Birth father of adopted American Indian child arrested

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 12, 2013 4:58 PM
Birth father of adopted American Indian child arrested

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - The biological father at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court custody dispute over the rights of children with Native American heritage turned himself into Oklahoma authorities on Monday after missing court-ordered appearances to facilitate his daughter's return to her adopted parents, officials said.

Dusten Brown, who has Cherokee heritage and lives in Nowata, Oklahoma, was accompanied by a Cherokee Nation marshal as he was booked into the Sequoyah County Jail on a fugitive warrant, jail operations manager Jamie Faulkenberry said.

Brown left the jail after posting $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

The warrant was issued in South Carolina, where officials said they were working with Oklahoma officials to locate the daughter, Veronica, and arrange Brown's extradition on a charge of custodial interference.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said he has been in contact with authorities in South Carolina and that he expects to receive an extradition warrant from that state within the week.

"When we receive it, he will be picked up again and extradited to South Carolina," Lockhart said.

Lockhart added he did not believe Brown is a flight risk, due to his service in the Oklahoma National Guard and because he turned himself in.

"I know where he is and where he is staying," Lockhart said.

Brown failed to appear with Veronica for a recent visit with Veronica's legal parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston, South Carolina. The visit was part of a gradual reintroduction to the couple, who had raised her for the first 27 months of her life.

A statement from the Cherokee Nation said Veronica was with her father and "continues to be a happy, healthy, very loved girl who is thriving in her father's care."

After Brown failed to appear, the judge in the case threw out the transition plan and issued the arrest warrant.

The Capobiancos on Monday publicly pleaded for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller to help get Brown to comply with the July South Carolina Supreme Court decision that gave them custody of Veronica.

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The same court had ordered them to give up Veronica to Brown more than a year ago under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which is intended to keep Native American children from being separated from their families.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out that decision in June and ruled that Brown, who was not married to Veronica's birth mother and had provided no support, had no parental claim.

Veronica's birth mother, who is not a Native American, arranged the adoption before the girl was born. Veronica herself is 3/256ths Cherokee.

(Additional reporting by Heide Brandes in Oklahoma; Editing by Jane Sutton and Steve Olofsky)