MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

August 27, 2013

Rally shows support for Veronica's father

Attorney for child has asked court to halt visitation by couple seeking to adopt her

A crowd gathered Monday near the Cherokee Nation tribal complex, as people offered support to Dusten Brown and his family in his fight to maintain custody of his daughter, Veronica.

Despite Gov. Mary Fallin’s request that the families involved in the adoption case of Cherokee citizen Baby Veronica seek mediation to remedy their issues, a new motion was filed Friday in Cherokee County court.

In a hearing this month, Special District Judge Holli Wells issued a gag order and court records were sealed, but online court records indicate Angel Smith, the court-appointed attorney for Veronica, filed a motion to suspend visitation between the adoptive Capobianco family and the little girl.

The court docket shows that Wells — a citizen of the Osage Nation — also has recused herself from the case.

Wells signed an order bringing Brown, the biological father, and his family together with the Capobiancos Aug. 16. Although the records are sealed, it is now known that both parties agreed to seek mediation to negotiate a settlement that would end the almost-four-year custody battle.

Brown was arrested in Sequoyah County in early August on a charge of “custodial interference” after a South Carolina court deemed the Capobiancos the legal parents of Veronica.

Brown has had custody of Veronica, his biological daughter, since December 2011.

A tribal court hearing has been set for Sept. 4. Tribal records also are sealed, so it is unknown what the hearing entails or if it will occur.

The Cherokee Nation has offered its support to Brown and continued to do so Monday evening. Attendees of the rally included Principal Chief Bill John Baker and his wife, Sherry Baker, and Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden.

During the rally, Crittenden also recognized Brown for his courage. Crittenden is a veteran of the Navy, and Brown is in the Army National Guard.

“Dusten has served in the military,” said Crittenden. “I am proud that we share that history.”

Teddye Snell writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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