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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thomas v Orion, 2016 WL 7046564 (M.D. Florida, 2016)[Canada] [Grave Risk of Harm][Petition denied]

In Thomas v Orion, 2016 WL 7046564 (M.D. Florida, 2016) Thomas filed a Petition against Jean Marceau Orion on June 9, 2016, seeking the return to Canada of the Parties’ three children, JMO, who was 12 years old and was born in 2004 in Miami, Florida; SRO who was 10 years old and was born in 2005 in Fort Myers, Florida; and MWO who was 9 years old and was born in 2007 in Fort Myers, Florida, and lived in Canada since 2008 with Thomas. She alleged Orion wrongfully retained the Children in Lehigh Acres, Florida, after a visit on June 28, 2015, when they did not return as agreed in August 2015. Orion was married and living with his wife and the Children in Lehigh Acres, Florida. The Children were enrolled in the Lee County School System and did not wish to be returned to Canada. Orion asserted he kept the Children in Florida because of a DPG report from 2013 and the statements made by the Children that they were physically abused. He also had concerns about the comments made by MWO that he sometimes went hungry.  The testimony presented at the hearing established that since July 2008 the Children attended school, went to church, and lived with Thomas in Canada. Orion sent child support payments to Thomas in Canada and traveled to Canada to visit with the Children on a yearly basis. The Children had not returned to the United States between 2008 and June 2015. There was an agreed upon date—August 2015—for the Children to return to Canada. The Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the Children were habitual residents of Canada at the time they came to Florida and Orion retained them past the agreed upon date of return. The Court concluded that Thomas has established a prima facie case for return. However, it denied the petition finding that evidence presented at the hearing established that returning the Children to Canada and Thomas would expose them to grave physical or psychological harm. The last report submitted by DPG established the Children's’ living conditions were deplorable. The floors were filthy, dried food stuck to the walls, the refrigerator door was open to the point the inside was no longer cool, and there was very little food inside. MWO reported that he was hungry at school because he did not get any breakfast and noted that he only had cereal for supper the night before. MWO was physically hit by his oldest half-brother, DD. MWO also reported that Thomas hit him with a hair brush on his hand and back. Thomas admitted that her estranged husband Bonomo also hit the Children. The Children reported that Bonomo would sometimes have the oldest child, JMO, and/or DD hit the younger children while he watched. In 2008, DD reported to school authorities that Thomas stuffed socks into his mouth as a form of punishment. Further, Thomas admitted instructing the Children to keep quiet and not to report any physical abuse they received or any meals they missed. Given the abuse suffered by the Children at the hands of Thomas and Bonomo, the lack of food, the uncleanliness of the living environment, and Thomas’ proclivity to attach herself to men she did not know well, the Court found by clear and convincing evidence there was a grave risk of physical or psychological harm that would be caused by returning the Children to Canada. The Court denied the petition.

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