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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parental abduction wisdom, pt 2: The police won't help you

by Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--There are strict laws on the books regarding child abduction, Oregon statutes that might serve as a deterrent to child-snatching were it not for their lax enforcement.

The non-enforcement of these laws has several causes, but the most important among them, and the most disastrous to a family severed by a kidnapping, lies in the attitudes of policing agencies, the legal profession and the courts towards the issue of parental and family abduction itself.

These attitudes shape what is possible in the real world, when your child vanishes with a family member or with the connivance of a family member.

Local law enforcement generally will not take your claim that your child was kidnapped seriously, and despite the fact that the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, fathers are far less likely than mothers to see a priority status attached to a police report. They are going to assume that you, the father, did something wrong….

This fact alone shapes the attitudes of others (If the police aren’t concerned, why should I be?) and cuts your options down severely.

When your child disappears, the first thing you do is call 911, which brings a response of some sort from local law enforcement.

There is no statewide policy regarding how these cases are handled. It is all up to local law enforcement and the district attorney.

If you call the Oregon State Police or the FBI, they will refer you back to local law enforcement. Makes no difference if the child has been taken out of state. They will want to see a report from local law enforcement (which isn’t likely to be issued).

Under Oregon statute, in order to trigger the custodial interference laws that govern non-stranger kidnapping, one must demonstrate that the person intends to take the child “permanently, or for a protracted period of time.”

It may be clear to you that this is an actual kidnapping, clear to you that your ex will never willingly allow you to see your child again, but try telling that to the police.

They are going to want to wait, to see if either “permanently” or “protracted” takes place, even though there is no general agreement, no legal definition, on what these terms mean in terms of time, in terms of your life or your child’s life, which is slipping away….

Both terms can mean “forever.”

Parental and family abductions are the only crimes on the books with a built-in, open-ended waiting period.

If your ex stole your car, the police would be right on it, and they would haul in everyone who conspired to steal your car, and anyone who acted after the fact in a criminal capacity (more on this in a later post), and those people would be going to jail.

Despite the fact that my four children had been taken out of their schools and away from their home with me, in clear violation of a joint custody order, I was never interviewed by a detective.

In order to trigger an Amber Alert, you have to convince local law enforcement that a crime has taken place, and you need a physical description of the vehicle.

Shortly before she kidnapped my children, my former wife bought some kind of mini van, painted white. That’s all I knew, not enough information for an Amber Alert, and local law enforcement wasn’t going to look for my kids anyway.

At the time of the kidnapping, the Pacific Northwest was in the grip of a major storm, and many roads leading out of the Portland area were closed due to flooding, avalanches and downed power lines. I-84 eastbound and I-5 northbound were both cut by floods.

It seemed impossible that she could have driven anywhere, and it was unthinkable that she would have taken the kids out on the road in these hazardous conditions—but that’s exactly what she did.

Weeks passed by before I learned that my children’s abduction had been carefully planned and carried out by a group of Mormon church leaders living in three states, and I learned later still that they would stop at nothing to ensure that the abduction was permanent, and that their own roles in the crime would remain hidden (more on this in later posts).

If they had stolen any of my personal property, then the police would have gotten involved and my family would still be whole, my son alive today.

But all these criminals did was to cause my four children to disappear and conceal them in another state, and that leads to the issue of attitudes, for the laws are already on the books.


Coming next: Child abduction wisdom, pt 3:


Sean Cruz writes Blogolitical Sean at, and Aaron’s Law at


Susan Arendsee said...

Sean, I appreciate reading your post and the making of Aaron's Law. My condolences regarding Aaron. I have my own blog page called Susan's Perspective which I started as my way to vent my frustration at my partner's (Ronald Cornett)children being abducted from Kalispell, Montana 13 years ago. Then adopted by the man who abducted them without Ron's permission or consent. Good luck to you. Ron has his page too in an attempt to communicate with his children and their biological mother in his hopes of some day being able to speak to and see his children. We have also made videos on youtube to get any message to his children as they mature regarding what happened.
Good luck to you in your political ambitions.
Susan Arendsee

helpless said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! Sean, we are going through something very similar right now. It has been 5 days since My Husbands ex wife took our 3 children from oregon and ran to Idaho.Because she called police in Idaho and told them the address she is at and LIED and says she has permission, I feel the process has taken longer to get them back. She had supervised visits, and lost them to DHS already.She does not plan on bringing them back. There was no AMBER Alert at first, and it took 12 hours to even find out where she had taken them, if an Amber alert had been done, she would have been caught . Im frustrated and feel helpless...TIME HAS STOPPED IN OUR HOME! Your site is all I feel we have as of now. We are waiting for a warrant and the police to go get them back right now... it just doesnt feel like anything is being expedited!!
Melissa L.