United States v. Nixon

During child-custody proceedings, Nixon accused her ex-husband G.G. of physically and sexually assaulting their daughter, S. An Illinois judge limited G.G.’s parental rights to visitation in the presence of another adult while the allegations were being investigated. Nixon concluded that the judge would terminate her parental rights and give G.G. full custody of S. so she left for Canada with S. and remained there even after learning that the judge had given G.G. sole custody. Nixon was convicted of international parental kidnapping, 18 U.S.C.1204, and sentenced to 26 months in prison. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. It is an affirmative defense that “the defendant was fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence.” Nixon presented evidence that G.G. physically and sexually abused S but S professed love for her father and fear of being alone with her mother. She expressed regret at allowing her mother to persuade her to accuse her father falsely. Nixon did not carry her burden on this defense. The court rejected claims of emotional abuse; the statute speaks of “domestic violence” and requires the defendant to show real domestic violence, not just a belief that violence occurred. Selling a beloved house, demeaning language, failing to provide adequate financial support do not constitute “violence.” View "United States v. Nixon" on Justia Law