Michael Horne
The Roundup

Mother Denies Child Abduction

By - Apr 19th, 2004 12:00 pm
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Claire-Marie Thompson does not look the part of an abductor. Yet the comely 31-year old British citizen is classified as an abductor in an international twist to a divorce and child custody case. The story has been heavily publicized in Great Britain, but has received no coverage in the Milwaukee area.

Her former husband, Jamie Joseph Moncada, 34, is the son of former Waukesha County Sheriff Arnold A. Moncada.

Moncada filed for divorce from Thompson on October 11, 2001. Thompson says her husband agreed that she could return to her native England with Sydney who has suffered from birth from a number of medical conditions. The child, with dual nationality, would be raised in England. It did not occur to Thompson that she should have notified authorities of her departure. “Jamie took us to the airport, and paid the $1,800 fare,” she said.

While in England with her then-seven month old child, Thompson was surprised to be summoned to the High Court where she learned she was charged with violations of the Hague Convention and accused of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a condition in which a parent or caregiver intentionally causes illness in a person his or her care. Moncada then demanded full custody of the child.

The Hague convention, established in 1981, was designed primarily to deter a foreign parent from abducting a child to be raised in a foreign country. The most prominent instances involve cases where men from the Middle East have taken their American-born children to live in their home countries.

Upon receiving the summons, Thompson returned voluntarily to America, where Jamie Moncada now has full custody of the child, a rarity in an age when custody is virtually always shared.

As far as the Munchausen syndrome by proxy charge, there is no indication that Sydney’s conditions could possibly be induced by Thompson, Sydney’s pediatrician, Laurel Manion, testified in court.

Thompson was pressed for time Sunday when asked for comment on her case. She was at her Waukesha home with her child, and it was time to return Sydney. “She’s getting upset right now, because she has to return. She isn’t even living with her father, but she’s staying with his bloody mother.”

The grandmother is Sandy Moncada. “She is a control freak,” Thompson says of her former mother-in-law. “She wouldn’t let me hold Sydney when I was around her. My mother would send clothes for Sydney from England, and Sandy would put them in the microwave and burn them.”

Thompson worked as a travel agent for a period of time, but took full care of her child after her birth. “I came home from work and found Jamie high as a kite watching the baby. So I started caring for her full time.” She now works at Zigman Joseph Stephenson, performing secretarial tasks as a temporary replacement for an employee on maternity leave.

According to court order, she is also responsible for making child support payments to Jamie Moncada, another rarity in that most custody payments are made by former husbands to former wives.

Thompson now owes over $20,000 to her attorneys, and cannot afford to hire another firm. During their marriage, Moncada and Thompson had judgments against them of $589.90 from Waukesha Health Corporation and $310.25 from Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

Thompson’s lawyers have included Michael J. Bennett, Paul Hauer and Brigette A. Weigel, who no longer represent her. She also was represented by Michele Figueroa.

Hauer told the Telegraph newspaper in England that he had been threatened by Richard L. Moncada, Jamie Moncada’s brother. At the time, Richard was serving as Jamie’s attorney, another peculiarity of the case.

One year ago, on April 22, 2003, Richard Moncada was found dead in the Hyatt Regency hotel after he had failed to check out as expected. A search of the room disclosed cocaine, a large amount of cash, empty beer cans and prescription drugs. Both Richard and Jamie Moncada have criminal records dealing with drug offenses. Thompson claims Jamie Moncada continues to have drug problems.

Meanwhile, Claire Marie Thompson continues her temporary job, and continues to send child support payments to her former husband, the son of a one-time sheriff who had hoped to become his other son’s law partner. She sees her daughter every other week, and expresses concern that she is not being well cared for. She may never regain custody of her only child, and will likely have to remain in a foreign country – the U.S.A. if she wants to see her child at all. There may be difficulties returning to this country if she visits her home country, because of her “abductor” status.

In her experience, justice in the United States belongs to those who can afford it, and she cannot. Also, it did not help that her adversary is from a prominent and politically connected family in a tightly knit county.

“Basically the issue is about the Moncadas and power. They treated me like a surrogate mother since I gave birth to her,” Thompson said.

