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Sage Bermudez Abduction Case

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SageDad:
Sage was born May 14th, 2007. It has been nearly nine months that Ive been struggling to have my 20 month old son, Sage, returned home from Mexico. In June 2008 my wife claimed there was a “family emergency” in Tucson, AZ. Ironically, as the story went, the emergency involved her cousin, a 12 year old boy who had gone missing. The elaborate story claimed that the mother of the boy was an undocumented illegal alien and was scared to go to the authorities for fear of being deported. The boy had gone out w/ his uncle to McDonald’s where it was suspected that they’d been picked up by the US Border Patrol. Although his mother was illegal the boy was born in the US. The problem was that he had a learning disability, a hearing problem and didn’t speak good English so would have a hard time explaining himself to the authorities. My wife’s mother asked her to go down there to help since she had studied law in Mexico and is licensed to practice there and a legal US Resident. She went to AZ for what was supposedly going to be a few days. Once there she turned off her phone and via email said that Sage had thrown it in the bath tub but she was “looking for another phone to call with”. She never seemed to find a phone and for several weeks I continued to receive emails that she was looking for one and that she was still working to resolve the family emergency. I traced the originating IP address of her emails to find she wasn’t in Arizona at all. She was in Mexico and there began the investigation into why she had really gone to Mexico, what she was doing and what her intentions were. Although she has never once admitted what she has done or explained why, we have determined the following:
 
She had been having a long-running affair with a co-worker who moved to Nogales, Mexico a border city and sister to Nogales, AZ. To be with him she quietly planned the abduction of our son. Over the course of weeks she asked me to go to the Mexican Embassy to apply for a birth certificate for Sage so he could have dual citizenship. She gathered up all the documentation she could find of our life such as the pictures and the legal documents and also took my passport, social security card, both copies of my birth certificate and the title to my car and flew to Tucson. The detailed story she’d told about the missing child was pure fiction used to abduct our own son.

tweinstein:
Mexico is the country with largest number of abductions from the United States. In 2007 alone, there were 195 Hague cases representing 320 children. Below is information from the 2008 Hague Convention Compliance Report for Mexico.

Date Acceded to the Convention
6-20-1991

Date of Entry into Force with U.S.
10-1-1991

Pattern of Noncompliance
Law Enforcement Performance ;
Judicial Performance

Mexico demonstrated patterns of noncompliance. Many of the systemic problems mentioned in previous compliance reports persist. Locating children or taking parents in Mexico continues to be a serious impediment for Convention applicants, and often takes years.

Of the USCA’s 31 unresolved cases from Mexico, 23 remain unresolved because the taking parents and the children have not been located (see the “Unresolved Cases” section of this report for more information). This inability to locate abducted children taken to Mexico remains the single largest frustration that left-behind parents in the United States face. Inadequate resources are devoted to locating missing children,
severely undermining successful implementation of the Convention in Mexico. Cases can remain unresolved for years, as the taking parent and the child/ren are not located. Even in cases in which parents and children are located, taking parents often hide successfully when ordered to appear before a judge for a Convention hearing. Mexico must recognize the critical need to devote more resources to locating missing children and bringing abducting parents to justice in order to become compliant with the Convention.

The Department also continues to note patterns of noncompliance in Mexico’s judicial system. Abuses of the Amparo appeal system during this reporting period often led to excessive delays in Convention cases and further increased the legal costs incurred by the left-behind parent. In the few successful cases that led to the return of the child to the United States, the left-behind parent turned to a private attorney who better understood the principles of the Convention.

SageDad:
Yeah, I've read that report several times.  Mexico's numbers dwarf those of any other country.  They come close to accounting for the sum of all other countries combined.

In 2006 (the latest year on census.gov) the US gave almost $240 million in economic aid to Mexico.  The US also has a strong record of returning children abducted from Mexico.  One would think that would lead to us being able to have our own children returned to us.  Sadly that is not the case.

I can't account for the discrepency in the numbers between what a State Department official told me and those in the official report to Congress, but I was told six months ago that there are nearly 300 outgoing Hague cases filed with Mexico per year.  Of that number only 20% of them ever see a date in court due to the countries inability to even track down these missing children.  Of those 20% that actually have a court date I was told that there was "maybe one" case per year of a child being abducted to Mexico by the mother and returned to the father.  

My heart dropped to hear him basically tell me how poor my chances were of getting my son back from Mexico.  By the time he told me that though I was already in the 20% who had a court date that my wife had been legally served notice of.  Although that only occurred because we put forth a massive get out the word campaign in the area we suspected she was in and offered a $5000 reward for information to locate her.

In case the odds were not already against me, my wife is licensed to practice law in Mexico and finished all the courses for her masters degree in civil rights only failing to do her thesis which would have been in marriage law.

Regardless of the odds or costs I will keep going until every avenue and resource available to me has been exhausted.  Since the day my son was born I have been incapable of imagining a life without him in it.

jdv28:
Carlos...this may be a dumb question, but have you pressed charges on her?  She won't give you any contact?  I don't care how much LAW she has under her, she broke it.  Meaning if she had passed the bar, she'd get her license yanked.  Use the law against her. Sometimes I just want to become a pro in locating these children and passing it onto the parent.  Maybe I will.

SageDad:
Not a dumb question at all.  In some cases criminal charges can complicate a Hague case and reduce it's chance of success by virtue of the courts reluctance to send a child back to a country where the abducting parent has a criminal arrest warrant.  My understanding of Brazil is that it is one such country.  My attorney in Mexico, who is a Hague specialist, has told me that criminal charges may actually help me get my son back from there.  Unfortunately because the actual crime occurred in the US it cannot be prosecuted in Mexico.  Even though parentally abducting or retaining a child is also a crime in Mexico the Mexican constitution holds that, with only a few limited exceptions, it is not a crime under Mexican law unless it occurs on Mexican soil.  It is, obviously, a crime under US law.   The International Parental Kidnapping Act (IPKA) was passed for specifically these cases, but charges are only brought under it once or twice per year. The FBI keeps telling me they are talking to the Attorney General about pressing international parental abduction charges against her and requesting her extradition, but nothing ever happens.  Guess parental kidnapping isn't high on their agenda (Michael Sutton of the Raleigh field office I AM talking to you).  Mexico does allow extradition of its nationals for international crimes for which it has a matching local penal code, which in theory would allow for her extradition.. if the FBI and the Attorney General would bother to ask for it. Far too often it seems that the FBI and the State Dept are more concerned with not ruffling diplomatic feathers than returning a few kids that have been parentally abducted.  It's sad to say but I have lost faith that the FBI intends to do anything with my case, something I hear from many other parents.  My son will likely come home (or not) based solely upon my efforts and those of the attorney I'm paying...

BTW.. i've begun studying for the LSAT myself to study law.  In theory I can put some of my engineering background to use there, but in practice my interests, not suprisingly, are in international law :)

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