures in France, plus the financial and mental and physical cost. Four years of efforts totally ignored.
Nevertheless, she never got her divorce granted in Ohio because: 1) she did not have the 6 months residency required and then 2) All court procedures at the Warren county court of common pleas were stayed by the petition for the return of the children. Article 16 of the Convention allowed me to file for divorce in France and the French court to proceed. Also, I filed for divorce before I filed my petition for the return of my children.
Now, because this situation is getting hopeless, I have decided to start hunger strike on June 3, 2008 if my children are not in France. It is going to be the sixth summer without my children. I want the French court decision applied strictly in its terms and immediately.
I will not sign any guaranties that I will return my children in due time, like the judge in Ohio wants me to: I am not a delinquent. I am a person of honor. The mother is the one who should give guarantees that she will not keep my children wrongfully anymore.
Starting June 3, 2008, I will not get any food until my children are in France. It is now 4 and 1/2 years that I haven’t had my children in France with me. Like every child, they have some rights (fundamental rights). They have a father and a family in France, a culture and a language to re-learn.
I wanted you to know about this story and this French father who is fighting for his children who have been taken in Ohio.
A Loving Father in France