Thompson has filed a complaint against Atty. Dan Fay with the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Fay was the guardian ad litem in the case. The role of the guardian ad litem is to watch out for the interests of the minor child. According to Thompson, Fay “didn’t do a thing. He saw Sydney for 10 minutes in two years. He charged me $18,000 and he did nothing. When my witnesses would call him he would say their testimony did not matter.”

Thompson’s complaint also says that Fay would arrive in court along with the Moncadas and their attorney.

“I’m sure Jamie loves his daughter, but his mother is raising her,” Thompson said. “When I drop her off with Jamie, she’s right there in her van waiting to take Sydney to her home.”

Regarding the Munchausen by proxy charge, she claims that had been brought up one and a half years into the trial. Jamie had always asked for shared custody, but asked for full custody just two days before the trial. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I always, always put Sydney first.”

What is her situation now? According to Thompson, she received a letter Saturday from the Office of Lawyer Regulation declining to investigate Fay, the guardian ad litem “It is just horrendous, because nobody’s doing anything about it,” Thompson said.

As of March 1st, Thompson had 90 days to appeal the custody ruling. A fund has been established in England to aid her cause, according to the Burton U.K. Mail.

Krug in the Hot Seat?

Rep. Shirley Krug told Milwaukeeworld.com last month that the caucus scandal would leave her unscathed, and that she would not have considered a run for congress if there had been any possibility the scandal would touch her. “There is absolutely no chance of it,” she said in the March 29th edition of this website. However, court documents filed in the case against former Sen. Brian Burke tell of an unnamed prominent female legislator who, according to Burke’s attorneys, was engaged in the same activities for which Burke faces numerous felony charges.

According to court documents that seek to dismiss the charges against Burke based on selective prosecution, lobbyist Eric Petersen was invited to the office of a female legislator. Since it was an election year, Peterson imagined the call would be about campaigns. “The legislator laid out a vision for Democratic gains in the assembly during the upcoming elections. Peterson and the legislator went through Peterson’s client list and the legislator made specific requests for contributions from each.”

Also, according to the account by Burke’s law firm Friebert and Finerty, “lobbyist Peter Peshek recounts an identical conversation with the same legislator.”

During the 2002 election, Krug was in charge of the assembly democrats campaign. She was not able to gain the necessary seats for the Democrats to control the lower house of the legislature, and lost her leadership position after the election.

Burke uses his contention against the unnamed female legislator to claim that he was singled out for prosecution. He claims the campaign irregularities he is accused of do not differ from those of “scores, perhaps hundreds” of other legislators. Including, apparently, Shirley Krug.

Fake Picassos Flood Town

The DeLind Gallery of Fine Art opened for business at its new 400 E. Mason Street location during gallery night, April 16th. Among the new works of art on display was what appeared to be a 1967 crayon drawing by Pablo Picasso, an item not often found in this city’s galleries. “It’s a fake,” DeLind says. “Somebody has brought these out to the sticks where they think we will fall for them and purchase the drawings. I will be meeting with the FBI next week to discuss this.” The drawing, in black with red and white detailing, shows a nymph and a satyr. It has some resemblance to a genuine Picasso of the same era. An original would be worth over $100,000.

Around the Town

A peace rally was held at the corner of E. Wisconsin Ave. and N. Water Street April 10, drawing about 70 people, and about five squad cars watching the peaceful proceedings . At the end of the noontime rally the crowd sang “Down By the Riverside,” which, in a sense, they were. Among the attendees: School Board member Jennifer Morales. … Workers at Slim McGinn’s got an unexpected night off on April 15th – and it wasn’t for them to do their taxes. A Union Pacific freight train derailed literally in the tavern’s back yard. At least 6 rail cars were on their side on the embankment above the tavern, 338 South First Street. One rail car was held up by a utility pole. Power lines were downed, and the street was closed as a precaution. The freight cars appeared empty. The rail line isolates the tavern from other buildings and curves at that location, where it crosses First Street on an elevated bridge. … Azmi Alaeddin plans to move his Aladdin Middle Eastern Cuisine out of the Cawker Building, 800 N. Plankinton to a vacant building at the northwest corner of W. Wisconsin Avenue and N. Second Street, he said Friday. His new landlord will be Michael Mackintosh. The Cawker Building location will become home to a steak house, Aladdin says. The restaurant will open around Memorial weekend, he says. It will have a capacity of 80 seats and will feature a “build your own lunch,” instead of the current buffet. It will not serve liquor. Aladdin, a single parent of a young son, says the new facility will give him some time off, a luxury he has not heretofore enjoyed.

