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$1M bond set for jailed mother-refused to return kids

Started by jilly, Aug 23, 2005, 06:44:53 AM

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Posted on Tue, Aug. 23, 2005

$1 million bond set for jailed mother
Woman refuses to turn kids over to ex-husband
Staff Writer

A Charlotte mother has been arrested on felony child abduction charges and jailed on $1 million bond for refusing to obey court orders to return her children to their father.

Natalie Gibbons was being held Monday in a Mecklenburg jail, three days after she was arrested on two counts of felony child abduction -- one count for both children involved, ages 8 and 10.

Her arrest left local authorities and news media fielding letters and phone calls of protest from as far away as Washington, D.C., and California.

The jailing is the latest twist in what might rank as one of Charlotte's most acrimonious child custody disputes. Natalie Gibbons, 48, refused to turn the children over because she believes their father intentionally showed them pornography.

John Gibbons, 62, denies that. The children have since been returned to him.

Following a hearing last month, Mecklenburg District Judge Nathaniel Proctor ruled that the children had been exposed to pornography, but ruled that it wasn't intentional on the part of Gibbons.

Natalie Gibbons had temporary custody at the time, and Proctor ordered that the children be returned to John Gibbons immediately. Proctor said she'd kept the children from their father in violation of previous court orders, and the judge directed police to "take all appropriate steps reasonably necessary" to make sure she complied, court papers say.

Gibbons, in an interview with the Observer before Friday's arrest, said she would disobey the order, regardless of the consequences.

"I just know I love my kids," she said. "I'm in a predicament. (The judge) is asking me to do something I can't do."

John Gibbons, a retired real estate broker, said his ex-wife uses the courts and child welfare systems to harass him. He said he has been arrested five or six times on warrants alleging everything from domestic violence to stalking.

None of the charges stuck, he said.

Natalie Gibbons was first arrested on Aug. 11 on the child abduction charges, jail records show. She told the Observer the children weren't with her at the time of the arrest. After a magistrate let her leave jail without posting a cash bond, she still didn't turn the children over to her ex-husband.

But on Friday, police came for her again at her south Charlotte home. John Gibbons said he had nothing to do with the criminal charges.

"I've got nothing to hide," he said. "The kids have told (child welfare investigators) they're very happy."

Natalie Gibbons never tried to run away with the children, according to her boyfriend, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Jeff Bingham. He doesn't understand why a civil child custody case should lead to her arrest on a criminal abduction charge, or why her bond would be set so high.

"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "It's a joke."

The Gibbonses parted ways in 2000. Court records show both have been in and out of court since, lodging various civil and criminal charges against each other. The accusations range from child neglect to sexual abuse to communicating threats.

Court papers say Natalie Gibbons lost primary custody of the children in 2003, but in June she filed a domestic violence complaint seeking temporary custody. That court document wasn't available for inspection Monday, but John Gibbons said the complaint alleged sexual improprieties on his part.

A judge granted Natalie Gibbons temporary custody.

At a court hearing in July, the Gibbonses' adult daughter, Tess, testified that she saw her younger siblings watching televised pornography with their father in his bedroom, but he was asleep.

A therapist hired by Natalie Gibbons testified that the children told her their father had shown them pornography on several occasions. Court papers say the therapist also described incidents of "sexualized behavior" by the children.

A child welfare investigator testified that the two children had been the subject of 13 child maltreatment reports. The investigator testified that she'd interviewed the children and their parents, but the children denied the sexualized behavior described by the therapist.

Both denied their father was a problem and said they were comfortable with him, court papers say.

The investigator concluded the children probably had been exposed to pornography and were playfully "acting out" in a sexualized way, but the behavior wasn't unusual or troublesome.

Proctor, who declined to discuss the case with the Observer, found that Gibbons hadn't intentionally allowed it. Gibbons, meanwhile, maintains it never happened.

The case has attracted attention from national child advocates who say they are concerned that children have been allowed to stay with their father despite the pornography findings.

"I don't think it's being taken seriously enough," said Eileen King, a Washington, D.C.-based regional director with Justice for Children, a national child advocacy organization. "It seems to us to be something they should be very worried about."


you shouldn't have custody? the courts people have seen over and over that this guy didn't intentionally harm his kids (mom has a knee-jerk reaction) and JFC opinioin is that the kids should be yanked, BM should be released and GRRRRRRRR! that sickens me.
A true soldier fights, not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves whats behind him...dear parents, please remember not to continue to fight because you hate your ex, but because you love your children.


They should throw away the key!  Can't believe (well yes I can) that a BM would put her kids thru 5 years of this.  And her BF is a cop!  Nice mix. A court order is a court order and no one is above the law.


There was a story in the paper yesterday that her bond has been reduced to $50,000.  The BF is saying he'll be getting her out of jail this weekend.