Your Taxes at Work

Homeland Security funds neighborhood awareness sessions.

The Department of Homeland Security wants you to be safe in your home, even as fires rage, bombs explode and toxic gases spread. The agency has paid Americorps and the Red Cross to communicate at a grass-roots level the need for a preparedness plan. Members of the East Village Association got their presentation April 13th at the Tasting Room, 1100 E. Kane Place. A representative of the Red Cross told the group they should create little survivor kits to have handy at moment’s notice when disaster strikes, including plans to “shelter-in-place,” which is holing up inside your house while all hell breaks loose outside. Duct tape, dried food, bottled water and a battery-operated radio are all to be included in your kit. Don’t forget the pet food, residents were told. They were also told that emergency shelters do not accept pets. The pet owners of the group apparently would rather die with their pets than live in a shelter without them, according to comments made at the event. Thank you , Secretary Tom Ridge for this useful waste of time.

Pulaski Street Redo

According to Alderman Mike D’Amato, crooked little Pulaski Street, best known as the home of Wolski’s Tavern, will be entirely reconstructed this year. The narrow lane is practically European in feel, and is certainly one of the oldest existing thoroughfares in the city, lying above what had been a stream and ravine that led to the Milwaukee River. It almost certainly was a well-traveled lane upon the arrival of the first European settlers. The plans call for a unique treatment of the street. Unlike the profile of the typical Milwaukee street, Pulaski street will have an inverted crown, with drainage down the middle of the street rather than on either curb. A row of bricks will run up the middle of the street, and will be used as accents at the curbsides. There will be no streetlights on poles on the street. Rather, pendant fixtures, another rarity here, will be suspended above the street. The reconstruction will also call for the removal of many hundreds of feet of limestone curb material. The adjacent Pulaski Playground features a bench made from the limestone curb of another neighborhood street. It would be nice to salvage the Pulaski curbs – about 3 feet by 4 feet each, and about 6 inches thick – for the same purpose, or for a similar public project. The project will have a duration of about 30 days, during which parking will become even more hellish on the lower east side.

Vassar Club Meets

The Vassar Club of Wisconsin gathered at the lovely Whitefish Bay home of Ian and Katherine Lambert to hear Vassar professor Frank Bergon talk about Lewis and Clark. The professor is a member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, an honor he shares with Mark Twain. He considers the journals of Lewis and Clark, which he edited, to be a seminal work in American Literature – perhaps the great American epic, despite being written by “these fellows who can’t spell and can’t punctuate.”

“All epics need a muse, and Thomas Jefferson was the muse of Lewis and Clark,” he said.

The audience of about 20 learned that we are all pronouncing Sacagawea’s name incorrectly. “It rhymes with Chicago – it has a hard ‘g’,” he said. The pair managed to spell the word “Sioux” 27 different ways. Despite the misspellings, the manuscript does give modern readers a sense of the spoken language of the day, since most spellings were phonetic. (It should be noted that the journals of Lewis and Clark predate Webster’s Dictionary.)

The pair used new words and used medieval words that had been out of favor in England, but had survived in America, he said. They were also competent at neologisms, giving the words “tote,” “overall,” and “cutoff” some of their first airings. They referred to flatulence as a “dismorality” of the abdomen. Upon encountering never-before seen animals, they simply made up names for them, ignoring the Linnean system. Thus, we have “mule deer,” “whistling swan” and “prairie dogs” in our language to this day.

The oldest attendee at the event was Monnie Messinger, ’42 who is vastly improved after a recent stroke. Son Joe Messinger was active in the Barrett campaign. “I’ll say he was,” Ms. Messinger exclaimed. “And if Barrett knows what he’s doing, he’ll give Joe a job in his administration.” Thirteen students from Wisconsin will attend the Poughkeepsie, N.Y. college this season. The average SAT for Vassar attendees is 1400, club members were told. The institution, never known for its poverty, is in apparently good financial shape, and no request was made for donations at the meeting. This alone makes Vassar unique among American educational institutions.

horne@milwaukeeworld.com

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